2006 Nissan Pathfinder - My First CarPC
Welcome to my very first build thread! I have been trolling around here for a long time and just picked up a new (used) ride and decided to pull the trigger on my first carpc build. To start we might as well fire up the material list.
Case - Black Box PCI from Mobile Computing Solutions
Power Supply - M2ATX 160W from Mobile Computer Solutions
Mobo - Zotec Ion Based Mini ITX from Newegg
RAM - 4GB Corsair XMS2 from Newegg
Hard Drive - Seagate 2.5" 500gb 7200RPM from Newegg
DVD Drive - External USB Slot Loader from Mobile Computer Solutions
Screen - Liliput GL629-70NP/C/T/DVI w/transflective and optical bonding addon from Mobile Computer Solutions
USB Hub - Carnetix DC USB Hub from MP3car.com
Dash Mounted USB Port - Clarion USB Extension from Amazon.com
GPS - Bu-353 GPS from MP3car.com
Bluetooth - Interlink USB dongle from MP3car.com
Keyboard - Mini RF Keyboard\Touchpad from MP3car.com
Mic - Sunbeam Mic Array from MP3car.com
Antenna - 4 Way Rooftop Antenna from MP3car.com
Cellular Booster - Wi-Ex zBoost YX230 from Crutchfield.com
Axillary Audio Adapter - Pac Audio
Frontend - Centrafuse
HD Decoder - CoreAVC
Nav - IGuidance
Initially I started out trying to build a system around a full mini-itx Core i7 board with a quad core processor and a low profile pci-express video card. I started out with the M4-ATX 250w power supply, which did power it under load. My problem was I couldn't fit it any case that I would want to try and fit in my Pathfinder. My goal was to keep as much hidden away as possible and I was looking at massive (relatively) cases to make that setup work. I started with i7 because I was looking at HD video playback on both the web and locally and was concerned the Atom based mobos just didn't have the juice to run it. I had no choice however because I just couldn't solve my power supply/case issues so I bought the Zotac mobo. I have been pleasantly suprised by it. When offloading the video to gpu via the CoreAVC decoder I get smooth playback on all my HD video, the flash based HD stuff is a bit of struggle but I think I have some options to explore still there. This really only works on a small screen like this 7". When I was using my 17" test bench monitor it kind of sucked it up, seemed like the platform choked on larger res stuff and started getting a bit choppy. Most of the other components don't really merit comment but there are a few items I will touch on.
The screen looks fooking great (that's right...fooking)! I have it hooked up via DVI and when I first hooked it up it was fuzzy and ****ty looking and then I realized the the refresh rate was all messed up. After I changed that it looked awesome and the daylight readability is awesome and the touch is pretty responsive. The USB hub is kind of a mixed bag. I like the idea and the ability to spot add some convenience usb ports but I have had issues getting powered devices to actually work with it. The DVD drive for instance works perfect on my desktop but running through that hub I get "not enough power" errors. I opted for the super cheap sunbeam array rather than the $300 version and after doing all kinds of testing I gotta say it kicks ***. My onboard audio has noise and echo canceling and it works like a champ so I just used the mini jack connector rather than the usb adapter. The other usb device that is comment worthy is cool little usb extension clarion makes, it looks pretty stock I think after I cut into the dash. I use it just for my cell data card for mobile internet with quick and easy access.
As for the install, I wanted to keep my stock head unit for my wife who is a little technophobic so if she's using my vehicle she can just hit the radio button and have radio. I used an auxillary adapter from Pacs Audio to get direct input to the head unit and built an enclosure for the screen and cut out the top portion of my dash cowl. I also got a color match on the interior color so it matches pretty close. This is my first attempt at custom fiberglass but I think it turned pretty good. Go youtube and google for great tutorials! My Pathfinder has a third row that I never use so I took out the single seat side and pulled off the cover off the back of the torn out seat and made a mdf platform for mounting. The cover even has a little hole that I will be installing some mesh and an extra fan. All of this stuff is easy to reverse if I someday sell this thing. For the dash all I need is a new cowl which is like $50 and I'm keeping the seat and that was just 6 screws so it's not a massively destructive install and pretty easy to get it back to a somewhat stock setup. By far the worst part of this was the antenna, that thing just plain old sucked to get mounted and then find connectors for my wifi and cell extender.
Still need help....
So the only things I don't have working perfect right now is GPS, the receiver doesn't detect when it's connected via a USB Extender, and Cetrafuse want's to mute audio playback of stuff when I have my phone attached via bluetooth. I'll be posting on the centrafuse boards as well but I figured I would include it here in case others have had this problem. The other thing is switches I tried to use for a valet switch and a pc power switch don't seem to work at all. No matter what position I have the latching switch in it still passes accy power to computer. The power switch doesn't seem to do anything, though it did work on the test bench just fine. The valet switch was a latching switch that I wanted to use to interupt the accy line but I am now wondering if it isn't rated for the 14v current in the car and if it's fried. If anyone has any suggestions for these things please let me know, especially the power/valet switches.
I am certainly open to questions and feedback, that why I posted after all, so don't be shy.
And now on to the pics....
Here's the view from the back with everything all closed up.
Here's the view of the open box.
Here's my antenna mount.
Daylight view of the screen (sorry it was so bright outside it destroys the background)
Full Console View