First CarPC: 2008 Subaru WRX, Linux, Work In Progress
Brief intro: been messing with computers for 15 years, building them for 14, water cooling for 8, left Windows behind 7 years ago (mostly.)
I've been thinking about a carputer for about 5 years, but never did one....
I have been using a laptop in my work truck for GPS and music, as well as occasional work communication and research, and gotten pretty use to having that capability- but the laptop doesn't fit well in my car.
And it happens that I have a spare small-format computer around.
So here I go!
AOpen mATX motherboard
1.6Ghz Intel P4
1GB of pc133 ram
80GB Western Digital hard drive
NVidia Quadro Pro video card
Edimax WiFi card
Verizon mobile broadband
BU-353 GPS Sensor
Lilliput 8.4" touchscreen
StreamZap IR remote
The basic system is built and running in a desktop case right now, and I have not yet added the wifi card. M4-ATX dc/dc psu has not yet arrived.
Right now I am still configuring the software, basically, which is taking some time since I use linux (though Windows in Virtual machines or through wine) for the operating system.
I have been trying various carpc/mini-system specific distributions of linux, but so far find them.... lacking. Debian Etch and Mepis 7 are currently installed and have multimedia stuff installed and working just fine though I need to decide just which ones are most suitable for touchscreen use in the car.
Navigation software is something I am still working on...
Since I use Delorme Street Atlas on my laptop (in a VirtualBox VM) it is most likely what I will use for the car pc as well. I have tried native linux nav. software, but it is sadly just not as mature and lacks too many features still.
I have general ideas in mind for the actual installation of the system in the car, but I'm not going to start that until the system is ready to go: not going to put the cart before the horse: much more comfortable to configure things in my computer room. :D
The General Installation Plan:
Lose ZERO storage space and/or usability.
Spare tire well (hatchback) has just enough room to barely fit a customized mATX system, and that is where the computer will be mounted. WiFi antenna and GPS sensor will be mounted... somewhere high towards the back of the car.
Power will be run back, a single usb cable will be run to the glovebox area to connect the touchscreen, remote and (as needed) the Verizon mobile broadband, plus usb storage devices (music, photos, whatever.)
A single stereo cable will be connected to the AUX input port for the stock headunit, which is remaining in place, at least for now. (Nope, this is NOT an audiophile system!)
The touchscreen display- well, this is an area where I need to really do some thinking:
Instead of buying a brand new unit intended for car use, I found a used desktop-stand model cheap. As a result, I need to do a custom mounting assembly. My thoughts at the moment are to mount it to the right (passenger side) of the stock stereo headunit: good visibility yet out of the way.
I plan to have the unit adjustable for swing (parallel to dash in normal position but able to angle towards the driver for nav use.) and tilt, for viewing angle.
Cooling is something I have still not finally decided on yet: I have a large number of water cooling components and a wee bit of experience with them, but.... well, just not sure which way I want to go. But I really don't trust air cooling- lost too many parts over the years.
That is pretty much where I am at this point: general plans for mounting locations and computer housing but not at the final decision point yet.
System is probably 75% complete as far as computer hardware and software, and parts are on order to finish that within the next week.
Once case fab and car mounting begins, pictures will be taken and posted.