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CarPc in '96 Neon Sport (56k, go make some coffee)

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  • CarPc in '96 Neon Sport (56k, go make some coffee)

    After a couple of weekends and constant research on she is finally done! This is my 2nd carputer setup. My last one was in a 2nd gen Explorer. Everything was kinda thrown together just to make it work so I knew that I wanted a clean install this time around.

    I decided to put this in my Neon because it is the vehicle I drive the most (gas saver!). And yes, I know the interior looks like hell. The guy who had it before me painted everything blue. I removed the paint from the front door panels and just haven't gotten around to restoring the factory color to the rest of the pieces but I will.

    Anyway, at the heart of this system is my laptop. There are two reasons that I decided to go with a laptop for my setup:

    1) I like being able to turn off my inverter and not have the computer kill. It also eliminates the problem of the inverter resetting when starting the vehicle thus killing power to the computer. It also allows me to tell windows to hibernate after one minute when running on battery power. That way I can turn off my inverter and walk away and know my carputer will shut down on its own and will be able to quickly resume function when I return to the vehicle. I can leave it hibernating all day at work running on battery power and then on the way home from work I can turn the inverter on to charge the battery by the time I'm home.

    2) I already had the laptop. In fact, I loved this laptop to death. It was ultra portable at around 3lb. Great for wifi around the house. Sadly the screen suffered water damage. It wasn't cost effective to replace the screen so instead of letting the laptop gather dust, I decided it would be fitting to carry on it's life as a carputer!

    The laptop is a Dell X300. It has an Intel Pentium M 1.2 GHz, 640 MB DDR, 30 GB 5,400rpm hard drive, and wifi. I am using the docking station with the laptop because it allows me greater flexibility with my connections.

    It tucks neatly and out of the way under the passenger seat. I may relocate to the trunk down the road. This laptop stays very cool on its own so hopefully I will not have any ventilation issues with it being under the seat.

    I am running a 7" Lilliput Touchscreen. Due to the fact this install needed to be relatively quick and inexpensive, I chose to go with a goose neck for mounting my lcd. It supports the lcd very well. It slit the back of the plastic surround and hid the wires inside. It makes it look a lot cleaner IMO. I have put this screen on a relay that uses the ignition as a trigger to power on the screen. This is a very nice feature. When I turn the car completely off it kills all power to the screen automatically so I don't have worry about it. The hibernation on my laptop takes care of the rest. I do have to push the power button on the screen to turn it on. I actually like it this way because I don't always want to turn on my carpc and don't need to screen turning on needlessly.

    Because I use an inverter to power the laptop, I had to come up with a way to remotely control it. I had to lean back into the trunk to turn it on/off and that was a pain in the butt. I extended the wires that hooked to the toggle switch and relocated it in the groove above the e-brake. I didn't get it perfect but no one can see it here anyway. You pretty much have to be told its there to know about it and that is the way I wanted it.

    One issue I was concerned about was how I would turn on the laptop. Reaching under the seat is not only a pain but very impracticable. Thanks to Wardriver's remote momentary switch guide, I was able to convert this shifter into something useful. It came with the car and must have lit up when you pushed the button but the batteries inside were dead. I took them out, then desoldered and rotated the switch on the circuit board so it wasn't making contact with anything, and then soldered two wires from the laptop power switch to the momentary switch on the shifter. I can now turn on the computer easy with the push of a button or hold it down to completely shut down the carputer. I have to shave off the bottom of the screw so it will fit back in the hold. It's too long now that wires run in the hole it previously screwed into. Then it won't have that empty hole anymore.

    The one thing I still have to do is pick up some velcro and secure my Sirius receiver and inverter to the back of the seats and tuck the wires away in the spare tire compartment. I just haven't gone to the store yet to get some velcro.

    I like to put my Sirius antenna on the rear deck because it is much easier than trying to run that little wire under the rear window gasket. It works great, no problems.

    This is my Garmin Nuvi 260. I was thinking about mounting it right above the vents. I think it would look okay but I am thinking that I may just move it out of the way and connect it to my carputer. I am going to look into getting a usb cable and downloading nRoute.

    Future upgrades:
    1) Either replace the internal hd with a larger one or get a massive external hd.
    2) Small, ultra portable wireless keyboard possibly with built in mouse.
    3) Add usb slots in the center console.
    4) Possibly hook up the Garmin for GPS if this turns out to be a viable option.
    5) Possibly find a way to use the carputer with my LG Scoop (AX2600RG) to make and receive phone calls with full functionality (heck, I'd even be happy with limited functionality).

    And here are some random pictures of the system in operation and the general setup.

    And a quick shot of the car:

    Anyway, thanks for viewing! I would love to get some input. And a big thank you to the mp3car community for answering my questions and for the invaluable information contained on this forum.

    I still have a lot more media to transfer so if you will excuse me...

  • #2
    Looks Good.
    For those who fought FREEDOM has a flavor the PROTECTED will never know. Support our troops.


    • #3
      what software are you running?


      • #4
        My OS is XP Pro SP2. I use RoadRunner as my front end with the Carwings skin. As for my on-screen keyboard I use Inscribe.


        • #5
          Looks good mang. You could use a little car detail tho.

          Try RevFE
          The best resurrected frontend I've ever used, period.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Tidder View Post
            Looks good mang. You could use a little car detail tho.
            Haha, tell me about it. It's on the list of things to do.


            • #7
              Where did you get the goose neck?


              • #8
                Originally posted by protias View Post
                Where did you get the goose neck?
                Honestly, I can't remember. I don't have the link to the site anymore. I'm not sure of the brand either but it may be a Pyle.