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2001 Honda Civic Aopen Pandora MiniPC

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  • 2001 Honda Civic Aopen Pandora MiniPC

    After lurking and searching on here for a few months, I ordered the components tonight. I settled on an Aopen Pandora MiniPC with a Lilliput 7" touchscreen interface. I haven't settled on the front end yet...they all are very impressive and I want to make sure I pick the right one for me.

    I'm going to flush the Lilliput into the dash bezel...probably using the ABS Sludge method. I've got a good amount of fabrication experience with fiberglass/bondo and feel like doing the ABS fabrication will be within my reach.

    I'm going to setup the Pandora with the following components:

    - CD/DVD Combo drive (the barebones system available from
    - Intel Celeron M 1.4GHz CPU
    - 512MB RAM
    - 80GB Samsung 5400RPM hard drive

    I can't live without XM, so XM direct will be installed. I'm also going to install the iGuidance/BU-353 navigation package. Power supply will be the Carnetix P1900 with the additional CNX-P5V 15 Watt +5V Regulator to run a 7-port D-Link USB Hub.

    I haven't figured out the Wifi interface yet. I'm sure it will be a miniPCI card, but don't know enough about the antennas yet. It seems that there is an Aopen Pandora "kit" out there...don't know if it's specific to the Pandora or if I can just buy about any card/antenna(s). I'm also planning to replace my Verizon Wireless phone with an EVDO capable one (probably the RAZR V3c) and tethering it to the Pandora for broadband while I'm on the road. I'm in no hurry to do this since I won't have EVDO coverage where I normally travel...the 1xRTT service might be a decent temporary option.

    As for the rest of the system...I've already got a pretty good audio setup. I'm getting rid of my headunit and current XM setup. It's nothing special...just an old Alpine and one of the original "big box" XM tuners and an antenna that takes up too much back deck space. I've got a decent little system with an Alpine amp, Boston components in the front and a JL 6W0 sub in the trunk. I'm going to change out the front speakers to JL Audio X series coaxes. I can't get even great speakers to sound right without EXTENSIVE kick panel fabrication and I'm no longer willing to give up the driver side footspace. The JL's should sound good enough. I'm probably going to move the 6W0 up to the passenger footwell in a really shallow fiberglass enclosure. It will shorten the passenger footwell about 5-6 inches, but I'm not the one sitting there .

    I've got an M-Audio MobilePre USB soundcard that I use with my Real Time Analyzer software. I plan to use this as my external soundcard and master volume control for the system. I will probably end up taking it apart and remounting the master volume control somewhere convenient. Probably in the lower dash bezel where I plan to mount the Pandora box (convenient access for the CD/DVD drdive).

    Everything should be here by the end of the week. I can't wait to get started! Suggestions and advice are welcome...I've already gotten an enormous amount of help from the people on this board!
    For sale:
    AOpen Pandora MiniPC

  • #2
    sounds like you have a good start. It's hard to give you suggestions when you don't really have any problems with your setup
    New System in progress:
    Phaze TD1500 ~> Dynaudio MD130
    Phaze TD1500 ~> Seas g18rnx/p
    Zapco Ref 500.1 ~ 12" tc-9
    Behringer DCX2496 ~ Envision Electronics psu
    Transflective Xenarc

    My Car Pc Install
    My Boat Pc worklog


    • #3
      A bunch of stuff arrived today. Still waiting on the Pandora CPU and wireless kit, iGuidance software and BU-353 and a new '05 civic dash bezel. The dash bezel is the biggest mystery and also a source of excitement. It's designed to hold a double DIN Honda 6-disc changer in the '05 special edition. Supposedly the '01 through '05 dashes are the same so it should fit in my '01. The Lilliput monitor looks like it will fit into a double DIN opening with a minimum of fabrication. This would ease the installation and keep everything looking very stock!

      The Pandora MiniPC is incredibly small...I can definitely fit it into the lower dash opening I had planned.

      I was amazed at how small the other stuff is too. The Carnetix P1900 is a lot smaller than I envisioned. I can probably put it behind the monitor in the dash. The XM mouse antenna is incredibly small. I've got one of the original Alpine XM antennas and it's about 10 times the size of this new one.
      For sale:
      AOpen Pandora MiniPC


      • #4
        Pandora Assembled

        I just finished assembling the Pandora according to these instructions. It was pretty straightforward and everything seems to be working so far. I've got it hooked up to a regular flat screen LCD and am installing XP right now. I'm still waiting on the wireless mini PCI card and antenna. Shouldn't be a problem installing these later now that I have some experience inside this case.

        Impressions: It's pretty quiet. The HDD at least. The optical drive is a bit noisy, but no more than other computers I've used. I think my expectations were just set a bit high. The little blue power button/light on the front of the case might be fun in the car. I can see it now...the first girl to ride in my car is going to be more impressed by the little blue blinking light than the fact that I've installed a pc with navigation, XM, MP3, DVD, WiFi, etc
        For sale:
        AOpen Pandora MiniPC


        • #5
          Dash Bezel

          I got the dash bezel for the '05 civic. It's supposed to fit all '01-'05 civics and it looks like it will no problem. The difference is that this one is designed to accommodate a double DIN sized receiver. The opening is recessed back about an inch, so between this and the tine on my windows I'm expecting glare to be a minimal problem. The 7" lilliput isn't an exact fit...I'll have to fill about 1/8" gaps on either side of the monitor and I have to decide what to do with the buttons (or to keep them at all). Though it isn't an exact fit, it will definitely decrease the amount of fabrication necessary and get me that much closer to a bone stock look . Here's a pic of the new dash bezel:

          Difficult to see the details from this pic off my camera phone, but the recess looks very promising. I need to test fit it, but probably won't be able to get around to it for a while...too much traveling in the next 2 weeks!
          For sale:
          AOpen Pandora MiniPC


          • #6
            Software progress

            I made some more progress today. The miniPCI WiFi card and antenna are installed. I managed to route the antenna cable so I didn't slice it with the card that attaches to the motherboard. There's also a piece of software that you need to download from the aopen website in order for the WiFi card to function. Until I installed this driver, the mini PCI card was not recognized. Also, I had to reseat the mini PCI card three times to get it's a tighter fit than the RAM card in the opposing slot. After all that, the WiFi reception is excellent!! I picked up a network in my neighborhood that I hadn't picked up with either of my two laptops.

            I installed the touchscreen software to control the Lilliput and everything is working fine. I've got it all setup on my desk inside. The touchscreen works fine.

            I tried to update the driver for the graphics chipset in order to display 800x480 resolution, but don't think it worked. Before/after looks the same. Since I don't know what 800x480 should look like, I can only go on "there's not change so it didn't work".

            I got AVG free antivirus setup and all the windows updates completed.

            For now, that's going to be enough. Next task will be to install iGuidance, XM, FrodoPlayer and start thinking through the screen fabrication.
            For sale:
            AOpen Pandora MiniPC


            • #7
              Cool beans Quack, I too am taking the plunge with the Aopen Pandora.

              Hey, when you go through the process could you take pics on how you connected the Carnetix to the Pandora. I wanna see how you will power this puppy. I understand how Kalt's Pandora was modded with the power button. It's just that before I lay down $99 for the Carnetix P1900 I wanna see where those on/off leads plug into the P1900 and then where your P1900 will hook up to a power supply. I'm a noob when it comes to using the car's power source.


              • #8
                These diagrams should help:

                This shows how to connect the power button to the Carnetix:

                This shows how to connect the entire system (thanks to Kalt):

                Notice that it's almost exactly the same as the Mac Mini diagram on the Carnetix website:

                Kalt's diagram is better because it shows powering your monitor off of the secondary 12V output and it doesn't include the "iSense" wire (probably Mac Mini-specific). You'll also need to get an M type DC power plug from Radio Shack to hook up power to the Pandora.
                For sale:
                AOpen Pandora MiniPC


                • #9


                  • #10
                    Good News and Not So Good News

                    The Good:
                    The 2005 bezel is a perfect replacement for the 2001 bezel. When I dropped it in it fit the same as my existing bezel. There's plenty of room for the lilliput 7" and even a good mounting surface for the Carnetix CNX-P1900. Since I'm going to lose the plastic monitor housing on the lilliput, I'm going to relocate the remote sensor to an area on the lower right corner of the bezel. Hopefully I won't have to do too much fabrication to get this to work.

                    The Not So Good:
                    The lower dash area where I was hoping to mount the Pandora and USB Soundcard doesn't have enough depth. So, I started poking around in other areas. The glovebox isn't a good option...not enough room. There's a decent spot in the center armrest area, but it would require a lot of fabrication and the optical drive slot would be prone to gathering spilled stuff (not good!). I'm thinking that they're going to have to go on a mounting board under the seat. The door would be an interesting idea, but routing all those wires through the door jamb would be a PITA. And, the fabrication would be a challenge. And, I would worry about the vibration from the woofers in the doors. Since I'm trying to get as much trunk space back as possible, under the seat is looking like the best option and I'm not happy about it. Maybe I'll make the center console option work down the road.

                    Here's a pic illustrating what I figured out today

                    I also got the CNX-P5V installed into the CNX-P1900 and set all the jumpers to accommodate it.
                    For sale:
                    AOpen Pandora MiniPC


                    • #11
                      Looks like a very good plan.
                      I'd say go for a boot install, as I'd think it would be easier to troubleshoot than an under seater...
                      Renault Megane...the OEM look

                      The Lost in Europe Ford Escort


                      • #12
                        Progress - Dash Fabrication

                        I purchased some SEM 39768 Problem Plastic Repair Material from the local Finishmaster store. They didn't have Dynatron Flexible Bumper Repair, but said that this was very comparable and would bond my Lilliput plastic case to the plastic bezel of my Honda. Here's the SEM stuff:

                        It's a two-part kit. It sets up very quickly (about 2-3 minutes) and dries to a gray color. It seems to bond very well. I actually dropped the piece about 5 minutes after it set and didn't do any damage. It's fairly thick in consistency, but self-levels well within the first minute.

                        I had to hack the button board portion of the lilliput case to fit around some of my climate controls. Here's the portion where I hacked with a dremel:

                        I used a straight-edge...though it doesn't matter much because the cut will be hidden by the SEM plastic stuff. I'll be relocating the button board... probably just somewhere hidden behind the dash since I don't have room for it in the dash. I'll relocate the remote sensor so I can use the remote. I may have fried it with a crappy soldering job last night. I won't know until I test it a bit more.

                        So, I laid down a thin piece of balsa wood to level the Lilliput case to the bezel. On the 629, the bottom is a bit higher than the top, so I needed a small amount of space to get it to sit level with the bezel. I hot glued all this in place and then slathered a bunch of SEM stuff on the back of the bezel to seal it to the Lilliput case. Here's a pic:

                        And, the front side after I "SEM'd" it in place:

                        You can see where some of the SEM stuff bled through (no big deal) and the edge of the balsa wood on the top.

                        After about 10 minutes to dry, I started laying down SEM stuff on the front of the bezel to flush it with the Lilliput. I did each of the four sides separately because this stuff dries FAST! I used a straight edge on each side to smear a level layer of the stuff between the bezel and Lilliput. Pics:

                        And, closeup:

                        I'm happy with it. It needs some sanding and then I'll have to go over it again with another layer of SEM. I'll have to figure out which of the two parts to reduce to give me a thinner consistency (if possible). I imagine another one, maybe two coats of SEM including sanding and then I can go to paint. Given how fast this stuff dries, I'm thinking tomorrow I should be able to paint it. I've put in about two hours not including hacking up the Lilliput case. This includes mounting/leveling the case and applying SEM stuff. This stuff is incredible. I would be spending days with fiberglass!

                        Oh...i bought some SEM black satin paint as well. I asked the people at the body shop if I needed primer or anything and they said no...just clean it very well before painting. I had my bezel with me and they knew enough about the SEM plastic stuff, so I trust their opinion. They did recommend going as far as cleaning it with rubbing alcohol first, so I will do that.
                        For sale:
                        AOpen Pandora MiniPC


                        • #13
                          A few more hours of work

                          I'm starting to get into the fine detail. I spent a couple more hours laying down another coat of SEM plastic repair stuff and sanding. I'm finding that this is a lot like painting a house...if you do it right most of the work is prep.

                          I needed to smooth out the joint between the bezel and Lilliput case. So, I taped off everything except this joint which was a major pain. It was near impossible to get the outer tape edge just right on the bezel, so I had to lay tape down and then cut it with a razor. But, I couldn't find an appropriate straight edge to get the razor cut perfect. So, I had to free-hand cut it and then fix the little mistakes I made. Once I got all the tape laid down like I wanted, applying another layer of SEM stuff was relatively easy. The end result of all this tape work and the next application of SEM plastic repair was this:

                          And, without the tape:

                          Now after a bunch of sanding:

                          Finally, with the screen re-installed and running in the house:

                          Again, I'm happy with how everything is working out. This plastic repair stuff is making it a much easier job than I anticipated and a hell of a lot easier than working with fiberglass (which I've done extensively with subwoofer projects). I can't imagine sanding fiberglass in the tight confines of this bezel.

                          Speaking of sanding, the inside edges are the biggest pain of the entire project. I've got to figure out a way to make sanding these spots easier.

                          I figure I'm still on track to get a coat of paint on tomorrow night.
                          For sale:
                          AOpen Pandora MiniPC


                          • #14
                            Dash fabriction complete (for now)

                            I sanded the bezel to lilliput joint for about an hour this morning and then threw on a coat of paint. The SEM paint dries very fast and adheres great. I cleaned the surface with alcohol before painting as directed by the body shop. It's not perfect, but it's also not a show car and I would like to get something up and running for now. I can go back over it with some pin-hole filling primer later if I feel the urge. Here are a few pics:

                            With the screen installed:

                            Now with Frodoplayer running (no skin yet and the flash washed out the screen pretty bad):

                            I decided to relocate the button board to the back of the touchscreen case and just do without the remote for now. The button board is still fully functional so I can make any settings I need to while installing the screen in the car. I used some of the SEM plastic repair stuff to adhere the board to the back of the case just below the vents. It's on there pretty good and still very accessible. The ribbon cable (which I finally figured out the trick to needs to be all the way to one side) is easier to plug in now also. Here's the button board mounted on the back of the case:

                            And, a straight-on shot showing the back of the install:

                            I'm happy with it for now. It's running in the house and looks ok. I'm going to start installing today and hopefully finish up tomorrow.
                            For sale:
                            AOpen Pandora MiniPC


                            • #15
                              Looks good. The screen bezel needs a bit more work though...
                              Renault Megane...the OEM look

                              The Lost in Europe Ford Escort