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Thread: Newbie installing Mac Mini et al.

  1. #1
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    Newbie installing Mac Mini et al.

    First of all, what a great resource on the internet.

    Now, on to the main event.

    I've had this crazy idea about installing a mac into my car for a long time (much like the rest of you). Now I find this site and realize its a reality (after all, many of you are already doing this in such great execution).

    Well now I want in.

    I own a 1998 Honda Civic EX and am getting ready to make the nessecary purchases to start this labor of love. I'm going to make plenty of mistakes and realizations and I plan to learn a lot so that in a little more than a year I can transport the new Mac Mini and VGA screen to a new Honda Element and do the job even better.

    Anyway - here is the known hardware I'm going to purchase for my project.

    1x Mac Mini 1.66 GHZ, 512mb ram, 160gb hard drive.
    1x Carnetix CNX-P2140 185W Dual Output Intelligent DC-DC Regulator (to power said Mac Mini).
    1x MacPac Power Cable Kit (for obvious reasons).

    So here are my questions:

    1. What kind of screen would be best to view all this snazzy stuff? And how do I power said screen? Would touch screen be best? Or using Front Row, could I get by with no touch, an apple remote, and a wireless KB and mouse for a co-pilot (or when parked?)?

    2. How can I add other accessories requiring power after I install the Mac Mini and the screen? I was thinking of navigation just because I am aware that nav is a little hard to come by on Macs.

    3. How could I get XM or Sirius Radio working with the Mac? And in anyones honest opinion, would it be better to operate the satellite radio through OS X software or just install a separate satellite radio in the open space above my cup holder?

    Everything else I like to think I have a handle on, but please throw anything my way you think would be helpful.

    Oh and I hate to do this: But once I get this fancy Carnetix PSU, how do I wire it into my cars power system?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Fusion Brain Creator 2k1Toaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kkachurak View Post
    First of all, what a great resource on the internet.

    Now, on to the main event.

    I've had this crazy idea about installing a mac into my car for a long time (much like the rest of you). Now I find this site and realize its a reality (after all, many of you are already doing this in such great execution).

    Well now I want in.

    I own a 1998 Honda Civic EX and am getting ready to make the nessecary purchases to start this labor of love. I'm going to make plenty of mistakes and realizations and I plan to learn a lot so that in a little more than a year I can transport the new Mac Mini and VGA screen to a new Honda Element and do the job even better.

    Anyway - here is the known hardware I'm going to purchase for my project.

    1x Mac Mini 1.66 GHZ, 512mb ram, 160gb hard drive.
    1x Carnetix CNX-P2140 185W Dual Output Intelligent DC-DC Regulator (to power said Mac Mini).
    1x MacPac Power Cable Kit (for obvious reasons).


    And I am very glad that you actually have looked around a bit. You have restored my faith in newbies. Seems to be an onslaught of dummies recently.

    But welcome! And of course, Honda ftw!

    Quote Originally Posted by kkachurak View Post
    So here are my questions:

    1. What kind of screen would be best to view all this snazzy stuff? And how do I power said screen? Would touch screen be best? Or using Front Row, could I get by with no touch, an apple remote, and a wireless KB and mouse for a co-pilot (or when parked?)?

    2. How can I add other accessories requiring power after I install the Mac Mini and the screen? I was thinking of navigation just because I am aware that nav is a little hard to come by on Macs.

    3. How could I get XM or Sirius Radio working with the Mac? And in anyones honest opinion, would it be better to operate the satellite radio through OS X software or just install a separate satellite radio in the open space above my cup holder?
    1.) VGA of course. I dont know about the 98 civics, but the 7th gen (2001 to 2005) are notorious for sun glare. I have an '01 and at times I cannot even see the speedometer with the sunroof open. Therefore there is a good deal of glare on my screen. I can still navigate because I know which fingerprints coorespond to which button, and it is fine for those times when the sun is blinding. However, it is not like a factory screen. Those are transflective. Meaning sunlight readable. They take all that nasty sunlight and use it to amplify the illumination of the backlight in a way, so it becomes readable. I saw one in person a month ago, and I was blown away. That is the next purchase for me. Expensive though. But usually the $200 ebay screen is fine. And mine still is fine for all my driving except for the 30minutes where the sun is just "at that damn angle".

    For 2 & 3, see below...

    Quote Originally Posted by kkachurak View Post
    Everything else I like to think I have a handle on, but please throw anything my way you think would be helpful.
    Ok. Brace yourself, and please dont get offended. But honestly, there is absolutely no good reason to run OSX on a CarPC.

    If you are still reading and not bubbling with anger like most Mac fanboys, I will tell you why.

    Since the Intel switch, macs have actually become useful again. Their hardware is awesome although expensive. But their os is lacking in all regards when it comes to car environment.

    With the mac or with linux for that matter, you have a very very limited number of choices for your software. If you were to run <gasp> Windows </gasp> you could run a frontend such as RoadRunner, or Streetdeck, and Navigation such as iGuidance, or Streets & Trips. Also XM and Sirius is Supported.

    Want to know the best part? You see Windows for a split second as the desktop flashes and bam, you are in your frontend. And if you dont even want to see that, then you can boot your frontend as a shell, and then it would be completely unnoticeable what OS you were using except you will actually have functionality with your CarPC, not like 2 apps that actually work.

    And despite what a lot of people think, M$ is no longer a buggy piece of crap. Everything after 3.0 all the way up to ME was just a complete disaster. XP was better because it basically shoved all the bugs in the back, meaning no more blue screens of death.

    To give a real world example: GoHybrid has had his mac installed for a while and I think he said 1 freeze/restart. I have had mine in for over a year now, and I have had 2. Both restarts. Within 25seconds, it was back up and playing music again. I still think it was faulty RAM because since my switch to a new stick of RAM, no problems.

    So, to sum up, just stick with what is supported, and if you want then make it look like OSX and just tell everyone it is.

    If you want good GPS programmes, Good satellite radio, good FM radio, good 800x480 resolution (important to some), Great Front ends, and pretty much anything else, stick to what is supported because you will (except for configuration which isnt that bad) you will never even see the stupid multicoloured window.

    Quote Originally Posted by kkachurak View Post
    Oh and I hate to do this: But once I get this fancy Carnetix PSU, how do I wire it into my cars power system?

    Thanks in advance.
    Straight from the battery for +12v, ignition wire from under steering column, and ground from any good metal part on your car.
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  3. #3
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    Thanks for all the great info. I just wanted to respond with some additional Q's and decisions.

    1. As far as a transflective screen goes: are there any on the market available that are in-dash 6"-7", motorized, VGA, NON touch screen? Yes, that's right, I think I've decided to go without touch screen. You'll see why in a moment.

    2. Ah, the great OS X debate. No, I'm not a fanboy, but OS X is my preferable OS. And I can actually give a few reasons why it does make sense to run OS X for me in my specific set up.

    a. Cost. I mean let's face it, it is cheaper to just get the one Mac Mini product and essentially have everything I need as far as the computer component goes. No buying additional OS or front end software.

    b. Knoweledge. Most of you already diving into this hobby are 10x smarter than me. Your grasp and understanding of how all this works goes deeper than I can imagine and I forsee myself running into more installation issues if I was dealing with software that I was completely unfamiliar with.

    And unbelievably, one of my main reasons c. Front Row. This little remote-run Mac applet that hides the rest of the desktop and presents a beautiful way to nav through your media is the way I would prefer to operate my carputer while driving. I don't want to be tempted to touch screens or use input devices while trying to focus on the road: just use the lil' apple remote (like I have with sat radio units in the past) to scroll through my music, podcasts, audio books and when I'm parked, video.

    I don't think M$ is buggy, I don't hate Windows, it's just that I'm completely unfamiliar with going down that road and it doesn't support my vision for this project:



    Ultimately, said vision is the VGA screen becomes a giant iPod (w/ 160gb of space) controlled by my apple remote. When I'm parked or when a co-pilot prefers, Front Row can go away and the carputer becomes a functioning mac with the ability to go online (using an USB attached verizon or sprint card).

    Yes, I'll probably install a separate XM, FM, AM tuner and drop the need for nav all together since a wireless connection to the internet via the Mac Mini make it easy to get to google.maps.com.

  4. #4
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    Hey,

    Nice move going Mac and I totally understand the front row thing! Me too!

    My setup might provide some help. This is in a Subaru Outback.
    Power supply. Carnetix P1900, as covered above for wiring. Great power supply, it is quiet and easy to cool. Mac Mini power cable as suggested. That's power covered for under $200 US. Great

    MacMini. Mine is a core solo with standard 512 RAM and 60GB HDD. I will upgrade to a Seagate 160 G drive later, but at the moment, I have an 80G external drive linked with firewire sitting beside the mini in the compartment in the boot. Works sweet and makes changing the music and Video files so easy. I don't need a DVD burner in the car, so the basic mac mini is perfect. Remote control is so handy as well. VGA out to the screen with the adapter is easy peasy and audio I am running out to the rear connector of the head unit for my existing car stereo. This means that I can control volume via the head unit without touching the screen if I am driving alone. I prefer this for safety reasons. So all I am doing here is using the aux channel on the header as a pipe for iTunes or AMP, whichever is running at the time.
    USB connectivity. I have a bus powered USB hub in the center console hidden in a compartment there. Ideal for plugging in the iPod, or a digital camera when I am on holiday.
    GPS mouse is plugged in to the mac directly and hidden in under the dash. Signal is awesome. Easy peasy.
    Wireless is onboard with the mac mini. I also have plans for an ethernet switch for large file transfer, but to be honest, that is not a priority.

    I have a mic extension from the mini to a concealed mic in the roof liner behind the sun visor. That gives me voice control if I need it. I normally only do that when I am showing off! But it is cool for skyping when I am away.

    Software. AMP. AMP. AMP. This is the only drawback, but if you get the sourcecode from sourceforge, it is pretty easy to muck around with, and skinning is easy as well. Of course, front row is awesome, and iTunes in fullscreen is pretty cool. You can just flick through the album art on the touchscreen. Freaks all my mates out!

    I am not bothered with a keyboard. But if I was desperate, I'd plug in a USB minikeyboard to the bus I mentioned before.

    My total install time from whoa to go was 3 hours. But the Subaru is almost made for the MacMini install. It has a beautiful little compartment in the boot that everything just slots in to, and the wiring is all there as well, with the rear cigarette lighter power supply right there.

    Good luck mate. Let me know if there is anything I can help with.

  5. #5
    Newbie boondocksaint's Avatar
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    I'm also new here, and in my very first search, I find this thread all nice and fresh. Perfect.

    I, too, am considering the install of a Mac Mini (2006 Subaru Impreza WRX/STi). I'd already trolled the forum for info before registering today, so I was considering many of the things the OP is.

    Mac Mini + Carnetix PSU + (for me) a 7" touch screen. I originally considered putting it all in the dash, but that might result in heat buildup. I'm 90% sure I'll be putting the Mini and power supply in the glovebox. Anyways, sorry to hijack there.

    Quick questions related to topic:
    1) Would it be better to have an older G4 processor (which run pretty hot) or one of the lower-end Intel-based chipsets in the Mini?
    2) If you don't have it wired to a knob of some kind, is it a PITA to adjust the volume through the touch screen?
    3) Are there any surprises we should look out for that we haven't asked about?

    Subscribed. I'm a transplanted Southerner in Detroit, so this is how I spend my time.

  6. #6
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    Question Im another Noobie

    Hi i am a noobie and i want to install a mac mini into my car this obvious but i stated it anyway. I have an ok background with computers so that part of the job i am sort of okay with. However when it comes to cars i do not know anything. I have been researching this project for about a month now. I own a 1999 Infiniti I30 with the limited edition bose sound system. The headset on the bose system is shot but the speaker still work. I want to be able to by pass the radio on this job so that i use the mac for the actual volume control, is that possible. Also i am thinking about using a power inverter instead of the cartenix p1900. Is that an okay way to go. I am strapped for cash thats why.Last thing is a screen i would like to put something either in the dash or a screen that is motorized and conceals itself but does not have a radio attached. Any suggestion on parts would be great. The best would be if some one could walk me through the actual install for my car.

    Thanks in advance for everything.

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