I haven't tried wire, but I can foresee some places where that idea will be useful. I've been taping the parts to a board with blue painter's tape because it leaves no residue, but duct tape does hold better. Using sandbags is an attempt to make things move more rapidly. The very curvy shape of this bezel makes for some interesting shenanigans to get the weld area up against a stable surface. In the picture, I leaned one of the rubber bratwursts against the duct hole because it gave the final amount of leverage to hold the piece right where I needed it.
Originally Posted by turbocad6
Alignment is still the critical issue and, since this is a one-time production, I'm taking my time. If I try to go too fast, I bump things around and screw up the alignment, even with the tape. So far, the sandbags resist the bumps pretty well.
I think the important lesson I've had to learn is to use less force, and just allow the heat to do the work. It doesn't take much pressure to make things happen just right. If I try to force things, cold plastic doesn't flow, so I end up pushing the whole part, and there goes the alignment. When I let the heat do the work, the part stays in place, the material moves nicely, everything stays aligned, and the weld gets good penetration.
@ Lost Reception - I may be mistaken, but you may be able to salvage the steering wheel controls if use another/better Pioneer HU
That's an excellent suggestion. I definitely want to keep the steering wheel controls. Maybe a remote-mountable faceplate unit would do the trick. Another good possibility would be to use a single-DIN unit in the cubbyhole.
Originally Posted by MastaCheeb
Thanks, MastaCheeb. I'll dig through Pioneer's offerings and see what possibilities they have.
Edit: The Pioneer Premier DEH-P400UB is the low end of the Pioneer line. It appears that this single-DIN head unit, which is $124 from CartronixPlus, would comfortably replace the Scion's Pioneer HU. That would allow me to install it in the cubbyhole slot, making much of the installation easier. I still have to explore the cabling issues, and determine if the steering wheel controls can interface to it.
CarPC Running on 12V Power
Just as I was making good progress on the bezel redesign, I've started an eleven-day road trip, so that part of the project has to go on hold. But there's good news on the PC front. I've had this system built and just about ready to test for some time, but I kept putting it off to work on bezel projects. I brought much of the system along on the trip. Because I haven't run the cabling in the car yet, we built a temporary power cable that plugs into the cigarette lighter, and has an inline switch. We checked all the connections in the PC one last time before putting 12V power to the system. When we hooked her up, she ran just fine using the M2-ATX.
I plugged a Zonet USB wireless stick in and, after battling several failed installs, I got her to work (it kept trying to install Vista 32-bit drivers, and I had to force it to accept XP 32-bit drivers). This post is being written on the carPC. She's surprisingly quiet; I don't think we'll even hear it under the passenger seat.
While I'm traveling, I have a 120V-to-12V adapter so I can run using the M2-ATX instead of dragging a standard power supply along. I also brought an LCD monitor and a Sprint wireless card to keep me online, although neither of those will be part of the final installation. The touchscreen installation will happen when I get back off the road.
So far, RoadRunner looks like my choice for the front end, so I'll invest some time on this trip getting that set up and skinned, and there's a lot of music to be ripped to the hard drive.
Hard Drive Choices
When I get back home, I'll consider installing an IDE drive in the system in addition to the SATA unit. While SATA drives are significantly faster than IDE, they also fail more frequently, and it would be wise to have my system backed up all the time. There's plenty of space in the case, so I can fabricate extended hard drive brackets (see post 5 of this thread) and add an IDE drive below the SATA drive, with about 1/4" of airspace between them for cooling.
I'll look at running the operating system on the SATA drive, keeping data on the IDE drive, and backing them up to each other. If either one fails, I'm covered.
The other option to consider would be to stick to the SATA drive alone, but keep the CarPC backed up to another unit. Once I have a solid installation, I can image the drive, and the backups could be incremental.
While I'm on the road, I thought I'd go over some of my
Software Choices for the CarPC
The car system is on its way to being a full-blown PC. I want to be able to pull over and do actual work on it, not just use automotive features. The system is based on Windows XP Pro. I haven't used nLite to shrink the system down, though I'm considering that as a later project. The system boots very quickly, and is surprisingly fast for a very low-power (25W) mobile processor. The only tuning I've done is to keep the startup clean by running msconfig.
I run Foxit Reader instead of Adobe Acrobat for PDF access. I don't use Acrobat because I don't want it running in the background all the time, and I don't like having it automatically call home to Adobe for updates. Foxit Reader is fast, very lightweight, and runs only when I need it. It's free at the Foxit site.
If I need to produce a PDF file, it's easy with CutePDF Writer, another free and very lightweight package, available at the CutePDF site. CutePDF Writer installs as a printer. To produce a PDF file, you just print the document to the CutePDF Writer, and it will ask where you want to Save the file. It's simple and fast.
To work with Zip and Tar files, I use 7-Zip, available free here. It handles all the compressed files I've ever run across.
OpenOffice works fine for all the things I need to do, but I've chosen instead to use its predecessor, StarOffice, which has a few more features, including a better spell checker and a larger dictionary. The latest version is based on the new OpenOffice work, and is available here as part of the free Google Pack (Note: Google Pack has all kinds of things in its download -- just choose the ones you want). StarOffice is a big download -- nearly 150MB.
I also use Google Earth and Mozilla Firefox, and they can be downloaded in the Google Pack, too.
With Firefox, the most important add-on I run is NoScript, which lets me enable scripting only in sites I trust, and I can choose permanent or single-session permission. I use Foxmarks Bookmark Synchronizer to keep my bookmarks synchronized across all my machines. I use IE Tab for those sites that display badly in Firefox because they're tweaked for IE. All of these are free add-ons available through Firefox (click Tools, Add-ons).
All my image manipulation is done in Irfanview 3.99. The new version, 4.x, is commercial software. Look around for version 3.99, which is still freeware. The freeware version does everything I need, and may be just fine for what you want to do, too. Here's one site that still had it when this was written. Another choice in this area would be Picasa, also available free as part of the Google Pack.
For email, I'm on Google's Gmail. I can't imagine switching to anything else.
I use Microsoft Outlook for my Contacts and Calendar because it syncs to Blackberry and Windows Mobile phones, and also syncs to Google Calendar. I'm still looking for a graceful way to keep contacts synced between Gmail and Outlook; I've read about ScheduleWorld, but I have no experience with it.
For security, I prefer the CA Internet Security Suite. A three-license pack of the 2008 version was under $25 on eBay, and it seems to run pretty lightly and yet gives thorough protection. In my only experience with the CA Tech Support staff, my issue was resolved quickly, clearly, and in easy-to-understand English. They could teach a lot of companies how to do tech support. As other suites' contracts run out, I'll be moving all the machines I support onto CA's product. If you just gotta have freeware, AVG Free, available here, is good stuff.
I just wanted to say what an outstanding thread. Awesome project, with first class work and the way you explain it step by step and add the pictures are great. So much easier to understand where your at and what your doing by following along with the pictures.
Everything is well done, a lot for all of us to learn from this thread. I appreciate the links you have shared with us. Much to learn about plastic welding.
great work so far...I love the step by step, explanations and your thought processes. Thanks and keep up the good work.
Originally Posted by PittsburghProud
Thanks to both of you.
Originally Posted by Flatman
I figure design and engineering are processes -- ideas don't just come to us fully formed with all the details. So it makes sense to let others in on the thinking behind the work, including the ideas that don't work and the processes that turn out to be just too difficult for amateurs.
It's fun to include the good ideas that appear almost magically. But it isn't magic; we read, we talk to friends, we see what others have done, and we wake up with ideas that come out of all we've learned.
All of us -- even the professionals -- start out knowing nothing. We pick up information and skills as we build things. I've had some terrific teachers and mentors, and the MP3Car forums have been an excellent resource. It's fun putting what I've learned back into the system.
I'll enjoy watching your projects develop . . .
Inside the Case
I realized that I never added a picture looking into the case with all its "stuff" installed, so here's that view:
Click image to enlarge.
When this PC runs, it's fast, quiet, and surprisingly cool. Air is drawn in from the sides, across the M2-ATX on the left, to the processor fan, which blows the air straight out of the top. The exhaust air is only a little warmer than ambient air, so the cooling should be just fine.
I paid attention to airflow when I routed cables. I used cable clips and tie-wraps to keep the cables together and out of the airflow, as much as possible. I also tried to keep data and power cables away from each other as much as I could, with data cables to the front and right side, and power cables along the rear and left side.
One project remains here. In a masterpiece of incomplete planning, I forgot to include a place for the screen power cable to exit the case, so I'll be drilling a hole for that near the main power connector. Now that all the wires are installed, I really don't want to take all the guts out of the case (again) so I'll try to do it with everything in place. The trick will be to keep the chips away from the electronics; I'll probably drill into a block of plastic held on the inside of the case. The alternative is to strip everything out of the case and drill away, then reinstall all the "stuff". I think being very careful not to get chips into the electronics sounds way easier.
Edit: I've decided to keep the monitor powered with the ignition -- then I can't leave it on by accident, even if the PC is running. I don't want to create a theft magnet with a lighted screen in an empty car at night.
Internal PC wiring is Phase 4, so Phase 4 is completed.
it probably wouldnt be the ideal location to pull the cable out of, but if you dont want to drill or anything, pull the power through the vent on the left side right next to the m2-atx. just get a rubber grommet and put in one of the ventilation holes maybe?