So I don't have the factory Monsoon amp, which I read could be ran stand-alone, and I know that aftermarket amps are available cheap, and that the CarPC will boot up quickly, and that I don't NEED a headunit to get sound.... but I'm torn between the three options that I've come up with.
1. Keep existing head unit and relocate to ???
Pros - Ability to listen to FM/AM Radio or tape adapter input without CarPC being on. Good in case of CarPC failure or for short trips around town.
Cons - Must increase the length of factory stereo wiring. No good/accessible place to relocate head unit. Must purchase CD Changer-AUX Input adapter ~$50+ or build custom one for less $$ but much more effort.
2. Use aftermarket amp with no head unit.
Pros - Ease of installation. Upgradeability.
Cons - No way to have music without CarPC being on. Loss of FM radio. Must Purchase Amp.
3. Use aftermarket head unit with remotely mounted faceplate.
Pros - Ability to listen to FM/AM Radio or CDs without CarPC being on. Good in case of CarPC failure or for short trips around town. Solves problem of inaccessible volume control.
Cons - Difficulty of installation. Must purchase aftermarket Head Unit.
I'm honestly leaning towards option 3 at this point in time as each option will definitely require some custom installation, and I found a decent 4 year old Aiwa MP3 CD Player with front Aux Input, matching blue lighting, 50wx4 power output, and a detachable face for only $40 on Craigslist. I checked the measurements of a single din faceplate and it should fit perfectly in the center console next to the e-brake with some modification.
Total build cost so far: $229
If I add the Aiwa deck for $40, then I'm up to $269 in just parts, before I get into wiring. Not too bad compared to some of the builds I've seen around here.