1999 Plymouth Voyager (computer in console between seats)
Well after 4 years, I finally have something to show. My decision to build a car computer came about from a joke someone made, and the fact that at the time my band was touring a lot and I thought it would be great for that purpose. I had originally tried to do everything at once, which led to bad grades, an angry girlfriend, missed work hours, and no actual project. It also led to my 10.4" lcd frying from static from being shifted around, and a box of obsolete parts.
A few months ago I started getting back into it, and changed my workplan. I decided to do it in steps. The first step is just a basic computer that plays music.
Over the Spring Break, having given up video games for lent, and planning to go to Houston for the last half of the week, I decided to put together the first stage of my car computer, yoda.one.
Here are the specs:
1.3 ghz Duron processor
512 mb pc2100 memory
200 gb 7200 rpm hd
Biostar M7VIZ motherboard
200 watt DC-DC PSU
120mm fan blowing directly onto processor fan
Zalman ZM-2HC2 Heatpipe HDD Cooler
Temporarily, for the display I'm using a Palm m130 (which I use as my organizer normally, so it works out nicely.) I use PalmAmp which will display the song playing, allow me to skip anywhere in the track, allow me to select songs from my playlist, and even change the equalizer and id3 tag. I am also using LCD smartie with Speedfan to display my hard drive's temperature and my processor's temperature. I will also be using PalmVNC later on.
I decided the best place for the carputer was in a console between the seats. I'm sorry I don't have pictures of it mid-build, but I was rushing to get it done by my self-imposed deadline, and I didn't have my gf's camera. I need to staple the skin of the console down (since I removed all the staples to work on it), and glue the cupholders on the back down with some sort of protection underneath (such as a plastic bag) to protect the hard drive and other components in case of a spill).
My goal for this install is stealth, along with being able to make the car look somewhat stock again, in case I need to sell it down the line.
Sorry my van's a mess, here are some pics.
Here's a picture of the console in all it's stealthness:
This is with the console open. I have a keyboard with backlit characters and a mousepad built in in case I need to change anything (control winamp, open/close winamp, open/close lcd smartie, work on the carputer when I have a monitor plugged in). (The built-in mouse thing is kinda a pain to use.)
And here's the beast's innards. I've cleaned up the cables a little since this pictures, but not by much. I plan to do that later, when I get some spare time (probably with some looming). I've moved aside the keyboard and cupholder to show you the hard drive (under where the cupholder was), the mobo, and the psu.
Here's a nice shot of the keyboard when it's getting dark:
What's a car computer without a little rice? I FINALLY get to use that green neon light I bought 2 or 3 years ago. (By the way, my girlfriend says, and I quote, "That's sexy.")
I'm making a rudimentary shutdown controller, which I plan to finish in a couple of weeks, so for right now the power wires are a little ugly.
Here is the cupholder, which has a green led in the back to display the power status of the computer, as well as a tiny switch on the raised part of the cupholder to turn it off and on (the carputer must be switched on and off manually for right now, but as I said, that's temporary).
This is my Aiwa cd player, with Aux input in the front (I wish I would have bought one with it in the back, but oh well. At least this way I can listen to cassette tapes, I guess?) I plan to change out the cable with a black, right angled one that will hide behind that front plate, but that will require a little time to do (I hate running wires under carpets...don't you?) Yes, I know my head unit is crooked. I've tried to fix it, but apparently no one makes a good stereo install kit for Plymouth Voyagers..(Why they gotta be minivan-hatin, yo?) You can see PalmAmp running. The palm velcros onto there, and I have a tiny steering wheel remote to change volume on the head unit. The white cable leads from the Aux input...
...down to the bottom front of the car computer. I have a stereo extension cable hot glued there. Sorry about the picture, I couldn't get farther away.
I'm pretty happy with the install. It sounds great (onboard sound) (8384 songs, and that's not including stuff I need to upload from my newer CDs and laptop...woohoo!), and it ran great from here to Houston (I think it started to overheat as we pulled up to the house, but hey...3 or 4 hours straight ain't bad). It did not overheat on the way back.
Things I plan to change/add:
The next phase is to add an overhead console (which I bought off ebay) that comes in Voyagers, Caravans, and Town&Countrys with that option. I plan to put a 20x4 character lcd (which I already have wired and ready to go) to permanently display the current song playing and temperatures. This will be handy when I have a screen doing other things, such as GPS, movies, etc.
I definitely plan to get a screen, once I save up the money. I will probably get a fold-out Xenarc, and move my head unit and A/C controls (which will be a daunting task in the Voyager...Chrysler just doesn't want you to add things..) so I can use:
a) I already have a gps unit, and gps software installed.
b) OBDII...I believe this is what the Voyager uses, but I will check further once I get to the screen stage.
d) other stuff that will come to me later
I will probably add an 80mm fan to expel hot air which seems to build up in the console. I believe this will solve the overheating problem which seemed to pop up after the ride to Houston.
I already have an Orinoco Gold 802.11b card and usb adapter for it, which I may use to transfer files and wardrive with, but we'll see if a better one hasn't come my way by the time I get a screen.
I will probably put my PS2 in the car for long trips for the passenger(s) (especially since by the time I get a screen the PS3 will be out). If not, perhaps my Super Nintendo collecting dust.
I will probably get a Bluetooth enabled phone in the foreseeable future and use it to connect my computer to the internet, and use PhoCo with it.
Woo. That was a long post.