DIN compatable PC project
Okay, my goal with the project is to build a fully functioned PC that can be easily installed in a DIN unit on at least two cars (one being my '96 325i and the other a gutted out '91 Prelude I keep to play around in). That means it's going to need to have enough horsepower to multitask while still fitting within a ~200mm x 177mm x 50mm (length x width x height) enclosure. Not an easy thing to accomplish, add to that this being my first car computer project and I think it's safe to say I have my work cut out for me. Still, I've done stranger things, like helped my friend convert his '97 Civic hatch into a Ford Racing V8 powered MR rocket, just about the only thing that was left of the Civic was the VIN plate :lol: . Besides, if it was easy it wouldn't be any fun.
Now, I'm incredibly meticulous in my planing so the first thing I do is figure out the process that I'm going to use to get from nothing to the finished project without wasting any money. So here is the way this project is going to flow...
1. Determine whether or not it's possible. That means researching whether or not anything like this has been done before. Well www.1din.net has kits for sale so it's pretty much a sure thing that it is possible, thing is the site's in Korean so I really can't get too much information from it, but I do know it's possible.
2. Visualization. I'm a very visual person, it's much easier for me to comprehend somethings size if I can actually see it. 200mm x 177mm x 50mm really doesn't help me. So after about half an hour with a pencil, ruler, a Pizza box, a razor blade and some masking tape I've got a box with roughly those dimensions. After studying it for a couple minutes the only thing I could think was "*****, this thing's tiny..."
3. Research. I started out looking for products at my typical sources, newegg, zipzoomfly, Fry's, the scrap rooms at work... nothin'. So off to google, after spending a good 15 - 20 hours browsing through the results I had enough information to know that I wanted to build the system around either a Pentium M or the new AMD Geode NX. After spending over 8 hours looking into those options I came to the conclusion that I was going to need some help.
4. Getting help. The fact that a Korean site actually sells kits for this means I'm not the first idiot who thought this would be a good idea, and it also means at least a couple of the people before me have actually succeeded. So now I need to try and find those people and pick their brains for any information I could use on my project, well that's how I ended up here.
5. More research. This is where things are at right now. Now that I've found a group of people who have experience with in car PCs I needed to find out what products worked and which ones should be avoided. And so far based on the information I've gotten here I've determined the Geode is just too new and too big a hastle to get ahold of, so that means Pentium M. When I'm done with this process I should have several viable hardware configurations.
6. Yet more research. Once I have a good idea of the specific items that will be going into the PC I'll start trying to find the dimensions and profile of each component. I've gotten a bit of a headstart on this step.
7. Foam Blocking. This is where things will move off of the monitor and actually start taking shape. You know those measurements I got in step 6, this is where those are going to be used, I'll be cutting and shaping cheap foam blocks so that they match the dimensions of the components. This way I can test fit everything and find a workable layout, if the components I've chosen wont fit, I'm not out anything and can go "back to the drawing board" rather than try to make what I have work.
8. Scrap mockup. Once the blocking is done i'll be taking bits and peices of scrap computers / electronics and modifying them so that they are roughly the size of the intended products. While by no means definative it should give me a pretty good idea on how much space I will have for wiring and the such. I should also be able to check and make sure I will have enough room for cables coming out the back.
9. Order the parts.
10. Fabrication. Once the parts come it I'll need to fabricate a case to hold them, I haven't really decided on what material I'm going to use or how I'm going to build it. I've got access to a full machine shop so I'm not too woried about it.
11. Assembly. Time to put all the parts into the freshly fabbed case.