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I'm back! 08 STI... idea starter

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  • I'm back! 08 STI... idea starter

    Hi all!
    It's been quite a long time. I used to be on this forum under a different username about 4 years ago, but have been away due to, well contentment I guess, maybe laziness? haha.
    My old system was a old desktop mobo under the passenger seat, powered by a M4-atx and hooked up to a 8" TS jammed up behind the radio bezel. It looked really OEM to somebody who didn't know better, but it was a pretty cheap install.

    Well I just got a new ride, a 08 Subaru STI, blue hatchback. Firstly, this car is just wow. I didn't think a car could be so practical and fun at the same time!
    Click image for larger version

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    I want to throw out a few ideas here, and see what input I might get.

    I have a old mac mini (2007 core duo?) that I want to use as the brains. I'll pick up a carnetix psu with the mac-pack to power it.

    I can re-use the 8" monitor because the face of the stock double-din radio is slightly larger than normal, so the bezel will fit the screen without major mods. I will eventually want to upgrade to a brighter, clearer screen; maybe even capacitive (if there are any yet).

    I'll pick up a small 4-channel amp for the speakers. Probably something cheap for now.

    Where I'm looking for ideas is regarding software, and placement of the mini.

    I proudly own and use J River Media Center, the functionality of it is just unbelievable, including independent audio streams to different zones. The downside is it only runs on Windows. It has a great touchscreen mode though, with large scrollable buttons and even custom application integration.
    So one thought is to run a tiny version of XP and use J River's touchscreen mode as the shell for a great front-end with tons of features, but not exactly vehicle-oriented.

    Another thought is to try to get Android-x86 to run on the mac mini, and get it to work with the touchscreen and other hardware. I favor this option because I'll have google nav, music, play store, and a beautiful interface. But I have a feeling I'll be facing a nightmare to get everything to work right.

    I could just get an Android tablet and call it a day, but I already have the mini set aside for this project, and don't want to "waste" money on additional hardware. Plus I'd have to fab a custom bezel that would allow me to remove the tablet, so it won't get damaged or stolen in the car.

    So that leaves me with placement of the mac.
    For starters, there's a factory sub under the drivers seat that I want to leave in place, so the 4-chan amp will most likely have to go under the passenger seat, unless I find one small enough to fit behind the display in the old radio hole.

    I would love to mount the mini to the top of the glovebox-compartment. It would be in a position that would allow me to open the glovebox to access the cd drive, yet still be able it store items in the glovebox below the mini. There is almost enough room for it, not counting room for the plugs and wires. I would have to hack up the plastic behind the glovebox, and I'd rather not do any cutting on this car (my last car was able to return to bone stock in 15 minutes, because I didn't hack anything up and used factory plugs for all the wiring).
    Other placement options would be behind the display, but would be unaccessible. Or under the passenger seat if the amp can go behind the screen, but then the mini would be barely accessible. Lastly I could put it somewhere in the back, but being a hatchback, all of that area is visible, and I don't want anything visible other than the black screen in the dash when the car is off.

    So my decisions so far are:
    Android-x86 and headaches for Google awesomeness? Or Win XP with J River front end for almost-awesomeness but less headaches?
    Cut some inner dash pieces to fit the mini in the most practical place possible? Or just throw it somewhere easy, but sacrifice accessibility?

    Anybody have any thoughts or ideas for me?

    I'm going to start a project log soon with plenty of pictures for your viewing enjoyment So stay tuned!

    Edit 12-29-12: I moved this thread to the proposed setup subfolder because I realized it was a better place for it
    Last edited by carleeno; 12-29-2012, 11:37 AM.