the overall member ship swings a lot-- this is the first day in weeks that there has been 2 pages of new posts.. but i do think the cold temps of winter has a huge effect on what people are willing to do to their car..
Just throwing this out there, since I have also noticed how much it has slown down compared to 4 years ago....but I think it's android/smartphones.
When I first built my carputer it was because I wanted a solid platform to manage my media. Now android does all that in a much easier, smaller package. And for a majority of people they don't have to buy anything, they already have it, with there phone.
After my carputer, I switched to a 7'' tablet tethered to my phones internet. That was just an necessary step for the extra 3 inches of screen. I now just rock a mount for my phone next to my steering wheel. Its the most practical, reliable, and usable solution I have found yet......and I didn't have to come to a forum to figure out how to do it, its pretty easy to do with a bluetooth head unit and a car mount.
I still check the forums everyday just because of the plethora of information and innovation, but I can tell the carputer as it was seen 4-5 years ago is coming to an end.
I think you also have to think about the economy, CarPC's are not the cheapest or easiest systems to build and you can buy aftermarket car radios that have integrated BT, USB input and even video for under $200. OK they may not be the best of systems but when money is tight your always going to find the cheapest option.
Kinda sad. You are probably right about the phones/tablets killing off the traditional PC. As I remember the forum 5-6 years ago, there were 2 groups of people; people with simple LED displays and an mp3 player of some sort (thus mp3car) and the other group was ambitious individuals with spare money or poor priority that had full fledged pc's.
At this point, the economy is a bit dragging, people are investing tons of money into smart phones & tablets as they are socially expected now and if you don't have one you are an outcast. Cars are also disposable now. Putting all this time and effort into something I'm going to sell or trade in in a year or two is pointless.
There is also the matter of cheap aftermarket double din nav units, dash mount gps and factory units with all the above or simply mp3 and or iPhone/iPod integration. (this is where I was for the last 5 years... I only came back as I have a convertible and the aftermarket units cannot compete with the sun)
I think there will likely still be the 2 groups of people, there is just a shift in their categories; people with new technology such as phones and tablets and the hardcore techie people that want all the tweak able settings a PC offers.
I'm waiting to see a raspberry pi install. If I could program for linux I would be all over that.
All good things must come to an end... there may be a day when mp3car ceases to exist but I think we have many good years left in her. It is depressing to see some of the greats from this forum missing... not sure what happened to them.
I agree about the economy. I have seen slowdowns in other forums catering to hobbies that rely on disposable income.
Not only are people not investing in the car PC hobby, but they've switched to other means of in vehicle entertainment.
I think this has a compounding effect on the hobby. Alternative devices are cheaper, fewer people are investing in car PC hardware/software and as a result fewer people are engaging in development for the car PC platform.
As a result, car PC options are becoming more limited, software such as front ends are being developed at a slower pace and are often released full of problems (Come on Centrafuse....) and that in turn drives more people away. It's a downward spiral.
One problem I see is that is that the forum is not making things easy! The DFX 5.1 thread is over 200 pages long and it's difficult to find information when it's not broken down into threads, and people keep asking the same questions like why is the youtube skin not working, when about 20 pages back it stated that an change in youtube caused the problem and the skin needs to be fixed!. This is not a dig at the DFX creators, it would just make more sense that skins like DFX get there own section/folder on the forum.
Another problem is that most of the skins appear private sources. I would be glad to help develop skin files in my spare time but you need access to the psd files, trying to hack the png files is not easy (well I don't think it is)
When I started looking into car PC I was at the point of giving up, there were so many options and a lot of the projects were either abandoned or lacking hardware like DAB, I know people are working on it at the moment which is good news but it's difficult to justify buying a PC rig when you cannot get a radio to function, also there appears to be a lack of basic FM/AM solutions, sure you can make your own but there is very limited off the shelf hardware available, I've had to order an FM radio from the US as I cannot find a know working off the shelf solution in the UK!
One thing that put me off Centrafuse was the amount of complaints on the forum, would you invest close to $149 (with maps) for a products that's appear to be full of bugs and they charge for minor upgrades (bug fixes)....
I know for me, I tried last season to use my iPhone as my in car entertainment/navigation. Needless to say it was very trying. My suspension is too stiff (stock bilstein suspension) and the thing bounced around on a windshield mount so bad that in addition to not being able to read it, it would rotate back and forth because the accelerometer was confused. There were tons of other reasons too but that isn't what this is about.
What this is about is that there is huge value in carpc to the right people but because they are relatively confusing, only the most techie get them right and can keep them going. Selling a car with one in it is basically not an option as the end user would be screwed.
lamaii, I 1000% agree with you. I try to use the search feature but get discouraged as it returns so much junk. 107+ page threads are impossible. I enjoy my forum time, I don't mind reading lots of info but I cannot read 107 pages of posts... I just don't have the time. I try not to complain about things I'm not willing to help fix but I have no idea a solution to this issue.
Then there are people like me - technically inclined but not engineers.
I'd happily pay the $100 for Centrafuse - if it worked properly.
RoadRunner is a front end designed by geeks for geeks. I mean that nicely. It's designed for people who want to fiddle. That's fine, there are plenty of people who want to fiddle. I don't. And I also don't want to spend money on something that isn't well supported. Hence why sticking a Tomtom on my dash is a darn good option at this point.
I'm also disappointed in the difference in quality of components available for this hobby. Granted most of them are developed by community members with limited resources, but there's still a staggering difference in assembly quality, reliability and ruggedness between car PC parts and OEM components. Nearly every one of us takes our screen apart to mount it in the dash somehow. The bybyte double DIN frame is good in concept, but it's the flimsiest assembly I've seen.
What's driving me away from this hobby is the lack of quality hardware and software.
Unfortunately I don't think there is that much money in the hardware and software. The car pc world is very diverse. If you get solid solutions that work for enough people to make it worth developing... you get a Pioneer Avic series unit.
It has cost me $100's and hours of time to develop my own micro controller and vb software to interface with RR that will do all sorts of stuff. I'm sure other people would be interested but probably only 5 to 10. At that point, the price point would be so huge nobody could afford it. This hobby IS for geeks... truth is the truth. Only reason I'm doing it is cause I can. This is in no way cost effective. I have to NOT look at dollars and time spent while I do it as the value would be astronomical. I just am filling that need for a fun project with bragging rights.
Like I said, I think you will see this "industry" move more towards all in one tablet/phone solutions as the majority and have a few stragglers who still run full systems for the reason that they can.
I noticed a huge change when I came back last year to research a new, more current install. Not much activity, much less development and since the forum activity has dropped less reliability to get a consensus on current changing or new stuff. Last week someone posted that iGuidance may not be available much longer which is a sad sign of things that may come. I think the reason is car companies are getting much better at infotainment and smartphones/tablets are also offering much more than 2-3 years ago. There are still short falls, but there are LESS of them.
I also tried to go the other route and did not like the limitations and expense. Once you can truly start your car, your smartphone connects and mirrors to a larger screen and you can add peripherals, I can not see the carputer lasting in its current form. Until then for me, storage size, customization, sound quality is what made me come back and I will keep coming back until something better comes along.
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I think both dmcdlrn and zip hit the nail on the head. There's just no money in developing either hardware or software for the car computer community. I've gone the same route, I've spent hours upon hours, and several thousand dollars on my car computer setup. Custom microcontrollers, single board computers, in-dash monitors, the works. Not to mention the hundreds of hours spent writing software for it. And guess what? It's just not useful to anyone but me because it's all application and implementation specific.
Then come Android devices and suddenly the majority of people who want carpc functionality can get it from a tablet. So they all go that route. It works perfectly fine, and they have no need for a huge forum for support since everything in the limited subset of features that they are interested in, just works. Sure, the limitations aren't for some people which is why the forum is still limping along with its small current user base, but it'll be small. That's the nature of the hobby.
The other thing pushing users towards tablets is the massive amount of work required to install a carpc. The all-in-one double din units were a step in the right direction but no company could develop a decent one for under $3,000, yet there are users on the forums doing it for significantly less. So we're stuck with having to piece together carpc units, find places in our vehicles to put all the pieces, and wire them all together as best we can. It's just not for everyone, and there's no money in making it for everyone.
"stop with the REINSTALLS, what do you think we got some lame-o installer!!!" - mitchjs
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So we're stuck with having to piece together carpc units, find places in our vehicles to put all the pieces, and wire them all together as best we can.
I made a suggestion to one vendor who makes various I/O accessories for carpcs. It was to take the variety of units that he made and combine them into once nicely integrated solution to save space and reduce wiring complexity. I was basically laughed at...