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Thread: '98 Corvette Indy Pace Car-Puter

  1. #1
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    '98 Corvette Indy Pace Car-Puter

    Finally, after reading posts here for about 3 months and trying to find all the "answers", got a carputer installed and fairly "bug-free" in my '98 Indy Pace Car

    Here's a look at the install in the dash.



    Because I wanted this thing to do some "stuff" that's not "off the shelf", I decided to write my own software (VB).... Screen shot below.... (The car outline on the right is a Pace Car strobe indicator with LED's that flash in the same sequence as selected by software)


    The "Not Normal" stuff I wanted to do was;

    Control my Pace Car strobes (around car) with the computer
    Control the Electric Antenna with the computer
    Completely remove the Bose receiver and use computer

    To control all the electro-mechanical "stuff" (Amps, Power Antenna, Strobes, etc.) I'm using an 8 relay serial controller board. A click on the software will turn on / off the amps, raise / lower the antenna, turn on strobes and allow strobe pattern selection. A click simply makes one of the serial controlled relays close the circuit. (The software also "watches" for the FM app to launch and raises the antenna, then lowers it when the app is closed) (Actually better than factory which raises the antenna any time the amp is turned on.... Needed or not)

    Both the front Bose amps and the main amp installed to replace the receiver are also operated by the relay controller / software. They can either be manually switched, or if off, come on any time an app needs them.

    All peripherals are USB. This way, the only wiring (except the keyboard in the console) is (a lot of) USB from the front and back. This way all speaker, serial, other wiring is in the dash and similar to stereo replacement with an aftermarket stereo. The new amp is behind the monitor.

    I'm using a Maya EX5 USB Audio board, which ties into the amp replacing the factory receiver / amp. For FM / TV, I'm using a WinFast TV USB. I chose WinFast because it has built-in USB2.0 hubs, and it's my connection for the Maya USB audio and the USB GPS receiver. (You have to solder a jumper to the on-off switch to make it power up with ignition) I'm using the Axife FM player primarilay because they supply a SDK, and I wanted the electric antenna functionality.... Unfortunately their SDK doesn't SDK, and they don't answer e-mails, so I had to use "Plan B" ("Watching" for the FM app to load / unload) , which would really work with any FM player.

    The monitor is an 8" Lilliput touchscreen (Don't ask.... It took more than 1 to get it right.....) Power switch was jumped for "on" with ignition.



    Because I needed POWER up front for the FM receiver, USB 2.0 hubs, etc. I chose to use a M1-ATX (also behind the monitor mounted with the Serial Relay Board and USB hub plus a very long terminal strip). This gave me the 5v I needed for my FM and USB, plus enough on the 12v bus for the Lilliput and Serial relay board. It also gives me power supply protection and regulated power for everything.

    The computer was tough.... Not a lot of extra room in a Corvette, plus I wanted to be able to show the software at car shows without killing the battery. Because of that, I chose a notebook (Dell Inspiron 8100). I can let the notebook run on internal batteries for computer power (about 5 hours) and use the car battery only for powering the M1-ATX (monitor, usb, relay board). I've had it on for 5 hours with no dead battery problem (Optima Yellow Top). Because the 8100 does not have USB 2.0 (MUST for video) I used a CardBus USB 2.0 on the Dell. The Dell is in an attached docking station which is hard-wired to the front for boot / reboot switching. It is completely "hidden" in the center storage compartment in the trunk.

    I have to admit, now that I've "done it" with a notebook, I have a hard time figuring out why everyone is punishing themselves with power supplies, overheating, inverters, size restraints, etc... Once set up, especially with the docking station and the ability to pop it out and work with it out of the car, the notebook works flawlessly and has no issues with power or size.


    Just in case you wondered, the switches under the Monitor is where a slimline DVD was SUPPOSED to go... Uh...... Nevermind.... I'll just say room in that tiny Corvette dash was my biggest challenge..... I have an amp, serial relay board, M1-ATX, USB 2.0 hub, Bose interface and all wiring in there.....

    BUT, the switches do actually "do something"

    First is a momentary connected to the docking station reset / power. I can boot / reboot there.

    Second is an override for the M1-ATX power, which allows me to turn off the car and keep the power supplied to the monitor / usb "stuff". All this is powered when the ignition is on, so if I'm showing the car I can turn the ignition off and keep all the dash "stuff" powered.

    Third is the 12V charger / power supply switch. With ignition on, the power supply is on and notebook is running on car battery. Turn the car off and notebook switches to internal battery. Flip the dash switch on and notebook switches back to car battery even if ignition is off (I also keep it "on" when the car is in garage and on trickle charger. It keeps both the car and computer battery charged!)

    Fourth is Monitor over-ride. It will turn the monitor off even if the first switch is on powering the 5V bus / relay controller.

    Fifth is a "Future Enhancement" switch....


    It's all up and running, and once I finally got the "bugs" worked out, everything appears incredibly "stable"... The only "weakness" is the ability to view the screen well in a convertible.... There's just not much you can do with sun on the screen.... I guess that's one for the next "project".....

    A few pics of the car below.... Hope you have high speed access...













    Cheers!

  2. #2
    Raw Wave tj!2k4's Avatar
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    sweet install! nice setup and description, thanks!

  3. #3
    Maximum Bitrate contaygious's Avatar
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    wow thats sick !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    great usage of the laptop battery!
    Peep MY TYTE WHIP yo! It's got too many ill mods to list!

  4. #4
    Variable Bitrate
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    Sick ride. Looks like a lot of work to get the computer to interface with the strobes
    Is this where the witty comment goes?
    97 Black pearl Mazda Miata MX-5 Carpc V2? maybee..

  5. #5
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    i hate you so much

  6. #6
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    .....wow


  7. #7
    Constant Bitrate Paul C's Avatar
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    FANTASTIC

  8. #8
    Constant Bitrate Pathos's Avatar
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    Someone else who is miles beyond me......Great job on the install and nice car!!

  9. #9
    Constant Bitrate John_Duh's Avatar
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    I have to admit, now that I've "done it" with a notebook, I have a hard time figuring out why everyone is punishing themselves with power supplies, overheating, inverters, size restraints, etc... Once set up, especially with the docking station and the ability to pop it out and work with it out of the car, the notebook works flawlessly and has no issues with power or size.
    guess it's just part of the fun. I don't like a simple install.

    Just a question, how do you manage the booting? Do you hibernate, and how fast is it from "pressing the button" to music playing ?
    '02 Toyota Celica TS
    Carputer progress : [#######---]
    Currently working on : software ...
    Parts : IBM thinkpad X60 wired up in the booth (T7200 - 1.5Gb Ram - 320GB HD)
    Parts needed: USB wifi dongle (with external antenna)

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_Duh
    guess it's just part of the fun. I don't like a simple install.

    Just a question, how do you manage the booting? Do you hibernate, and how fast is it from "pressing the button" to music playing ?
    I actually decided not to boot when the power is turned on.... I do have the capability (booting the computer only requires momentary power on the switch, so I did add an electronic 1 second time-delay which will do it if I want to enable it) but I'm currently just hitting the button when I hop in the car....

    XP boots pretty fast on the notebook.... I'd guess about 1 minute or slightly less..... It's up and ready for a click before I get it out of the garage, so boot time really isn't an issue....

    The "nice" thing about the notebook if you're out running around is that since I also have the switch below the monitor to keep all the USB stuff powered if I want, is that there really isn't a reason to power down if I stop to get coffee, eat, etc.... When you turn off the car, power automatically swaps to notebook battery and everything stays "up".... If you're going to be back in less than 4 hours, there's no reason to shut it off.... As soon as you start the car, the notebook battery starts charging again and there is "0" wait time. Just click and go....

    Uh...... Simple install???

    Guess you'd need to see the wiring diagram......

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