E46 BMW guys, any thoughts?
Computer building stud, and car audio tinkerer here, but a n00b when it comes to combining the two. I have a US spec 2003 325I with Buisiness CD (not HK). My first gripe is that I have over 70 CDs cluttering up my visors/seatbacks/floormats/etc. My other gripe is that there's just something... missing from the sound quality even though at times it sounds awesome. My plan is to do this in phases. Phase one will be getting the computer in so that it'll play mp3s and do GPS and wireless networking and all that. Phase B will be to upgrade the audio system because I hear that is going to burn a hole in my wallet seeing hows you pretty much have to replace EVERYTHING.
So for now the plan is to keep the factory amp and headunit. Okay, so here's what I'm planning to accomplish this and I'd appreciate any feedback or better ideas. First, the hardware:
Chaintech miniATX nF2 IGP
Athlon XP Mobile low voltage Barton
512MB TwinMOS PC3200
120GB 7200rpm Samsung 3.5" HDD
Slimline slotloading DVD/cdrw with USB enclosure
D-Link 802.11 a/b/c PCI adapter with external antenna
OPUS 150 PSU
Lilliput 7" touchscreen
IBUS/serial interface card
BMW auxiliary input adapter for head unit
Okay, so what I plan to do is put the Lilliput in the bottom two slots (sunglasses tray and ashtray) below the HU and climate controls. Put the DVD drive somewheres up front as well (haven't decided where yet). Then run audio, video (which I guess would just be a long VGA extension?), 12V+ swiched, USB, and 5V+ back to the trunk where the computer will be.
From all the posts I've read it seems that the best way to get switched power (accessory) back to the OPUS is from the front of the car because power to the amp only comes on when the HU is on. So that's the plan unless there's a better way.
Now my goal is to run the audio from the PC into the auxiliary input behind the head unit so that when the head unit is set to aux, it'll play what's on the PC. And program the IBUS so that when a CD is in the head unit, the steering wheel buttons control the head unit and when aux is selected, the steering wheel buttons control the PC (I know NOTHING about doing this, so I would need some help--that is, if it's even possible...). Also it would be nice for the skin to automagically turn to the nighttime skin when the headlights turn on through IBUS.
Here are the things I'm a little sketchy on (eternal thanks for input):
1.) Has anybody else out there made this work without removing the factory head unit? My main reasons for keeping it are the high quality radio receiver, the ability to easily and quickly throw CDs in, and that it looks good. That and it will allow me to keep the factory amp for now and therefore put off another fat wad of spending.
2.) Is PC audio --> auxiliary input adapter --> factory radio gonna sound like whales crapping?
3.) I'm assuming this auxiliary adapter works by faking a CD changer. Will this limit what I can do with the PC? In other words, will I be forced to emulate a changer or will the radio just play whatever's coming through that cable be it DVD audio, mp3s, or Windoze beeps?
4.) Video signal from the trunk all the way to the center console: Long VGA extension the way to go or will that add too much noise and there's a better way that I don't know about?
I think those are the key questions for now. I've already started to order parts for the project and will continue to do so until I run out of money or until I've got them all and am ready to go. I'll definitely post some pics of my progress, but that might not be for a month or so. Right now is just fact gathering time.
In fact, right now the weather is just barely sunny enough (western Washington) to take a look in my trunk when I get home from work and start planning this thing out.
Oh yeah, maybe you'll think this is funny: The only reason I'm starting this project, well besides never passing up on any excuse to build a cool computer, is because my plan for iPodding my BMW kind of fell through. My local BMW dealer now has me at 56th on their waiting list for an adapter cable. And because the demand is so great, they only get "four or five of them in a month." So either I wait until the line between my beard and short hairs grows indistinguishable for a crappy iPod rattling around in my glove box, or I go broke RIGHT NOW making my car the coolest thing in town. It's not even really a choice...