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Thread: 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP PC - Done

  1. #1
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    2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP PC - Done

    Here's my plan:
    Build a PC into my 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP.
    Keep the stock head-unit. It's a double-DIN 6-disc changer. No MP3 support.
    Build the PC into the dash or behind the dash. Basically, not in the trunk. I want to know if it bursts into flames.
    Without damaging the dash (much), mount an LCD touchscreen.
    Build my own GUI for audio, video, GPS, OBD, and rear-view camera.

    First, a few shots of the dash, to give some idea of what I'm working with.
    In these pics, the cubby-hole has already been removed from below the HVAC controls.








    And here is the LCD screen. It's a 16x9, VGA, 800x600, Shark SHK740. I was scared to buy anything from "gooddeals18.com", but it all worked out.

    It's kind of weird at first, when you buy some piece of electronics, and it has now power plug -- just a red wire and a black wire.



    Here's the dash, sitting on my couch.







    I decided that the air-duct in the dash was my best bet for building a mount for the LCD.






    The duct comes apart into 3 pieces. I removed the spinning globe piece (the one near the top of the image).


    I had to cut a hole in the duct for cables to pass through. The cables for the LCD and for the GPS pass through this hole.





    I took a hole-cutter and cut out a cylinder of wood to fit in the duct, and built a bracket onto that. Actually, I had to have a friend of mine cut out the hole. It turns out that a 14v cordless drill will not have the juice to operate a 3" hole-cutter for very long.




    I used a hand-saw to cut the notch into the wood where the bracket would fit.




    Eventhough the bracket is screwed into the wood, I applied some wood glue. It can only help.








    I painted the face of the wood black. Well, actually I took apart a pen and used black ink. Then I drew a lip around the outside with a Sharpie.








    Eventually, I decided to drill a few holes in the lower half of the wood, to allow air to flow through the vent. Also, you can see the GPS unit on top of my couch.






    Here's the cubby from my dash. I forgot to take pictures of it before modifying it. Basically, I cut out most of the back of the cubby. I also cut a hole on one side for a fan to blow in, and mounted a 2.5 inch HDD on the other side of the cubby. I cut some ventilation holes in the top (over the heatsinks and fan), and I attached a piece of lexan to the top of the cubby.













    This was done in conjunction with my work on the motherboard tray (also made from lexan). The idea is that the lexan tray will slide into the cubby, covering the motherboard.









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    2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP PC

    Here are the motherboard and PSU, and pictures of them mounted to the lexan tray.

















    And here are some images of the PC assemled and placed into the cubby.






    Lastly, I wanted to test all of this inside. I read the mp3car forums and figured out how to make a test-kit from a normal PC PSU. I wanted something a little more permanent, but I didn't want to destroy the ATX cable on a PSU, so I bought an ATX 24-to-20-pin converter and hacked the wires on that.






    I figured I could probably use the yellow and black wires from the ATX converter as the power for my test kit, but since every example on this site uses one of the molex connectors to power the PC, I decided to do the same.




    For the interface, I wanted to write my own. I am a professional programmer, so I didn't expect this to be much of a problem. The tricky part seems to be the interface, moreso than the functionality. I made mine customizable, but I'm not a graphic artist, so I made my own cheap-o graphics. The thing will play music, video, CDs, DVDs, do GPS, handle screen dimming, and a few other things. I'm sure I'll change a lot of things once I start using it regularly.

    Here's, the main window.


    This is the media-browser window.


    Here's the GPS window if you have MS Streets and Trips installed.


    And here's the GPS window if you don't have MS Streets and Trips installed.


    Here's a sample image from the CAM window.


    Here's the EXIT window.



    Eventually, I did test everything with my test-kit, and it all works. I even let it playback a movie for an hour, just to see if it would overheat or otherwise fail. It did not. At first, the Opus would not power up, because it was jumpered for 12.5 volts, and I was only providing 12 volts. Fair enough, I moved the jumper. Then it wouldn't fire up because the polarity of the power-switch-wire was reversed. So I flipped it around, and jackpot. All of these issues were easily diagnosed with the status LED on the Opus, and quick look in the manual.


    So, here's what's left to be done:
    Get windows tinted (this weekend).
    Maybe get an alarm installed.
    Run power wire through firewall, connect Power, Ground, IGN.
    Find out if everything still works.
    Run USB cable for rear-view camera.
    Work on OBD.
    Look into SSDs, EWF, etc.


    Any feedback is appreciated. I am WAY too anxious to finally get this done now.

  3. #3
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    Done

    I got it all done!!!

    I got the car tinted. Then decided that an alarm would be more useful, so I got an alarm. I went to Auto-One and they did a great job. They even ran the power wires for the CarPC for me.

    I drove around all day yesterday with a functional CarPC. The GPS helped me to avoid a traffic jam by showing me which streets I could use to cut through a subdivision. The music never skipped. Everything works. And I'm so glad (and proud) that I built everything myself.

    I registered on this site in 2003, because I'd been pondering a CarPC since probably 1998. Late 2007, I started to work on it. I've scrapped my design and started over 3 times since then.

    Anyway, here's a few shots of the PC fully installed and functional. I will get this thread moved to "COMPLETED" in the next few days.


    Here's the PC in the dash.


    With the shifter in PARK, there's about half an inch of space between the shifter and the PC.




    Personally, I think the clear lexan case jutting out of the dash looks pretty cool.


    CarPC displaying the WindowsXP desktop.


    CarPC displaying Visualizations.


    CarPC displaying GPS Mapping.




    Now that this is done, I am going to help my friend build a CarPC in his car (Saturn Ion, 2002 I think). I'm sure I can help save him a lot of time and money with the knowledge I've gained from doing this.

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    1 Month with no issues

    1 Month. No major issues. This PC is holding up well again Michigan roads, potholes, and 95 degree weather.

    A few days ago, when the PC turned on, it started beeping due to the temperature. It wasn't at the shutdown temp yet, but it was at the warning temp (which I set low), probably because the PC was sitting in direct sunlight on a 90 degree day. The beeping subsided after a minute.


    Since I rewrote my front end, I figured I'd post some pics. I'm really considering giving out the source, if there's any interest.













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    What language did you write the frontend in?

    Very interesting install. Different from what Im used to seeing around here. I like it, although I think the plexiglass box would bug me a bit. If it were mine, I would etch something onto the box and shine a few LEDs for that added effect

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    The front end is in VB6. I just posted the source code on another thread. It should move to dotNET pretty easily.

    The plexi-box is there partly because I couldn't find a better spot for the PC, and partly to look cool. I'm sure it will eventually be the downfall of my install though. To me, it's a compliment that mine isn't what you're used to seeing.

    There are a few LEDs inside the plexi case. It looks really nice at night. I thought about a GTP logo on the front of it, but ultimately decided to leave it the way it is for now. It's actually Lexan, not plexi, so I don't think it can be etched.

    Interesting FrontEnd in your pics. Did you make that? What mapping program is that?

    Thanks for the response!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClockWorK View Post
    The plexi-box is there partly because I couldn't find a better spot for the PC, and partly to look cool. I'm sure it will eventually be the downfall of my install though. To me, it's a compliment that mine isn't what you're used to seeing.

    There are a few LEDs inside the plexi case. It looks really nice at night. I thought about a GTP logo on the front of it, but ultimately decided to leave it the way it is for now. It's actually Lexan, not plexi, so I don't think it can be etched.
    Well as long as there's some lighting in there I meant it as a compliment when I said it's different, so that's good. Today I really experienced how tight the dash of a car can truly be. Love the mounting method for the touchscreen.

    Quote Originally Posted by ClockWorK View Post
    Interesting FrontEnd in your pics. Did you make that? What mapping program is that?
    Yeah I made it, still working on it. Im hoping someone's done something in pascal so I dont have to write it all myself, but so far theres nothin. Just being hopeful :P The mapping program is iGuidance4. I like it so far.

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    Wow, Pascal? I used to use pascal (turbo pascal 7 for DOS), and I looked into Delphi many years ago, but ended up going with VB. I miss pascal some days though.

    I might have to do some investigation into iGuidance sometime.

    Today I really experienced how tight the dash of a car can truly be.
    Installing something? Or just scoping it out? If my PC had fit any tighter in my dash, I would have to lube it up just to get it installed. The clearance behind the dash is millimeters.

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