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Thread: Disenchanted with my Car PC, Suggestions?

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate pcmofo's Avatar
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    Disenchanted with my Car PC, Suggestions?

    I installed my first car PC in 2001 and I have been a member of this forum since 2006. Since then I have built multiple car computers and done a variety of upgrades. The goal of all of these efforts has been to create a unified multimedia experience in my car.



    I am unhappy to report that after 10 years of experimenting and building, an iPhone + any stereo with an audio input currently beats my car computer in both ease of use and functionality.

    I am still in search of a unified multimedia experience, formerly this was not available, even in the newest of cars, hence my plunge into the world of car PCs yet, now most features car PCs provide can be found as options in almost any car. With this in mind, let me describe what I would like to accomplish, where my system falls short, and maybe, just maybe, come up with a solution.

    Everyone loves specs, so lets start there, I have a 2000 Honda Civic, 4 door. This has lots of free space and easy to find wiring with not a lot of fancy electronics to worry about harming. With a dual din dash its easy to fit all sorts of screens in there. I have the Lilliput 629GL-70NP/C/T in the dash which works great, I love the new LED back lighting and clean look. In the past I had to custom install a lilliput monitor with epoxy and bondo and paint it to match.

    The LCD is connected to a new dual-core intel atom mini-itx board with 2gb ram, 60gb SSD, and smart PSU. Other accessories include a GPS, wifi, bt, and an external USB sound card with 5.1 output. It's plenty fast enough for car computing needs and with the SSD it boots in 10-15 sec.

    The audio system consists of a 4-ch 600w amp powering 4 speakers for the front and rear. Components with separate tweeters in the front, both front and rear are infinity with passive crossovers. A separate 10" dual voice coil subwoofer with matching amp built into a custom fiberglass enclosure provides plenty of bass for the car. A turtle beach USB audio card allows me to EQ and control each of the 5 channels individually.



    So thats what my setup looks like, separate amps, aftermarket speakers, sound dampening added throughout, capacitor, heavy gauge wiring, USB 5.1 sound card, and a speedy PC running XP and Street Deck.... So whats missing?

    I want to get in my car and have it "just work" but until Apple makes car stereo's it looks like my current system wont do that. The startup and shutdown intelligent 60w PSU works like a charm, however windows doesn't always cooperate, and sometimes the screen just shows nothing. When it does load I have Street Deck to deal with... I really tried to like it... and use it currently for lack of time to experiment with a superior option, but really... what a load of crap. Navigation is barley useable, audio controls work *sometimes*, it deletes songs instead of playing them, the UI cant even auto switch between night and day mode!... and thats when it works.... 1/10th of the time it just crashes...

    Bluetooth. Yes. The thing that MP3 car promised years ago and never happened..... I cant answer my phone via my $1000 car computer.... yet I can buy a $200 car stereo that can play CDs, MP3s, talk to an iPhone, and do bluetooth... I can buy a parrot bluetooth module but their is no good way to pipe the audio into my PC.

    A Volume knob. Really, I would like to physically control the volume, I tried the griffen knob, its nice but HUGE and I cant shrink it down. Street deck is again a PITA when I try to control volume its a multi press operation to drop down the volume controls, or, they are in the way of me doing things as they dont auto retract. Same goes for basic commands.... Play, Pause, Forward, Reverse, all of these features are standard on basic car stereo's now and the $150 parrot BT module. Yet their is no good solution for the Car PC. I tried wiring my own but its either too unreliable or bulky.

    Random annoyances, like windows displaying popups, or needing to interface with windows at all, installing drivers for audio cards, screens, etc. So many little things prevent me from closing up my car's panels and calling it a day. As soon as I do, a week later, something stops working and needs a simple unplug, replug, or fidgeting with a USB cable to start working again.

    So what do I want from my car PC? I spent a lot of time and money sound proofing, and installing a kick *** audio system with multiple amps and speakers. I would like to send high quality audio to those amps and speakers so I have a premium listening experience while driving. I also would like to place and receive calls via hands free bluetooth to my iPhone, as well as turn by turn navigation. Not that much to ask is it? Navigation, BT, music...

    I am very close to ditching the entire car PC for an aftermarket dual din nav system with BT. At least I know it will work 100% of the time.

    I am willing to change my OS, front end, etc, or buy new parts if necessary to make this work. Either the car PC is going to work near perfect or its going to go and I will get something that does. If anyone has suggestions, comments, or ideas, of how I can modify my existing system to *work* I am all ears.

    I plan on doing necessary research now, buy parts, and test now, and by july, either rip out or overhaul the existing system when I have a month to work on my car with out distractions.

    ---------- Post added at 04:25 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:00 PM ----------

    Just for reference... a quick look at Crutchfield yeilded the following results....

    A pioneer deck that does GPS, and has parrot bluetooth built in for voice control of iPhone etc... $1,300
    http://www.crutchfield.com/s_130AVIC....html?tp=20212

    And a JVC deck that has GPS, iPhone bluetooth control... can can even load maps and POI from google via USB drive $800 !!
    http://www.crutchfield.com/s_105NT3H....html?tp=20212

    For as little as $800, the cost of my current car PC, I can buy a dual din head unit that does more..... sad...
    Dual Core Atom - 512MB - 60GB SSD - 2010 Lilliput - SiRF Star III - BT - Wi-Fi - Street Deck - Rear Camera - Full Audio System

    Project Log


    |----------| Software
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    |----------| Fabrication
    |----------| Installation

  2. #2
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    I would try windows 7, disable all notifications after properly configured. And try CF 3.5 for 30 days. Bluetooth does work with my iPhone 4, but it's not great (no contacts). Navigation is however iffy, to say the least. I don't use it.

    But if navigation is important, and easy to use, try fitting a 7" tablet, like the Elocity 7, or the Galaxy Tab. That's the direction I would go.

  3. #3
    Constant Bitrate pcmofo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RipplingHurst View Post
    I would try windows 7, disable all notifications after properly configured. And try CF 3.5 for 30 days. Bluetooth does work with my iPhone 4, but it's not great (no contacts). Navigation is however iffy, to say the least. I don't use it.

    But if navigation is important, and easy to use, try fitting a 7" tablet, like the Elocity 7, or the Galaxy Tab. That's the direction I would go.
    Thanks for the suggestions... however, navigation is the primary reason to have the dual din LCD, so solid navigation is a requirement.

    Again bluetooth is also a requirement, the 800$ head unit above does both bluetooth to iPhone 4 as well as contacts.... :-/

    Tablets are cool. iPad is great, however non of them are going to offer a great audio solution or bluetooth hands free audio. Right now tablets are best used as a remote to VNC into an existing car PC or as an audio source, though could eventually replace a car pc, currently though, no.
    Dual Core Atom - 512MB - 60GB SSD - 2010 Lilliput - SiRF Star III - BT - Wi-Fi - Street Deck - Rear Camera - Full Audio System

    Project Log


    |----------| Software
    |----------| Hardware
    |----------| Fabrication
    |----------| Installation

  4. #4
    Mod - iPad Forums RipplingHurst's Avatar
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    That JVC is a very cool unit, but note that you can find it for $699.00 at Amazon. It's hard to beat it's features, so I doubt you're going to be sad with it.

    However, a Tablet can do a lot, and it's more future proof. You can stream content from home (I do). You can do voice control, you can update it faster, you can use a lot of cool apps with it. So if there's something of the tinkerer left in you, I would do more research about it...see the Android/iPad threads.

  5. #5
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    Yeh, i agree with the others that your problems are likely due to outdated software. Try something more modern. A tablet wouldn't be a terrible idea. Google Nav is best-of-class if you can get it.
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  6. #6
    Maximum Bitrate kegobeer's Avatar
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    If only Google would release their Google Nav for Windows...

  7. #7
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    my stab at this:

    my carpc covers the audio stuff very well. but of course, i use the carpc only for media storage, and audio manipulation.

    for a volume control, my jl audio cl-rlc works great-- it is fast, smooth, and most importantly, a external hardware device, so no matter what windows does, i have full volume control.. i have a convertible, and i like my music loud, all the while trying to be a little respectful of others-- so i turn it down at every stop light-- windows was painfully slow at this.. the cl-rlc however, only had one small hiccup related to a partially broken fuse-- check the review i did for more details...


    navigation-- i think your better off with a all-in-one unit. the nav solutions for carpc seem to be slowly dieing..

    bluetooth--again, the all-in-ones are going to top the carpc stuff..


    but as for my install, i have been pretty happy with the overall install--so far, there has been less then 10 times in 2 years that my carpc has had serious issues. of course, there are always little tweaks that i always continue to do, but in general, my install has been very reliable, and stable..

  8. #8
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    I feel your pain. On the other side though, once configured, I haven't touched my system in months. I had CF 3.1 work well with Iguidance (CF + their nav is TRASH IMHO). I have 3.5 and iguidance doesn't work with it (I can't log into their market either).

    I never had the need for blue tooth so that's not a +/- for me per say. I'm redoing my system and upgrading to win7 and find a solution for Iguidance + CF 3.5. If that works out, i'm a happy camper. I always thought that those AIO headunits were restrictive but when it comes down to it, I really don't use any of the "windows" stuff that I had wanted to (videos + internet) and If I had to do it over again (with the money invested already), I would go with one of those AIO units.

  9. #9
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    I've been doing this a VERY long time as well (see that 2002 under my avatar), but I'm optimistic about the future and new features and possibilities. Of course we will never have the pure clean integration of something like the new ford system, but we can do almost anything now. I'm happy as well with centrafuse 3.1 and iguidance for nav. Its quick and clean. The thing I have the biggest headaches with is media control, with 100+gb of music, anything I try is slow and clunky. I think I need to adapt to the system, instead of trying to adapt a system to me. Maybe some new playlist software would do it.

    Right now I'm just waiting on software for the new fusion brain and I'll have full computer control of the car, including remote access. Also waiting for the new Rockford 3Sixty.3 to do my processing. I'm at the point where I can have a new idea for a function or ability, and just make it happen. Not really feeling restricted by going Car PC.
    Old School MP3CAR.com member!

  10. #10
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    Honestly, I have a lot of music too but I don't even listen to them all. I hate hour CF doesn't number my songs so I know where the heck I am (beginning of list, middle of list, end of list)

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