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Thread: E46 BMW guys, any thoughts?

  1. #1
    Newbie GeddyT's Avatar
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    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...

  2. #2
    Newbie GeddyT's Avatar
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    New issue that's come up. I would like to add a subwoofer just to get a little bit more low end for now. But I've been doing some reading and it seems this is just not possible with the stock amplifier? No pre-outs to add a sub amp?

    I started taking apart my trunk trim yesterday to see what I had to work with. I now think that because I'm planning on running audio from the computer to the Head unit on aux channel, I can take accessory power from the trunk instead of the head unit because the head unit will always be powered. So as far as I know, I'm looking for 12V+, 12V+ switched, GND, IBUS, and hopefully some kind of low level outputs for a sub amp. Well what I found didn't make much sense to me. Aside from two giant wire harnesses that I assume would be for the GPS if I had it or something, I had two bundles of wires. First this one:
    [IMG]http://groups.msn.com/_Secure/0UwDxAtYaVpqWekKGEl0F0roQSS*szZqeOoWVTf!YOX9vMJVH0 sFR87N0bYcxV3B03nr!Y2R9lfzxTAYCwFZzyhweTJ2e912pEvU omQCRdQv*Ccws8ySO2XcxUoyDw5*F/Threewireplugs.jpg?dc=4675489929315856553[/IMG]
    As you can see, one plug with white/red stripe, white/brown stripe, white/blue stripe and another plug with solid brown, red/green stripe, white/orange stripe.
    The other bundle was this:
    [IMG]http://groups.msn.com/_Secure/0UgARA4kaWIGbhX6r7G6ksDUZ*f5e7Osy*N!FTotfjxcMi7Ub1 RtaPIbxe2Hddf!o!s7ru3iCfqAYpIrF9A7OT6RgvdFiNIwGH!J NOQsoeh6zcg36TfmXgaKEtdY4f8NX/weirdassplugs.jpg?dc=4675489929335672259[/IMG]
    A plug with solid red, solid brown, and brown/yellow stripe then three coax wires of some sort that I've not preciously encountered.

    So any adea of what I'm looking at there? I'm sure it's something that's posted elsewhere, so I'll start looking, but any help would be appreciated.
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    This goes for the guys, too. Because sometimes the guys are tapped out. But check your lease, Man, 'cause you’re living in F*bleep* City!

  3. #3
    Newbie GeddyT's Avatar
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    Guess posting images isn't as straightforward as it would seem.
    This goes for the guys, too. Because sometimes the guys are tapped out. But check your lease, Man, 'cause you’re living in F*bleep* City!

  4. #4
    Maximum Bitrate srcstc's Avatar
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    Here's a diagram for the wiring.
    http://www.projectbimmer.com/BmwWiring.htm

    If you want to add an amp I believe you need one of these, SVEN4 - 4 CHANNEL SUPERVEN

    good luck.

  5. #5
    Maximum Bitrate srcstc's Avatar
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    BTW: in the plugs you posted pics of, the brown wire is always ground.

  6. #6
    Newbie GeddyT's Avatar
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    Hey thanks a lot. So with that SVEN4, that'll hook up without having to cut into any wires? And it hooks up in the trunk and not the dash?
    This goes for the guys, too. Because sometimes the guys are tapped out. But check your lease, Man, 'cause you’re living in F*bleep* City!

  7. #7
    Newbie GeddyT's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, any thoughts on EPIA vs. shuttle system? Does the EPIA have enough power to handle all tasks that you would need in a car? Let's say watching DVD, playing mp3, GPS nav, email, and playing Half Life 2.... well, maybe not HL2...

    Anyone ever have problems with an EPIA? I'm just want to make doubly sure before I spend all the money.
    This goes for the guys, too. Because sometimes the guys are tapped out. But check your lease, Man, 'cause you’re living in F*bleep* City!

  8. #8
    Maximum Bitrate srcstc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeddyT
    Hey thanks a lot. So with that SVEN4, that'll hook up without having to cut into any wires? And it hooks up in the trunk and not the dash?

    I don't know much about it because I've never had to go that route but you can find installation instructions on the http://peripheralelectronics.com website. I would look here also for more info:
    http://forum.e46fanatics.com//forumdisplay.php?f=22


    Rich

  9. #9
    Maximum Bitrate srcstc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeddyT
    Oh yeah, any thoughts on EPIA vs. shuttle system? Does the EPIA have enough power to handle all tasks that you would need in a car? Let's say watching DVD, playing mp3, GPS nav, email, and playing Half Life 2.... well, maybe not HL2...

    Anyone ever have problems with an EPIA? I'm just want to make doubly sure before I spend all the money.
    I would go with an epia. I have the MII 10000 and I'm very happy with it.


    Rich

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeddyT
    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
    If the board is the Chaintech 7NIF2, then a couple of things can bite you.

    1) XP Mobile CPU is going to run at 800 mhz unless you search for information on taking a small strand of wire and manually connect two pins on the CPU, not for the faint at heart.
    2) Using onboard video? That PC3200 ram can only run at 2700 speed. Also the board is VERY finicky about RAM when you use the onboard video. All NForce chipset boards seem to be.

    I have that board, and tried an XP Mobile chip on it, and I went through 3 different brands of memory before I fould one that would work (Buffalo 3200 set to 2700 speeds). I don't use it for a CarPC, but for a MediaPC for the kids playroom. I was going for low heat and because the case is small, and in a confined area (entertainment center setup to look like an old school arcade game). Also the case only has a 200 watt powersupply.

    If I had to do it all over again, I would have gotten another Shuttle XPC, a little more pricey, and some of the same limitations as the Chaintech, but a little better in the end.

    I got the ME6000 Epia board for my CarPC, I should gotten the M10000 but I thought I couldn't use the M10000 due to room constraints. I can't use hardware mpeg 2 acceleration in PowerDVD, it locks up. With it off, I can watch a movie, but it is really poor experience. Again, I should have changed my plans and either gotten another Shuttle XPC or the Iwill.

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