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Thread: My first carputer, need some opinions.

  1. #1
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    My first carputer, need some opinions.

    Hey guys. I have a nice 1988 Saturn SW1, which runs and drives beautifully. I have been looking in to this project since late last summer, and have decided to take the plunge once spring gets here.

    I live in michigan, and it gets very cold some nights in the winter. Therefore, to protect the carputer from the cold, I have decided to take the tablet PC approach, because I can take it out at night. I also want something that can be portable in a synch, like if I am out in the wild and need a GPS incase I lose my compass, I can bring the tablet and GPS adapter with me.

    I have been looking in to an older Fujitsu Stylistic, like a P600, C500, 3500, 3400, or at minimum, a 2300. I found a good deal on a working 2300, and I might bite. They have a single USB port, which is my bare minimum requirement. Run a 233mhz pentium MMX proc. Not much power, but I don't intend on watching movies on this thing.

    In fact, here is a list of things I want to do with this machine:

    -MP3 playback
    -GPS navigation
    -ODB II reading/tuning.
    -wardriving
    -wireless internet access (wifi, and cellular)
    -AM/FM radio if possible


    My biggest concern, is I reserched the 2300, and it has a pen that uses a battery (a AAAA, where am I going to find those?! ). Does that mean I can not use my finger for navigation?

    Also, from the looks of it, the drivers are available for Windows 95, 98, and NT (I assume 4.0). I want to run Windows 2000 on it, because it can and because of better stability. I was looking in to linux, Ubuntu to be precise, but the tablet drivers are not quite mature yet, so in the interm, I can run Windows.

    So the idea is this: get a small 4 or 7 port hub, and get USB GPS, wifi, bluetooth, and FM modules. The ODB cable can be serial, but USB would be better, so it's 3 cables to unplug if I ever need to take it out of the car (power, audio out, and USB). I have a cassette adapter I use for my iPod that will work with anything with a 3.5" jack. I also have a 140 watt inverter, with 2 US grounded plugs. I can take the tablet with me, and use it outside the car.

    About the only thing that I am worried about is the hard drive, and what interface software to use. I have only 4gb of music, so if I can get a 8gb SSD, or a CF card, out comes the shock mounted 4gb hard drive. That is to say, 4gb of music total, but only 1.5gb of it is mine, the rest is purchased from iTunes, so that is why I want to run Win 2k, because iTunes runs on 2k. I am also looking for a interface that is like a touch driven app launcher. Something that is customizable (icon size, color, position, etc). Also, FOSS is a big thing for me, so if anyone knows of anything that is free AND open source, leave a comment.

    Oh and I also need recommendations for a cellular PCMCIA card. I think the slots in the 2300 are cardbus. I have AT&T, but if there is a cheaper plan, then great. I also run a Treo 650, which is what the bluetooth is for, and I can use BT DUN on it, but it sucks the hell out of the battery, and a PC card would be faster anyways. BT DUN feels like just that, Dial-up. Not much faster. But then again, I would be on wifi 90% of the time unless I was somewhere really remote.

    Well, what does everyone think of my project? It looks a challenge, but I am up to it.

  2. #2
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    I am no expert by all means, but I have learned quite a lot and spend hours reading here. A tablet PC will work but it may not be practical for you. If you want a clean looking install, then you will have to find a mount for it. However problem is, it doesnt look like there are mounting points on the back of a say P600


    Anyway, of course you can lay it on your passenger seat but you will have coutless wires all over the place based on your description. They do sell Carputer kits on ebay in case you havent looked. I dont think your biggest concern should be the "pen battery" since you can easily find them on ebay.

    Regarding OS's. I would stick with Windows. Easier with drivers, more accessiblity to programs, etc. iTunes sucks and is resource hungry, there are plently of other music playback programs (winamp, etc).

    You say you want a interface that is touch driven. Do a search on Road Runner. I am using it and it is fantastic and easily customizable.

    If you have expenable money and can afford, on top of your cellphone plan, a PCMCIA cellular data card then most will do just fine, they just tend to be expensive. And you have ATT and they are most expensive. Either way it can work. I have Cricket Wireless in my area and they just rolled out with their wireless internet PCMCIA cards. For 30.00 bucks a month I have internet everywhere I go in my home network. Love it.

    Anyway to be honest, I would look into another route instead of a Tablet PC. But if that is what you have your heart set on then go for it. Just make sure you keep a clean install. I have seen some installs here that are pretty horendous, with wires and such all over. I have always understood Carputers to be more or less stationary in ones car.

  3. #3
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    I have a regular setup using a Voompc 2 case and I can remove it as I see fit. No need to limit yourself to a tablet pc. All you need to do is unplug a few wires and you will be able to take it with you where ever you go.
    http://store.mp3car.com/VoomPC_2_Car..._p/enc-008.htm
    Once you've had the "Carputer" experience, you will wonder how you ever lived without it...

  4. #4
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    excuse me, but almost $100 for just a case?! and for something that small too! I should have stated that I would like this project to cost me less than $100 for everything. I know, that's another challenge, but I already have a wifi card, USB hub, and bluetooth dongle, which is part of the hardware. If I can't do it all for $100 or less, I will get as many functions as I can for that.

    Right now, it is looking like I will only be able to do wardriving and MP3 playback, which is the basic essentials.

    As for iTunes being a resource hog, I know. But is there any other way to play the purchased music without ripping the DRM, which is illegal?

  5. #5
    Newbie still_ill's Avatar
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    for the relevance of anyone who's reading this (and if iamdigitalman still hasn't made his mind up) i don't know for sure (being a big fat n00bie, but i don't think you can use your 1988 saturn for OBD-II reading/tuning because it's just too old!

    correct me if i'm completely wrong

  6. #6
    Neither darque nor pervert DarquePervert's Avatar
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    You're completely wrong.
    OBD-II is a mandatory standard for all US-made vehicles starting in 1996.

    So you resurrected a 2+ year old thread with misinformation.
    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?



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  7. #7
    Newbie still_ill's Avatar
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    surely if the car is made in 1988
    and OBD-II is a mandatory standard in 1996

    then the car doesn't have OBD-II?

    "1988: The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) recommends a standardized diagnostic connector and set of diagnostic test signals.
    ~1994: Motivated by a desire for a state-wide emissions testing program, the CARB issues the OBD-II specification and mandates that it be adopted for all cars sold in California starting in model year 1996 (see CCR Title 13 Section 1968.1 and 40 CFR Part 86 Section 86.094). The DTCs and connector suggested by the SAE are incorporated into this specification.
    1996: The OBD-II specification is made mandatory for all cars sold in the United States."

    quote from wikipedia. it seems that only in 1994 (which is 6 years on from 1998) that OBD-II is issued to be required.

    i'm sorry but if i'm still wrong then your going to have to explain to me why because i don't have clue what your on about. if i am wrong i completely apologise. perhaps you should read the thread properly and then give facts rather than just give me a condescending line at the end.

  8. #8
    Neither darque nor pervert DarquePervert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by still_ill View Post
    surely if the car is made in 1988
    and OBD-II is a mandatory standard in 1996
    I misread the year as 1998. My apologies.

    then the car doesn't have OBD-II?
    Correct.
    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?



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  9. #9
    Newbie still_ill's Avatar
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    no problem, sorry too; i probably got a wee bit hot headed there. i don't want to get my account deleted in the few days i've had it!

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