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Thread: 1999 Plymouth Voyager (computer in console between seats)

  1. #1
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    Talking 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.
    c) DVD's
    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.

  2. #2
    Top Ramen lgbr's Avatar
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    This project should turn out to be awesome. You are incredibly brave for doing this in a minivan.
    Audio Rockford Fosgate: 900 Watt 4-channel amp, 501bd Mono amp
    Computer AMD 2400+ XP, 1 GB DDR RAM, Orbit Micro 250W DC-DC PSU

    Head units are for cheaters!
    sure some girls fake orgasms.....but it's guys like me who fake the whole relationship

  3. #3
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    Where the overhead console is going to go (it will replace the two dome lights):


    The overhead console (unmodified), and 4x20 character lcd screen.


    I've taken out the existing vfd (which is a real shame) because my vehicle isn't wired to give me temperature or compass. A guy at a junkyard said he'd let me take the wiring out of a junkyard Caravan for $200, but since I'd have to do it myself and install it myself, and since it runs all the way to the front of the radiator, I said screw it. I also have a blank plate which I will put there whenever I sell the car. I plan to cut the existing plate with the holes in it and fiberglass it so the lcd will fit nicely.

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    To anyone thinking about buying a console to put their computer in, check my response in this thread about considerations to keep in mind: http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...441#post422441

  5. #5
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    Added a nice quick little mod today...a few days ago I found the pinouts for my cheap Barracuda alarm and hooked up the power locks to the alarm..so it disarms and arms with the alarm (I had it installed a few years ago, but they wanted $50 to do it...I spent maybe 6 or 7 dollars in parts to hook it up myself).

    The cool thing is now I know that I have two auxillary wires. I hooked one up to a relay and the relay up in parallel to my computer switch...so now I can turn on my computer by pressing my disarm button for 3 seconds.
    1999 Plymouth Voyager (That's right, big-pimpin' in a minivan.)
    PC built into console
    worklog with pics: http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/worklogs/46359-1999-plymouth-voyager-computer-in-console-between-seats.html

    Some of my music: http://www.myspace.com/markquestion

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by lgbr
    This project should turn out to be awesome. You are incredibly brave for doing this in a minivan.
    What's wrong with mini-vans? I had one, and was satisfied with it. except the power issues, but those might have been bad groundong. so don't you dare bash mini-vans! understod?

    Props to you man, it's a nice looking install! Good luck with it. post some pics of the van too!

  7. #7
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    Woohoo, I disabled the floppy drive in the BIOS (since I don't have one connected), manually selected my hard drive in the BIOS, and disabled a temperature display screen that shows for about 5 seconds after the BIOS loads, and I cut my bootup time (from Hibernation) from 38 seconds to 14 seconds! Yay. It hibernates in 10 seconds.
    1999 Plymouth Voyager (That's right, big-pimpin' in a minivan.)
    PC built into console
    worklog with pics: http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=46359

    Some of my music: http://www.myspace.com/markquestion

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    Woohoo. Progress.



    (Btw, I'm running WinXP, but I tested this on a Win98 machine)

    So, a while ago I bought a M1023 (revision F) lcd controller from allenruble.
    I also bought a LQ104V1DG11 screen. I bought the inverter from Miles Industrial (for quite a bit of green). I was in the process of making a mount for it, when it broke. I put it all on the shelf where it has sat for a while.

    While cleaning, I found a couple of LQ084V1DG21 screens (which are admittedly 50 nits dimmer than the lq104, but at 300 nits, I can deal) that I had bought for a good price off ebay a while ago, but had shelved due to lack of inverters. I finally got one for one of them (still working on getting the other one) and resoldered the cable for the controller (since it was a little worn and a few lines had been broken, I just decided to redo the thing).

    This means I don't have to wait a year to be able to afford a Xenarc, and I don't have to be able to afford a Xenarc. Yay! I'll be working on fiberglassing
    it into the bezel where my cd player is now.
    1999 Plymouth Voyager (That's right, big-pimpin' in a minivan.)
    PC built into console
    worklog with pics: http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=46359

    Some of my music: http://www.myspace.com/markquestion

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    Thought I would crosslink this post: PDA for remote
    This discusses my uses for the palm for control of the pc.
    1999 Plymouth Voyager (That's right, big-pimpin' in a minivan.)
    PC built into console
    worklog with pics: http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=46359

    Some of my music: http://www.myspace.com/markquestion

  10. #10
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    So I've been working on preparing the overhead console for installation, and I discovered I can use the built-in trip computer after all.

    I was originally going to have the 4x20 character lcd where the trip computer display was, since I didn't know the pinouts for the trip comp, and I thought my car wasn't equipped to give the trip comp the input it needed...and I thought, "Why don't I just look at the wiring schematic in the back of my Haynes manual for my car?" ...sure enough, my car IS equipped for the trip comp, with minimal wiring. The wires for my trip computer are CCD+, CCD- (which are the mpg input, distance to empty, odometer, etc.), Ignition (+12V), Ground, and two wires for the temperature sensor. This is one thing my car computer does not have. I took one from an old Socket 7 motherboard (from under where the processor goes), and it works well. I haven't decided whether I will monitor the inside temperature or the outside temperature (or, I could just place it on the cpu hotsink...hmmm..)

    The compass didn't seem to work, but apparently it needs to be recalibrated, which, according to a few websites I searched last night, is done by driving in a circle 3 times (no, really). No mention of whether or not I need to jump on one foot while touching my nose.

    I now face two obstacles that I am trying to figure out.

    The first one is removing the front headliner so I can drill holes in the roof for the back of the console. The front seatbelt pillars are blocking it so I can't just bend it down far enough. I have no idea how to remove the seatbelts (which I'm guessing would be a bad thing, since who knows if they would be reattached strongly enough when I put them back on). They have these bolts with six sides. And they're big. I'd rather not remove them, but I don't know what else I could do.

    The second is figuring out how thick my ceiling is. I assume there is a little bit of space between the inside ceiling and the outside roof, and that they are not just one piece. I would really like to know this for sure before I risk putting a hole in my van's roof.

    I guess I could call a dealership and ask them, but considering they told me installing the trip computer would be "impossible, if not very expensive"...which it is NOT...sheesh, hook up a few wires and it works (I already tested it out)...stupid can't-think-out-of-the-box dealership...

    So...ideas?
    1999 Plymouth Voyager (That's right, big-pimpin' in a minivan.)
    PC built into console
    worklog with pics: http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=46359

    Some of my music: http://www.myspace.com/markquestion

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