Ok so I was browsing a site that had tons of pictures of crazy computer case mods and links to different sites and people's projects. I came across some pictures of a Mazda (I think it was a Mazda), and my mouth dropped as I read through all the computer goodies this guy had put into his car.
I google'd "CarPC" and came to this wonderful site... and the rest, as they say, is history!
On with it then.
I've taken so much inspiration from the site and all the different projects and worklogs, and finally decided on which way I'm going to go. So planning is mostly done, and all that is left for me is to make final decisions on which brands and such that I'm going to use and place the orders.
The main thing I knew from moment one, was that I had two requirements for this project: 1. I wanted it to look OEM. and 2. I wanted to be able to return the car to stock.
In my searching I found This Thread, and immediately I had the answers to my 2 requirements all in one! Since he has an '06 Mustang, and our two vehicles have the same radio, this is the perfect solution for me!
This fella here is one smart cookie! I've been talking to him in private messages and he's going to be fabricating one of these custom aluminum chassis which I can drop right in to my dash without changing anything.
So here's the overall plan-
The image below is a "stock photo" of my car (I'll be putting up pics of mine tomorrow), and the plan is to replace the stock head unit with the custom aluminum chassis which I'll be purchasing from blk02si. I'm also going to be cutting a small hole (as small as I can make it) in the back of the storage compartment that sits above the radio console, so that I can feed in the cables for a slim line DVD burner, USB hub, and external HDD enclosure for storage. In the pic below, you can see it above the air vents in the center. The little circle in the lower part of the lid is the release button.
My hope is that I'll be able to set it up so that the DVD drive sits just far enough back so the lid can latch closed. So when you open the compartment, you press the button and the tray will pop out and extend past the front lip, directly above the air vent. I think that'll be sweet!
The biggest amount of research and planning for me will be in wiring up the amplifiers for this build. I'm going to stay with the stock speakers and amplify them from the on-board sound card of the MB, and of course a 12" sub in the trunk with it's own amplifier. Also I want to be able to use the volume control and Next/Previous Track buttons on the steering wheel with the computer, and I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to go about making that dream a reality. It's going to be interesting though.
So for the rest of my work night (6 hours left) I'll be finalizing my decisions for the components I'm going to use. My goal for the budget is to stay below $1,200. Then tomorrow I'm going to disassemble the dash and check the clearances and see how much room I'll have to play with. And of course figure out where/how I'm going to cut that hole for the cables to the upper compartment.
And of course I'll post pics tomorrow, both of my car and the torn-apart dash.
This whole concept of car-computing is a wet-dream come true for a nerd like me. I can't wait to see this done.
More to follow.....
Took apart the dash a bit and ran into my first snag.
Seems there is something keeping me from pulling the radio out of the compartment it sits in. I pulled the 4 bolts from the front of the radio that hold it in place, but I can't pull it out. I can feel back there and it seems like there is a ground wire holding it snug to the metal cross bar that comes down behind it. I can't actually see back there as there's not enough room, but I can feel where it's bolted in.
Here's some pics...
There's my baby!
Another exterior shot.. notice the Navy personalized plates =)
Here's one of the interior before I pulled it apart. The little plastic piece on the air vent is actually a generic iPOD dock that I bought to hold my Blackberry in view while I'm driving.
Here's one of the compartment where I want to hide the DVD drive and USB hub... after closer look at it I know there's no way I'll be able to fit an external HDD in there lol
A closer shot of the same compartment.
Front fascia pulled away from around the head unit. I noted the four screws that I took out when I tried to pull the head unit.
A closer view of that area. Looks like I'm going to have plenty of room to work with in there..... if I can get the stupid radio out.
Here's the problem.. The metal piece indicated by the arrow goes all the way down behind the head unit, and seems that it supports the unit from behind. I can feel behind there, and about 2" down from where the arrow is drawn, it feels like some type of ground wire is fastened to that metal piece.
I guess I'm going to have to do some research on this one, because I don't want to just grab it and yank it out. And I can't see any way to actually remove the unit from the front. I'm thinking I might have to pull out some of the surrounding dash and come up from behind it to disconnect that wire. This could prove to be a huge pain in the a**.
Last night it hit me that I might try to get my hand in the back and disconnect the wiring harnesses from the rear of the head unit. I was thinking that surely the manufacturers would have left enough extra wire to at least pull the unit out half way. It appears I was wrong. I disconnected the cables and the head unit came right out. Sigh.
Here's a pic of the dash after the radio has been pulled.
Another at a different angle.
Here's one of the glove box. See below for some ideas I'm having about this.
I was originally thinking of cutting a hole in the back of the storage compartment that sits above the radio console and middle air vents. I'm seriously reconsidering this, and have pretty much abandoned the idea. Once I got the radio out I was able to get my hands in the space behind it and found there's a huge area of access between that cavity in the center and the glove box to the right of it. So I'm probably going to be mounting the DVD drive, USB hub, and the external HDD there. Should have plenty of room.
So as it stands now I just have to decide on what components I'm going to use, then order them. I'll be ordering the custom chassis at the end of the month, and I'll go from there.
More to follow as I get farther along.
Hello - I was wondering if you could help with a stereo installation on my 2008 mercury milan? How do you get the plastic faceplate removed that surrounds the stereo? Does it just pop off? I put a small screwdriver behind it but was afraid I was going to break the plastic?
Thanks, got it with a little more muscle.
Hi gethree, thanks for such a detailed post. It makes this project so much less daunting, so I am greatly appreciative.
I am curious though if you could give an update as to what happened to the car/was the final result?
I just purchased a 2006 Mercury Milan for college and am hoping to swap out the stock car stereo with something a little nicer.
Also, did you ever get the new stereo to properly function with the steering wheel? And how did it go with adding a sub/amp?
I hope you can help and that I hear from you soon!
06mercurymilan (pretty creative name, huh?)