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Proposed system for my Grand Caravan...

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  • Proposed system for my Grand Caravan...

    I am looking for a few suggestions for the components to my carputer system. The following items are still needed..

    802.11g PCMCIA card & external antenna (to mount on roof)
    something with a high sesitivity and hopefully high output (200+mW)
    antenna needs to be tough and stealthy

    5 to 7 inch screens that can be mounted in the headrests
    must have composite inputs

    USB AM/FM radio
    I was going to just get the D-Link USB FM, but I would like to get AM
    also if possible for late night local talk radio

    I tried to fit as much into this system as I could and think that I have all the bases covered. I chose to go with a dualhead TV-Out video card so that I can have the GPS running on the center console while videos are playing in the back.

    Here is my proposed system..

    Already have
    12.1" SVGA LCD screen
    ASUS P3B-1394 MicroATX motherboard (onboard Firewire, 1 AGP, 3 PCI, 2 serial, 1 parallel)
    750mhz Pentium III processor
    256 megs RAM
    2 120gig Maxtor hard drives
    Sound Blaster Live Platinum 5.1 with LiveDrive
    Kensington WebRacer pad
    Matrox G450eTV dualhead graphics card
    3com cellullar modem card with interface to Motorola bag phone
    Polaroid photo printer (prints on Polaroid instant film)
    4 port USB HUB (powered)
    150W power interter for USB hub, Polaroid printer, XMPCR receiver, external firewire drive

    Need to get
    external firewire DVD-+RW drive
    XMPCR with optical output
    Antenna Specialists XM20 Constellation Rooftop Mount Antenna
    Garmin 18 PC WAAS enabled GPS
    USB AM/FM tuner
    USB 6 in 1 memory card reader
    Opus Solutions 150 Watt SFX DC-DC Vehicle Power Supply for ATX
    802.11g wireless PCMCIA card
    ActionTec PC750 dual PC Card Reader
    Modular Technology Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) PCI Card
    USB Bluetooth interface
    video distribution amplifier
    two 5 to 7 inch LCD screens for the headrests tracking device
    tinytrak for Motorola 3watt bag phone

    Here is a list of the ports used in this system..

    AGP port - Matrox G450eTV card
    PCI#1 - Soundblaster Live Platinum 5.1
    PCI#2 - ActionTec PC750 dual PC Card Reader
    PCI#3 - Modular Technology Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) PCI Card
    Serial#1 - Kensington WebRacer trackpad
    Serial#2 - Garmin 18 PC GPS
    USB#1 - Polaroid Photo Printer
    USB#2 - XMPCR XM radio reciever
    USB#3 - USB AM/FM tuner
    USB#4 - 6 in 1 memory card reader
    USB#5 - Bluetooth interface
    PCMCIA#1 - PCMCIA 802.11g card
    PCMCIA#2 - 3com cellular PCMCIA modem card
    Aud Out1 - Front L/R inputs on crossover
    Aud Out2 - Rear L/R inputs on crossover
    Aud In - USB AM/FM radio
    Optical - XMPCR receiver
    Firewire - external DVD-+RW drive
    VGA Out - 12.1" SVGA LCD screen
    TV Out - distribution amplifier -> two 5" LCD screens mounted on headrests

    I have also been thinking about adding a rear camera and maybe even an interior camera to get a good picture of the guy stealing my van.. Other features to be added will be a PDA with Bluetooth or 801.11b so that other people in the car can use NetRemote to change music or videos.

    I've been putting this project off for the past 3 years, but I think I'm glad I waited since many of these features would have cost a fortune back then.

    One of my biggest problems is how I am going to mount the motherboard without a case. I need to secure the PCI cards somehow without the backplane. Has anyone done this before?

    Any suggestions would be gladly appreciated.



  • #2 one can come here screaming at you

    Looks like you have a pretty darn good idea of what you're doing!

    I recommend finding an old mATX case somewhere, and cutting it up to give you the backplane, and the motherboard tray (which can be cut down to just the right size you need). This will help you to keep the PCI cards still, as if they move around, they will cause the computer to jump, or worse, lock up totally.

    How are you going to control the system? Touchscreen overlay on the 12" display? Keyboard/mouse, IR/RF remote? My vote goes for touchscreen

    I look forward to seeing this project come together, make sure you take lots of piccies!

    Co-Developer of A.I.M.E.E


    • #3
      I say get an on-board generator!!
      Yeah should be pretty could- I can't wait to see the pics! Just checked out that Matrox card- looks pretty good and it's got a built-in TV tuner too, so would be pretty good to see how this works in a mobile environment
      In da club....


      Bunny's first poo
      __ U


      • #4
        Thanks for the reassurance that I'm doing the right thing. 8)

        I am not too worried about the 150w OPUS having enough power since I am actually using that same system right now as my desktop computer with a 145w power supply. I have a nice big battery with 1000 amps and 800 CCA but I might want to upgrade my alternator.

        For control I am using a serial touchpad. If anyone can suggest an affordable touchscreen overlay for a 12.1" screen I'm all ears! I still haven't decided on which keyboard to get. I am actually thinking about trying to interface one of those tiny keyboards that people use for PDAs, but I will probably end up going with wireless RF. They are actually coming out with a Bluetooth keyboard for PDAs sometime in early 2004.

        Thanks for the suggestion about cutting an old desktop case. I don't have a lot of height to work with since I am mounting the PC in the storage compartment underneath the front passenger seat. If it looks like too tight a fit I may have to build a custom case. Wiring this puppy is going to be messy!

        Now I'm trying to figure out what tracking system I will use. With my cellular provider they allow me to have a second analog phone added to the account for free. All I have to pay for is airtime so I might try looking into the TinyTrak.

        Here's another idea I have.. a security system that interfaces with a 802.11b PDA. You could control the alarm from your PDA and even see via streaming video the interior of the car. Then you could actually speak to the intruder and tell him to get the #(&$^# out of your car. Imagine.. Hey, you in the blue hat and red shirt.. I don't think you should be in here! Kinda reminds me of KITT from Knight Rider.. 8)

        I have so many ideas, but implementing them is going to be hard. I need to find a good programmer and hardware engineer to work with.

        Anyhow thanks for the suggestions.. keep 'em coming!



        • #5
          The PDA visual link could be quite interesting: perhaps you could do this too- get the full on KITT/James Bond thing going....
          In da club....

          ALIZEE WANTS YOU.....

          Bunny's first poo
          __ U


          • #6
            Here is a 12.1" touchscreen overlay kit, depending on your budget, it might be too much, it might not

            As for height, providing you cut it in the right places, the max. height i would guess you're looking at is the height of a PCI back bracket. You can cut a little off the bottom where it sticks through, which will be about the same as the height you'd need to screw it in. That should give you a rough guess. You won't get much lower than that even with a custom case, as you will still be limited by the PCI card's height

            For wiring, if you will be hiding things, then I would run a USB cable to a powered hub behind the dash, or somewhere you can hide the wires! I have 1 USB cable, 1 VGA cable and 1 cat5 cable for 12v/5v power for the hub etc) running from the boot (trunk) to the dash, nice and easy to disconnect things!

            With the wireless PDA security thing, you'll have to watch both your battery power with transmitting 1mbps across a wireless connection, and making sure you're within range too! But would be a neat idea, definately something to seriously look at! If it's any good, I may end up stealing the idea from you for my car

            Check out my thread in Input Devices, there's a nice keyboard there which could be useful

            Co-Developer of A.I.M.E.E


            • #7
              Thanks for the touch screen link! I was expecting it to be much more expensive I'm just worried about the glare. Do you have any experience with them?

              Ah.. the boot is the trunk.. now I get it.

              With the range for my security system if you are using one of these Senoa high power cards with an 8 dBi external antenna you would get pretty good range. I bet you could go at least 500m inside before you completely lost the signal. Another option is using SMS to inform the owner that the vehicle is being tampered with. Once you got the SMS you could get into range of your car and deal with things rather quickly.

              Using the CAT5 for power is a great idea. I was going to use an inverter, but it makes much more sense to keep things DC. Now I'm starting to wonder if the OPUS 150W will be enough. I'm sure someone would take it off my hands if I needed to get a larger one.

              I'm going to read about your keyboard ideas and update my proposed system with links to all the various components. This is getting fun! 8)