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  • Alfa GTV installation

    Hi everyone. This is my first post, so please be gentle with me, but I have been looking in on the forum for a while. I first came up with the idea of fitting a PC to my car about a year ago, and I thought I would be amongst the first. I'd got fed up with cables for Palm based sat-nav, and Speed-trap detector all littered around, and I had a vision of a single device to fit in the dash to do Sat Nav with traffic, speed-trap detector, MP3 player etc. Once I started doing some searches I realised that I was far from the first! Some of you guys had been doing it for years.

    I waited and waited for the Nano-ITX to come out and had the intention of building a PC with a slide-out screen into an old stereo. However, I got bored of waiting for the Nano-ITX and couldn't fit anything bigger in the front of the car, so have gone for a boot-mounted PC.

    For anyone unfamiliar with the Alfa Romeo GTV it is a beautiful but impractical 2+2 sports coupe. It is a triumph of anti-tardis design: tiny on the inside and fairly big outside. So for a car PC there is nowhere to put anything.

    I think with better knowledge I could have done things a lot more cheaply, but I have played safe and ordered an Opus MPX vehicle case with built-in 90W PSU, EPIA SP13000, slot-in DVD, 2.5" SATA HDD, and the Xenarc IDT 7" Touchscreen.

    My first problem is that even the IDT case doesn't fit this car! Yes it goes in, after I have hacksawed the back of the DIN tray:


    But the dash is such that it will only open part-way, and certainly can't swivel, and I'm not sure it is to be much use like that.

    My next idea is to modify the IDT to see if it can work upside-down - can I put the screen lower in the case, and still open it upwards as normal? I will have a play with that soon.

    The other major problem I have to deal with is where to put an amplifier/amplifiers. There is nowhere obvious that a 4-channel amp will fit, but I am hoping that I can fit a 2-channel amp in the boot for the rear speakers, and a 2-channel under the passenger seat for the front speakers. I have no desire for a sub-bass, at least not at the moment.

    So I will fill in this log as I progress, and would be pleased if anyone has any comments that could help me.

    Administrators: if this is in the wrong place please let me know before you delete it. Thanks.
    Trying to fit a PC into an Alfa Romeo GTV. It's installed, but the buttons have fallen off since.

  • #2
    Those great looking alfa's aren't easy for mounting a screen. I can't wait to see it finished.

    Good luck!

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    • #3
      Thanks for support PartyBuster.
      Well, I have abandoned my first plan to simply use the IDT screen, and instead I have taken the screen out of the IDT mount, and fix it in the dash. I've found a few suitable places to secure it to, and the associated electronics board, but this will mean moving a few switched (hazard lights, front and rear fog lights) and most difficult will mean fabricating a replacement dash for the middle console. Lots more work. Darn!
      Trying to fit a PC into an Alfa Romeo GTV. It's installed, but the buttons have fallen off since.

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      • #4
        Hi there. is it possible you could tell me how you wired the power up for the screen ? how many wires are there to go from the screen to power?
        Thanks
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        • #5
          No Problem. The IDT is supplied with a plug and about 70cm (26") of trailing wires. You need to wire an earth, a permanent live, and a switched live. I assume that the permanent live is used to retain settings when the car ignition is switched off.
          There is also single specific bespoke socket and a supplied cable for the USB, VGA, and 2 composite signals.
          Trying to fit a PC into an Alfa Romeo GTV. It's installed, but the buttons have fallen off since.

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          • #6
            Interesting, can't wait to see some more pics.

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            • #7
              Thank you very much for your help and advice.
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              http://www.swanseahost.co.uk (Cheap plug lol)

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              • #8
                Darn it! I've spent many many hours over this weekend trying to make a plate for my dash to fit the screen in. I've tried using laminate ply board, perspex and sheet steel. All looks awful, mainly due to my skills with a jigsaw. Maybe I will see if I can get steel or aluminium, or even sheets of acetate, cut to size. Any ideas where in the UK to enquire? What sort of place?
                Trying to fit a PC into an Alfa Romeo GTV. It's installed, but the buttons have fallen off since.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Richard Alpha
                  Darn it! I've spent many many hours over this weekend trying to make a plate for my dash to fit the screen in. I've tried using laminate ply board, perspex and sheet steel. All looks awful, mainly due to my skills with a jigsaw. Maybe I will see if I can get steel or aluminium, or even sheets of acetate, cut to size. Any ideas where in the UK to enquire? What sort of place?
                  you best place for alloy would be a scrap metal place. There is also an aluminium recycling places that may have some scrap (like the one i used to know in Chester, they had loads i used to eye up).

                  Look through yellow pages or business directories for plastics and metals places. If you go along then most will just give you off cuts for free or a couple of quid to buy the guy a pint.

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                  • #10
                    Well it seems what I need is a workshop with "CNC". I have found one nearby so will get a quote for accurate shapes and cut-outs in steel or aluminium.
                    Trying to fit a PC into an Alfa Romeo GTV. It's installed, but the buttons have fallen off since.

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                    • #11
                      Finally beginning to get somewhere with this. I had this cut out by CNC Plasma Cutter in 2mm black steel. Very helpful guy by the name of Scot at Wright Shapes .



                      I've still got to mount the components on the steel plate and paint the plate, but at last feel there is some progress.

                      He can do pretty much anything with metal - cutting, welding, rolling, bending, milling - all in a variety of shapes, from CAD or drawings, all at very reasonable rates. What's more he likes doing one-offs. If anyone in the UK needs anything then do contact him. He has the CAD file for an Alfa Dash panel.
                      Trying to fit a PC into an Alfa Romeo GTV. It's installed, but the buttons have fallen off since.

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                      • #12
                        Definitely getting somewhere. The plate is painted and clear-coated, and I even applied a bit of Zaino car polish for good measure. I also disassembled (sp?) the IDT screen, painted the surround to match and have mounted some of the electronics outiside the screen to save space. Sadly my warranty will be gone with that.

                        I've also mounted the stuff into the dash. It still needs a bit of sorting out as one of my clips broke off in the process and will need glueing. Also the temp-sensor for the air-con is getting squashed and therefore sounds like a trapped butterfly. I was suprised to find that the temp sensor has a fan to pull air across it.

                        Photos to follow soon.

                        When I connected it up and turned on the ignition for the first time nothing happened on screen!!! Turned out to be a disconnected wire that had pulled out at some point in the process. I was really worried for the reasons of warranty above, but some checking with a meter found no power was getting to the screen, and now in the dark at about 22.30 I found the 12v permanent live and reconnected. It all works and looks fairly good in situ. Sadly I will always know that it could have looked even better if I knew then what I know now, but I suppose I did the best I can.

                        So next I need to mount the PC in the cubby hole in the boot and connect power into that. Wiring from that will go to the screen (RGB & USB), and to USB flying-leads in the glove-compartment, and the centre-console box.
                        Then mount the amplifiers (one in the boot for rear speakers, and one under passenger seat for the front). Power to both, switched through the PC so the amps only come on with the PC. Signal leads from the PC go to each amplifier. Then re-routed speaker wires go from each amp to the relevant speakers. The microphone (for telephone use) will be mounted on the front A-pillar. The ISO connector cable will go from under the dash to the serial port on the PC.
                        It's even an effort to describe what I need to do, never mind to do it.

                        Then I need to reassemble the car interior. It's been so long that I can't remember how! Hopefully that will be ok, and I need to by a new centre-console as I damaged the original, and will buy a dash screen to replace my cut-up one so I can reinstate the original interior for the next owner.

                        Then I just need to configure the PC!

                        I am hoping to use a bootloader that will require a PIN to be entered on screen before Windows will load, and then need no password to enter windows. MP3 should be easy to use with Media Player or any other system. I will have to explore what programs are easy to use whilst driving.
                        I am yet to decide on the best SatNav package to use. None seem perfect. Phone software may also be tricky. Networking will be 54g wireless and Bluetooth.

                        Then I need to buy a USB or PCI radio, preferably DAB, and work out how to operate the existing aerial with the PC or mount a new one on the rear screen, preferably DAB. And I have not yet bought a web-cam, or found software that will do what I want. I guess some sort of security software would be good for rolling recordings.

                        So that's your update for now!
                        Trying to fit a PC into an Alfa Romeo GTV. It's installed, but the buttons have fallen off since.

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                        • #13
                          A few photos to be getting on with showing the dash-plate after painting with some of the components in place:




                          Mounted photos to follow soon.
                          Trying to fit a PC into an Alfa Romeo GTV. It's installed, but the buttons have fallen off since.

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                          • #14
                            I've been working on it all day, and have got it nearly finished. Remarkably it works, and I have started to install XP. I'm also waiting for the second amplifier, but I have the wiring and mounts all sorted.

                            More pics:




                            I am fairly pleased with the appearance, not least because the new Alfa 159 & Brera have a similar theme to the dash. The new Alfa dash uses flat surfaces, rather than the lovely curved one of the GTV. I almost moved the Hazard lights and fog lights into the gear surround too, though the top, not the bottom.

                            (image copyright Luke )

                            I installed and wired up the PC earlier, and restored most of the car's interior. The photo here show the mass of wires, and you may also be able to see the Gendan OBD-II interface too sited in the void towards the centre.
                            Trying to fit a PC into an Alfa Romeo GTV. It's installed, but the buttons have fallen off since.

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