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My low tech, low budget headless car PC

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  • My low tech, low budget headless car PC

    I've been lurking here for a few years and had orginally wanted to build a car PC for my hot rod. The longer I planned the more the technology changed and I came to the conclusion that a smart phone would do 90% of what I wanted anyway so I picked up a Droid X. It's been a good phone and came in handy quite a few times but have never followed though with the application in my hot rod other than using the car dock for GPS.

    I really was resisting the idea of a built in head unit or touch screen as I like the simple look in the interior and the dash is already cramed w/ engine and transmission computers / wiring. So I came up with hair brained idea of using the Droid as the music player and a Bluetooth reciever for a source for the stereo amp. I could have just used the audio jack on the Droid, but I would have to plug and unplug everytime and I didn't want to do that.

    I got a bluetooth headphone set for $50 and disected the guts so I would have speaker outputs to run to the amp. One of the speaker pods has on/off, track, volume controls so I'll use that as a small hand held control.

    I know there are probably a lot of much better ways to acomplish this, but I was getting really lost with all the high tech jargon and software being tossed around online and my head just hurt trying to sort through it all.

    The right side had the controls and the left had the internal battery.

    I hardwired the speaker outputs. The Bluetooth unit still needed the internal battery connected to work even with external power connected. I'll hook up a 12-5vdc power souce so it will get power from the car battery. I extended the leads for the battery so it can be concealed under the dash.

    Last edited by Arrowhead45x; 08-10-2011, 07:19 AM.

  • #2
    Here is the "control pod". The speaker outputs go to the amp obviously and then it's standard audio stuff.


    • #3
      Here's a quick video, you can't hear the audio very well but this was just a test in principle to see if it would actually work.

      Last edited by Arrowhead45x; 08-10-2011, 07:30 AM.


      • #4
        Cool idea on the headless system. You could have used the Sosche bluetooth receiver for that purpose instead of dissecting the bluetooth headphone. There's a thread on here w/'s the one with the tablet in the Altima.
        Project X10 Belazer
        Progress: NEVER ENDING!!!


        • #5
          nice work so far!
          My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
          "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"

          next project? subaru brz
          carpc undecided


          • #6
            very cool integration of bluetooth for a simplified PC install.
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            • #7
              Actually, I had the Scosche bluetooth piece and I found it really glitchy. I ended up upgrading to the Parrot Mk9100i. Few bugs here and there but the overall sound quality is 10x better. Plus it has a usb input for a thumb drive, 3.5 plug for plugging in other devices as well as a proprietary ipod plug for full control of your ipod. I love the thing.

              For this project however, I actually did something like this about a year and a half ago. Instead of gutting a headset, I used the Blackberry bluetooth gateway. It has a mini-usb in for power and a 3.5 out for a fairly high voltage low level signal. I disassembled one of my extra car chargers from my Droid, and soldered the + and - from the charger directly to the power input on the bluetooth gateway. Then to keep any vibration from causing noise (because 3.5 jacks are never 100% stable) I soldered female rca ends to the board as well. Amazingly, running straight from the gateway to my amps, I had zero noise. But I had no real control over the sound either so I added an Audiocontrol Three.1 to boost the voltage as well as add sub control. THEN it got noisy... freakin Audiocontrol.

              The only problem I see with what you are doing is using the headphone amp for signal. The mini amps that power your headphones has an extremely dirty signal. Be careful or you will smoke your components very quickly.


              • #8
                Very creative and minimalist setup, Arrowhead. Do you find the audio levels to be sufficient? I wouldn't expect the meager power levels of a wireless headset to do well in feeding signal to an amp, but I guess if you can keep it clear of any EFI, then the amp can do all the work sufficiently.

                Again, well done.