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Thread: evaluate this in-dash tablet PC plan

  1. #1
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    evaluate this in-dash tablet PC plan

    I've been wanting to do something like this for a while, and it looks like it's finally going to happen. I got a Fujitsu Stylistic LT tablet PC (8.4" touch screen, 233MMX, 64MB ram, 10GB HD [could upgrade that later, when I got some dough], USB, tiny black IR keyboard). The whole thing will be able to fit into my dash in place of the head unit and the surrounding plastic. Most of the i/o jacks (including PCMCIA for WiFi + USB2, sound, mic, USB) are on the sides, which, all-in-all, is pretty convenient since the sides of the center console are easily accessible/modifiable.

    POWER
    Pretty simple: take apart the cigarette-lighter connector of the tablet PC's car power adapter, and hook up the + lead to a DPST switch, which will allow to either have the PC on ignition-only or on always-on power, for those times when I might need to use it with the car off. Power saving features of the tablet PC will then be configured to go into hibernation when power is disconnected, or perhaps some more elaborate scheme could concocted depending on how long the table PC battery lasts.

    CONTROL
    There will be the IR keyboard that came with it, touchscreen, wireless RF optical mouse (not for regular use, just when something complicated has to be done), and multimedia control part of a multimedia keyboard. To elaborate on the latter, for $10 I bought an "HP illuminated USB internet keyboard", the nice thing about which was a large volume control knob, the presence of all the regular multimedia buttons (play/pause, next, etc.), and a 2-port USB hub. If I removed all the other parts of the keyboard, I'd be left with a pretty slick-looking control pad about 5" wide, 2" high, and 1" thick. The keyboard also comes with software that apparently lets you reprogramm all the extra buttons, which I'll look into so as to make me Sleep, Hibernate, Suspend, 'Turn off screen' buttons, as well as buttons to switch to GPS, MP3 or Visualization.
    In addition, I plan to use the steering wheel controls. Hopefully, the way those work on my car is by varying resistance across its two wires to indicate to the HU when a button is pressed. It so happens that a standard PC game port measures resistance (joysticks use potentiometers to get X-Y position), which means that I should be able to use such a game port (or rather a USB-adapted version of one since the Stylistic LT doesn't come with one) to get inputs from the steering wheel controls. Anyone done this?
    There's also the possibility of using the game ports to measure nearly useless information like inside/outside temperature (using thermistors), humidity, whatever else that can be converted to resistance measurements.

    SOUND
    The soundcard output of the tablet PC will be connected to a car equalizer/pre-amp that will boost the weak signal, control volume and split the signal sending it to the 2-3 amps that will be powering the speakers and the sub.


    What am I missing? Suggestions, opinions?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Variable Bitrate MeanGT's Avatar
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    Only thing I would worry about would be the lack of processor power, You will be cutting it close just running windows and a software like Media Engine, otherwise should work
    My OLD Carputer: http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=17412
    Currently, Don't have a carputer :( I sold my lincoln and bought a '93 Acura Vigor, plan on putting a carputer in it one of these days. You can see my vigor at: This Site

  3. #3
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    Yeah, the weak processor is a pretty serious drawback. It'd be great if I could play movies in the car, run some cool visualizations from winamp, etc., but in the end it came down to time, money and the space available in the car. This is a cheap solution, but one that satisfies my basic needs - MP3 and GPS.

    One thing I forgot to mention was that most of the music will be stored on an external USB2 drive, that I can take in and out of the car at will to update contents.

  4. #4
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    Your not going to have USB 2.0 connections this system unless you added some form of expansion card, in which I'm assuming that since this is a tablet pc you won't have the ability to upgrade. Another question would be how you can upgrade a tablet pc? Normally everything in a tablet PC is proprietary including the processor.

    I agree w/ MeanGT the processor is going to kill you, you'll only be able to run win98 maybe 2K... great idea and I'm sure it will be implemented nicely, but upgrade the system.

  5. #5
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    I think the memory and even the processor are embedded into the PCB, so there's really no effective way to upgrade except by getting a whole different system.

    It does have 2 PCMCIA expansion slots though, so USB2 and WiFi can easily be added.

    I installed Win Me on it, and it actually ran pretty well, and winamp3 ran alright. Didn't have a chance to try any GPS software yet.
    Also tried XP on it, which ran fine, actually. Couldn't find pen drivers though. Not sure what to do about that.
    Question: I forget, will NT4 drivers work in win2k?

  6. #6
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    NT4 drives MIGHT work, but not all the time. Its good to hear that is actually functioning well and that you do have the 2 PCMCIA slots to expand w/. I'm anxious to see how it turns out, you'll need to take some pics.

  7. #7
    FLAC DodgeCummins's Avatar
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    ...uh yea...never been done before?, won't work?

    well my 1200 with the 120Mhz chip does mp3 and GPS just fine...and netstumbling at the same time...no you don't get eye candy...

    who needs usb2.0

    win2k works with its own drivers...however you may not get the touchscreen working...


    BTW don't waste the processor power on winamp3...use winamp2.

  8. #8
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    Thumbs up

    I have a Fujitsu Stylistic LT as well, upgraded to 20gb harddisk, and currently testing Mediacar on it. It works great with GPS software, Winamp (just no advanced visualisation...), etc.

    I tried Travelbook (German software), and that's on the limit of processing power. It works great with Alturion 4, or Navigon mobile navigator (very fast recalculations, real time rotating/moving map, also german). Will try Mappoint 2004 in the near feature (it seems to integrate well with mediacar).

    I have not connected it to amps, since my car radio doesn't have the right inputs. It sounds good through headphones, though.

    I don't have anything other than the touch-screen, Mediacar makes it possible to operate without keyboard most times. For maintenance, I use a on-screen keyboard (but I've read that Coyote is working on a on-screen keyboard as wel :-)

    I have included a small pic of my temporary install (I have no webspace yet), I am trying to find a permanent install option. It is to big to fit in my dashboard easily. I may have to remove the head unit and some switches to create space.

  9. #9
    FLAC DodgeCummins's Avatar
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    I think that is a perfect location. I couldn't do that due to the shape of the dash, and the stickshift is in the way...but I would have if I could have.

    That way you can just remove it and put it in a safe location.

  10. #10
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    Wow, navigon seems great! Too bad there isn't a north america version.
    I tried MS Streets & Trips 2002. It works, but somewhat slow. Also doesn't look very good on the LCD, and the UI really isn't designed for touchscreen use. Winamp2 plays fine during use though.

    Originally I was planning to have GPS and winamp2 always running, with a portion of the screen devoted to each. Now it seems that there's neither enough processing power nor screen space for both. At least with Streets & trips, maybe with some simpler mapping software though.

    For visualizations, try Climax plug-in for winamp2. It runs 10-15fps windowed, looks good!

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