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My Plans for a Carputer

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  • My Plans for a Carputer

    I ma in the planning stage for a carputer. I'm working on getting a Ford Expedition before the second kid arrives on December 6th.

    I had originally planned to do up my Explorer, but with the second bambino arriving and the Explorer being a two-door, I'll wait until I have a more 'permanent' vehicle.

    What I have in mind is having dual screens in the front, 7" widescreens would be okay. Only one needs to be touchscreen and the other I want for GPS or DVD/Videos. I'd also like to have a 7" widescreen in each headrest for the little kiddies in the back seat. I'm not sure if I want to have them independant where I can play different videos on each screen, or just drive them off a dual svideo cable from the computer. I think that driving them both is the way to go, and just make them both watch the same thing.

    For other stuff, I would like to have GPS and I'm considering satellite radio since I'll likely need to remove the existing radio system from the vehicle. Wifi for sure and that's about all for hardware.

    Software is really got me concerned. I know what I want, but not sure if I'll be able to get there.

    I want to run Linux. I also want to run mythtv. I think that linux would be way better for customizing the setup more to my liking. Mythtv would give me the ability to rip and store dvd's as well as copy recorded programs off my mythtv server in my house when the car is parked out front. Then when we go on a trip, there will be something for the kiddies to watch, as well as me. Mythtv is working up to something like this, as some guys are talking about a mythtogo module, but I think I can make that part work anyways. What else I'm concerned about it GPS navigation. I love it. However, I currently use MS Streets and Trips. I'm wondering if this will work under Wine or he codeweavers thing, or whether I should use it at all. I live in Canada and would consider using GPSDrive, but the last I looked, it wasn't really all that good for what I like. I also have Mapsource by Garmin, and maybe that would work under Wine better, and I already have a garmin gps and the serial cable to have it load right in.

    Has anybody already done a setup as ambitious as this? Or even more advanced? I'm not really concerned with controlling the car yet with doorlocks and windows yet, but that would be something I'd consider in the future. Sending a text message telling the computer to roll (wind? power?) up the windows because it's starting to rain out seems like a neat idea I'd use.

    Anyways, just looking for feedback before I sart buying hardware.



  • #2
    Originally posted by thompaine View Post
    Has anybody already done a setup as ambitious as this? Or even more advanced?-=/>Thom
    Nope but, Im trying to attempt something very similar. Keep me posted how it goes. Kids bring another dimension into such ambitions.
    My Vehicle now = VW Caravelle
    My Dream Car = 1967 Karmann Ghia Cabrio
    What pays the bills = Search Engine Optimisation


    • #3
      I've started purchasing hardware. I for the XM PCR over the weekend on ebay. I decided to toss the regular radio and go with XM. I thought it might be easier to integrate, rather than getting an FM tuner that still doesn't pick up radio stations outside of of 50km.

      Next up is the motherboard, something with horsepower.



      • #4
        I am building a system for my vanagon camper. It has two heads, a touch screen (800x480) in the dash and a 19" normal lcd in the rear. running both displays is a via c7 board. the onboard video goes to the 19", and a sisusb usb->vga device goes to the dashboard. Also hooked up is a usb gps receiver and a serial sirius interface. I am writing software for it all now. The biggest problem has been getting both heads to work simultaneiously. Linux is still not very good at handling two sets of input devices. I have also had to deal with power supply problems as I would prefer the computer to be powered up at all times so it can provide tivo-like functions for Sirius and monitor motion via the webcams. We'll see.

        An image of the dashboard installation running an older version of the software:

        Newer versions of the software use a light-background theme to help make the text readable in bright sun.


        • #5

          That's looking pretty sweet.

          Suggestions for keeping the computer powered up whenever you like.

          Not sure if you are in Canada, but Canadian tire has deep cycle nautilus batteries. These are designed to be charged up and deeply discharged. Look for the biggest AH (amp hour) one you can find. Canadian tire has one that is 103 AH.

          Next you need a battery isolator. This allows your alternator to charge both batteries at the same time, while not letting your equipment plugged into the nautilus battery drain your main cranking battery. This is also the route I'm going to go, because I'd rather have the carputer running all the time, rather than wait for boot ups and stuff. And then at night I can schedule cron jobs to rsync data from my main server in the house.

          I have a bunch of other projects on the go, (well my wife has them for me) so I'll prollie not be working on this much more before the snow flies.



          • #6
            I started with one yellow-top Optima gel deep cycle battery at, i think, 55ah. That doesn't quite do it, so now I have augumented it with a 115ah deep cycle battery from Costco. That seems to have done it. So now I am searching for reasonable shore-power charging systems. At the moment charging is done by alternator, ~2 amps of solar panels on the roof (but i'm in seattle, so i rarely get that much out of them), and a 1.5 amp trickle charger. So it takes about 3 days to fully rechange everything, heh.