Yes yes people, I am still around! And the ride is still going!
The decision was made, and will be unveiled... As soon as I unveil this box!!
Happy Independence Day, everyone!!
Take a trip with me, and see how far I've come in over six years...
April 2007. Staten Island, NY.
I saw her under the chandelier at Manfredi Toyota. I was using my Costco membership to acquire some savings towards my very first depreciable asset purchase. Within an hour, I was able to write SOLD on the windshield. Another Ferry ride later, I was driving it home.
March 2008. The New York Auto Show.
It did not take long for me to get tired of the radio; so I acquired a stand and an AUX cable for my iPod. The hissing sound was unbearable, and in the back of my mind, I was thinking: "There's got to be a better way..."
November 2009. Brooklyn.
After much thought, the quest began for Automotive Nirvana. My brother was there with the huge assist. Our first MACry setup was up and running in time for the Yankees parade!
July 2010. Garden State Parkway.
This is the MACry; Mark 2. The Mini had to be replaced. I had a brief stint with the Knight Rider LED Scanner (the old school one just like in the 80s). For the most part, it was fully functional. And a $180 window tint ticket was as ludicrous then as it is now. But I enjoyed every minute of this experience.
It was also around this time I discovered ToyotaNation.com, where I learned about various refits that could be done to the car, including the LED taillights and HID headlights...
August 2011. Ridgewood, NJ.
My reach had then extended to the possibility of adding a rear view camera to my setup. My car has had a bump or two with me as the driver; so I could only imagine what would occur when someone else was at the wheel! I tested it across the street from the famous Carlo's Bakery, and I was very satisfied with the results. Now? I think because I have the camera receiving constant power, instead of connecting it to the reverse light wire, the camera doesn't work. Lesson Learned: Get a Switch, or follow instructions.
April 2012. Brooklyn.
Black rims. Molded console piece. Soundboard and self made trunk. HID/LED conversion. Additional battery. Solid State drive upgrade to the computer. I wanted to push the envelope as far as time and my wallet would allow. And with every change, it feels like I'm one step closer to Nirvana...
And now, 2013...
Coming as soon as I figure out what to do with my Mini!!!
Last edited by Project07MACry; 05-09-2013 at 10:51 PM. Reason: grammatics!
Yes yes people, I am still around! And the ride is still going!
The decision was made, and will be unveiled... As soon as I unveil this box!!
Happy Independence Day, everyone!!
And the survey says...
The Mac Mini Server!!
At 2.53 Ghz speed, these were some of the fastest these models up until the Unibody Mac Minis came along. Literally designed for dual hard drive usage, this would be the sure-fire way to no longer have to worry about things going through slots and what not. As far as the server OS goes, as I swap out the info from the 500gb to a 2.5" 1TB hard drive (and later, swap out the two 500gb drives for my 1TB & SSD), the prayer is that the unit comes on, recognizes both drives, and acts like a normal Mac Mini operating Lion. As of press time, I am also looking to swap out the 4GB in RAM for either a total of 6GB or 8GB of RAM. So I'll see what materializes from that.
So let the swap begin!
In other news, my big 3 upgrade was refitted; I had to sand out all the grounds to their shiny state, the 0 AWG wires were replaced with the super-tubed 1/0 AWG auto cable counterparts, and the battery is much more secure than ever before.
There is only one more issue to handle: The external power button:
The wiring of this button is a bit funky:
That was a good half hour soldering those small wires to the button. The original button looked like this in the rear:
Anyway, until next time...
After being on a two month hiatus from the MP3Car.com (subscribed threads excepted), I took the opportunity to look around at various forums throughout the site. With a little few spurts here and there, it seems pretty dead. Economy and commercialization aside, the easier/cheaper/practical route leads to an AUX connection to a smartphone or tablet, with a Bluetooth setup for phone calls. The closest to an MP3Car gathering becoming reality is an idea of trekking to Niagara Falls discussed in a Gatherings forum back in August. And while I hope this materializes (it is, after all, a great way for me and my special lady to get away), nothing is set in stone.
Why am I going this route? Well, I’ve been with my girlfriend for over 10 months now, perhaps on the verge of proposing and heading down that committed route. And while she currently enjoys the benefits of a vast library of music alongside decent GPS navigation, this hobby of mine can no longer undergo the major upgrades, if any, which might be necessary down the road. The elements aside, I am extremely confident in my current 5-ch amplifier and subwoofer. The rear speakers which I replaced sound like they’re going to last. And yes, while it’s no longer probable that I’ll go back to my double DIN stock unity again, should my MACry setup go through another pain-staking episode, I may have to raise the white flag and get a 10.1” tablet for my next setup and settle. Right now, I put the final touches on the CarPC knowing that I might never buy another PC/Mac for it again. Perhaps I caught this wave while the whole CarPC world became commercialized. Perhaps my only history of LCDs for CarPCs goes back Lilliputs and Xenarcs. But I must say, when the unit was fully up and running, it was, and still is, a blast having the world at my fingertips. Sigh.
All primed up and ready to put the finishing touches to my ride, I ran into a series of, for the lack of a better word, comical issues that forced me to wait 2 months before I can say I am closer to finishing up my MACry! Initially, the only issue I had was wiring the power button to turn on the Mac Mini Server. But once that was done, I began experiencing battery-related issues with the car. If the amp/Mac would not come on, the car wouldn’t start. I began thinking the issues were related to the batteries themselves. I purchased testers, jump-starters, and chargers to see what would happen. And after two weeks, I realized the batteries were never the problem…
It was the fuses.
And like every DIY-instruction tells you, I fused every connection I could. I don’t know; I never anticipated replacing the fuses to rectify the problem. I replaced the fuse for the secondary battery-amp connection, and the amp comes on at command again. For whatever reason, I fused the connection from the alternator to the main battery, a connection that never needed fusing prior to the CarPC. I replaced that with an un-fused 0/2 AWG cable connection. The car turns on to this day without incident.
But, to complete this fuse-blown episode, the headlights went out on me a little after I fixed the battery problem! For over a month, I had to drive around with high-beams to prevent from getting stopped by police. Throughout that time, I saved my duckets and bought a Morimoto HID kit, complete with bulbs, relays, the whole nine yards. That $150 kit was brought to the guys that set up my lights the first time, and what do they tell me when they check everything out? And laughing in the process?
The fuse for the lights blew.
So while I got a better HID system for my headlights, I did it unnecessarily, only needing to replace more fuses in the car. Bear in mind, that since I drove the car home the first time, the only fuse I ever needed to replace was the fuse in the Carnetix regulator, which by the way still works well.
I get inside, turn on my car, turn on my headlights, which now work, and turn on my audio setup. After about a few minutes, the sound would stop, and the button LEDs would dim to nothing. I turn everything off/on, same thing. At that point (while still at the shop) I traced every positive connection, refusing to buy one more part for this setup. I lifted up my carpet, and found the wire that powers the LED buttons. Would you believe it, the son-of-a-gun was fused, and that fuse was blown!!! “To hell with these fuses,” I cried, as I snipped off the fuse holder and joined the remaining wires together. After I put everything back together, I turned everything on. And since that time, earlier in September, my system has been rocking!!
By the way, for those wondering why connection that was fused, and why the fuse blew: I don’t know, and there wasn’t enough amperage in the fuse to begin with.
Now, while I was dealing with that trouble, I was not receiving any feed from the AV2 source, the rear view camera. I tried various connections of the wires with the hopes that the only thing I had to do was switch the way it was wired. And while most instructions have you connecting the rear view camera to the reverse lights, I thought I can have constant power to the rear view, so I can look behind me anytime I wanted. In time, I surrendered to the possibility that I may need to just wire it to that reverse light…
And then I got no feed on the HDMI source. Big problem.
Thankfully, there was no fuse on the LCD controller board, so I couldn’t blame the fuse for that one! However, that incident began the troubleshooting episode of getting feed to my perfectly functioning LCD screen. I was determined in my logic that it was not the screen for two reasons. One, when I turned everything on and attempted to use the computer with my keyboard alone, music and film did play. Not sure what was accessed, but it was still functioning. Second, I saw a blue screen followed by a no-signal message. So I thought it was either the connection to the screen, or the board controlling it. Off to eBay I went, and found a looooong 25ft HDMI cable; well-shielded, much better protection than the current one I’m using. After I fed the cable through the left side of the car, I plugged it in and turned everything on. No-Go.
So it came down to the controller board. Something in me said not to go back to MotorCity Displays, but to use eBay. And sure enough, I found the controller board for less than $40. I swapped the boards, carefully triple-checked all the wires, used the newer HDMI cable, and turned it on. Voila; I have picture, as well as sound!! Then I disconnected the new HDMI cable and plugged in the old one. I still got video and audio in syncopation!!
One problem I did get to address before I put everything back together was how to mount the board. Prior to the swap, I had the LCD controller board dangling around behind the screen. No mount, nothing holding the board in place (could have something to do with why it messed up. So I looked around for various options to mount the unit on top. Finally, I found something:
For those Carnetix fans, this is the base of the P2140, with one side completely sawed off. I might saw part of the top cover to complete the look, but for now, I like how it is.
And so, the MACry is almost done! If I had to jot down what I may need to complete it, it would go something like this:
• New floor mats for the winter time
• New rear-view camera
• Front door speaker replacements
• Head-rest/pillow for long drives
• BluRay porable burner (not needed, but hey, a brother can dream)
Looking at this list, it all comes up to $300-$400. Smart money is to get all this before I propose, and then see what happens. Next time, a pic-laden, video inclusive post that shows where the MACry stands today.
Show-off, here I come!! Until then…
Last edited by Project07MACry; 09-19-2013 at 05:03 PM. Reason: grammatics!
Be a great place to propose to that lady! Love to see that mac at the meet. Lots of time to plan it out SNOThe closest to an MP3Car gathering becoming reality is an idea of trekking to Niagara Falls discussed in a Gatherings forum back in August. And while I hope this materializes (it is, after all, a great way for me and my special lady to get away), nothing is set in stone.
Wow that's a lot of fuss but in the end when its what you want you will be happy and it will all be worth it.
So says latinmaxima, so it shall be!
First up, big shout-out and condolences to Soundman98, for the parting of his Eclipse GT, and the CarPC that gave it soul. That BRZ looks good!
Second, it’s been an interesting month, filled with quips and other “I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening-now” events, so I figured I give you guys some more info on the MACry.
New Audio Setup/Mac Mini Placement
If you ever popped the trunk and pulled down the rear seats to a Camry from 2007 on, you will realize there is not much extra space given to you. Everything that you push further back must go through that rather small opening. Realizing I would never use that area like that, I bought some wood, weather-proofed it, and “sealed up” that area towards the back. (Note: apparently, if you google “trunk 07 camry” and look under images, my trunk is the 5th image listed! Now if my trunk could stay that empty, haha…)
I had my two Rockford Fosgate amps, my 12” RockFos sub, my RockFos distribution block. I was happy.
Then Hurricane Sandy hit. This time, a year ago.
Yeah, I never really talked about the effects of the hurricane to me and my car, primarily because it affected the car more than me. It was always a sore spot because of the replacements I was forced to make, but I guess now’s the time to let it go.
I parked my car trunk first into my close friend’s driveway the day before, and told myself I was safe. He lives on the basement level, and the car is thus parked on a slant. When I heard that the hurricane was in full effect, I summarily thought “It’ll faze out by the time it gets to BK. It really never “fazed out;” Sandy just flooded some areas in BK. People lost power for a while; people lost homes; some lost their cars to fallen trees. It was really something. I called my friend to make sure he was safe. And he was safe… in another part of NY with his girlfriend. He called the house, and was told he lost most of belongings due to the flood. He was on the basement level. My car is parked trunk first in his driveway right near his door.
I. Was. Not. Happy.
I put on some rain gear, and my brother & I took the most amazing 5 mile walk to Canarsie ever; it was filled with heavy winds, fallen trees, fallen signals, dark streets, and intermittent periods of rain. This was one of those Mad Max-like moments, I tell you. I finally get there, and the MACry, from the trunk back, was submerged in water. The good news was that my car’s main components (the engine, transmission, etc.) remained completely unharmed. The bad news: as we sloooooowllly pulled the car out of there, everything in the trunk got drowned in water, including the rear amp, sub, wiring, distribution block, the rear seat (because water travels :-/), the carpeting, and yup, you guessed it, the front amp.
The amps began showing signs of life days later, but it was not the same. The sub (got to give it up to Rockford Fosgate) was still very much intact and working! A fuse swap later, the Carnetix P1900 was working too; and the soundboard (because it was waterproofed) held up like a champ. All the water eventually got removed from the floor; but a new carpet was in order (Note: never do aftermarket flooring; you will always go back to OEM), and I had to replace the rear seat leather. Fortunately, insurance did cover most of the damages; it would not cover the audio setup I went searching for moons ago.
As a result, I sold those units for fairly decent amounts, took whatever balance I could muster, which turned out to be a couple of hundred bucks, grabbed an entire pay check and went back to the car audio market. This time, I decided to walk away with a compact 5 channel amplifier, the JL 700/5 (awesome piece of equipment) and a shallow mount Alpine 12” subwoofer. A month after the purchase, I came to the realization that it was a good thing all this happened; I’d be missing out on all this amazing sound!! As far as placement went, since all the main equipment would be in the back, the battery that powers it should also be in the back, in the mini storage space to the right that I rarely use. The subwoofers swap places, and I was left with two options, conceal a $400 mac with loads of music behind the board, or conceal a $600 amp, and all the necessary cabling, behind the board. Love my mac, but should anything happen, I’d rather lose that than anything else.
And a year after Hurricane Sandy passed, I remember by pumping out Daft Punk, leaving my girlfriend’s house in Canarsie. Thankful I didn’t park it there. Sort of.
More to come! Until then…
Good to hear that some components are still working after the that tragic hurricane.
Well, I’m a few components away from completion, and I thought I’d take this moment to address the current state of the MACry…
Once the 10.1” screen was initially fixated and tested on the dash, a good friend from BD Trims in BK redid the wood paneling in the car. The black wood blends much better with the car than the cherry wood that was there prior. Elsewhere, a major player that I think I don’t speak much about is the Clarion EQ746 equalizer. For less than $50, it provides a pretty good amount of control for my sub/bass, as well as allowing me to switch from my computer for music to my/my girlfriend’s cell phone via the AUX ports. When I reminisce on the days when I was stuffing the Mac Mini in the same spot the EQ is right now, I remain thankful those days are over.
Another item that may have gone unnoticed is the change in stick shift. The stock Camrys seem to have this rather tall shift knob that doesn't look, well, sporty. That was soon changed, when I acquired a Lexus sport-shift knob, in leather with blue threading. Before I applied it, I took to the sawing, and shaved 1/2 inch off the stick itself. The two remaining pieces were meletd, and the new knob screwed right back in. Looks awesome; stays low-profile. Like a good knob should.
The BlueAnt S4 was a more reluctant purchase, because I thought if I had searched for the right sized mic, I would be able to link everything to the CarPC. Unfortunately, software would still have to play a role in that, and this standalone bluetooth speaker was only $38 at the time of purchase. With my iPhone, I cannot tell the BlueAnt to call anyone though; I have to activate Siri, and tell Siri to call people. A slight issue, but not one with a loss of $38. And a nice thing about this gem is that it includes two (2) clips; so should my girl need to use it on her end, she takes the devices and magnetizes it to her visor.
@ SNOtwistR – The proposal is slated to be done at New Year’s Eve; when the ball drops at 12 midnight, she either says yes, or she’s bawling all over me . That being said, should plans with the CanAm meet go forward, we’ll do our engagement photos at Niagara Falls!!
It’s been a year since I had a steering wheel cover. So before the bells ring, I should get a good one that’ll last another five years…
Oh yes, the MACry is currently running the latest version of OS X, interestingly called Mavericks. Included with this OS is an app called Maps; and if I were to compare it to any maps/GPS based software out there, it would be most like Microsoft Street & Maps 2013 than Garmin Mobile PC. I’ll probably post some thoughts on it on the mac forums a little later.
Another shot of the car with the black wood paneling. Notice the new WeatherTech floor mats!! And yes, it is worth the investment. Also, you’ll notice that carpet is now black; this was necessary to return my car to some form of stock-like status. It also gives me more time between vacuums…
A better view of the WeatherMats, as well as the black wood paneling and new OEM carpeting.
I dunno why I took this particular photo. But I must admit, over 6 years of ownership under the belt, and the seats still look good!!
The driver’s door. Note the blue LED light at the bottom, as the fancy wood trim.
Star Trek: The Motion Picture. On iTunes.
I was messing with some special adhesive, and that is how the paint got messed up on the side of the display fascia. I’m wondering if I should leave as is, try repainting that area, or get some sticker to cover that area up.
And there she is, y’all (cue the Enterprise track from ST:TMP). This was prior to her being cleaned.
The screen at night.
Nothing wrong with a little MJ every now and then!
The MACry. Cleansed and waxed.
The next phase. The replacement rear-view camera.
The rear view with the old camera. Note: someone had more than one bite out the apple!
A better shot of the rear of the car. Waxed that baby myself!
Oh, before I forget… My MACry has reached the 80,000 mile mark. So after six years of avoiding it, I’m in the market for an OBD II scanner with USB input. Anyone with good suggestions, feel free to comment!!
Last edited by Project07MACry; 12-13-2013 at 02:32 PM. Reason: BlueAnt!