2003 BMW M3 Custom Dash / Overhead Console
Update: Sold! The text below about the sale is preserved for posterity. All components are for sale individually now including the touchscreen/bezel. Please PM if interested.
It's true! The #1 viewed project on mp3car is up for sale! Additional detail below:
Well a lot of life has happened since I did my install and I'm going to be moving on to a four-door vehicle of some sort (undecided as of yet). So somewhat regrettably I am putting my car up for sale. The good news though is that someone else will get to have as much fun with it as I have every day, and that's not the best part! Since you are reading this ad here on mp3car, you probably are wondering what will happen with the car computer. First, the system is currently out of the car. I took it out in 3/05 to have the car recertified for an extended factory warranty (which is still covering the car). Although the actual PC will not be included, I am offering the following extras if someone from mp3car buys the car. They are:
- Prewire for computer. Power, audio, vga, etc -- all of this is already DONE!
- Overhead Slot Load DVD drive, mount, panel, and interface electronics -- The panel snaps in and you connect the drive to your system via firewire.
- Custom bezel, VGA touchscreen, and controller. The particular screen I have can be interfaced via either USB or Serial. The mount attaches with two screws; it's effortless to install or remove.
- Reverse camera and electronics necessary to switch any VGA display to reverse camera when in reverse. This is my most proud creation of the whole project.
- Rand McNally Serial GPS mounted behind the rear headrests and television antenna mounted on rear windshield -- It was so hard to route the wires for these things, they're going with the car no matter what!
- Trunk Equipment rack. The rack is spacious with plenty of room to stash your cable mess and your gear up and out of the way. You can service the equipment from the front through the trunk or from the back by lowering the rear seats. It's a very simple device, but it makes all the difference in a polished install!
If you were to pay a professional shop to do that list of things for you, it would cost you probably $2500 minimum. With all this stuff you could install any CarPC you want in a few hours and have one of the slickest installs going!
So will I do a carpc on the new vehicle? Probably. I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I have some ideas that are really out there!
--- Original post follows. I am still happy to answer questions on this install, and have already fielded thousands (really). Please do not hesitate to ask! ---
Here's a couple teaser pics as I was near getting everything finished up. I have some more but won't be able to get them posted until probably next weekend.
View through the driver's window:
I custom fabricated the dash part from foam/bondo. I have photos of the whole process if you're curious here. The screen is a DSCUstoms 7" VGA touchscreen from GAIN. Fabrication took on the order of 40 hrs. Anyone can do this kind of work if you just spend some time on it. I had never done anything like this before, but I'm pleased with the results. It looks 100% OEM. I screwed up painting it twice trying to match the texture. I ended up using a light coat of SEM texture coating followed by several coats of Krylon Ultra-Flat black. It looks and feels exactly like the rest of the interior dash parts.
The DVD/CDRW combo drive is mounted in the overhead console. I modified the trim piece with fiberglass/bondo to build up a drive bay/mounts and recovered it with headliner. I have fixed some of teh headliner problems you can see in this pic. The headliner is very dark black. The flash makes it look grey, but it actually matches the drive perfectly. The microphone is also installed up there and there is a grille for the sound to pass through. It records very well. The drive is connected via a Oxford911 firewire bridge. I had to reflash the fimrware to accomidate the drive. If anyone needs information on how to do this (you'll need some skill with a soldering iron) please contact me:
I am using the Gyration USB RF keyboard and mouse I got at Best Buy. It's a great unit and really convenient once you get used to the gyro pointing. You can also set it down and use it as a standard optical mouse which is AWESOME. It comes with a seperate charging cradle which I leave in the house. This is IMO by far the best in-car input solution:
The case is a Travala C137 with 2 pci slots. I modified it to hold the 150W OPUS internally. It has an FM/TV Tuner and a D-Link Wireless LAN card in the PCI slots. This is the neatest little case I have ever built a computer in, and I have built a lot of computers. The flexibility of what you can cram inside is astounding. The only thing I dislike about it is the need to for PCI extension's in addition to the riser card. It's secure but it feels a little ghetto. There are some pics of the inside of the case at the link above if you want to check it out.
Here's sort of an idea of what it looks like in the dark. It's amazingly hard to take a good pic of this.
Things you can't see in the photos:
1) The computer is interfaced to the BMW I-Bus so it can send/receive all kinds of events from the car. For instance, the computer can read from the I-Bus what doors/trunk/etc are open, what lights are on (headlamps/interior,etc.), if the car is moving, steering wheel button presses, etc. There is really tons of information available. If you have a CarPC in your BMW and it's not talking to the I-Bus you're missing out on a ton of great things!
2) The GPS receiver is mounted on the rear decklid behind the headrest. The TV antenna adheres to the rear windshield.
3) I removed the factory head unit entirely, but kept the stock amplifiers and speakers from the Harmon/Kardon system. It was really pretty simple to interface to this, and left me a little more flexibility with the PC controlling everything.
Upcoming work includes:
1) USB Audio. There is a lot of noise on the stock setup.
2) Temp.-based fan speed control. It gets hot here so I want to have the fans going in my Mini-ITX case; however, they are really noisy and I can hear them a little bit. If it's cool, I dont' want them to be running. I'm still searching for a SMALL temp.-based fan controller. I have only found these huge pyramid shaped jobbers with tons of LED's in them.. NO GOOD!
3) My own software. I have started working on my own version of in-car software. It will likely be based on the WMP9 or various lower-level directx audio/video components and use Macromedia Flash for the UI. It'll be pretty tailored to my setup initially, but I'll probably attempt to start extending it so that other folks can use it.
4) ODB-II or K-Bus interface for Engine stats/logging/etc. - I'll either build or buy some ODB-II stuff or build another interface to talk to BMW's K-Bus (From which you can read similar engine data) at some point. Is there any ODB-II software that lets you recycle some ActiveX components into your own applicaiton by chance? Or ODBII software with a good API accessible from VB? I could easily crank out some keen looking gauges in Flash...
5) LCD Inverter dimmer based on Illumination wire input and a photocell. This is somewhat on hold since I have figured out how to get headlight status, ambient light readings, and dash dimmer settings over I-Bus and can control the video gamma from this info, but I'd still like to design a PWM auto-dimmer circuit at some point.
Enjoy the pics. I'll be happy to try and answer any questions, also. Remember, there are lots more pics here if you feel the need to look deeper!