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E46 - CarPC Work Log

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  • E46 - CarPC Work Log

    Car: BMW E46 2004 330Ci
    Options: 6spd - sport package - premium package - AND Navi

    Bought the car in July '08 in Florida and drove it back to NY. Not even half way through the trip navi froze up and wouldn't respond. Few hours later it gained consciousness again and back to normal. Ever since then I said to myself - CarPC! So for almost a year I've been doing a lot of research and thinking how I want my system to be laid out. A few weeks ago, I was able to sell the MKIV DVD drive and the BM53 radio tuner and purchased a Lilliput 629 and a pre-assembled Mini ITX Carputer Car PC.

    Fabrication started:

    I wanted to maintain as stock of a look as possible and use the stock monitor bezel as the base for housing Lilliput. If someone questions why would I ever rip apart a stock monitor like that - the answer is, the monitor died 3 months ago and I really don't like the way the bezels that are sold for 7" screens look in stock location...I'll let the pictures do the talking.

    1. Since I really want to keep the look of a stock monitor but have little to no experience with molding/shaping I wanted to provide as little work as possible when it came to sanding curves and weird angles. So I came up with the solution:

    The Plan

    The Process:

    "Giving me enough clearance at the bottom"

    Next - even though I ripped the whole monitor apart, I kept the mechanism that controlled monitor's tilt function ( all it is, is a simple dc motor rotating a shaft via gearsets) I am going to re-use that to give me access to Lilliput's buttons which will be molded at the bottom of the screen:

    Lilliput's Buttons Repositioning


    "Lilliput's Buttons Frame"

    "More measuring"

    "Monitor cut out for button's frame"

    Mia inspected and said "Thiz gonna be sick!"

    stay tuned and suggestions/recommendations are all welcome

  • #2
    Can I haz pwn?

    Love your cat!

    And, like the approach you've have gone...
    I have a E46 myself, and in my planning/programming stage.


    • #3
      Thanks! Mia is awesome and a great "helper" (I still can't find the little package with the buttons from the monitor
      Planning/programming is the hardest part of the project and then the will and desire to do it. Good luck to you!


      • #4
        I must admit... I'm usually annoyed by pet pics in project threads. However, the quote made it worthwhile!

        Looks like you're off to a great start!
        Play with it, 'til it's broke.


        • #5
          Instead of butchering the factory screen bezel, you could have sold it as one piece and get a double din bezel with the touchscreen which has a better look too, and left with some change as well.. Why you didn't follow this route if I may ask?


          • #6
            Originally posted by paris View Post
            Instead of butchering the factory screen bezel, you could have sold it as one piece and get a double din bezel with the touchscreen which has a better look too, and left with some change as well.. Why you didn't follow this route if I may ask?
            There have been others doing the very same thing here. Even I have considered doing something like this.
            Having quick buttons ready is realy great and strongly under judged.
            When your going down the road in 100km/t (aprox 55Mph), you do not want to keep your eyes off the road more than needed.
            Hardware button like this for changing from ie radio to mp3 is way much better than having to look down and press a screen.
            Hardware buttons can be opperated without looking at them.

            Allso, what the bezzels do not have, is the motorized part that reveles (is this the right word?) the CD-ROM.


            • #7
              I considered the same thing, but found that I could not fit a 7' LCD panel and still have the motorized screen working as well as physical room for the button pcb's behind. So I went with a 6,5' screen.

              Have you been able to fit a 7' with CD and buttons still working?

              My job
              My car installation mp3car thread "showing off project"


              • #8
                thekl0wn: Thanks a lot!

                paris: I explained this already. The LCD was toast and I knew I wouldn't get much for it anyways maybe just enough to buy a double din bezel, but I really don't like the way it looks. There is something about it that just doesn't appeal to me...Plus I get the option of a motorized panel which leaves me with a ton of options.

                bes51659: First of all, I must admit that you have one of the nicest set-ups! I've read through most of the pages on your page way before I started my project. Great Job!!
                Yes, you are right that the 7" screen does not fit without modifications to the bezel and that is why I had to increase the opening by coming up with a solution (see picture 2 in first post) After fitting it, I am able to fit the screen, the board and the buttons and still have the motorized function. Look out for updates


                • #9
                  So finally I had a free evening yesterday so I proceeded. I have come to a conclusion that I do no want to have stock button on the front faceplate so I began sealing them yesterday. I used aluminum tape used for HVAC applications and that created a backing for Bondo. I put one layer and when it set a little, I used a razor blade to scrape the excess clean. Second layer went on and I did the same thing with the razor blade and left the bezel overnight to set.
                  Here are some pictures of the process:


                  • #10
                    It looks like you have a solid start. The only problem I forsee is that the bondo that fills in the buttons is not a good idea. What will eventually happen is that you will actually see the outline of the original radio buttons after the sun gets to it. Since Bondo should not be used in that matter and does not bond well to plastic the way it is being used, the following will happen. When the sun gets to it, the bondo will slightly expand and then shrink. When it shrinks it will pull away from the plastic (inner lining of the button holes), thus creating the shape of the original buttons. I would probably fiberglass over them to create a solid layer so that the above problem will be prevented.

                    Let me know if you have any questions aabout the above
                    Brian @Nexations Creations

                    Specialist in Custom Interior Fiberglass OEM Replication Work.

                    AIM: Exus28
                    E-Mail: [email protected]


                    • #11
                      Oh I see. You scrap the BMW buttons! Will you fit a USB DVD?

                      It will be very interesting to see how you will mount the LCD panel inside. Aspecially the cables.

                      You might be interested in the pcb I am designing at the moment. As you can see it will fit nicely into the BM. It will use existing screw holes.

                      (this happen to be my second BM with tape and not CD)

                      It will provide this functionality (standalone)
                      - sensor to detect a CD in the slot so that the door does not close and break something
                      - when door is open it will "press" the "CD open" button on USB DVD. It is a bit tricky to find in the dark
                      additional features with my power control module:
                      - interface to buttons for PC on-off and rearview camera on
                      - generating the "LCD on" 12V signal for the LCD panel when PC has booted
                      - generating "AV select" when going into revers or pressing rearview on button
                      - gateway for IBus so that the buttons still work after you turn off ignition. (obviously no importance to you)
                      - enable signal for usb power supply

                      And more for non-IBus cars.

                      I am writing the software at the moment and sorting out the hardware, so it is not done tomorrow...
                      My car installation mp3car thread "showing off project"


                      • #12
                        I now realize that you probably intend to make your own motor drive circuit as you have removed the "eject" button. Or do you have something else in mind?
                        My car installation mp3car thread "showing off project"


                        • #13
                          Nexson: Thank you very much Brian! Like you haven't heard this a million times, but you do amazing work! I've also looked at your post which gave me a lot of ideas and inspiration
                          I was honestly thinking the same thing about the buttons once I laid bondo over them and also the layer was so thin that you can easily dent it. I was entertaining the idea of fiberglassing because I do have all the supplies as I always wanted to make something but never got around to it. The only reason I think I didn't is because I've never done it before. I do have a question about fiberglassing - in this situation, should I lay the fabric on the inside of the plate, and push the fabric out of the button openings just to create an indent and then apply resin on the inside; once the inside sets, apply resin on the front to fill in the remaining voids at buttons openings? Does that sound right?

                          bes51659: USB DVD drive was my choice, but I do like what you are trying to accomplish! I actually want to reuse the stock circuit for eject function, but I may have problems fitting everything in. If I do, I'll have to come up with a solution. Since I've chosen to deal with static structures in my career and not electrical circuits, I am very inclined in that field so my other solution would be something simple like setting up a DPDT switch to control the motor. (I'm sure that's also not as simple as I assume it would be). I would love to get some ideas/suggestions in that regard.



                          • #14
                            I kept the entire electronics of the BM for one purpuse only. The buttons :-)

                            Tare the electronics out! I think you should drive your motor with electronics of your own, pluggin the end sensors and the motor into it. This electronics would benefit from an IBus interface. That way you could use any button in your car to open the lid. Like I do with the left turn nob. When held for a second or two, the PC is shutdown.

                            You could probably use my pcb for that purpose, modifying the code for your purpose.

                            That pcb also has analogue switches. You can use them instead of the buttons on the Lilliput panel controlling them from the PC.
                            btw, does not the Lilliput have a remote? Would it not be easier to open an "eye" on the BM for the remote sensor than to mold the entire panel at the bottom? (Even if I think that was very clever)

                            But another of my question remains. How will you connect the LCD panel, given that it has to be flexible to allow the lid to open?
                            My car installation mp3car thread "showing off project"


                            • #15
                              BTW.One more question. Is not the 7 inch screen wider than the original 6,5' panel? Why did you not open up the hole from left to right too?

                              (Sounds like I am complaining a lot, but I am actually following this with great interest and am quite happy to help out if there is something you'd like me to do or just suggest solutions to)
                              My car installation mp3car thread "showing off project"