-there were several goals that I wanted this new system to meet:
- the computer needed to be more powerful
- consume less power
- needed to turn itself on/off automatically with the car's ignition
- take up less [vehicle interior] space
- fabrication of replacement interior panels should be eliminated
- modification of factory interior panels should be minimal
- total cost should be less than the cost of a high-end double-DIN audio/video/nav head unit
this new system fulfilled all of those goals, and ended up costing far less than I expected to pay
I used an Intel D201GLY2A mini-ITX motherboard/CPU. this board is very small in size and has a built-in Intel Core-2 based 1.2GHz Celeron processor that can easily handle every carPC function I have thrown at it. best of all, it only consumes 27 watts! (while being far more powerful than my old laptop, it consumes less than 1/3 power). cost ~$75
I used a MiniBox M2ATX DC-DC carPC power supply. cost ~$75
Hard Drive (HDD)
I used a 40GB Toshiba 2.5" Laptop HDD. I bought it used on eBay for $15
I used a mini-ITX carPC case from Mo-Co-So.com (I bought from his eBay store). it is a nice aluminum case that looks like a standard car amplifier. this case is small enough to fit under the Fusion's passenger seat, so that's where my new system went. this location makes use of an otherwise unused space, doesn't require the use of extension cables, and it stays cooler in the summer / warmer in the winter than the trunk does. cost $59
I used a lilliput EBY-701 7" Touchscreen VGA monitor. there's nothing special about this monitor that made me buy it, it's price-point was the major draw for me. cost ~$150
I ran a dedicated 10AWG from the Fusion's power distribution box (under the hood) to the M2-ATX. other necessary wiring includes audio cables, REM turn-on wire (IGN) for the M2-ATX, etc. I already had all the required wires, cables, and connectors from previous projects; if I didn't have any wiring supplies on-hand then I would have probably spent between $15-$30 for it.
-COST: the components above can be bought for about $390. this is far less than it would cost to buy a high-end audio/video/nav headunit, and it is much more powerful and expandable.
I already had a retail copy of Windows XP. I used RoadRunner for the front end with the DigitalFX skin. the only software I paid for was iGuidance4.0. cost ~$99.
I bought a GlobalSAT BU-353 USB GPS receiver to usewith iGuidance4.0. this is a nice GPS receiver that sells for about $37
for this new system, I chose to use the carPC as the sole/primary audio/video source. there is no head unit in this system, audio signal goes from the PC to the equalizer in the dash. the equalizer takes the 2-ch stereo audio signal and splits it up into 6 independently controllable audio output channels (front R/L, rear R/L, and subwoofer R/L). this allows for easy hardware-based volume/EQ adjustment without the need to look at the screen (it makes the carPC system just as safe to use as the factory radio by keeping your eyes on the road for basic audio adjustments). I bought the equalizer on eBay for $50
the equalizer controls the pre-amp audio signal, which feeds the two amplifiers in the trunk. I still have the factory speakers in the doors, but I have added a couple Pioneer 6x9's in the rear deck. I have a Pioneer GM4300F powering all 8 speakers, the door speakers are wired in series and connected to amp channels 1 and 2. the rear deck speakers are connected to amp channels 3 and 4. the equalizer's front output goes to the 6 door speakers, the equalizer's rear output goes to the rear deck speakers. the equalizer's subwoofer output feeds two 12" MTX Blue Thunder Legend 500w (250w RMS) subwoofers powered by a 800w (400w RMS) Kicker ZX400.1 mono amp.
I already had the Pioneer 6x9's and the MTX subwoofers (they are both old discontinued models no longer available). I bought the Pioneer GM4300F and the Kicker ZX400.1 amplifiers on eBay for $80 and $100.
total cost of extra components was about $366, bringing the total cost of my entire system up to ~$756. while that is alot of money, it includes far more power and expandability than any head unit could ever provide.