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Thread: Programmer looking for elegant, complete carPC in Canada, need help

  1. #1
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    Arrow Programmer looking for elegant, complete carPC in Canada, need help

    Hi there,

    I've got a Toyota Camry 2003, and I want a carPC.
    I'm great with programming PCs, building software for custom hardware such as AVRs, servos.
    HOWEVER, I have basically no car knowledge, and no knowledge about power or power systems.

    What I want:
    - A nice looking CarPC. I'd like a kit I can install for a reasonable price, so I can focus on the software customization. Anyone know of someone in Toronto/Waterloo/Kitchener who does this? I had a convo with a guy from FutureShop who puts in remote starters/stereos- I don't know if that's a good idea.

    Also, IDEA: Using a NetBook as the "meat":
    - Install a nice, integrated LCD touchscreen into the dash.
    - Have the screen adapter, sound and any other plugs go into the glove compartment.
    - When you go into the car, you just slide your Netbook into the glove compartment and attach the cables. Ideally it will keep the netbook charged too.
    - Could I get data like fuel left, speed, battery, other such things?

    What do you think?

  2. #2
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    Futureshop employee? NO!
    Netbook? Maybe. The only issue I see with a netbook is turning it on remotely, you have to hit the power button to turn it on/off every time. I have no idea what the other netbook members are doing to get around this.
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  3. #3
    FLAC
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    If you really don't want to get down a dirty with the car. This is what i would do.
    Buy mp3car's starter carpc package.
    Get a LCD + AMP wiring kit (including audio cable) + USB extensions and take it to a custom car shop (preferably somewhere not futureshop where people know what they're doing), and tell them to run all wires, and install LCD.
    The rest is pretty easy, just hook up your computer to all the wiring.

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    If he plans on sliding it into and out of the glovebox for each use (and connecting/disconnecting the necessary cables) pressing the power button shouldn't be too hard. If i'm wrong though, best option in his case would be to splice an external connector inline with the power button but that falls into the hardware category I guess.

  5. #5
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    Haha futureshop employee! You are better off doing the install yourself if you can. That way if something goes wrong (which most likely will when you are putting together a carpc), then you will know how to troubleshoot it better since you will be more familiar with your install. If you really insist on getting this done by someone else, then I would look into the smaller but more custom shops, not a big retail chain. It will cost alot though.

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    Your best bet if you want to make it affordable is to find an mp3car member with a nice install near you and make him an offer.

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    thanks guys. I'm kinda surprised there isn't a simple LCD+Audio interface that has a power button which you can use to take a pc out of suspend.

    What about getting an Azentek Atlas? I see there's an authorized dealer 2 hours away. Could be worth it to use them and get it installed by them?
    How much do those Atlases cost?

  8. #8
    Constant Bitrate firstorbit84's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maheriano View Post
    Netbook? Maybe. The only issue I see with a netbook is turning it on remotely, you have to hit the power button to turn it on/off every time. I have no idea what the other netbook members are doing to get around this.
    To get around the power switch, you're going to have to bust out your soldering skills and relocate it/extend it. But it's quite easy to do, just two solder points. I just did it on my Eee:
    02 VW Golf TDI 7" Eee PC Budget Build

    A netbook is a great option IMO. I've spent only $430 on my whole install including a $60 new head unit and $50 hands free blue tooth... without those two items I'd have only spent $320 including the netbook!

    As for your other questions about using it as a trip computer and for engine readings... I'm personally using a standalone solution for that called ScanGaugeII: http://www.scangauge.com/ It can tell you your fuel and mileage remaining as well as many other engine readings, and even read and clear engine codes... The reason I went for a stand-alone solution was because otherwise I'd have to have the computer running whenever I wanted it to perform those duties, which is all the time. Plus it would take some system resources, which aren't too plentiful on a netbook to begin with....

    Good luck!

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    Power button out of suspend and power button to turn on a computer thats powered off are completely different things. A usb keboard or a hacked mouse is enough to turn on a computer thats been suspended.

  10. #10
    Constant Bitrate firstorbit84's Avatar
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    yes, but a Eee PC and most other netbooks do not have the advanced power control of other computers. therefore, their battery's will die relatively quickly when using "Suspend" or "Stand by" only, and you must therefore use the "hibernate" feature or turn them off completely requiring a push of the power button or some kind of hacked Wake-on LAN

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