Happy Christmas! And Merry New Year!!
First up, I wish all a prosperous 2012, filled with fufilled visions and accomplished goals.
Work has been taking up most of my time over the last several months. And that's an awesome thing, except for the fact that my new job is in Uptown New York. Mass transportation is the best way to get around, and therefore minimizes my driving to the weekends. I decided that I would suspend my insurance until I really need to get around.
In the interim, to close out the year, I did a few things to get my Macry up to date. I took a trip to a computer repair place, and had my mac mini looked at. A week later, I was told it was a failed logic board. With my current setup designed for the older-designed Mac mini, I decided that instead of spending $450 for a replacement board, I spent $400 for a used mac mini with similar speeds, and $50 for an 8GB RAM upgrade. Lion's up and running; and then I had to repair permissions several times for Lion to run properly. iTunes decides that every so often, my library file is so corrupted, that it needs to be replaced without my permission, leaving me with a lot of music files that do not show up on the "new" library. As of this writing, the 10.5.2 update has not done that to me, but I am currently considering getting a new 500GB - 1TB drive, plus a solid state drive simply for the OS startup. Yeah, this is a lot for something going into a car; that's why it's under consideration. Deep consideration. :lol:
I have nearly completed my LED conversion; all that is left is the front headlights and fog lights, which probably will get the Xenon Halo treatment. The secondary battery (I realize that I never truly answered that question. Sorry) actually went under the main dash setup; that's right behind the shift area. It's fit snugly, and there have been no issues as yet.:clap2:
There is one thing I needed to do with my sound board now setup in the trunk; and that was to replace the trunk floor. As my last act on this worklog for 2011, I will leave you with the play-by-play that got the result. For all my Generation 6 Camry owners, I recommend you read everything before you get started with yours. You might have a better result if you tweak the instructions for your benefit.
This is the list of things I needed to accomplish what I wanted:
Black Vinyl (2yds, only one was needed. Any good-looking substitute will do; I used this because it’s easy and my soundboard has black vinyl) - $14
1 sheet of 3/8” plywood (cut into three pieces for free) - $12
(You may get tempted to use MDF; just remember that even ½” thick MDF is heavier than plywood, and will weigh down your car considerably.)
Loctite Professional performance (300 grade) adhesive spray - $8
(Worked for me; anything that bonds vinyl to wood correctly can do.)
Helmsman Spar-urethane spray (to protect underside of floor from water & elements) $7
Two sets of two brass door hinges - $6
3pk wood cutting blade for jigsaw (be sure it indicates it can make round cuts)- $5
X-Acto Knife - $4
Two 1.25” or 1.5” bolts with accompanying nuts and washers - $2
Total I spent for the project - $58
The other items I needed I already had:
Jigsaw (for wood cutting)
Dremel (for sanding, grinding; be sure you have necessary bits); can be substituted for a real sander!
The Camry trunk carpet (usually in grey; comes in other colors too. Bear in mind, there are two carpets; one that covers the floor itself, the other has the Camry logo. You could use either one; but for this exercise, I used the one with the Camry logo.
An old 5” piece of denim; preferably cut from jeans; be nice to your local cleaners/tailor shop, and you can get it sewn handle-size for free!
I bought the sheet and originally had it cut down to 59” long by 38” tall (the dimensions of the car trunk). I then requested that service rep cut two 12” pieces out of that board, so I ended up with a 12x38, a 35x38, and a 12x38 piece. Line them up in that order, and place the carpet (Camry logo face up) on the top of the plywood, making sure the bottom of the carpet is aligned with the bottom of the plywood. Use your sharpie and trace the carpet all around the plywood, including the main piece; you will be cutting the excess out in order to fit it in your car. Be sure you mark the underside of your plywood (sure you can tell by smoothness of the wood, but better safe than sorry)! Get your jigsaw out (mines is a B&D 1990-something that went through two blades to do all the round cutting) and use the guides you created to cut out the excess plywood from your new floor. Wipe/Vacuum out all saw-dust!
This step I did not do but you ought to: test all 3 pieces in the trunk. If the adjustments that need to made are minor, sand away with a sander (or the dremel). If you adjustments are major, then I dunno about you. :p
Lay the top (finished) side of the trunk floor on the underside of the black vinyl. Use the xacto knife and cut along the floor until you have a trimmed out all the unnecessary vinyl. You can give yourself a little extra vinyl on the top and bottom; but it’s not recommended on the sides. Once finished, perform the same surgery to the other two pieces. If you are able to position all the pieces correctly, you only will use up to 1.25 yards of black vinyl for this task.
Once you have the three black vinyl pieces you need, set those aside and use the spar-urethane and apply 1-2 coats on the UNDERSIDE of the floor. Be sure to get the edges if you can. You will not have enough to cover both ends, and the Professional Performance adhesive spray also is water resistant, so keep your focus on the underside.
Once you waited for the 24-48 hours they tell you to, align the three pieces of the floor together to match the carpet’s shape and flip the board underside up. Set up where you want to install the hinges to join the boards together (two per end). Make the necessary holes, and screw the hinges to the boards so that they flip open & closed. The screws will show up on the smooth side of the floor. That’s okay; once you’ve tested the floor, use a grinder/dremel with grinding bit to grind out the screw ends. If done properly, the floor will look very uniform, the drilled area as smooth as the top of the wood, and the end result should almost resemble klingon a bird-of-prey, whose wings flap out.
Once you are satisfied with the final results, apply the adhesive spray to the top and edges of the trunk floor, as well as the vinyl. A minute or so later, line up the vinyl and the board and apply the vinyl slowly to the floor. Apply pressure all over the floor, making sure every piece of vinyl is properly connecting to the wood. Let it sit for two days.
Using the underside, measure a good distance on the bottom part of the trunk floor for two holes wide enough to create a handle (mine was roughly 4”) and draw a line that represents where the handle will go. Drill two holes on both ends big enough for the bolts. Be certain the denim cloth is in a decent handle size, and use the XAacto knife to puncture two holes on both ends of the cloth. What I did was poke a hole on both ends, and with one end at a time, expanded the whole like a Phillips screwdriver, cutting an X. Place the washer on top the denim, put the bolts through the washer and the denim, and screw the bolt through the trunk floor, fastening the nut on the other side. It really doesn’t matter which side you put the handle on. But since I do not want a denim handle face up so everyone can notice, I put it on the underside to hide it. If you follow the instructions to a T, the end result should look like such:
Note: This only cost me $58 and three hours a day for four days to accomplish. It may be cost effective to do it this way if you are a DIY'er. Valley Van (a car upgrade center in Valley Stream) wanted $45 to do the job. Wood and transportation brought that cost past $60. To get the plexiglass (and just the plexiglass) to do the job in place of the wood was $96. Bottom line: to each his own. There's no shame if you get someone else in on the upgrade.
Also, the handle was attached to the top of the trunk floor. Sorta defeats its purpose. :o At least I saved you from some embarrasment...
Some more pics for you:
My trunk floor, in bird-of-prey-attack formation.
The finished side. Very professional.
The new trunk floor in my car. I don't even need the carpet anymore!
But I put the carpeting back on there. For the stock look.
Now… Here’s why I made you read everything. Halfway through the pics, you might realize you do not need vinyl, or you may want to cut the main board in half and keep the two side pieces stationary. The beauty part is that once you get a feel for how you want it to look, all you really have to do is get the basics out of the way, and design this the way you want to. For example, if you want the side boards to lift up instead of down, and plan on covering the hinges with the stock carpet, you can screw the hinges on the finished side and not even worry about grinding them. Whatever you do, consider splitting the floor to three pieces; it will be a PITA trying to push one big board in that trunk!
Having done this, I realize that I can push limits. Looking at the doughnut wheel, I have already begun researching what it will take to put an actual wheel in its place. I'll discuss other plans later.
Time for some harmless skylarking!! Happy 2012!!
Because even the USS Enterprise needed a refit…
Looking back at my original series of posts, it’s hard to believe that over three and a half years ago, I started my quest for my ultimate automotive experience; and that over three and a half years later, I’m still tinkering with it! A lot has changed since that time (new relationships, FULL OWNERSHIP OF VEHICLE, old age, meeting fellow Camry owners, getting new and better ideas, SPENDING MORE MONEY, having LESS time, etc…) but my dream and goal did not.
And now, I can whole-heartedly say that I am one step closer from these posts being a worklog, to my car being a show-off!
My “stolen” alternate desktop background; because it looks cooler.
Alright, what is powering this machine now?
Here’s what’s changed since that time:
Apple Mac Mini 1.83Ghz computer with 4GB Ram, 80GB SSD Hard Drive, 500GB secondary hard drive, 4 USB ports, AirPort Card for wireless internet, Bluetooth v2.0, OS X 10.7 Lion: $376
LG LP101WH1(TL)(B2) 10.2” LED LCD screen matte - $55; plus an extra $15 for screen replacement
Logitech Dinovo MiniPC Keyboard controller with USB dongle; for GoogleTV: $52
Carnetix P1900 regulator - $100
Clarion EQS746 7-band Equalizer: $42
Stinger SGP32 200 Amp Battery Isolator: $50
Sonnett MacCuff Mac Mini Mounting & Security System: $21.50
JL Audio XD700/5 5-ch amplifier
Alpine SWR-T12 12” shallow mount subwoofer
Here are some unforeseen expenses that I’ve acquired:
Craftsman Professional Soldering Gun (Because to get it done, you need top of the line): Free!!
Craftsman NEXTEC Rotary Tool set (to replace dremel): $57
Braided Sleeving for all my wiring: at least $30
RCA M-M Composite video cable for rear-view camera: $5 for original, $4 for replacement
BlueAnt S4 Car speakerphone (I’ll explain later): $33
USB Extension Cables (x3): $11
10FT HDMI Video Cable: $4
Rockford Fosgate 0 AWG fuse holder with 300 Amp fuse: $30
Rockford Fosgate +/- battery terminal (x2): $50
Regular battery terminals (+/- set): $8
Stinger 0 AWG fuse holder with 200 amp fuse (x2): Free!!
Fabrication services from Auto Design Systems in NYC: $1250
Some Notes (And Pics!) to come:
New Audio Setup
New Mac Mini Placement
The front display… Over the years
The Camry… Over the years
The LED/HID Takeover!
Mac Mini vs iPad vs Android vs PC
The LED/HID Takeover! (WARNING! PIC LADEN!!)
At first, when I heard about these advanced LED light bulbs and such, I generally thought it was a international marketing ploy; something those crazy cats overseas cooked up to boost their business. Then the research started. The Camry Forums. The pricing. The eBay pricing. 10-20 year battery life. Reduced energy usage. “Brighter lighting.” Soon enough, I was hooked.
My intro to HID lighting, however, was not as pleasant. Sure, there were many Camry owners boasting about expanded visibility with HID bulbs, getting to modify their own headlights, longevity (even though some have only had it for a few months), and its overall attractiveness. And all these points are valid; when I upgraded, I joined the proud Camry coup-de-tat. But, before my window tints were installed, and before I acquired some tickets because of my window tints, I got very irritated when driving at night. I used to think everyone within a 3 mile radius of my house used high-beams for no particular reason. I came to find out later on that the reason I that their lights were blinding me was not due to their high beams, but it was because they were using HID bulbs – and it was not properly installed.
So I had my fair share of arguments, tickets and money spent over the last couple of years. After it was all said and done, I must admit I do enjoy my LED/HID conversion. Of course, the LED bulbs you use, and the brightness of your HID bulbs (6000k vs. 8000k vs 10000k) depend on your car and desired results. The reference that I used for the LED conversion is this. For the HID conversion, there is no better place to start your quest than The Retrofit Source. And congrats to them for the big move to their Atlanta headquarters!!
Here are some pics I took showcasing the LED/HID takeover!
My blacked out headlight, with HID retrofit. Driver's Side.
Comparing the HID retrofit headlights, with the Halogen foglights, see, the brightness!!! Needless to say, the Fogs are next!!
A better comparison...
The reach/brightness of the HID bulbs
A better depiction.
LED bulb inside the vanity light; driver side. Whiter than the halogen jumpoff.
The dome lights.
The Rear reading map lights; from the driver's perspective. The pic does not do the LEDs justice.
Map Lights; LED vs halogen. Because of the type of LED bulb I used, the lights are more concentrated downwards. I prefer this, as well as the whiter hue it exudes.
**this post is dedicated to @Soundman98; and I know I'm missing the taillights and turn signal pics!! They are coming!!**
Going Big!! And going home @ some point...
Inspired by @bossman137's White Beauty, I decided to forego the typical 7" or 8" LCD screens, and make the jump all the way to a 10.1" LCD screen! No disrespect to the Lilliput EBY701s, the Samsung "Transreflective" 7" LED LCDs (and Derrick did a great job customer service-wise); but once you realize you can have an iPad quality screen in your Camry without an iPad install, there is no comparison.
These screens, the LG/Phillips LP101WH1(TL)(B2) typically found in netbooks like the HP Mini 2100 series, as well as certain Dell netbooks, have a 1366 x 768 resolution, are LED backlit, and are pretty visible in the sunlight!
Control Board (with HDMI!) courtesy of Duayn & Touch Displays LLC; not to give them a cheap plug-in, but I am thoroughly satisfied with how it all looks! And front dashboard remodeling is courtesy of Pete from Auto Design Systems in NYC. Took him a day to do it (showing off, I suppose), but the end result not only provided me a great mount for the display, but also helped properly secure the equalizer underneath the HVAC knobs!!
Some pics for you:
Yeah, the screen was still readable. I'll probably test it some more, with the sun from different angles.
And yes, friends: I have video!!
Mac Mini vs iPad vs Android vs PC
DISCLAIMER: These are just my randown thoughts. I am in no way suggesting that Macs are better than PCs, iPads/iPhones are better than Droid devices, or that 7" screens just don't cut it. I'm just letting you in on some history!
I acquired my iPad a couple of years ago (the first generation. Because, you know, you gotta get the first of almost any Apple product! :peace:) And since I had it, I acquired an app called PenUltimate, which basically allows you to scribble and draw and then email what you create. Often times, whatever concept I scribble with PenUltimate, including sound board designs and electronics placements, it ends up materializing later on. I'll show you some of them:
The front fascia display. This is where I birthed the idea of the USB controls at the front of the fascia, as well as power buttons for the Mac and the regulator. The mac mini originally sat behind the fascia.
Some places I thought of resting the secondary battery. This was around the time I had the Odyssey battery, and because of its size, it could fit in those locations. The idea was scrapped the same time as the battery.
The Soundboard! Note the distribution block between the sub and the amp. The Mac would be somewhere in the mix...
A concept of what would be the rear of the soundboard would be. The secondary battery rests in this area, alongside the isolator.
Another concept for the rear of the soundboard. This was when I was still dealing with two amps. When I got a deal on the 5ch amp from JL, I never looked back. And I think my car has thanked me since.
The Pre-Soundboard days. Just imagine the seats and trunk somewhere in the midst. And the sub was in a box. And the mac was still upfront by the driver.
A more "realistic" version of the pre-soundboard MACry. The 4ch amp is under the seat, and the mono amp is attached to the sub (in a box still) in the trunk.
The current battery layout for the MACry. There are slight revisions done to the final version of the car.
So... Why entertain you guys with scribbles from PenUltimate?
Because during that entire time, I would have never thought to use the iPad as the infotainment/CarPC setup instead of using it to draw out how my Mac is going to fit inside the unit. iPads since then have become thinner and smaller, and I still believe I'd do the thing an injustice by "plugging it in" to the car. Sure, there are a lot of people there taking advantage of its ease of use, its built-in internet access, & its built in GPS (software included), and are modding their fascias to accomdate iPads and Droids. Hey, you can now connect them to a bigger (well, 7") screen and use the touchscreen just like the iPhone/Droid. And that's all cool. But nothing compares to the form factor, storage capacity, and ease of use of my Mac. All my music, My XP Virtual Machine with Garmin Mobile PC. Furthermore, until America's internet connections can rival that of their international competitors, there are just some things that you can't wait on the cloud for.
Everybody has their reasons for using the computer they use in their CarPC setup. Familiarity; experience; the mere fact that it's their most affordable option is a good reason. But for me, it boiled down to four things:
1. The iPad is great as a tablet. And tablets are great as a whole. But when I want to use it as a tablet, I don't want to leave a void in my car when I take it with me.
2. iPhones/Droid phones have incredible functionality. Until I drive through a deadzone (see, Long Island). Pandora, like most radio, repeats things after a while. And for some music (100s, 1000s, 10,000s of songs), you just want instant access.
3. Fanless, portable PCs didn't get better until MP3Car sold some very solid & rugged models recently. For the most part, they are still kind of big. And Windows... is Windows.
4. When you want a mac, you gotta have a Mac.
Who knows? Maybe one day, I'll convert to a PC system. That is, using a Mac to run Windows!! :lol:
The Camry... Over The Years... [Pt I]
…This is the log of a Mac with a failed logic board.
Late 2011, I was reintroduced to a situation that I found quite annoying: A failed logic board on my MACry’s CPU. On a trip to NJ three years ago, a soda spill under my Mac resulted in the logic board being rendered totally useless. All the rubbing alcohol I could muster did not change the end facts: I either get a new board, or a new Mac mini. After a while of contemplation, I replaced it with the same model. Then came late 2011, when I told that the logic board on my then used Mac mini failed. No soda spill. No liquids of any kind. As a matter of fact, the only two things I am guilty of are probably turning it off and on a lot and carrying around to the Apple store when necessary. At that point, my options expanded to three: get another used Mini, a new Mac mini, or replace the logic board. Looking at my budget, the choice was clear: yet again, another used Mac Mini. And when I made that decision, I was blessed with two units; the same model I had been dealing with, and a speedier version that can run Mountain Lion. The latter became my home computer/HTPC.
Fast forward to last weekend. I took my Mac to my girlfriend’s house to update some music, software, and such. I turned it on. The light came on, the beep sounds, but no gray screen. I turned it off and on a couple of times. On the fourth attempt, it came on. I went for my Logitech keyboard; the battery needs to be recharged. I took it home. And since then, the Mac has produced the same effect; lights up, beeps on, black screen.
Research shows the symptoms indicate a BootROM failure, which after PMU resets, SMC resets, CR2032 battery replacement, and another reset for good measure, means logic board failure. Perhaps this time around, I can have unit repaired, other than replaced. Maybe this time around, I’ll use a brand-spanking-new Mac Mini (given the replacement of the soundboard housing for it) as the MACry. As I enter into the spring/summertime flow, my options have jumped since 2011. They now are:
1 – Leave the CarPC realm altogether. With the audio system rigged, all I have to do is plug in my iPhone (or my girl’s Galaxy SIII) and we’re good to go. Yes, this is a joke, but it’s an option nonetheless.
2 – Become the BlackViper, and ditch the Mac. Perhaps I should explore the CentraFuse world. They do iTunes for PC. Garmin Mobile PC IS on Windows. They do have rugged portable PCs that look like they can withstand the elements… Yeah, this is one of those jokes that make you go, Hmm…
3 – Integrate the iPad/iPhone/Droid. A possibility to explore, but the screen I have is not touchscreen, nor do I want it to be. Yes, this is the last of the jokes, but at least you guys know I thought about doing it. Perhaps using the iPad externally with an HDMI connection to my screen is the best bet. The question of “Can it be done?” looks like I may venture to another frontier. The cost? Hard disk space, options, and the price of a cable & controller.
Now, onto the choices I can stick with:
4 – Repair the logic board. It can’t be that hard/pricey, right?? It looks like it might actually be recoupable.
5 – Replace the logic board. A year and a half ago, they wanted $450. It can’t be that bad now, especially since the new Minis are more popular.
6 – Replace the 1.83Ghz Mac Mini. I did this twice already. While I want to keep it short & simple, the fool-me-once-fool-me-twice rule must unfortunately apply here.
7 – Get a used “newer” Mac Mini. 2.0Ghz, 2.26Ghz, or better. Maybe one that guaranteed does Mountain Lion, and any other upcoming versions of OS X. As long as I don’t have to touch my HTPC. Wait a minute…
8 – Use my current HTPC as the MACry CPU. Perhaps the most cost-effective way of resolving my problems, the only downside is that I must eventually get a computer for my HTPC setup. Maybe a new Mac Mini. I did say this once before, so…
9 – Buy a brand-new 2013 Mac Mini. With the i5/i7 processors. Maybe a OSX server with 1TB of total storage!! Ooh, that’s a lot of music!!
“How can I have a CarPC that’s faster and better than my HomePC,” you ask?! Simple! Spend more time on the road than at home!!
If you pass through this worklog, I invite you to let me know what you would do. I’m curious…
Coming in Pt. II - The pics I was supposed to put here! :doh:
Until then... :rock: