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Thread: 2000 Chevy Blazer - First REAL CarPC Install

  1. #1
    Newbie shaggy_5420's Avatar
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    2000 Chevy Blazer - First REAL CarPC Install

    First off, I will introduce myself to you folks, here on the forums. My name is John, and I live about 50-60 miles west of St. Louis, MO. For the past several years I have skulked around the forums and read up on other PC installs. I have installed a PC in a vehicle before, but it was back in 1997-1998, and it wasn't for anything aside from a contact manager, and a terminal program for my HAM radio TNC (Terminal Node Controller).
    In the years since my first in car PC, there have been SO many major advances in technology. For instance, my first in car PC was a 486 DX2 66mhz notebook, it had 16mb of ram, and a 512mb hard drive. Now however, you can get the mini-itx standard form factor motherboards, specialty cases to fit nearly any application, smart power supplies with built in shutdown controllers... I mean wow, and with storage prices the lowest I have ever seen them, there are SO many more functions that could be added to an in car PC now that I couldn't keep from starting a new project.
    I started by doing a LOT of searching the net, and I Googled myself almost cross-eyed trying to figure out what I wanted this PC to do, how to do it, what was more important first, and most importantly, what I could afford. This work-log is how I intend on keeping track of my own progress. I look forward to any comments and constructive criticism, and guidance that the members here have to add.

    Let me start off by saying that I had originally owned a couple of Mazda MX-3s and I had wanted to install the PC in the nicest one that I had. I have since retired my MX-3s and purchased a 2000 Chevy Blazer, so I am going to keep most of my original plans as they easily migrate from the one vehicle to the other.

    So here's what I have already purchased:

    MII10000 Mainboard
    1 GB PC3200 Corsair Memory
    M2ATX Power Supply
    Ampie Case from the MP3Car store
    100 GB Hitachi 5400 RPM HD
    Panasonic slimline slotload DVD-ROM CD-RW
    Slimline to IDE Adapter
    Terk XMD1000
    Lucent Orinoco Silver in USB to PCMCIA adapter

    I am still waiting for my Lilliput 629 TS to show up from DigitalWW, I have a tracking number and it is scheduled to arrive on the 11th.

    I will be putting together pictures and a walk through on each step of my setup, in hopes to help anyone else who needs it. I will post what I am intending to achieve with this system, and how I intend on accomplishing it, in my next few posts. Thank you for reading, and let me know if you have any input.
    John
    So Far: MII10k, 1GB PC3200, 100GB HD, M2-ATX PS, Ampie Case, Panasonic CD-RW DVD-ROM. Orinoco Gold, Lilliput 629, WiFi, TV/FM, and Amateur Radio Antennas, BU-353
    NEED TO BUY: AMPS MINE WERE STOLEN!
    NEED TO INSTALL...EVERYTHING, AGAIN

  2. #2
    Newbie shaggy_5420's Avatar
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    Pictures of my Ride Pre-install

    Here are some pictures of the vehicle that I intend on installing my CarPC in. These are just a few that I snapped while I was taking some pictures of a couple of cars I am trying to get ready to sell. The pictures show a before look at the exterior of my Blazer, the factory stereo and its bezel, and my center console.

    More about the Blazer, it is a 2000 Chevy Blazer LT 4X4. It has a white exterior and tan leather interior. It has almost every option that was available from the factory (aside from the onstar unit...GRRR!).


    The center console photos show the factory cassette deck and the CD tray area. I intend on removing the tape deck, and fabricating a mount and bezel for my slot load DVD-Rom. I haven't decided on what if anything I am going to do with the rest of the center console or CD holder (possibly a multi in out panel, or docking bay for removable HD...just ideas).


    So Far: MII10k, 1GB PC3200, 100GB HD, M2-ATX PS, Ampie Case, Panasonic CD-RW DVD-ROM. Orinoco Gold, Lilliput 629, WiFi, TV/FM, and Amateur Radio Antennas, BU-353
    NEED TO BUY: AMPS MINE WERE STOLEN!
    NEED TO INSTALL...EVERYTHING, AGAIN

  3. #3
    Newbie shaggy_5420's Avatar
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    The "List" (still working on it)

    As I mentioned in my first post, I have been working on a list of what I would like to do with my CarPC. This is a daunting task, I want to do so much that It would take me forever to type it out. So my list is going to be more like a to do list. I know that there is no way I can have it all at once, it would cost me a fortune, so I am taking things on one step at a time. I will try to note how far along the project is after a brief description of the project.

    This is still a work in progress, and the list hasn't been set in stone, I greatly appreciate any constructive input or criticism, so feel free to chime in and let me know what you think so far.

    The Project List

    Assemble the PC- PC is assembled, I have done various modifications to allow me to add additional features, mostly custom cables and connections. I have this step approximately 90% done. I will post pictures and a brief write up for each of my modifications.

    Install XM Tuner- I will be installing a Terk XMD-1000 universal XM receiver to compliment my system with satellite radio. I have completed making the required cable to connect the XM unit via custom connections. I have function tested the cable and connections, and it sounded great (cancelled my subscription after 3 months, I just didn't listen to it at home enough to keep it going) I have taken pictures and will make a write up for my XM upgrade. This project is at 90% (everything done, nothing installed)

    Fabricate False Floor- I am still in the measuring process and I have quite a few ideas as to how I will be fabricating it. I intend to use the area from behind my rear seats to my tailgate. I have some ideas for making use of the unused areas under the false floor that I am still working on incorporating into my design. This project is approximately .10% complete

    Install Power and Accessory Harness- I have been working on making my own "wiring harness" to be able to just run 2 or three cables as opposed to making many runs. One cable will be the 12v+ from the engine compartment. The other cable will be the VGA extension from the dash to the false floor in the rear. The last cable run will be a custom power cable and a pair of heavy duty USB extensions. I am taking pictures of this "wiring harness" as I work on it. I intend on doing a write up for each of the major steps in this project. This project is approximately 10% done, nothing installed yet.

    Fabricate Dash Bezel- I am still trying to find a spare Lilliput 629 housing, and a spare dash bezel, this project will not get started until I find them. I received my Monitor on 10/11/07 and it looks great but the touchscreen doesn't work I am still waiting to see how that pans out. This project is at a standstill at 0%

    Fabricate Optical Drive Mount and Bezel- I will be removing my center console at least once during this CarPC project, and I will be fabricating a mount for my slot load DVD-ROM where my factory tape deck is currently located. This project is at 0% complete at the moment.

    Setup Vehicle Tracking- I will be using a Amateur radio vehicle tracking system known as APRS, if you are interested in vehicle tracking and like radio equipment, you should look into this. If you are serious about it you can easily get a license and setup a Mobile APRS system for very little money (as far as vehicle tracking systems go). I have already setup a home/base APRS system, it is nothing like what will be used in the vehicle but the setup taught me a lot about how I will be doing this. This project is in the Planning and Purchasing phase and is about 10% complete.

    Install Antennas- I have several antennas that I will be installing on the vehicle... correction on the crossbar of the roof rack, and in various other locations. I have an amateur radio license that I haven't used much since 1997, and I decided that if I had a 4X4 I would install a 2 Meter ham radio, and a data radio (more on that in a different post) that is 2 antennas so far, add the XM, and TV antennas, and that makes 4 antennas, oops cant forget wifi, thats 5, and in the off chance that I have to install an external antenna for the GPS that will be 6. Don't worry I already know you are thinking that it will look like a porcupine, but the TV antenna will be hidden, and the data radio antenna will be very small, the ham antenna will be removable, the XM antenna is flat. so I will really only have the WIFI and ham antennas sticking up most of the time. This project is 10% done, nothing installed mostly planning and purchasing. I will make a detailed writeup on this step of the project.

    This is all of the projects that I have on my plate at the moment, along with projects around the house, and selling my old hobbies on ebay to afford this stuff, so I guess my plate is pretty full. As I said earlier, I am sure that I will add more projects later and the list will get longer as it gets shorter.
    So Far: MII10k, 1GB PC3200, 100GB HD, M2-ATX PS, Ampie Case, Panasonic CD-RW DVD-ROM. Orinoco Gold, Lilliput 629, WiFi, TV/FM, and Amateur Radio Antennas, BU-353
    NEED TO BUY: AMPS MINE WERE STOLEN!
    NEED TO INSTALL...EVERYTHING, AGAIN

  4. #4
    Newbie shaggy_5420's Avatar
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    Assembled Motherboard And Case Mods So Far

    I have a few pictures of the motherboard, memory, hard drive, power supply, additional wiring and my case mods so far.

    Pic of the case

    Pic of the motherboard

    Pic of everything mounted to the case bottom
    *Notice the blue wire in the lower left. That is an old CD ROM audio cable that has been fished through one of the Ampie's ventilation holes and has a mini stereo jack (female), this is connected to the motherboards CDAUDIO input, and will be used for my XM audio.

    Pic of the custom wiring harness ends
    The 6 conductor on the left is the serial and power connection for the Terk XMD-1000. The 4 conductor connector on the right (I know looks like 8 but it's only 4) is the power connection extension for the Lilliput 629, and the slot load DVD ROM. The power extension is connected to the 12 and 5 volt rails of the M2-ATX by using a power Y adapter before the Hard Drive.

    Pic of the serial header that connects to the 6 pin connector, for the XM, I trimmed off the unused conductors.
    So Far: MII10k, 1GB PC3200, 100GB HD, M2-ATX PS, Ampie Case, Panasonic CD-RW DVD-ROM. Orinoco Gold, Lilliput 629, WiFi, TV/FM, and Amateur Radio Antennas, BU-353
    NEED TO BUY: AMPS MINE WERE STOLEN!
    NEED TO INSTALL...EVERYTHING, AGAIN

  5. #5
    Newbie shaggy_5420's Avatar
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    Some of the Audio Components to be Installed

    I have been working on designing the false floor, and I had to remove my amplifiers from my MX-3 and bring them inside, start measuring them up. Well my sub amp. wasn't too bad just really dusty from all the gravel roads I have to drive. My mid/high amp. was however in pretty grimy condition, and a true testament to NOT mounting components under seats, it looked like someone had spilled a soda on the seat, and never told me about it. The amp was sticky and grimy and to top it off it was dusty. I spent probably about an hour, cleaning the thing off so I wouldn't be embarrassed to show it off.

    I don't have a fortune to spend on my sound, and I am salvaging the components that I can from my previous system. I don't think that I have too bad of a setup, at least to start off with.

    For my Mids and Highs I have an Alpine V-12 Expert MRV-F305 4/3/2 channel amp. This amp is VERY customizable. It has a wonderful and highly adjustable crossover (it is a pain to tune up though)

    For my Bass I have a Rockford Fosgate 500a2 2/1 channel amp. This amp has done very well for me on several systems. It has always been very solid, and it has decent power for its size. It is only 2 ohm stable in stereo and 4 ohms mono, but it is 250 x 2 RMS (into 2 ohms 330 watts peak) or 500 x 1 RMS (into 4 ohms 710 watts peak).

    So here are the pics
    The Alpine V-12 Expert MRV-F305

    Here's the crossover adjustment controls


    Heres the inputs and outputs


    The Rockford Fosgate isn't as impressive so I am only putting up this one picture, I will post more pictures of it during the install.

    Well that's it for now I will be playing with some ideas for the false floor and will post after I get a better idea of what I am going to do.
    So Far: MII10k, 1GB PC3200, 100GB HD, M2-ATX PS, Ampie Case, Panasonic CD-RW DVD-ROM. Orinoco Gold, Lilliput 629, WiFi, TV/FM, and Amateur Radio Antennas, BU-353
    NEED TO BUY: AMPS MINE WERE STOLEN!
    NEED TO INSTALL...EVERYTHING, AGAIN

  6. #6
    Maximum Bitrate americasfuture2's Avatar
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    i am building my carpc for my 98 blazer lt. its not installed yet because i do not have my power supply or amps yet. but i have a pandora mp915-b w/ celeron 1.73 GHz, 1G ram, 160G harddrive. the screen is a lilliput eby701. i am going to mount the screen in place of the headunit. im taking my time on this project. i am sorta a perfectionist on things like this.

    if you have any Q's or wanna share info on stuff, PM me or email me at [email protected]

  7. #7
    Newbie shaggy_5420's Avatar
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    What I have to work with.

    Well when I went out to my Blazer to start getting some ideas on my system layout, I had some MAJOR delusions of grandeur. I WANTED to do a really fancy fiberglass box that would look super pro and almost look OEM. I soon came to grips with the fact that I lack the funds to pay someone to do it, and I also lack in the hands on fiberglass experience, so I would not be taking on such a large project for a first. I decided to just do a wood and carpet box, I will possibly be doing a minute amount of fiberglass work for the finishing touches, but not the main structure.
    I also decided to start removing some of the interior parts to get an idea of how I will be running my power and other wiring. I got the center console out, and put it in the garage to start on the planning phase on how I was going to get the optical drive mounted. I got a little bit farther than I thought I would in such a short amount of time.

    Here is what I have made so far
    Heres the center console with the tape deck removed.


    Here is the OEM tape deck removed from it's caddy.



    Here is the hard drive caddy that I cannibalized from an old case, I cut it with a dremel tool so that the DVD ROM would set level in it.



    I temporarily mounted the hard drive caddy to the OEM tape deck caddy using the tabs that were on the hard drive caddy, and slid it onto the tape deck caddy. I put it into the center console and saw that this would work... I hope.



    Here it is with the center console tape deck trim in place.



    Here is the bezel that I have started making, I worked it out of Basswood (I accidentally bought it thinking that it was balsa wood), using an exacto knife. It is attached to two half inch square hardwood dowel rods first using epoxy, then I drilled and countersunk screws into all the connecting surfaces (not shown yet)





    And that is all I have on the Tape Deck to DVD-ROM customization so far.
    So Far: MII10k, 1GB PC3200, 100GB HD, M2-ATX PS, Ampie Case, Panasonic CD-RW DVD-ROM. Orinoco Gold, Lilliput 629, WiFi, TV/FM, and Amateur Radio Antennas, BU-353
    NEED TO BUY: AMPS MINE WERE STOLEN!
    NEED TO INSTALL...EVERYTHING, AGAIN

  8. #8
    Newbie shaggy_5420's Avatar
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    Where I am on the System Enclosure

    So I went and started on making the system enclosure, while I wait on Armen from DigitalWW to get me my replacement monitor. I also ordered a 4 farad stiffening capacitor to install in the system box to avoid the dimming headlights that I have always put up with in my previous system installs. I have to wait on the cap. to arrive before I finish the system box.

    What is done so far

    Here is what I have to work with



    Here you can see my poster board "template"



    Here is the finished base plate made out of 1/2" MDF



    Here is what it looks like with the side rails and back plate attached. I have also made a plate that will house three 4" case fans from a couple of old dual processor servers I was getting rid of. I am still working on hardware placement and that is why the equipment is setting on there at the moment.




    And my buddy the walking stick wanted to either steal some of my drink, or he wanted to help, or watch or something.



    That is it for now on the system enclosure.
    Remember I like to hear what you think of the system so far.
    So Far: MII10k, 1GB PC3200, 100GB HD, M2-ATX PS, Ampie Case, Panasonic CD-RW DVD-ROM. Orinoco Gold, Lilliput 629, WiFi, TV/FM, and Amateur Radio Antennas, BU-353
    NEED TO BUY: AMPS MINE WERE STOLEN!
    NEED TO INSTALL...EVERYTHING, AGAIN

  9. #9
    Variable Bitrate red_parchel's Avatar
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    looking really good!
    MobileThree: in car - Zotac Atom/ION - linuxICE 2.0.2

    --worklog--

  10. #10
    Constant Bitrate Pathos's Avatar
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    First build I ever saw with a insect supervisor .....I have a '99 2 door blazer (same dash layout as yours) no cassette option but the HD location you chose looks good for me also.Any ideas on your a/c controls and vents for relocation or are you going a different route as far as monitor mounting?
    "A rose by any other name is still a flower"

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