2004 Mazda Tribute V6 Install - Centre Console & Dash
So it was about time that I started pasting up some of the details of the car PC build!
I wanted something that looked pretty stock, so no big out there mods, as well as something that could be turned back to normal if I went to sell the car. A few holes here and there inside the storage bin in the centre console, and noone would be the wiser if I sell this car :)
So, the parts list:
Intel D945GCLF2 Atom dual core motherboard
2GB Geil RAM
100GB 5400rpm 2.5" SATA notebook hard drive
Opus 120W power supply
Home made ATX connector cable (None available from mp3car store at the time)
Lilliput 629 7" touchscreen (Older CCFL model, picked up second hand here in Australia)
Generic USB GPS puck, NMEA signals
ELM327 1.2a OBD/CAN scanner
HQCT-i AM/FM radio module
Generic Bluetooth module
Logitec diNovo Mini keyboard/mouse combo
Centrafuse 3.0 + Navigation (Australia maps)
So, after having a poke around in the car, I had originally wanted to build everything into the dash, similar to how Blk02si has done in his setup. However, once I started pulling out the dash, there were just too many obstacles and other parts up inside the dash. What originally looked to be a huge space, was really just a big space with random difficultness in there that made fixing parts up inside just too hard. Couple that with the Western Australian heat (45 degree C summer days!), and realistically it was just too much to ask.
So where to fit the motherboard and other parts? hmmm....I poked around under the seats, and found issues with that, as there is too much rubbish and dirt gets pushed up under the front seats to make for a good location.
That only really left the centre console area, so I started pulling that apart.
What do you know? MASSIVE amount of space!
So, I decided to build everything down under there. There is enough of a gap to allow for clean air above the motherboard, so there shouldnt be heat buildup from the 25W that the motherboard outputs when being pushed to the limit. There is also a clear path for all my wiring up through the centre of the car up to behind the dash, so I can get the screen up into the dash where the radio used to be. I can also mount a USB hub, and the GPS and OBD units up inside the dash, so they will be up where they need to be.
So, I have my spaces figured out, now its time to build up the parts on the bench, and get that side of things working.
Built a tray to mount the motherboard and Opus 120W power supply, as well as the main hard drive for the unit. The L shape allows me to mount the motherboard behind the handbrake, and the power supply and hard drive up alongside the handbrake.
From this point, it was time to start working on the niggling little things. I needed somewhere to be able to mount a network plug, as well as a couple of USB ports to allow easy access to both the home network, and thumbdrives or USB cd drives (Will get a slotload USB dvd drive down the track). I didn't want to mess up the dash, as I wanted it to look OEM. So, I figured I would cut myself some holes in the inside front of the storage bin of the car. Cut two rectangles, and one square hole, mounted two USB ports in the rectangles, and one Cat5a network port in the square. Pics to come once I start doing the install in that part of the car, as its all back together at the moment!
I will also be mounting a couple of LED's for power and hard drive inside the storage bin, and also a set of switches up and inside there. Switches will be:
Master power (Cutting in or out the permanent 12V)
Ignition power (Between the ignition and the Opus 120W)
Antenna power (Between the ignition and the antenna trigger for the motorised antenna)
Reset switch for the motherboard
At least doing it that way, I get a cool lighting effect in the storage bin (The switches that are running off the ignition will all be lit switches that I bought from mp3car store!), but it also gives me both a bit more manual control over the computer, and also I can choose to override the system if for instance I dont want the computer on when the car is running.
For the screen, unfortunately I had some issues here. The guy who sold me the screen second hand also threw in a bybyte double din mount for it, but did mention that he thought it was the wrong one, as he had to mod it a bit to get it to work.
What he didnt mention, was that it was completely the wrong one, and no modding would make it work. Yeesh.
So, I emailed bybyte to see about getting a CCFL screen mount, as I could only see the LED ones. Reply back: Nope, dont make em anymore, just buy an LED mount. Sorry bybyte, you don't get a buck out of me for that kind of retarded answer. If you discontinue a part, then just say its discontinued. Don't tell me to just go buy a whole new screen because you can't be bothered holding stock of the older style mounts.
So i was pondering how to do this, when I had a look at the original chassis that the monitor comes in.....Hang on, that looks like its about the right width right? Just a little tall to fit? I don't need those buttons......
Out comes the hacksaw, and off with the buttons! Now, the chassis fits perfectly inside the Metra double din dash kit, and still gives me that OEMish look! Just need to sand down the Metra kit so it isn't quite so pronounced, give it a little filler between the metra kit and the LCD chassis, and a few coats of spraypaint! Happy as folks, happy as :peace:
From this point....its now software.
I went with Windows 7, and just couldnt quite get it tweaked as well as I could get an XP install. Things like startup and shutdown screens I just couldn't quite find a way to change as easily as I could in XP, so I ended up sticking with an n-lited Windows XP Pro install. And it runs like a champ! Even with the slowish hard drive, I still get up and into centrafuse within approx 40 seconds, which is about what I want from this unit. I will be only halfway down my road by the time the unit is up and going, and thats fine.
Centrafuse runs everything I need, and does it well. I looked at RR, but sorry, theres too many files to change, and tweaking to do, and....well....I do enough of that in my day job, and the last thing I want to do is have to do it on an effectively embedded install.
So, some pics!
First up, the power supply I use for my testbed, and old but solid, 13.8V 6amp regulated DC power supply.
A photo of the motherboard on its own, without the cables installed.
The motherboard and Opus 120W on their L shaped MDF motherboard tray.
Spaghetti junction!!!! The carPC as being worked on on the desk. HQCT-i in the front, cables from here to everywhere :)
Lilliput screen, sans buttons!
Back view, showing how close I had to cut it, but it comes up brilliantly! Still lets me use the little metal clips to hold the LCD panel into the dash piece, so I'm REALLY happy about this. Just need to pick up some good quality 3M double sided tape to hold the other circuit boards onto the back, and give it a coat of spraypaint, and its good :)
Front view, you can see some slight gaps round the side, because I havent glued the LCD chassis into the Metra kit as yet, or started any filling, that will be left for a quiet weekend.
And finally for now, a view of my diNovo Mini.....This thing is seriously perfect for a carPC! Well worth the investment I rekon. Sturdy enough to chuck into a glove box, but has everything I need in the one package!