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Thread: Well... I'm in the planning stages.

  1. #1
    Low Bitrate elricfate's Avatar
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    Well... I'm in the planning stages.

    I took a few pictures of my interior (2004 Chevy Impala).

    I don't want to jump into purchasing parts or cutting apart ANYTHING in my car until at least 2008, but I figured I would start planning now. A good year of research can't hurt my choices any.

    I was thinking of maybe using a Fujitsu Lifebook with the touchscreen, but then I realized those screens are large and probably wouldn't fit anywhere in my car comfortably.

    So I've uploaded a few pictures of the interior to this post. One is of my dash in full, where I think the only place to put a touchscreen would be where my OEM stereo is. The only problem with that is that I would lose the functionality of being able to program keyfobs, set options for the content anti-theft system, etc. There's also the fact that it can only fit a 7" screen (I haven't taken measurements yet, that's just eyeing it). So that means I may actually have to use a cheaper laptop, and wire the LCD to it.

    There's also the spot in my trunk, between my speakers, where it looks as though I could float-mount something.

    But I was also considering my floor. Since I have a shaft-shifting Impala (base model), and not a floor-shifter, I could buy one of those heavy duty, weighted center consoles to put on the floor and put all my electronics into that.

    I guess I was kind of wanting a little guidance from people who have done this before me. Is it better to build a car PC, or better to use a laptop?

    I kind of want to have GPS, MP3 playback, Video playback, OBDII diagnostics, etc. Not really interested in the ability to browse the internet, but it's always a bonus.

    I don't know, like I said, I need guidance. Maybe people could ask questions that would boost my brainstorming... Help?

    EDIT: Thank you to whichever mod moved this here. I caught a cold recently and my brain only half works right now.
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  2. #2
    Low Bitrate elricfate's Avatar
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    I think I've decided to use a Mini-ITX solution rather than a laptop. I believe that involves more electrical work, but I'll have help with that.

    The other thing I just thought about was because my Impala has a big old backside, I want a rear view camera to help me with backing.

    Also, another thing I was pondering. I know Laser systems that detect speed use an Infrared beam that reflects from the car back to the unit (I have some experience in running radar and laser from my job ;-)). I was thinking, I can probably fabricate an IR flooder that can be controlled via a small PCB, mounted to the car in strategic spots that could, in fact, cause the infrared signal sent back to the lidar unit to be false...

    It's just a thought, but one that could make a pre-fab type of laser jammer that actively syncs to a carputer. I wonder if there'd be any demand for that, considering the amount of fabrication work that would need to be done to the body of the car to make it look less like a frankenstein mash of electronics and more like the stock body.

  3. #3
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    lazer is a tough cookie to crack, I'd probably know enough to help you by now had I not moved to Virginia... one of the two states that outlaw those things.

    I think your planning on faking out the radar system is a cool idea, I haven't studied the waves enough to know how to project a false reading, but I know you can cancel out the wave by emitting an inverse wave pattern

  4. #4
    Low Bitrate elricfate's Avatar
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    In my line of work, I can get the specs for it. But I think that's going against what I took an oath for... so cancel out that idea (for now).

  5. #5
    Low Bitrate elricfate's Avatar
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    Well... I have an nForce2 NF7-S2 Revision 2.0 motherboard at the house, and an Athlon XP 2200+, and 512mb PC3200 DDR...

    These are from an old HTPC I built awhile ago and recently replaced. As it is, I haven't touched that old thing yet because I don't have a use for it. Instead of buying a new mobo + ram, maybe I should attempt to use it?

    The only thing is that it's an ATX spec motherboard, desktop processor, and definitely not low-profile RAM.

    Do you think that I can still run it from a car PSU? ie: the 160w M2-ATX? It runs at a stock 1.6ghz, maybe if I underclock it?

    I know that I could originally run the thing from a 300w desktop, overclocked, without worrying about it randomly shutting down because of the rails being unstable.

    Any advice would be appreciated guys.

  6. #6
    Fusion Brain Creator 2k1Toaster's Avatar
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    Well either way you decide to go it is up to you. If you have the space then why not go for a more powerful system? You might be pushing the M2 with that, but there is an Opus 250W and a DS-ATX. Both would do the trick, both pricy. But if you already have all the other parts then it would be a smallish expense to get good functionality from a reused computer.

    I must say that I was very pleased with the "not till 2008, can't hurt to research) part of your first post. Congratulations for not becoming a n00b. Welcome.
    Fusion Brain Version 6 Released!
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  7. #7
    Low Bitrate elricfate's Avatar
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    Thanks. I appreciate the welcome.

    http://www.abit-usa.com/products/mb/...es=1&model=204

    That's the motherboard. Has 1xSerial and 4xUSB + the USB headers on it. And onboard 6 channel sound. I never used the onboard sound, but everyone compared it to Audigy quality.

    I plan on putting a GPS receiver on it, an XM tuner on it, and an OBD-II diagnostic card on it. So I was thinking a USB GPS, USB OBD-II diag card, and a serial controlled XM tuner.

    The other thing I was thinking about was not removing the stock headunit since I need it for some stuff that the car does through it... So I was thinking of running the computer through the auxiliary input on the headunit, thereby bypassing the need to remove the head unit from the car completely, and the need for an amp to power the speakers.

    EDIT: Also, Wifi and Bluetooth. So that would fill all four USB ports and put the serial port to use. Though I was also thinking I could put a PCMCIA/PCI adapter card in and use a laptop wifi card... Not like I would need all those PCI slots on that mobo anyways.

  8. #8
    Fusion Brain Creator 2k1Toaster's Avatar
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    Well you can always split the USB ports using hubs. Bluetooth and Wifi and gps could probably all go on the same port.

    Don't forget you need a usb jack for the touchscreen too!

    And depending on the HU, you can use the AUX in, or even fool it into thinking there is a CD changer. Other options include FM modulators (wired or wireless) or casette adapter (but who has a casette player in their car anymore!).

    Obviously a straight plug in is best and should be done or at least tried to be done the hardest. Then the other options are worse and worse.

    Where will you be putting the screen?

    Also you could always detach the stock HU and relocate it to be in the dash but behind everything. Then run extension wires on the essential buttons and knobs and the LCD or something. That way you can get a nice screen and keep your stock HU's functionality.
    Fusion Brain Version 6 Released!
    1.9in x 2.9in -- 47mm x 73mm
    30 Digital Outputs -- Directly drive a relay
    15 Analogue Inputs -- Read sensors like temperature, light, distance, acceleration, and more
    Buy now in the MP3Car.com Store

  9. #9
    Low Bitrate elricfate's Avatar
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    Well I'm not terribly electrically inclined... But my Uncle, who's an Electrical Engineer, has agreed to give me a hand in wiring all of this up.

    It's an '04 Impala, so I would basically HAVE to replace the stock HU with the screen, because it's about the only spot on the dash for it. since I don't want to use a gooseneck (I want my car to be more comfortable than my cruiser).

    Currently I have a CD changer, and a cassette deck in my Headunit. Yes, I know... Who has a cassette player? Apparently in a 2004 GM vehicle, you get one from the factory...

    Anyhow. Do you really think running it through the Aux in would cause sound degradation? I kinda thought it would act like the CD changer already does and sound better than the FM stations.

    I'm just a computer guy. I've overclocked, cooled, built, etc... But only desktop systems. This is a new niche I'm looking to get into. I'm not really knowledgeable on car audio, either. Hence all the research I'm putting into this project before I even attempt it.

    Though I think I'll put together the motherboard and the basic parts tonight, and start working on an nlite xp image for it.

  10. #10
    Fusion Brain Creator 2k1Toaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elricfate View Post
    Well I'm not terribly electrically inclined... But my Uncle, who's an Electrical Engineer, has agreed to give me a hand in wiring all of this up.

    It's an '04 Impala, so I would basically HAVE to replace the stock HU with the screen, because it's about the only spot on the dash for it. since I don't want to use a gooseneck (I want my car to be more comfortable than my cruiser).

    Currently I have a CD changer, and a cassette deck in my Headunit. Yes, I know... Who has a cassette player? Apparently in a 2004 GM vehicle, you get one from the factory...

    Anyhow. Do you really think running it through the Aux in would cause sound degradation? I kinda thought it would act like the CD changer already does and sound better than the FM stations.

    I'm just a computer guy. I've overclocked, cooled, built, etc... But only desktop systems. This is a new niche I'm looking to get into. I'm not really knowledgeable on car audio, either. Hence all the research I'm putting into this project before I even attempt it.

    Though I think I'll put together the motherboard and the basic parts tonight, and start working on an nlite xp image for it.
    AUX in is good sound. FM/Cassette is crap. And you really got a 2004 vehicle with a cassette player? wow...

    To make things look stock the screen should definately go where the HU goes now. And basically to extend the buttons and stuff, just cut the wire that is going to them already, and attach a longer piece between the contacts. Voila, extendo button.

    And nLite is nice and all, but I run a system that is comparable to a P3 700Mhz and I use the full version of XP Pro. Boots up from cold to playing music in just about 20 seconds. If you go with that bigger system, you should have no problems. nLite is for those that really need harddrive space, or are unable to optimize their boot sequence.
    Fusion Brain Version 6 Released!
    1.9in x 2.9in -- 47mm x 73mm
    30 Digital Outputs -- Directly drive a relay
    15 Analogue Inputs -- Read sensors like temperature, light, distance, acceleration, and more
    Buy now in the MP3Car.com Store

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