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Thread: Android tablet vs separate computer/touchscreen in vintage _all metal_ vehicle?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Glendale, AZ

    Android tablet vs separate computer/touchscreen in vintage _all metal_ vehicle?

    I've been playing with the CarPC stuff for roughly 15 years now, starting way back before small monitors were affordable, and we had full towers in the trunk connected to a little 2x20 alphanumeric displays up's amazing how far we've come since I've probably gone about 3 dozen different revisions in my vehicles since, but now have come up against a situation that I'm not sure of which way I should go....

    I have a bit of a different install situation that the majority of what I've seen here...what I have is a 1962 International Harvester Scout 80, which is very similar to the very early Ford Bronco, Rover Series 3, Jeeps through the 1970s, etc. The vehicle is 99% steel, including all body and dashboard. If I were to install a tablet into the dashboard, it would basically be just like putting it into a steel box. The windshield is near vertical, and the dash is nearly flush with the windshield, so even putting a tablet into a mount _on_ the dash, as opposed to in the dash, wouldn't allow for much signal (GPS, WLAN) to get into it given the steel roof as well to get to the tablet.

    Examples of what my truck looks like -
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    What I'm currently running in it is a Lowrance Baja offroad chartplotter (very similar to what's used in marine craft, but with maps designed for off road navigation) that bolts to a mount on my roll cage, and uses an external GPS puck style antenna mounted to the roof. It's a sturdy, well built unit (and is pretty much what all the Baja racers run now in their race vehicles), but I'm largely limited by what kind of maps I can load into it, and it's not touchscreen driven.

    In the newer vehicles, I was using an Acer tablet in a windsheild mount, running Androzic with almost the entire state of Arizona covered in high res satellite imagery and road maps saved offline from Google Maps, and was very happy with the software side. For an offroad navigation solution, I think it's hands down the best solution for me. I've experimented with OziExplorer, but the Windows version doesn't scale very well at all to a small screen, and I wasn't all that happy with the Android version either. But I didn't like the windshield mount, largely due to it bouncing around off road, and the tablet not dealing well with being subjected to direct sunlight all day. The Scout does not A/C in it, and I have no intentions of installing A/C. That said, the interior temps of the truck don't get nearly as high in the summer since all the glass is nearly vertical, and honestly, even in summer in Phoenix it's very tolerable with A/C. I actually prefer driving it in the summer than any modern vehicle without functioning A/C. Putting the tablet on a windshield mount in the Scout results in far too much of the windshield being blocked, so that's a no go (for reference, the wipers are 10 inch's a very short chunk of glass ) I experimented with velcroing the tablet to the dash as an experiment to see how it would work, and the GPS signal was so-so..The tablet has since suffered an untimely demise, and I am now looking at replacement options (hint...don't use cheap velcro to secure your tablet to a vertical dash, then get your truck airborne )

    I've been experimenting (with some limited success) with using the video output on various smartphones to drive a Xenarc 700TSV monitor, and the only thing I've been able to get somewhat usable video out of is an older Motorola Droid Razr utilizing the HDMI output fed through a HDMI-VGA adapter, into the Xenarc. It doesn't go full screen on the monitor, and given the resistive touch overlay, the picture isn't all that great either when looking at the satellite imagery. I haven't gotten any of my newer phones to work with it, and I suspect that it's a either the inability to process a 1080p input signal, and/or a HDCP limitation. I have successfully gotten the touchscreen portion of the Xenarc to control a Galaxy Note 3 phone in a prior text, but without it displaying video, I don't know how accurate it is. At the moment, I'm not sure where I put the OTG cable, so I haven't yet tested it on the Droid Razr to see if it also works there.

    I've been considering buying the Xenarc 700CSH, with the capacitive touchscreen and native HDMI input, as it supports HDCP and 1080p input, so I'm hoping that will solve the issue I've been having with the video input/output, and should present a considerably better picture quality. This would also allow me to retain the use of Android and Androzic that I've been very happy with. Since it also has a VGA input, I could also connect a PC to it as well if I feel the need (which would be handy for my music as I have a 500GB hard drive full of music, and the tuning/datalog programs I run for the EFI system on the motor is all Windows based). It also would be easier to mount the monitor in the dash than a tablet. This still leaves a GPS signal issue to deal with, but I know I can get a USB GPS puck to work with the phones as well, so that's a minor issue. It also means that I don't have to deal with setting my phone up as a wifi hotspot if I need WLAN access somewhere on an installed tablet.

    Although it's a pricey solution, it at least appears to be a workable solution. All this said, are there other options that may work better for me?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Great looking rig, love it! Go with a tablet.

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