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Thread: Help Needed: Mac Mini Carputer

  1. #1
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    Help Needed: Mac Mini Carputer

    First, I'm a newbie to this board (although I've been reading posts for a while), and am not a programmer or a computer expert. I am generally an XP guy, but I have a lot of interest in the Mac mini as a carputer. If anyone is generous enough to help me out I really appreciate it. My problem is there are so many different threads working on differnt "iDash" (that's what i'll call the mac mini carptuer in this thread) that I'm a little turned around. This, preferably, is what I'd want in a carputer, so if you want to make a suggestion about what my next step should be (I don't even know if i should be using a mac at all), i appreciate it. O yah, and I realize I'll have to buy a lot of accessories and stuff, which is fine, I just don't know what, how, etc. And I'm really confused on the basic frontend stuff for a carputer using mac mini:

    All of the below controlled by a touchscreen
    GPS navigation
    CD/DVD/mp3 player
    am/fm radio and possibly xm
    Directly control Ipod
    Voice control
    Bluetooth connectivity to phone w/ voice commands (hang up, dial, view contacts, ignore, etc). I think there is a decent software for macs and bluetooth coming out.
    WiFi to connect wirelessly to internet
    So obvisouly internet browser
    Possibly run some form of outlook or other organizer (not necessary, though)
    Ability to sync with certain apps on home computer wirelessly (for instance, sync itunes or calender or email, etc.
    Ability to power a decent stere system.
    Anything else (I feel like I missed something).

    Thanks for any advice/help.

  2. #2
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    Since Mac mini is pretty new and is the first mac small enough to fit everywhere in your car, the development of iDash like software is probably still under development. If you go through the past discussions of this forum or do a search on google, you can find related posts.


    Most of the features you mentioned are already supported by OS X or 3rd party software. The only missing link is iDash. I also want to put a Mac mini in my car and have been using T-mobile's GPRS service and an old Garmin eMap with my iBook. Garmin eMap is pretty ancient now and uploading maps is still a headache on both a pc and a mac, so if I manage to put a mac mini in my car, I'll just reuse the eMap as a receiver.

    To do everything you mentioned, I'll need

    1. my eMap and the USB-to-serial cable
    2. power source, either a dc-to-ac inverter or dc-to-dc transformer. I have an iGo jiuce and I'm trying to see if it works with Mac mini.
    3. a touch screen
    4. a good bluetooth headset for voice command
    5. Mac mini with built-in wi-fi and bluetooth



    Quote Originally Posted by dazuck
    All of the below controlled by a touchscreen
    GPS navigation
    CD/DVD/mp3 player
    am/fm radio and possibly xm
    Directly control Ipod
    Voice control
    Bluetooth connectivity to phone w/ voice commands (hang up, dial, view contacts, ignore, etc). I think there is a decent software for macs and bluetooth coming out.
    WiFi to connect wirelessly to internet
    So obvisouly internet browser
    Possibly run some form of outlook or other organizer (not necessary, though)
    Ability to sync with certain apps on home computer wirelessly (for instance, sync itunes or calender or email, etc.
    Ability to power a decent stere system.
    Anything else (I feel like I missed something).

    Thanks for any advice/help.

  3. #3
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    Bugbyte's Avatar
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    Weakest link is GPS nav. Route 66 exists for the Mac and apparently works fine but the Windows products are more advanced. Google Route 66 software and take a look for yourself.

    A frontend application is best for controlling the various media on the Mac. While there isn't any at the moment, MMC is under development and should fulfill that need in the very near future.

    Everything else works on the Mac, no problem. MacXM for XM radio, built in DVD player, built in iTunes for mp3's and the Griffin Radioshark for AM/FM. Mind you, the XM and Radio Shark aren't integrated into the front end but the Mac does come with speech recognition and you can likely control the apps using that.

    Come over to the dark side....once you go Mac, you can never go back [he says wistfully while typing this message on his company's Dell Latitude]
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bugbyte
    Weakest link is GPS nav. Route 66 exists for the Mac and apparently works fine but the Windows products are more advanced. Google Route 66 software and take a look for yourself.

    A frontend application is best for controlling the various media on the Mac. While there isn't any at the moment, MMC is under development and should fulfill that need in the very near future.

    Everything else works on the Mac, no problem. MacXM for XM radio, built in DVD player, built in iTunes for mp3's and the Griffin Radioshark for AM/FM. Mind you, the XM and Radio Shark aren't integrated into the front end but the Mac does come with speech recognition and you can likely control the apps using that.

    Come over to the dark side....once you go Mac, you can never go back [he says wistfully while typing this message on his company's Dell Latitude]

    What about running virtual PC with a pc gps app? Can you integrate that into a frontend like MMC? I assume MMC will integrate WiFi (although I have just been informed that a new technology called "mesh" will be easily taking over wifi with its T3 speed and multiple mile radius.) and bluetooth to connect to hotspots, home networks and cellphones? Will all these things be controllable by voice? Thanks.

  5. #5
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    mesh is a type of network, not a new wireless standard. What i believe you are refering to is WiMax.

  6. #6
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    Yes, you can run Virtual PC and a Windows GPS program. I've only seen one post on this and that person said it worked fine. VPC obviously runs much slower on the Mac but I've used it before and it's not like its completely unusable. Just slow.

    WiFi works just fine on the Mac and is no more difficult to configure than on a PC. If you go with the Apple hardware, it's quite easy to set up.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  7. #7
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    Thanks. Just one more question for now: Right now my family is on a network of PC's with a wifi network, and my school is mac oriented also with a wifi network (not yet in place). Will the frontends being released allow me to sync, communicate, etc. over wifi to both the pc network and the mac network when in range? So I could sync my itunes playlists everytime I turned the car on or pulled into the driveway? Or download my emails when I head out and use text to speech software or something to have my emails read in the car?

  8. #8
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    Sure, all that stuff you want to do is built into osX, you may have to do a little scripting, but its not very hard to do..

  9. #9
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    No problem on the WiFi. I have my mac on one port, my Windows laptop on the wireless and my car PC on the wireless. Works fine.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  10. #10
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    They just did a review of Route 2004 (no longer route 66) in last month's Macworld. It only got 3 mice. Also they complained about it's interface and the fact that it uses a cumbersome four screen display. Which I take it would look pretty small on a 7" (the map would only be 1/4 or the 7").

    They said it had other features that were really good. But for me that interface is still a prob. I don't want to squint to look at a small map. A possible solution is that accesability tool for the visually impaired that zooms a portion of the screen...

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