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2007 Dodge Charger & Zotac Ion

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  • 2007 Dodge Charger & Zotac Ion

    This is my first attempt at a carputer. I've been lurking for over five years.

    • Zotac IonITX D-E
    • M2-ATX
    • 4GB RAM
    • 160GB HDD (Will get a SSD soon)
    • DVD-RW
    • 4th Gen Mo-Co-So case
    • Lilliput 629 with DVI input
    • Directed HDRadio
    • CANUSB

    Check back for pictures while assembling the system

    The Mo-Co-So case. It's a really nice case. Much better than if I had attempted to build a case out of sheet metal. The bottom plate slides out.

    This plate includes mounting holes for the hard drive and has standoffs for the power supply and motherboard.

    Here is the M2-ATX installed. I eventually decided to reverse the direction because the cables seemed to lay better.

    As you can see, the cables didn't lay very flat. The cables weren't going to lay flat enough to fit in the case.

    Once the motherboard is installed on the plate, all the front panel connectors need to be installed. The case offers a LOT of options. A Power or Reset button, 2 USB ports, stereo RCA jacks (with a wire to ground to the case),

    Here is the box fully assembled.

    There is a case fan that mounts on the plate that lines up with the M2-ATX and a vent in the side of the case. I found that the fan was extremely noisy. I will need to find a replacement fan if I'm going to try to use this inside as well.

    The Lilliput 629 Touchscreen... Since this has a DVI input, I got a HDMI to DVI converter and use the HDMI out of the Zotac. This works great... HDMI should be a lot smaller than DVI for routing cables in the car.

    I'm probably going to use RideRunner... I used to be excited about RR, but it is seeming less and less what I want. I'm getting interested in openMobile.

    I have developed a plug-in for RR that emulates the OEM head unit using the canbus. In Chrysler vehicles there are 2 canbuses: One for the engine, and the other is for interior devices. That second bus has the head unit, Sirius satellite receiver, and steering wheel controls among others. The plug-in can control the Sirius receiver, listen to the steering wheel controls, and display information in the information cluster in the dash (EVIC). The hardware used is the CANUSB. I tied into the canbus using a hands free adapter that has both ends of the head unit harness (while the HU is still there)

    That is it so far. I still need to figure out how it will go into the car...


  • #2
    Today I added the power lines in the car. The Dodge Charger has the battery in the trunk along with a fuse box. I went to "The Shack" to get some ring terminals, wire, fuse, and fuse holder.

    Here is a picture of the fuse box in the trunk with my additional wiring included

    I purchased an extra set of power cables for the case from Mo-Co-So so I could power the system in the house and in the car. I put all the necessary cables together and tried out the power in the car. The case also includes a set of cable and connectors to power the screen.

    HDRadio testing:
    I connected a serial port to the motherboard header so I wouldn't have to have a USB to serial adapter. Using Mitch's cable, I connected my HDRadio unit to the system leaving all audio and the head unit in place. The radio clicked like it should. I configured RR and the DigitalFX 4.0 skin to use the radio... Tuned a couple of stations in HD on both AM and FM.

    Woohoo!! Progress!!

    Oh and here are some pictures of the steering wheel and OEM head unit/cluster.

    I've got a couple of questions..... The Shack's fuse holder selection was bad. The fuse holder that I went with was a mini blade type that can handle 30 amps. It only has 12 gauge wire. I thought most people used bigger wire than that... I went ahead and used 12 gauge wire because it seemed like even the M2-ATX power supply came with even smaller wire... What's up with that?

    Separately, where does everybody get various LONG cables? audio, video, usb?



    • #3
      Today's progress...

      I worked on some sort of a mounting bracket for the display.
      Here is what the dash looks like at the various stages:

      So.... I will need to get the navigation bezel. The only problem with that is that the nav bezel is on back order from Chrysler. I can theoretically buy it from some other places but I'm not sure that the bezel is actually in stock....

      How's it looking so far???



      • #4
        Looks great Ryan.
        New to this forum to get better iPod integration with my REC NAV radio in my Charger.
        I always have had good luck getting cables from meritline.


        • #5
          I've got a nav bezel!

          A test fit on the table.....

          I didn't have a good place for the DVD drive... the RAM have heat sinks that don't allow the tray to fit in the case. So..... I may create some kind of bracket that would put the drive above or below the screen. I will also need to get the double din dash kit to fill in the rest of the space....

          2 options:

          What do you think? Any issues or problems with a vertical mount for a DVD?

          It's too cold to work in the garage...
          But I did find some details on the best way to run cables in the car. I'll need roughly 20 feet or 6 meters of cables going from the trunk to the dash.
          1 x HDMI
          4 x RCA audio (output to amp, input from Sirius, input from HD Radio, & aux in)
          ? x USB (touchscreen, usb2serial for HD Radio, DVD drive[needs 2]) 1 active usb cable and a powered hub or a bunch of USB?

          I'm working on figuring out how to get direct access to the satellite radio and antenna directly. that would cut down on the number of audio cables going to the front.

          High speed USB is only supposed to go 16 feet or 5 meters without a hub... or an active cable... anybody have any experience with those?

          Let me know....



          • #6
            So I went exploring in the rear passenger side C pillar looking for the antenna connector...
            This is what I found....

            I think that that is pretty much a standard type of antenna connector. I might be able to install the HD radio device in the trunk instead of behind the glove box...



            • #7
              where did you get the lilliput with the dvi input? I really like my ION. Much quicker than the stock intel atom boards.
              Former author of LinuxICE, nghost, nobdy.
              Current author of Automotive Message Broker (AMB).
              Works on Tizen IVI. Does not represent anyone or anything but himself.


              • #8
                I bought it from mo-co-so. It was an extra option, but i think it was worth it. I put a hdmi to dvi adapter on it, and it works just fine...
                The Zotac Ion is really cool. I don't think other atom systems even compare...



                • #9
                  Very nice work going on here. If you can share more about your canbus integration that would be awesome. I would like to use my steering wheel controls again and curious the exact hardware and software you are using to accomplish this? For reference I have a 2008 Dodge Dakota

                  Everything else looks great, nice parts, install and vehicle.
                  Build Things, it keeps your brain busy.

                  AutoPC v1 (Retired) - AutoPC v2 (in progress) -


                  • #10
                    About a year ago I found the website The folks there had been trying to figure out how to use an XM radio with the stock radio system. They had done some good work sending intercepting and replying back to the radio exactly what the radio needed including track and station info.

                    I wanted to do more. They were using a device from I bought the device, along with a couple of wiring harnesses; one that plugs into the radio, and one that plugs into the car. Essentially I created a jumper harness that allows me to splice into any of the radio's signals without cutting into existing car wiring. I hooked connected the can bus data lines in the car to the canusb device.

                    After I got things wired up I used the tool from canhack that would record can bus data and put it in a database that is searchable. I was able to decode a lot of data such as how to control the Sirius radio, the steering wheel controls, lock and unlock doors, pop the trunk, and how to control the stock audio amplifier.

                    I then wrote some software that emulates the stock head unit. I added a toggle switch to the power wiring to be able to turn off the stock head unit without having to take apart the dash and remove the radio. SUCCESS!!! I could control the volume, bass, mid, treble, balance, fade, Sirius channel, display the Sirius information, display the radio mode in the instrument cluster, and use the steering wheel controls.

                    I then wrote a Road Runner plugin with a skinned page for Digital FX 4.0. That page only controlled the amplifier and I also worked on adding events that were customizable for the steering wheel controls.

                    I next wrote a tool in C# that would allow me to watch can bus data in real time. This allowed me to decode many more things. Not many of them important though. I want to decode more, but I have had some other things come up.

                    Now that I almost have a computer installed in the car, I will probably write a new skinned page for e-Lite skin. The music player seems cleaner to me.

                    I have released my code under the GPLv3 so that others can use and update my code. I'll have to find the link later.

                    After I get most of this computer in the car, I would like to design my own can device that talks over ethernet to my pc. That device would be able to do all the things that my software can. The device would be able to control the HD radio device. I also want to add a 4 channel audio mixer: Computer, Sirius, HD Radio, & Aux. I'm not sure when that will be because I don't have any hardware design experience...

                    Hopefully this helps....



                    • #11
                      looks good man, his software is fantastic btw, I'm using it while building my setup also and its just great, thanks again for the work on that.
                      New Project in the Works

                      Previous Worklog here


                      • #12
                        Thanks for sharing rtgree,

                        I'm going to get my hans on the canusb device and give your software a try. I ended up using a module that allowed me to tap into the canbus somewhat, all it really does is turn on the factory amp and give me line level input. I would like to take an approach more similiar to what you have done, I know there is a lot the canbus does in these vehicles, and some of the multiplexed circuits can be hardware hacked with resistors, but I would prefer to just have a read/write canbus networking solution like you have done. So I guess this all starts by getting the canusb followed by a lot of reading.
                        Build Things, it keeps your brain busy.

                        AutoPC v1 (Retired) - AutoPC v2 (in progress) -


                        • #13
                          I've finally found some time to somewhat package up my work on a RideRunner plugin that interfaces with the CAN bus on a Chrysler/Dodge vehicle using the CANUSB device.

                          I know that I have some problems with the plugin.... One of which is exactly how to change the plugin's name

                          The other thing that I don't really like is that you have to include skin files to show how things should really work with a plugin. I know that's just how it is.... oh well....

                          Anyway... I have used this with DigitalFX 4.0

                          Let me know if you use this and if you make any changes to it. I'll incorporate your changes into my code and re-release it as needed.....

                          Edit: I forgot to mention that this requires the CANUSB's "CANUSB DLL & ActiveX Driver:" available from CANUSB's download page. The software is also setup for the old generation radios that use 83.3k bit rate. The newer generation radios use 125k... You will need to change that...

                          Attached Files


                          • #14
                            So.... a bit of an update....

                            I have successfully switched from the CANUSB device to the mbed microcontroller. The mbed is a microcontroller designed for prototyping projects quickly and easily.... Lots of I/O available with only a small amount of extra electronics needed. You write the code that it runs in C and C++, and use a compiler that is in "the cloud". You log in to their website and the whole programming environment is there for you. I can't say enough about how easy it was to get the thing reading and writing CAN messages on the car's CAN bus.

                            I have also installed all the pieces of the carputer in the car.... The cpu, screen, and HD radio have all been in the car since September. Using that mbed device, I can control the stock amplifier, sirius radio, and use the steering wheel controls.

                            Here are a couple of pictures of the install. I would like to work on how the CPU is attached to the trunk though... right now it is on with velcro and zip ties... Not the best, but since it is oriented on it's side, I don't think the hard drive will have too many problems....

                            As a side note, I'm using RideRunner with the Elite Wings skin. I'm looking into DFX5, but it is a bit of work to get my canbus plugin integrated well.... I would also like to see where openMobile is going. I wanted to help them out a bit, but I moved into a new house, and have a brand new baby that have taken all of my extra (heh... yeah right extra) time....

                            Whacha think?



                            • #15
                              Hi Ryan, It's me Tim... Your install looks great. I just got my mBed and I'm looking to move off of the CANUSB dongle. I have a few questions for you?

                              1.) mbed has two CAN controllers. Do you know if you can use one on the 500kbs bus while running the other on the 83.7kbs bus?

                              2.) Would you be willing to share some mbed code with me? A base example of how your polling messages and another example of posting a message (like popping the trunk or something like that) would really help me move forward.

                              3.) Did you tie you carputer screen brighness into your dimmer control knob (as you know that value is on the CAN-B bus)? If you are interested in that I can send you some code that will do that for you. I also have a code example that will increase and decrease the main volume of the computer as the car goes faster and slower. Let me know if I can trade this for some mbed set-up help.

                              Once again, Great work!