Very interesting installation and very nice car
(This was posted on an MX-5 specific forum in Australia first, so if some of the language doesn't seem appropriate for this board ask me some specifics and I'll be happy to share!
Over the last few months I've been working on putting a Touchscreen PC into my NB8A. I've finally gotten to a point where I'm willing to show it, before this point it wasn't so…together. I thought I'd share some of the features and issues I came across incase someone else was thinking of doing a similar thing. I'm fairly new around here, so treat this thread as a bit of a Hello! as well
Right into it then. The next few sections basically detail each part of the install. Unfortunately I took very little photos as I did most of the installation on a very dimly lit day, all in about 6 hours. I have a few photos of individual parts if people are interested. So that means there's a fairly solid wall of text coming:
I decided on these parts due to availability, laziness and in some cases - actual planning in the case of the screen
PC is an ASUS AT5IONT-I Mini ITX -2GB RAM
I have a OCZ Vertex 2 40GB SSD (Solid State Disk) with Windows 7 Embedded
Screen is a 7inch touchscreen (Model： 669GL-70NP/C/T HB) which has been designed to be used in high brightness situations
Amplifier is just a Clarion I had lying around
Speakers are unfortunately stock NB speakers - this will have to change!
After seeing a great thread on installing an amplifier in the wind tunnel behind the drivers seat, I got to thinking that it would be a perfect place to house the PC. I ended up borrowing some ideas, and mounted the main board on two pieces of MDF glued together, over the shocks. This is laid over a sheet of carpet underlay which is glued to the metal of the car to prevent being shaken too badly. My previous idea was to just leave it in the boot, but this way I can retain some of the precious space. The software runs off a SSD in the boot because they can withstand large bumps (no moving parts!), heat resistant and they're quite fast. Still need to fix down the SSD somewhere though…. There is also a portable HDD in the centre console which contains all the media.(1TB)
The touchscreen is powered from the main power supply of the PC, this way it only turns on when the PC is on. It gets video over HDMI, which helps avoid video issues due to the power cables in the car. It certainly looks good when it's turned on. This model I got is a High Brightness version, I figured this would be necessary as I have a tendency (as I imagine do all MX-5 drivers!) to drive with the top down whenever possible. The touchscreen part itself is USB, however this is helpfully included in the HDMI cable itself, making running cables just that little bit easier.
Mounting the screen in the dash
Actually mounting the screen… that was a lot of fun. I ordered an appropriate kit for the screen from the US - mp3car.com. Unfortunately when it turned up it was the wrong model, however they were VERY good about it and supplied a brand new one free of charge! After it was received I dismantled the monitor carefully, and transplanted it into the new frame. It fit! Unfortunately it didn't fit the car, I then discovered I'd need a Double Din dash kit from Metra. A month later, that arrived and I was pretty much sorted for that part. Pulling the radio out to install the screen was pretty easy, and it's been discussed elsewhere on the forum so I won't bother going into it. The screen popped in without a problem and sits nice and flush, so it looks like it's meant to be there, and should be reasonably difficult to take out in a hurry!
All the cables have been fed through the rear shelf behind the drivers seat, and run through the centre console. Luckily this was actually pretty easy to do, as there's quite a lot of space in there! Certainly enough to run speaker wire and 12v power. Obviously the battery in the boot makes this particularly easy, the PC and amplifier are both powered and grounded straight to the battery itself (so convenient!) The 12v running through to the front is to power the screen, also there is a 12v wire running back to the PC for the ignition wire. The speaker wires and ignition are wired up to a harness connector, so when it comes the time to pull it all out again it should be an easy job to plug in the old connectors.
I'm using Centrafuse 3.1 - and to be honest I'm not impressed. Unfortunately it still appears to be one of the best programs out there with a touchscreen car oriented interface. I have quite a lot of issues with the music library I have, occasionally it just won't let me choose a specific artist, instead it will crash and I'll have to restart it. I've written a bit of a hacky AutoIt script to keep Centrafuse alive, if it crashes it asks me if I want to restart with a handy little popup box. I can see myself replacing this part. Operating System wise I'm using Windows Embedded Standard 7. At the moment it's just evaluation but I'll get that sorted when it runs out. The install only takes up 2GB, so I've managed to cut out a lot of the useless crap that usually gets installed on a new PC - helps it start faster. I know there's certainly room for improvement here!
If you've managed to get this far through, well done! I'm sure I've forgotten a whole lot already, however if anyone would like more detail on any part of this, please let me know and I'll try and get pictures or explain myself better! Also I'd love to know if anyone else has something similar in their car!
Thanks guys for reading!
Very interesting installation and very nice car
I have CF installed on Win 7 Ultimate and I haven't had any problems so far, so I wonder if the Win 7 Embedded install has something to do with the library issues. Have you tried installing CF on a retail version of Win 7 to see if you can duplicate the library crashes?
Hi there, thanks for looking!
I haven't given it a go yet, I figured it might be the fact I have 80,000 songs in the library. Actually selecting music (browsing) is quite slow if I'm just after one album
Saying that it might be worth giving that a go, thanks!
Thought I'd add a little more 'techincal' information to my post so others can learn a little more from my experience. I'd love to add photos but I haven't had much of a chance to take more, I've had requests for pictures of various parts and I'll endeavour to take some soon
If you watched my video you may have noticed that the car PC was hidden in a tunnel at the rear of the boot beside the fuel tank. The PC itself was mounted ontop of two pieces of MDF - I initially measured the gap I thought was necessary and roughly cut it with a blunt hacksaw - it took forever! Finally did that and realised it wasn't thick enough so I cut another piece and glued them together, so I'm left with double thick MDF. I cut a hole out of it with a hole drilling bit, and fitted that over the top of the suspension strut(stable!)
This fit fine, however it could still bounce around - not good for a PC! I decided it would need some padding, so I found a small sheet of carpet underlay and cut out the appropriate size. I then glued this to the inside of the tunnel, and let it set. Afterwards I test fitted the piece of wood, and it fits very snugly and doesn't move at all! It sits high enough that any cables that need to pass it go under the wood - away from the open motherboard
The parts that I used to mount the screen are as follows:
MP3Car (ByByte) Double Din frame for 669GL
Metra 99-7505 Double DIN frame
Using a combination of these parts I was able to mount the screen flush into the dash. Without the metra part it could not clip into the dash.
I have ideas to create a 'fake' double din screen cover to attempt to prevent theft - my idea is to use small suction caps to hold it to the screen face - I don't think it'll do any damage if I'm careful putting it on. Saying that it's kinda hard to see it in the car anyway, it absorbs light pretty well!
Thanks for reading!
Thank you for these informations.
I was also thinking to use the suspension to fit the board.
So the Metra 99-7505 Double DIN frame is not sufficient to fix the screen... I believed that because the kit has also the two supports (on the sides).