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Thread: Bugbyte's 2001 New Beetle -Mac Mini Install

  1. #1
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    Bugbyte's 2001 New Beetle -Mac Mini Install (56k unfriendly!)

    Thought I'd post a worklog about my second carputer install, a Mac Mini in my 2001 VW Beetle. The current install is an Epia M10000 and is detailed at the website in my sig.

    I haven't exactly begun the work of installing the Mini but I've begun the planning and if it turns out like I think, it's gonna take some effort. After taking a look at a number of possibilities like right over top of the existing PC...

    Pic1

    or along the sides of the TINY hatch area...
    Pic2

    or in the center console where the nearly useless cupholders are...
    Pic3

    I'm beginning to consider putting it where the head unit is. In checking this out, I noticed that the Mini is not as tall as my current Sony Xplode headunit. Here it is with the bottom lined up with the bottom of the HU opening...
    Pic4

    And it also isn't as wide as the headunit...
    Pic5

    There's enough depth, too. Here's the original console on the table saw during the first PC install. You're looking it it both upside down and backwards. I've outlined the "box" that the head unit slides into.
    Pic6

    In order to completely preserve the stock appearance, I think I'll leave the faceplate of the HU right where it is and extend it using wires to a location where the actual radio is hidden -probably inside the cavernous dash.

    The idea would be to allow the faceplate to flip down, exposing the DVD slot on the Mini. Also, the faceplate could detach, as it does today, and allow the Mini to slide in and out of a "dock" that I would build.

    Ambitious? Yes. Am I going to do it? Not certain. The easiest thing to do would be simply swap it out for the existing PC. But where's the fun in that? I've already got a working PC in the car. The challenge is to take it to the next level. You'll find out in future postings.

    I'm still not really ready to begin the installation, no matter where I decide to put it. First, I need to buy the P1900 power supply. I'll probably do that while mp3car.com has free shipping this weekend. Then I need to do more planning and that means I'll probably be driving around with a huge gaping hole in my dash for weeks at a time, without so much as a radio to listen to. I'm gonna have to work my way up to that one.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
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  2. #2
    Raw Wave tj!2k4's Avatar
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    I would say under the rear shelf where your existing PC is, or your ambitious in-dash install. Looking forward to seeing what you do with this. =)

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    I'm definitely looking forward to this install also, looks VERY ambitious

    Good luck.

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    Progress update - Still searching for install location

    Took the center console out today to check on a location a friend suggested.
    Under dash pic

    So I took the car apart to investigate. First, my VW manual show that it looks promising...
    Manual pic

    Here's the before:
    Before pic

    And here's the after:
    Taken apart pic

    Problem is that there's heater ductwork and a riser to carry heat from the dash down to the floor for driver and passengers in front and back.

    Also, the Mini isn't as Mini as it needs to be without some serious modding. Doesn't mean I won't do it, just that it's not as straightforward as it looked to begin with.
    A little tight pic

    Since I had the dash open already, I pulled the radio to see if my in dash idea holds any water. You'll note that the radio and the Mini are almost the same size.
    Side by side pic

    Especially when stacked on top of each other. It's actually not as wide as the radio but it will need space at the back for the VGA adaptor and cables and stuff.
    Stacked pic

    But it does fit in the dash REALLY nicely! I'm still kind of enamored with this idea but I'm certain the reality of how hard it is will turn up pretty soon.


    On the plus side, I've ordered the Carnetix P1900 to power the system so that should be here in the next couple of days! I've also loaded the Mini with my iTunes library and confirmed that the Beta CCarProject front end runs on it flawlessly. It's only a 256mb machine and that does show up from time to time but it ran full screen visualizations very smoothly and I'm generally pleased with it so far.

    I usually don't get a chance to work on the system during the week so it may be awhile before my next post. Thanks for looking!
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  5. #5
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    Entry #3. Diving into the Dash.

    As Kandyman's signature says, "If it ain't broke, don't f* with it." I got in the car today after quickly pulling the radio out yesterday (see previous post) and hadn't tested the radio. It wasn't working, so after a silent ride to work and back, I decided to throw caution to the wind and pull the dash out. What the hey.

    From my previous posts, you can see what the assembled dash looks like. Here's a photo with the center console cover taken off. This also shows where the back of the Mini will touch the rear of the radio "box".

    There's not enough depth for the plugs and stuff that I want to put back there, whether I make it "dockable" or not. BTW, who hasn't driven around with their dash looking like this for weeks at a time?
    hole in the dash

    Here's a closer picture of where I would have to install a dock for the Mini, if I install it here.
    center din
    If anybody has any suggestions on how to make a dock, particularly what material to construct it out of, I'd appreciate it. I'm thinking fiberglass poured over properly positioned plugs to "capture" the connectors. The challenge would be to 1) position them accurately; 2) to find a way to pour the fiberglass without it leaking all over or clogging the connectors somehow.

    Here's the center panel taken out, front view.
    center panel

    Here's the back:
    back of console

    Fortunately for me, my PC carputer still works, even with the mess I've got going, so I'm still cruncing mobile bits and not hating it too much.
    daily ride

    Thanks for looking and I'll post back as the project progresses.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

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    The Carnetix P1900 arrived today! I've got everything I need to make the install happen -except time!
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  7. #7
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    I'm going to make a go at putting a dock in the car where the head unit is. I'm still not certain if I'll put the faceplate of the radio over the front or perhaps a Vacuum Fluorescent Display that reads out info like what song is playing, etc.

    Doesn't matter right now, the docking mechanism and what goes in front of it are two different projects that can be tackled separately.

    Tonight, I put the Mini on the scanner and took a shot of it. I printed it out and whaddya know? The printout was 100% accurate to the actual back of the Mini. I measured everything and put it down on paper.


    I think, using epoxy putty (has anyone worked with this?), I can build a small 2 X 4 cm rectangular jig that I can cut holes in the side of and stick the cables through. I lay down a layer of putty, stick the cables through, mold putty around the cables, put a top layer on and put the Mini up against the cables to make final adjustments.

    At least that would be my plan so far. I still have to figure out how to undock it in the dash. Presumably, I can easily push it in and engage it. It would be removing it that is the problem. All suggestions welcome.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  8. #8
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    Planning the dock

    I've decided against using epoxy putty in favor of an idea a friend of mine gave me. He's the same guy that worked with me in fabbing the foldup screen mechanism.

    He's an industrial designer, so he makes stuff like this for a living and I sent him my ideas for a dock. He sent back a simpler idea.


    Just use a piece of plexiglass, cut the holes out and stick the connectors through. Plug them into the Mini, then carefully remove the whole thing from the Mini, turn it over and force epoxy into the seams. That should solidify it.

    Build a bit of a frame around it and you'll have the dock itself. Then I'll figure out how to mount it in the dash.

    I'll start gathering the materials today and see how much I can get done on it this weekend.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  9. #9
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    Wow that looks absolutly wonderfull!...and clever . Any new pics?

  10. #10
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    No pics yet. Will begin work on enclosure tomorrow.

    I can't freaking believe how much USB cables are going for at Microcenter! I never realized what the markup is on cables but it's no wonder some many companies make them. $14 for a USB cable?! I don't think so. I got the bare minimum I needed and came home to root through the parts bin and managed to come up with two USB cables.

    I also found a solution to help with the depth problem. As I noted above, the DVI-VGA adaptor sticks out a lot and I need as little depth as possible to put this thing in the dash. I picked up a VGA slimline cable. It will help, I think.

    VGA solution

    I'll start working on a template tomorrow and see if I can't come up with a back plate.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

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