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Thread: 2003 BMW M3 Custom Dash / Overhead Console

  1. #1
    Maximum Bitrate gork's Avatar
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    Arrow 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:

    1. Prewire for computer. Power, audio, vga, etc -- all of this is already DONE!
    2. Overhead Slot Load DVD drive, mount, panel, and interface electronics -- The panel snaps in and you connect the drive to your system via firewire.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. 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!
    6. 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!

  2. #2
    Raw Wave Defiler's Avatar
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    OH my!!! That's very very nice.

    BTW I have a USB M-Audio Sonica I am looking at selling. I would do $45 shipped 3 day...
    Aura MR62 (F and R)
    My Current MP3s
    IamDefiler.com

  3. #3
    Maximum Bitrate freestyler's Avatar
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    very nice, i need to do this to my dad's 2002 m3, i love that car

    1997 Jeep Wrangler Rugged Waves


    Ebay Stuff For Sale

  4. #4
    Maximum Bitrate osirisdon's Avatar
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    Freaking sweet!!!!

    What a teaser. The wife is thinking about getting a BMW, cant wait to rip into that one. LOL

    Awesome setup.

  5. #5
    Maximum Bitrate gork's Avatar
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    Heh yeah by teaser I meant that I'll have some nicer pics and probably some step-by-step writeups of the construction of the dash piece, the wiring, etc. Then in a few weeks, hopefully I'll have lots of nice software goodies ready to go also. I'm pretty excited about the I-Bus interface. That's practically the reason I did the install. Hacking the car is more fun than just putting a PC in it

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    I'm interested in that mouse. Is that like the gyro-mouse available? But this one also doubles as a standard optical mouse?? How precise does the control feel?

  7. #7
    Maximum Bitrate gork's Avatar
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    The brand name is "Gyration" . The keyboard/Mouse set was $99 retail at Best Buy. The keyboard keys are laptop-like which is typical for slim keyboards (and actually what ive gotten used to as I use an ElumineX on my desktop)

    Here's the Best Buy link:
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage....6&type=product

    The control with the gyro is not as precise as I'd like, but I have gotten pretty adept at it. It's hard to move the mouse in exactly the way you want, but easy to move it to where you want it to go -- if that makes any sense. IE it'd be terrible for photoshop or games or something, but works great for browsing, etc. You click and scroll with your thumb and you pull this "trigger" button to start the gyro detecting movements. The cursor only moves when you have the button down. When you set the mouse on a flat surface, there is a small optical sensor at the top that detects that it's been set down and it activates the optical mouse.. It's like a tall, skinny optical mouse and the response is as good as any cordless optical mouse I've ever used. As a bonus, it recharges a built-in NiMH battery pack on an external charger, so you dont have to replace batteries a lot. The keyboard takes two AAA batteries, but I expect them to last quite a while. The RF receiver is powered via USB so there's no funky wiring you have to do in the car to power it. The keyboard has a lot of the standard hotkeys too like Volume, Play, Pause, Stop, etc. that I have always hated on other keyboards, but I find I use a lot in the car. It's worth the retail price by far.

    The only minor annoyance I have with it is that you have to turn the mouse off when you're not using it, and to do that you have to push two buttons at the same time (ie you can't do it one-handed) Other than that I highly recommend this mouse/keyboard combo! With the receiver in the trunk, I can control it from anywhere in the car. I tried from outside the car, though, and the metal body seemed to block the signal completely. I actually see this as kind of a bonus since it will keep someone next to me from picking up spurious signals (and vice versa) but if you have metal in between your trunk and your passenger cabin, you may have problems and have to locate the receiver closer or under a seat or something.

  8. #8
    Low Bitrate Robb@E.P.E's Avatar
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    One of the best installs I've seen, nice work!

    How do you have that case mounted? It looks like it's just sitting there, is it mounted through the bottom of the case or something?

  9. #9
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    Great setup. I admire your customized work.

    How did you wire the CDRW/DVD to the computer? Is the long cable a factor of slower speed?

    About the keyboard/mouse, I got the same thing in my setup. You could have got it cheaper if you bought from ebay. I got mine for only $55 brand new.
    Btw, I customized the controller, just wanna share with you


    Can't wait to see your future upgrade.
    P.s. Don't forget to buy the keyboard cover. It's neat & nice.
    http://www.gyrationdirect.com/product.asp?sku=1838417

    nthai

  10. #10
    Maximum Bitrate gork's Avatar
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    How do you have that case mounted? It looks like it's just sitting there, is it mounted through the bottom of the case or something?
    Right now it's just got some velcro hooks on it to keep it from sliding around. I do want a permanant install, but I don't know where to do it.. The factory sub box is already suspended at the top of the trunk below the rear decklid.. I am thinking about building another bracket though to suspend it.. I want a very sturdy install so that I won't have to take the CPU out during AutoX or other driving events.. I can just shut it off and forget it.

    How did you wire the CDRW/DVD to the computer? Is the long cable a factor of slower speed?
    There is a 5m firewire cable that runs from the case to an Oxford911 chipset bridge board through the headliner. There is a normal ~7" IDE cable connecting the bridge board to the DVD/CDRW drive. The bridge board sits in the bump right to the left of the overhead piece that snaps out. The cable is long even for firewire, but it seems not to be a factor. I should have probably used a 3m cable instead though, but I wanted to be sure I had enough length since I ordered the cable before I decided to use the cable path I wired with (My original plan called for a much longer run length)

    About the keyboard/mouse, I got the same thing in my setup. You could have got it cheaper if you bought from ebay. I got mine for only $55 brand new. Btw, I customized the controller, just wanna share with you
    I was shopping around for a long time and had settled on the VersaPoint combo but they weren't popping up on eBay for low prices at all. I didn't ever see the Gyration products. Needless to say, the day I got the CPU into the car, I was miffed that I didnt have a wireless keyboard/mouse yet so I just went to best buy and bought one. I have some buddies over there, though, so I didn't exactly pay retail Plus, I got it immediately which is what I was after!

    Nice work on your unit there. I had seen the pics of your install on your other thread. And thanks for the heads up on the keyboard cover. I stash mine under the seat but I already accidentally popped a key off of it when it caught the underside of the seat once. I think I'll pick up one of those.

    Also thanks everyone for your compliments about the install!

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