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Thread: New 2003 Saturn L200 In-Dash Project

  1. #1
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    New 2003 Saturn L200 In-Dash Project

    Hey all:
    I've made the decision to build my first carputer project in my new (well, new to me) 2003 Saturn L200. It has power just about everything, minus the sunroof and leather packages. I'll post pics in here later, but here's where I am starting from:

    Dash: Fabricated dash mount for single DIN aftermarket deck. It was fabricated by Circuit City because the dash on this model does not take kindly to the premade dash kits being used with motorized flip down faces. For this, they had to make a dash kit using bondo on the back side of the dash and a cut-away plastic panel with the DIN sleeve inserted into it.

    Audio: Infinity 4 Channel Amp powering seperates (woofer+tweeter) speakers in all four doors. Phoenix Gold Amp powering 10" Rockford Fosgate HE subwoofer in a .75 cubic foot ported box.

    My ordered "carputer" equipment from Short-Circuit.com:

    Car PC Kit M-12
    VIA EPIA MII 12000 C3 E-Series (1.2 GHz)
    M2-ATX Power Supply
    VoomPC Car Enclosure
    512 MB DDR Ram
    60 GB 2.5" Notebook Hard Drive
    VM7100 7" TFT-LCD XGA/VGA Touchscreen

    I will be loading TinyXP Rev4 and using iTunes as the first boot-up program for now (not sure I like any of the frontends available now without significant modification).

    For the install, I will be removing the single DIN sleeve mounted inside the fabricated dash kit. I will not remove the fabrication, as it is just what I need in order to disassemble the LCD touchscreen and mount it flush with the dash. The back of the mounting has .5" squares notched into it to help with measuring and cutting them out. I will install some type of metal clips on the back of this mounting that will swing down and hold the touchscreen panel in place. This is so I can remove the touchscreen at a later time if I need to.

    As for the computer itself, I will mount it in my glove compartment. There is a hole already drilled between the glove compartment and the inside of the dash to put my iPod interface cable through, so that will serve as the pass-through for the VGA cable, power cables from the factory wiring harness, and the USB cable for the touchscreen interface. I will remove the glovebox for this part, and also cut out a large square hole in the top of the compartment to mount a large computer fan. Since the box itself is a fanless setup, this fan will serve just as an auxillary airflow that will hopefully boost performance just a bit.

    For expansion, I will be installing a Logitech Cordless Wingman controller (for emulation games), a USB WiFi adapter for wireless music database synchronization, and my USB Bluetooth 2.0 adapter to interface with my phone for handsfree capability.

    Let me know what you all think so far.

    Also, one big question that will give me the green light for this install if it works: can I use the power and ground wires from the factory stereo wiring harness to power the computer's power supply? Thanks a ton!

  2. #2
    Maximum Bitrate bes51659's Avatar
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    BEWARE!!BEWARE!!BEWARE!!BEWARE!!BEWARE!!BEWARE!!

    You've got almost the same setup as me. I've got the MII12k, the VoomPC etc. But I've got a 6,5 inch BMW screen, 400x240.

    There is one problem though!!!!

    The only widescreen format supported by MII12000 (disregarding what you can set in Bios) is 848x480.

    Information about your screen is - Resolution 720x400 to 1280x1024 - (!?!?)

    My tip is that you make sure that your carputer supports the native resolution of the monitor. I ended up with an awkward solution with extra graphics board and modified VoomPC box. You can have a lock at my site if you like, even if I'm not quite done.

    Keep me posted.

  3. #3
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    it sounds like you have really spent some time thinking this out. Bravo!

    welcome to the site and enjoy your addiction!

    regarding the stock wiring from the radio, provided it will have the needed current, I don't see a problem with it. most factory radios use a 10-15 amp fuse on those circuits. Just compare what the PSU needs to the factory fuse rating.

    Good luck!
    Jan Bennett
    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

  4. #4
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    hey im wondering how the vm7100 screen preforms. im almost positive im going to buy it but it would be nice to hear from someone else how it is before i buy it. does it have alot of glare? is the touch sensitive enough and all that good stuff? do you have any problems with it?

  5. #5
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    Aug 2006
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    I also am curious about the vm7100. Not much info is on the site about it.

  6. #6
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    Jun 2006
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    Sorry all, about being away for so long. I've got a few updates.

    To those of you who have asked, the screen is working just ok for me. The touchscreen interface seemed to go out on me. This may have something to do with me having to re-solder one of the USB connections back onto the board, but it sort of died slowly on me. It's not that big of a deal, but more on that later. The screen brightness is ok, not entirely visable during the day, but enough to see what I have currently playing, which is what I use the CarPC most for...listening to music.

    The screen itself has one HUGE downfall that I have yet to overcome. Let me say first that the screen housing would not fit behind my stock dash...SO, I had to remove the LCD and control board from the housing and fabricate a mount out of some wood, plastic, and vinyl fabric covering. However, this screen does NOT offer an automatic-on option when power is applied from the ignition switch. This means that every time power comes back on from you starting your car, you have to hit the "on" button on the control panel of the screen. For this reason alone, I had to cut the plastic of the housing that has the control buttons on it and just leave it hanging off the side of the dash where the screen is so I can get at it easily. I have run out of time to work on this project right now, so this will have to make do until I can get some more quality time to spend tearing apart the car.

    As for the computer, the VoomPC enclosure I originally intended to use would not fit without a fight in the glovebox. I literally had to slam it shut to get the latch to engage, and I figured that couldn't be good for the internal components. I have always wanted to make a jump into the Mac world, and the lure of using Apple's Front Row as a simple front end (no GPS, etc.) was a little too much to bear. I ended up buying the entry level Mac Mini Core Solo (intel chip). It fits so much nicer, and I don't have to worry about any components being ruined by me slamming the glove box shut. Also, the carnetix power supply is basically designed, if not intentionally, to work with the mac mini, especially with the new MacPac cable. It simply puts the Mini to sleep when I turn the car off, and wakes it up when the car starts. Less than 3 seconds for the whole process either way.

    Now comes in the absense of the touchscreen. The VM7100 supposedly has a touchscreen driver for Mac, but I'm not sure if it's been translated to universal binary (or if it needs to be) in order to work with the Mini. Either my touchscreen truly is on the fritz and doesn't work, or the touchscreen driver doesn't work. Not sure which one it is.

    So far, I have the Griffin PowerMate controlling volume and a few selectable options. I'm back and forth between the Griffin AirClick USB and the KeySpan remote combo. I can't use the included apple remote (for shame) due to the fact that only the built in IR receiver on the front of the mini can understand the correct signals the remote sends. If I could use the included remote to control Front Row, since that's what it was included for, I would be a happy camper. But, until I figure out a way to relocate the stock IR receiver or find a USB receiver that understands the same commands and sends them to OSX, I'll keep searching for a better option.

    As of now, I have Front Row running, about 38 GB of music, DVD player at the ready, and the DIVX codec installed for my hard drive movies. It works very well for what I need it to do...just need an easier way to control the dang thing!

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