Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

2008 Mini Cooper + Mac Mini = UBERmini [updated photos!]

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • 2008 Mini Cooper + Mac Mini = UBERmini [updated photos!]

    So after about 9 months of slowly acquiring all the core components, I've finally decided to take the knife to my Mini and raise its IQ a bit. I decided to take a somewhat unique (and terrifying) approach of shoehorning a Lilliput touchscreen into the speedometer designed for the factory nav system.

    My original plan was to simply retrofit the OEM nav system and call it a day, but I quickly discovered that was going to be an ordeal (replacing the entire front dash wiring harness, talking my way into getting a dealer to recode the BCU to name just a couple things). Turns out doing a car PC would be much simpler (say what?) and, let's be honest, makes it a much more fun project. ;-)

    Anyway, I'll update this thread as I make progress with the install this weekend (starting with some pics as soon as I get home). Wish me luck! :-D







    Parts & Specs
    • Power Supply (CarNetix P-1900)
    • Display (Lilliput 669GL)
      • Transflective (Optically Bonded)
      • 3M Capacitive Panel (Optically Bonded)
    • Computer (Mac Mini)
    • Andrea Superbeam Microphone Array
    • HD Radio (Visteon HDZ300)
    • GPS (USGlobalSat BU-353)

    Tasks [Updated 8/10/2011]
    • Display [Installed]
      • Modify OEM navigation cluster to fit display. [Complete]
      • Install Lilliput. [Complete]
    • Computer [Installed]
      • Install MacPac ACPI Y-cable. [Complete]
      • Modify OEM "secret compartment" to securely hold comptuer. [Complete]
      • Route all wiring to back of compartment. [Complete]
      • Redirect OEM aux and USB ports to computer. [Complete]
      • Hardwire OEM aux input to 3.5mm jack. [Complete]
      • Install USB Audio Switch. [Complete]
    • Power Supply [Installed]
      • Set jumpers. [Complete]
      • Wire ground, +12v, and ACC to fuse panel. [Complete]
      • Wire to display. [Complete]
      • Wire to computer. [Complete]
    • Software [In-Progress]
      • Custom Centrafuse Skin (designed around custom bezel shape) [In-Progress]
    • Peripherals [Pending]
      • Microphone [Complete]
      • GPS [Complete]
      • HD Radio [Complete]
        • Mount under OEM head unit. [Complete]
        • Wire to fuse panel. [Complete]
      • External WiFi Antenna [Planned]
      • OBD-II Connector [Planned]
      • Car2PC Module [Planned]
    Last edited by Wilco; 08-11-2011, 03:24 PM.
    My Worklog: 2008 Mini Cooper + Mac Mini

  • #2


    I'm also keeping a worklog for Nox (the Centrafuse skin) in the Centrafuse forums.
    My Worklog: 2008 Mini Cooper + Mac Mini

    Comment


    • #3
      Step One: The Dislplay

      For the display I purchased a custom Lilliput 669GL from an eBay seller that also provided optically-bonded transflective and capacitive upgrades. In retrospect I think both those things were well worth it (honestly I can't imagine going back to a resistive touchscreen after being spoiled by all the latest and greatest iDevices). I soon found out, however, that the standard 7" size was just slightly too large to fit in the Mini's OEM nav frame. It was close enough that I talked myself into firing up ye olde dremel, and as luck would have it, came out the other side without a broken display.

      First off, here's a quick shot of the original speedo, which I replaced with the alternate speedo designed for the OEM nav system.





      Sadly I didn't remember to start taking photos until the re-assembly stage, but hopefully this will still give you an idea of the amount of trauma that poor little display went through.



      The first thing I had to do was work my way down to the core piece that would hold the LCD panel. Once that was separated, I was able to dremel away enough plastic to be able to slide the display in from one side.







      And here is the display fully crammed into that core plastic piece.



      At this point I ran into a little problem. I discovered that one of the corners of the screen wasn't clearing the mechanics of the speedometer by about 2mm. At this point I was fully invested, so with no other options, I adjusted the position of the screen (despite the tight fit) and again used the dremel to smooth out one of the corners. Probably not the brightest decision of my life, but I was fortunate and sustained no damage to the display's internals.





      Once I had the display fitted, I started buttoning things back up. I was able to reuse the back plate of the OEM display panel to close up the back of the speedometer/display while still allowing the Lilliput's connectors to be accessible.







      The end result was a reasonably clean and self-contained package. Phew!
      Last edited by Wilco; 08-10-2011, 11:30 PM.
      My Worklog: 2008 Mini Cooper + Mac Mini

      Comment


      • #4
        Step Two: The Computer

        Obviously for the computer I used a Mac Mini. I thought about using the latest unibody model, but decided it was not only cost-prohibitive (no need for that much horespower), but the form factor was also not optimal. The new ones are wider and flatter and have the AC/DC power brick integrated into the machine. The end result was that it wouldn't fit into the "secret compartment" intended for the CD changer option, would be more expensive, and would have the built-in AC power brick needlessly taking up space.

        So instead, I went for the cheapest Mac Mini I could find that still had an intel CPU.

        The first thing to do was to crack the case open and install the power button splitter for the CarNetix P1900 power supply.



        I found it to be easiest to feed it through one of the vents on the bottom.



        Once that was complete, I removed the "secret compartment" assembly from the car and modified it to accommodate the Mac Mini. To do this, I removed the hollow insert inside the housing, and found that the Mac fit perfectly in the open space (with some extra space on either side).



        I decided to set it up so I could remove the computer easily, rather than somehow mounting it semi-permanently. My solution was to set up the compartment so that I could slide the mini in and out. To prevent the mini from sliding too far inward, I glued an extra strip of plastic across the back to give it a lip (which I also had to modify with the dremel to ensure all the ports on the back were still accessible).



        You can probably see how I dealt with the extra space on the sides. I basically picked up some of that foam you use for window A/C units and used some double-sided foam tape to stick it to either side. This gave me a nice snug fit that still allowed me to freely slide the mini out of the compartment without too much trouble.

        At this point, I ensured all the various cables were zip-tied together to form a home-made harness (with enough slack to allow for the computer to slide out completely), connected everything to the back of the computer, and re-installed the secret compartment.





        Once installed, it looked fairly clean and left the Mini still easily accessible should I need to remove it from the car for software updates, maintenance, etc.



        My Worklog: 2008 Mini Cooper + Mac Mini

        Comment


        • #5
          Step Three: The Peripherals

          This isn't quite the order in which I put things together, but to keep my posts coherent, I'm grouping the peripherals into a single section.

          1. Andrea SuperBeam Microphone Array

          Sadly, although my car had the OEM bluetooth option, some research revealed I wouldn't be able to tap into the factory microphone. Instead, I removed it completely, and replaced it with the guts from an Andrea microphone. I had hoped to keep the casing on and simply hide it somewhere, but I ended up opting for the more complicated solution.



          As it turns out, there were two perfectly sized openings in the headliner module that housed the factory microphone (among other things). One of them was occupied by the original mic, so after removing it, I got creative and used some more of that foam to snugly fit the Andrea mic heads into place.







          The next step was to cut away some of the filler plastic that I found after removing the headliner module. A few passes with the dremel and I had a perfectly shaped hole to allow the excess mic electronics to fit.







          The final step was to route the mic wire behind the headliner and down the A-pillar and into the back of the secret compartment. This turned out to be easier than I expected, as there was plenty of room (and holes) for the wire to reach its destination.







          2. GPS

          I didn't end up with any shots of the GPS install, but it was more or less the same as the mic install. I basically tucked it inside the headliner and routed the USB cable down the A-pillar and over to the back of the Mac. So just pretend the previous shots were for the GPS dongle and you'll get the same effect. :-D

          3. HD Radio

          For radio I picked up one of the Visteon HD radio units and the USB adapter cable made by Mitch in the MP3car store. I ended up mounting it directly beneath the OEM radio unit for simplicity, and connected up all the corresponding cables.







          Once the radio was installed, I also connected up an MJS USB Audio selector so I could switch from the radio as an input to the AUX input. For the AUX input, I spliced in a standard minijack line into the back of the OEM AUX input (below the climate controls). In fact, I also did the same for the OEM USB input, effectively giving me a USB port for the Mac Mini that was easily accessible and visually indistinguishable from the OEM setup. No pics for the USB or AUX yet, but I'll see if I can track them down and post them up.
          My Worklog: 2008 Mini Cooper + Mac Mini

          Comment


          • #6
            Super clean. Can't wait to see what else you have in store. Also, I didn't know that Mitch's UAS had OS X drivers.

            Comment


            • #7
              Fantastic! You did a great job on fitting the 669 into the speedometer, and converting the entire assembly to the OEM NAV configuration. Keep up the excellent work!
              1999 Mercury Grand Marquis GS with: ASRock E350M1 w/4GB RAM, 80GB Intel SSD, Opus DCX3.120, Visteon HD Radio + HDR-USB, PL-18N wifi, OBDLink Scan Tool, BTA6210 BT, BU-353, Win 7 Ultimate, CF 4.0, Alpine MRP-F240 + MRP-T220, RF Punch 1572s, Kicker 8" Comp.

              Comment


              • #8
                First off, here's a quick shot of the original speedo, which I replaced with the alternate speedo designed for the OEM nav system.
                Does the oem nav system really go 'inside' of the speedo? That is slick, great install!
                Current Worklog: TBA - '05 Rav4 (Mobo Dead).
                www.rav4world.com - Forums for Rav4 owners
                www.flavorfeasts.com - Cooking website/forums
                -Basic forums live atm, come contribute!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by detlion1643 View Post
                  Does the oem nav system really go 'inside' of the speedo?
                  Yep, it sure does. NAV, various onscreen displays. It looks pretty good, actually.
                  1999 Mercury Grand Marquis GS with: ASRock E350M1 w/4GB RAM, 80GB Intel SSD, Opus DCX3.120, Visteon HD Radio + HDR-USB, PL-18N wifi, OBDLink Scan Tool, BTA6210 BT, BU-353, Win 7 Ultimate, CF 4.0, Alpine MRP-F240 + MRP-T220, RF Punch 1572s, Kicker 8" Comp.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm liking the screen placement. Definitely unique and cool. Super clean install...all looks OEM in placement.
                    Project X10 Belazer
                    Progress: NEVER ENDING!!!
                    http://www.mp3car.com/show-off-your-...ime-puter.html

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Screen placement is sick man. Definitely following this build.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Very nice. Subtle yet not understated

                        The "I void warranties" shirt is appropriate.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by davekra View Post
                          Very nice. Subtle yet not understated

                          The "I void warranties" shirt is appropriate.
                          Technically, he would only be voiding the warranty on the parts he modified. Depending on where he is, law would prevent the shop from denying work on other parts.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Wilco View Post
                            S
                            My original plan was to simply retrofit the OEM nav system and call it a day, but I quickly discovered that was going to be an ordeal (replacing the entire front dash wiring harness, talking my way into getting a dealer to recode the BCU to name just a couple things). Turns out doing a car PC would be much simpler (say what?) and, let's be honest, makes it a much more fun project. ;-)
                            Originally posted by Wilco View Post
                            Step One: The Dislplay

                            For the display I purchased a custom Lilliput 669GL from an eBay seller that also provided optically-bonded transflective and capacitive upgrades. In retrospect I think both those things were well worth it (honestly I can't imagine going back to a resistive touchscreen after being spoiled by all the latest and greatest iDevices). I soon found out, however, that the standard 7" size was just slightly too large to fit in the Mini's OEM nav frame. It was close enough that I talked myself into firing up ye olde dremel, and as luck would have it, came out the other side without a broken display.

                            First off, here's a quick shot of the original speedo, which I replaced with the alternate speedo designed for the OEM nav system.





                            Sadly I didn't remember to start taking photos until the re-assembly stage, but hopefully this will still give you an idea of the amount of trauma that poor little display went through.



                            The first thing I had to do was work my way down to the core piece that would hold the LCD panel. Once that was separated, I was able to dremel away enough plastic to be able to slide the display in from one side.







                            And here is the display fully crammed into that core plastic piece.



                            At this point I ran into a little problem. I discovered that one of the corners of the screen wasn't clearing the mechanics of the speedometer by about 2mm. At this point I was fully invested, so with no other options, I adjusted the position of the screen (despite the tight fit) and again used the dremel to smooth out one of the corners. Probably not the brightest decision of my life, but I was fortunate and sustained no damage to the display's internals.





                            Once I had the display fitted, I started buttoning things back up. I was able to reuse the back plate of the OEM display panel to close up the back of the speedometer/display while still allowing the Lilliput's connectors to be accessible.







                            The end result was a reasonably clean and self-contained package. Phew!
                            Wilco,

                            Great install. Really thinking outside the box... or circle in this case. I am very interested in your screen/NAV retrofit install. I have 2 Mini speedos that may just get the same treatment.

                            It looks from what you wrote that you did not have the factory nav originally. And I think I see on the other forum where you were looking into what (retrofit) it would take to install it. I even found where someone mentioned that the speedo and tach would have to be replaced as a pair. I think you made the best decision.


                            I have a few questions if you don't mind:

                            1. Did the connector to the old speedo fit into the new one?

                            2. Was anything additional need to be done to restore the indicator lights and speedometer movement?

                            3. Do all of the lights function as they should?

                            4. Are you satisfied with the upgraded monitor that you have chosen?

                            5. What are the compromises or things that aren't exactly what you hoped for (or side effects) as far as the monitor/speedo setup? (if any)

                            6. Would you be able and/or willing to provide me a name or other contact info for the screen and/or nav speedometer that you used, either here or in a PM?

                            7. Since the speedo install, have you had any thoughts on how you would have mated the devices together differently? If so, what?

                            8. Can you clarify that you did indeed have to modify the corner of the screen (and not just the speedo) with a dremel?
                            It's been a while...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              No problem, let me see if I can answer your questions:

                              Originally posted by h3rk View Post
                              1. Did the connector to the old speedo fit into the new one?
                              Yes. I was pleasantly surprised by this.

                              Originally posted by h3rk View Post
                              2. Was anything additional need to be done to restore the indicator lights and speedometer movement?
                              No, as soon as I connected it, everything functioned 100% as expected.

                              Originally posted by h3rk View Post
                              3. Do all of the lights function as they should?
                              Yes, everything was 100% functional.

                              Originally posted by h3rk View Post
                              4. Are you satisfied with the upgraded monitor that you have chosen?
                              Yes and no. I am totally happy with the result (and the screen itself is great), but had I the option of obtaining a 6.5" display with the same functionality, it would have saved me from a lot of headaches (and dremeling).

                              Originally posted by h3rk View Post
                              5. What are the compromises or things that aren't exactly what you hoped for (or side effects) as far as the monitor/speedo setup? (if any)
                              The cut-off corners are a pain for running Windows (start-menu isn't reachable). In my opinion, that was a fair trade for a super-clean OEM look that was really unique. Plus I ended up building a custom Centrafuse skin, designed around that unique screen shape, which basically made it a non-issue except for the occasional use of the windows desktop for maintenance/admin tasks.

                              Originally posted by h3rk View Post
                              6. Would you be able and/or willing to provide me a name or other contact info for the screen and/or nav speedometer that you used, either here or in a PM?
                              I got them both on eBay. I'll be happy to give you any contact info I can dig up, but it might be a long shot since it was so long ago. A good alternative would probably be to find them at a salvage yard that will ship them on car-part.com

                              Originally posted by h3rk View Post
                              7. Since the speedo install, have you had any thoughts on how you would have mated the devices together differently? If so, what?
                              Short of finding a decent 6.5" touchscreen, I'm still happy with how I approached it. I really tried to find a 6.5-incher with no luck (at least not for something at a decent resolution)

                              Originally posted by h3rk View Post
                              8. Can you clarify that you did indeed have to modify the corner of the screen (and not just the speedo) with a dremel?
                              Unfortunately yes, and I get the feeling I was incredibly lucky that the screen survived it. No cracked glass or funky display issues. I'm not sure there would have been any way to avoid the modification unless a different make/model (say a Xenarc, or a different Lilliput) just happened to fit perfectly.

                              The difference was at most 1 cm, so I suppose there might be a 7" screen out there somewhere that would fit, but short of ordering/trying multiple screens yourself, it would be a tough process.


                              Hope that helps! Let me know if you get started and have any questions mid-project!
                              My Worklog: 2008 Mini Cooper + Mac Mini

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X