I have wanted a carpc setup for quite a while (years actually, massive lurker here), and had recently decided that a tablet was perfect for the application. I had been thinking about using an HTC Flyer, but then I heard the rumors of a Google Tablet and just had to wait for it. Despite its apparent drawbacks (storage mainly) I think the Nexus 7 is the ideal candidate for carpc applications.
The car is a Whitewater pearl 2005 RX8 GT that has been really good to me so far (besides the no bass Bose system).
The main piece of my install is a modified Metra double-din install kit. My initial idea was to cut out the Metra frame and mount the tablet flush to the center console, but when I received the Metra kit I realized that there was just not enough space for this to work. The tablet is actually perfectly flush to the top of the Metra kit, meaning the Hazard switch needed to be moved along with the removal of a small amount of material from the car itself. I cut and shaped a piece of sheet metal to the curve of the tablet to hold it in place behind plastic face and mounted it using epoxy. I used a heavy amount of dremel work to notch out the HVAC to allow for the tablet to sit down far enough in the opening in the metra kit.
When the tablet was seated, I reworked a few cables so that they would fit in the close tolerances I had to work with. Initially I had been planned to use a custom OTG y-cable I made to allow for simultaneous charging and access to usb storage (and a usb DAC), but evidently this is disabled in the kernel currently. The tablet will not charge and mount external storage at the same time. I have heard of some people getting this to work, but I was in a rush to finish the install and have not fixed this yet.
One issue I had was that as this is a permanent install, I needed a way to use the volume keys and power button (for flashing roms and such). This was an interesting problem to solve; I ended up making a pulley system that mounted fishing lines to the faceplate and wrapped them around the Nexus, with the lines coming out a small hole I made in the ash tray. This way when I pull the string the button is pressed
The finished product turned out very well I think. It is rock solid, and when the screen is off it almost completely disappears into the dash, a really cool look. The tablet is very fast and buttery smooth, perfect for in car! Also, since the light sensor is not covered the tablet auto-adjusts its brightness as it should, a useful feature when using google maps at night.
As for software, I am running a custom rom (JR6) because of the side mounted navbar. I am also forcing the tablet into landscape mode. I have the tablet set to "stay awake" when connected to power, so it automatically turns on and goes into deep sleep when the car is off. I so far have mainly used Spotify for my music, getting wifi on the go tethered from my phone. Works great.
All this would be worthless without a good sound system, right?
For sound, I installed a Focal 3-way polykevlar component set run of a JBL amp at 100W per channel. I am using a Clarion Eq746 equalizer in my glovebox to give me the controls I was missing from using the tablet (fader, subwoofer control, real eq), also it acts as a much needed line driver for the Nexus. I made some speaker adapter plates for the fronts that where quite off center to allow for the deep Focals to clear the window glass in the door. I did not Dynomat the doors, but I really wish I had. These speakers really have some kick to them and shake the doors to pieces. If you are replacing the speakers in your car I recommend that you do the sound dampening at the same time. I installed the tweeters in the sail panels and quickly made some temporary pods for the mids to go on the dash. I will fiberglass these to the A-pillars at some point when time allows.
What is left:
1. I do not like having to use the tablet for volume control, so I am going to take the potentiometer out of the clarion unit and remote mount it for ease of access.
2. Solve the external storage otg cable problem.
3. OBDII engine info
4. Install Focal Polyglass 13
5. Fiberglass the dash speakers
6. Dynomat the doors
7. Whatever else my poor college budget will allow!
Thanks for reading! Comments welcome.