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Thread: 2000 BMW 328Ci (e46) - laptop install

  1. #1
    Variable Bitrate Hark's Avatar
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    2000 BMW 328Ci (e46) - laptop install

    Here's the plan: use a Thinkpad T30 w/docking station, Jeff Mucha's shutdown controller, DC-DC power adapter (not sure which one yet), and put a Xenarc 700TSV in the dash, taking out the existing factory nav system (what a piece of junk). I'll probably buy one of the E46 screen bezels that people here have offered to make/sell rather than fabing my own. I have the IBus module to send/receive the steering wheel messages, but haven't read enough yet to fully know how to use it.

    I'm looking for some good advice on where to mount the laptop/docking station, since I'd like to be able to pull it out and use it outside the car as well. I'm thinking where the cd changer cage is on the left side of the trunk - maybe I'll yank all that stuff out. I also have to see if it's possible to use the factory FM antenna in the car. My requirement for all of this is that I have to be able to put everything that was stock back in (and it has to work), so I can still sell it as "unmodified" when the time comes.

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    Variable Bitrate Hark's Avatar
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    I took all of the components out of the trunk:

    Before the removal - laptop shown for sizing:


    Check this out - it looks like a vent - might be good for venting the hot air from the laptop:


    Everything's out:

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    Constant Bitrate Willy-Mach1's Avatar
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    I'm almost sure that I saw somewhere in the forum that somebody did an install similar to the one you are thinking of, but with an ITX case where the CD changer is. I'll post the link here if I come across it again, probably was in the SHOWOFF YOUR PROJECT section.
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    Variable Bitrate Hark's Avatar
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    Well, one thing I've found - with the radio module (box in the trunk) disconnected, the clock in the OBC no longer displays the time - just "--:--". I guess if I wanted to keep the clock, I'd have to reconnect it. I wonder if it'll still display the time if I keep the radio box in the trunk connected, but disconnect the nav headunit (as I plan on doing)? I'm doubtful, since for nav-equipped cars you set the time through the nav screens rather than the push button near the gauges.

    Since everyone complains about radio reception using computer gear, I wonder if it's possible to control the radio via IBus commands and keep it hooked up? I really hate the yahoo hacktheibus forum, it's an awful format to read through and is very poorly organized.

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    Variable Bitrate Hark's Avatar
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    Wiring diagram

    Here's my wiring diagram for "phase 1" - this will entail power to the laptop/docking station and audio via the factory amp/speakers.



    The Thinkpad T30's AC adapter has "16V" and "4.5 Amps" on it. The iGo DC adapter that I picked up from RadioShack says it supports the T30, but it's only rated for 70W. Can anyone confirm that this will be enough juice for the Thinkpad, or do I need a stronger DC adapter?

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    Variable Bitrate Hark's Avatar
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    I'm thinking the laptop's got to go in something like this:


    I'd like to make some sort of angled board (or flat metal plate) that will have the docking station bolted on to it, and have it so that I can wedge the front of the laptop against the floor of the trunk (as shown above) and snap the back of the laptop into the docking station. I think the factory HK amp will go underneath this board, and just stand upright as it was before I yanked it out.

    I'll probably have to make something to cover it (the existing fiberglass/carpeted cover doesn't extend far enough). I have no idea how to make something like that - will research further.

    If anyone as any thoughts or ideas about any of this, I'd love to hear it.

  7. #7
    Maximum Bitrate gork's Avatar
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    As you probably know, I mounted my ITX case on a shelf below the thin HK subwoofer "box".. It gives lots of horizontal space and doesn't take up that much vertical space. The best part is that the rear ports are accessible by folding the back seats down, so it's easy to work on. The factory subs aren't large or powerful enough to interfere with the computer in any way. Also, due to the thinness of using a laptop, you might also consider a false-floor install. There should be room to bring the trunk floor up about 1 1/2 inches (im assuming your laptop is no thicker than this) while leaving room for side ventilation. You could even put some small blower fans in for it and could keep your spare tire w/ no problems. A false floor install would also have the advantage that you could pull up the carpet/floorboard and flip the laptop open for servicing.. ie it would not be all crammed in the side of the trunk.

    Your plan looks good, though, as far as how you plan on wiring everything up. The only thing I would suggest is to try and find a way to switch your monitor off using, for instance the shutdown controller.. Even if you only drive a small relay with the shutdown controller you are going to be much better off. There was some discussion that even though the Xenarc screen is capable of powering up/down when it detects a video signal, that if the power switch is "on" and the computer is off -- even though the backlight is off and the monitor looks off, it still consumes a lot of current. You ideally want to have the screen's power totally disconnected when your computer is off. Find a way to do that and you will be in good shape.
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    Variable Bitrate Hark's Avatar
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    Thanks for your input - I'll have to do some more thinking about the rack/false floor. For the screen power, I had planned on connecting it to a switched fuse (should turn completely off when the car is off) in the glove compartment - do you think that will be ok? How about the 70W power supply - will that be enough (T30 adapter wants 16V and 4.5A)?

  9. #9
    Newbie rdcravens's Avatar
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    16V * 4.5A = 72W

    However... I would venture to say that you would be OK unless you are planning on using a lof of non-self powered USB equipment. I used the 70W version for a while with the same laptop and never had a problem - of course I only use mine for business use and not running any outside equipment. I would take the step up to the larger iGo adapter if this is the route you want to go. I have the upgraded iGo now (more versitile for some of the other items I use it for) and have never run into an issue. Of course you could always save a few bucks and get the OEM power cable and not worry about it at all.
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    Constant Bitrate ccblanket's Avatar
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    RD, where do you get that upgraded iGo adapter? I was using a dell laptop with a power inverter before but I will switch to a thinkpad w/ docking station if I can get a dc adapter like you and Hark are mentioning.

    I found a dc adapter claiming to fit thinkpads, on yahoo.

    http://store.yahoo.com/priorityelect...hin600an1.html

    is it possible to get such an adapter directly w/ IBM brand on it?

    rgds
    --hikmet

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