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2003 Chevy Avalanche - Car PC install for long term school project.

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  • 2003 Chevy Avalanche - Car PC install for long term school project.

    Redoing this thread to match my work log here:

    Here are a couple pictures of my truck before any modifications:
    Click image for larger version

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    The only update I have made to this truck so far is the interior door and dash lights are almost all blue LED's now. I have not done the radio yet and I have to go back and redo the headlight switch, dash cluster and the HVAC controls. Otherwise they all have been upgraded.

    I have outllined the stereo and the computer setup below. I am calling this truck Knight Rider for now until I can figure out a better name for it. So feel free to offer names if you can think of some.

    This truck is being called knight rider because there will be an attempt to hack into just about every system in this truck and monitor or control it. I will also be adding much more functionality to be outlined as I do it.

    Upcoming maintanence and upgrades due on this truck:
    Knock sensors and plugs.
    Rebuilding rear end and transmission.
    Upgrading transfer case for the hole issue.
    Installing Vent Visors.
    Bought an extra set of Factory 17" rims that I will be having powder coated black and installed with new tires.
    Painting the "Powerbar" black and installing a Billet Black bowtie.
    Last edited by redheadedrod; 01-19-2014, 10:29 PM.

  • #2
    I have a thread discussing the computer equipment up to this point here:,133262.0.html

    PC Currently consists of:
    M350 Case
    i3-55watt processor with Intel 4000 Graphics dual core and over 3ghz speed.
    16gig ddr1600 ram
    M3-ATX PSU
    Roswill low profile fan (Designed for 65 watt CPUs)
    Patriot Pyro 120G SSD

    Directed HD radio DMHD1000
    BU-353S4 GPS
    OBDLink SX ODBII to USB cable

    This motherboard supports Intel Graphics 4000 with dual monitors.
    I upgraded the onboard card so now it has WiFi B/G/N/AC and Blue tooth 4.0.

    The OBDII and GPS will shortly be replaced with a box purchased from a member of MP3CAR that has built in:
    I have a box sold by a member on MP3Car that will add ODBII, Tire pressure sensors, backup object detection (Front and rear sensors), Phidgets 8, and GPS to my computer. It is all in one box and one set of the backup sensors will have to be wireless.
    This stuff will run under Driveline but I plan to add plugins to Open Mobile for them.

    Pictures of the PC that I will install:
    The two wired pieces on top are the WiFi antenaes. I am not sure I will actually be using these and may be using the one that came with my desktop that is one piece for both and can fit easily in the dash.
    Click image for larger version

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    Yes there are 2 LAN ports and two HDMI ports. I have a DVI to VGA adaptor for using with the 7" screen attached currently.
    Click image for larger version

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    This machine will eventually have 2 monitors. I have a Touch 700 screen that has been converted to a capacitive screen and have a 10.1 wide screen ordered to install as well. The 7 inch will eventually go into the radio slot but the 10.1" monitor is a perfect fit for this part of the dash:
    Click image for larger version

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    The 7" monitor will replace the radio once I can remove the Radio. I won't replace the radio until I have figured out how to interface to the Xm satellite, the steering wheel controls (After I add them) and the rear entertainment center. The intent is to be able to make the truck believe that the PC is the radio and allow it to access the functions properly. Plus also will have the factory "Dings" added at some point.

    Since I have 2 Capacitive multitouch screens for this truck now I will be using Win 8.1 which is better for touch screens.

    the 10.1 screen will fit within the black plastic piece so I will be making a custom piece to trim out the screen. I may have someone do it for me so it is perfect but it will be done shortly.

    I have to finish the midgate before the computer will go in its final resting spot but I will find a temporary home for it for now.

    The 7 inch screen still has a protective cover on it but I will post pictures of it when I get the chance. It has a Micro USB port on the front of the screen so something can be plugged into it.

    There will be an ARM based PC probably running Ubuntu, WINCE 7 or QNX that will talk to the other onboard computers to give pretty much instant on access to the controls of the truck. The touch screen for this computer will be mounted in the over head console.

    More to come...
    Last edited by redheadedrod; 01-19-2014, 10:36 PM.


    • #3
      My alarm system is a top of the line Compustar alarm with 2 way remote and a "Drone" module. Once I am able to figure out how the communications works with this system I will likely replace it all with a special purposed module I will build myself but for now it will be a readily available commercial product.

      The computer will serve as the head unit. Since I already have an HD radio for it I don't need anything else. I will be using Driveline or OM for the front end to drive the stereo. But until the computer is ready to replace the factory radio it will feed into the XM radio audio line as outlined in the "$3 aux port" thread.

      I have a spare midgate and I am trying to figure out now what type of setup I want to do for the speakers and am curious if anyone with experience can provide suggestions. I want this to look stealthy but I don't want to build a totally new box. I have modified a picture of this midgate as it is right now after I peeled off the front trim piece with some blue and red overlays on it to show my choices:
      Click image for larger version

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      In the Red scenario the blocks marked in red would be cut out totally. In the front piece the same areas would be cut out as well and a wire speaker mesh glued onto the back side of the front piece. In this setup the 10" subs will fire either down or at an angle towards these ports. They hopefully will be big enough to not modify the sound and become an actual "port" more like a down firing sub in your house that can be used as a coffee table. The box would be deeper due to the orientation of the speakers which would leave the amplifiers and any processors going across the top of the box. With this version the window will not be affected at all. It can be placed in its resting place and the subs won't bother it. The tops of the cutouts will actually be a little lower since they will not run into the cloth piece.

      The blue scenario would basically be cutting out speaker holes for the speakers behind the cloth piece on the midgate. The problem with this setup is it will require a switch to cut off the subwoofers if the window is in its storage location so they won't crack the window. It will be more stealthy but I am not so sure it is the best place. The amplifiers then have to be mounted lower or inbetween the speakers unlike the first box that could be built as a box going across the width of the bed.

      With this system I will be placing 3 way speakers in the front doors, coaxials in the rear door and 2 10" old school Hart subs in the midgate. I expect to use diamond audio speakers for the speakers in the doors.

      When I figure out the rear entertainment center I will feed it from the onboard audio and install a USB DAC to run the audio to the rest of the system. I DO have a couple USB sound cards I could use one of to start with.

      The diamond audio speakers will all run off passive EQ's. I MAY get a 3 way active cross over and use my 6" subs for the higher frequency bass but not sure where I would put the speakers. I could build small boxes into the doors or under the dash assuming there is room under the dash.

      I am using either 4 or 5 Audio Art 50HC amplifiers. These amplifiers put out 2x50 watts at 12volts and 2x75 at 14 volts. They put out 1 x 375 at 14 volts. All using 4ohm speakers. These are "Cheater" amps and is the reason for the weird power outputs. Using all 5 of these amplifiers I would use 1 to drive the high range subwoofers, 1 to run the front speakers, 1 to run the rear speakers and 2 to run the rear subwoofers. If I decide NOT to use the high range subwoofers I will only use 4 amplifers. Using 5 amplifiers in this setup I would be running a total of about 1200 actual watts at 14 volts.

      Last edited by redheadedrod; 03-09-2014, 11:15 AM.


      • #4
        Got my powder coated rims back yesterday. They look very nice!

        $40 apiece. I asked the guy and they do so much of this stuff that they don't charge much because they just run it in their normal work. The guy quoted me $50 for dual stage stuff as well so anyone near West Michigan it might well be worth the drive. (They are in Greenville, MI)

        They wrapped the finished rims and I have pictures from the front and back. The back I didn't pull off all of the plastic for but the front I did. I will take some pictures once I get rubber on them and get them mounted. Probably will wait until the snow crap stops which at this point looks like may... LOL

        (Another 8 inches of snow last night... we are due to get 2 inches of rain this week during a warmup on thursday which should make things very interesting since none of the snow has melted yet and it is common to see 3-4' of snow in peoples yards let alone the snow banks.)
        Click image for larger version

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        • #5
          Latest update:

          Truck is in Detroit right now getting some work done...

          Rear end has a lot of noise in it. Shop is replacing all bearings and seals and gears if needed.
          Transmission is getting rebuilt. It works now but noticeably slips when changing gears.
          Transfer case will get "case saver" installed and any worn parts replaced.
          Since they are in there I also asked them to check out the front differential for any issues that are obvious. They give a lifetime warranty on any work they do so it was worth the trip.

          Getting my truck back on Friday 3-14-2013.

          Also going to be picking up my 10.1 screen for my computer which will be dropped off at a local audio shop with pieces of my console to have the screen installed into the console.

          The same shop that is doing this touch screen turned my 7inch screen into a capacitive screen that can replace my radio and I am lining up getting two 9inch resistive screens that can get mounted into the back of the seats. So yes this means my computer will have 4 screens. With two being capacitive screens and the other two being resistive.

          I will likely just have the 10.1 screen installed for now while I work out the bugs in the system.

          Looking at getting some rubber for this truck still but waiting until I get it back. Also looking for a way to get the "hubcaps" painted black. I am thinking of splitting the metal from the plastic backing and trying to powder coat one of them to see how it turns out.

          I have the Compustar Alarm installed but having issues with the 3000' 2 way transmitters. The alarm seems to forget if the doors are locked or not and doesn't always unlock the doors. Works better if I lock the doors with that remote but should not do this. The shop reflashed the alarm module to see if it would make a difference. Otherwise I can start the car just fine and the alarm seems to work fine.

          Looking at a place to temporarily locate the PC until I get the console ready to fully install it. I am considering trying to put it in the dash wherever I can find room but not sure yet.

          The size tires I need for this truck are 265 70R17. Looking for a basic "road" tire all weather tire.



          • #6
            I'm looking forward to this build...Subscribed!
            My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE


            • #7
              Thanks Phil, I am looking forward to it too... I think I have a line on some new tires for the truck but waiting to find out what the "damages" will be first.

              Probably will be yanking the dash all apart to find a place to hide the PC now that the weather is getting better. I still want to do the midgate speaker box but if I can install the PC before hand it will make a big difference. I can tie into the factory radio through the XM Radio lines and be able to feed my computer through it with decent quality sound until I get the box built. It will not fit in my console as is. The console has a 6.5" subwoofer installed from the factory in this BOSE system so when I install the 2 10" subs I can ditch the BOSE woofer and mount the PC in that location with custom cooling without issue. Just wish I didn't live in an apartment and could work on this in a garage so I could do most of the work myself on the box and stuff.

              It is also warming up around here too so I might put my vent visors on the truck too. Should make the truck look a bit different with the black rims and the vent visors.

              Last edited by redheadedrod; 03-10-2014, 05:11 PM.


              • #8
                Cool project :-)


                • #9
                  We're all looking for warm weather, that's for sure.

                  What about a cheap box to move the factory woofer to for the time being so you can get going on the final location for the PC rather than installing it twice? Just a thought.
                  My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE


                  • #10
                    You know Phil, I had not thought of that yet... That is a viable solution as well and I would much rather have the cheap factory sub woofer exposed than the PC...

                    I will have to look into that now...

                    I am probably going to buy a spare console to play around with so I can revert the truck back to stock if necessary in the future.

                    Thanks for the suggestion! That might get me moving a little faster than how I am headed now..

                    (Going to check with a local bone yard to see if they have a console for me...)



                    • #11
                      A spare console would sure take the pressure off, if I had had a spare middle seat that I could have put back in the truck, I might have finished my truck sooner.
                      My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE


                      • #12
                        I will probably see how hard it is to pull the console out of my truck next week and go with that. If I can mount the PC in the console without much effort that will be great. It will fit under where my drink holders are now but I would lose the drink holders and it would be too easy to access. If I pull the subwoofer and relocate it the console has more than enough room for all sorts of goodies in it. The "Sno" box will easily fit in the console behind where I want to move the screen and the remainder of the console would be untouched and usable for other items.

                        My local junkyard has a bunch of consoles and is selling me one for $75 so I will be picking one up shortly.

                        Last edited by redheadedrod; 03-13-2014, 05:04 AM.


                        • #13
                          I stripped the "new" console I have to see how it all fits together...

                          I need to relocate the BOSE amplifier and then I can mount the PC in the location the amplifier currently is located. I have to order some mounting brackets for the PC yet then I should be good to go.

                          The screen should be relatively easy to mount as well. So now I am getting closer to getting the PC into the truck. I shouldn't have to mess with the factory sub woofer at this point in time but it does provide a LOT of room if I so desire to remove it after the midgate is done.

                          Going to send a bracket out to get powder coated as well. It should be very simple for the shop to do with the rest.

                          Looking forward to getting the screen into the truck and going from there.



                          • #14
                            Console bracket is at the powder coater, Most of the rest of the console is at the mobile audio store to get the screen mounted and glassed in.

                            But I got my hub caps back. They look really good. One had a flaw in it but otherwise they are pretty much perfect although they look a little more rounded off then they are.

                            One of the backs of the hub caps and the newly coated piece front and back. If you look at the original picture in this thread this is the piece in the center of the rims that WAS silver/aluminum in color.
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                            Here is an assembled hub cap:
                            Click image for larger version

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                            Once I get the console back and the bracket back I should be able to mount the computer in the console and be on my way...



                            • #15
                              Tuned in. Love to see your interaction with the GM bus as I'd like to do the same to my truck as well.

                              First step for me is determining the gauges I can pull off the system. Going to be doing some motor work and don't want to buy "gauges" when a virtual one is available. Curious if you've hooked up your replacement OBD and what all you sniffed out on the CAN.