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Thread: 2001 Taurus - SoulCoughy's run of the mill carputer

  1. #1
    Newbie SoulCoughy's Avatar
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    2001 Taurus - SoulCoughy's run of the mill carputer

    So, I think my project is to the point where documenting some of my successes and failures will help me when I forget why I did things the way I did them. I figured I might as well do it here so others can benefit from what I've learned.

    Overall Goals:
    * Cost - It's a hobby, but there are other things I should be spending my money on. I want to keep things reasonable, but I know I will be dropping quite a few Benjamins on the project.
    * Appearance - I want ZERO appearance when the car is off. Where I live, if the carputer is visible at all, the carputer won't make it through the night. I also want an easy transition between parked and driving.
    * Desired features - MP3 playback is #1 priority. GPS is #2. Everything else is low priority and will come with time.
    * Safety - I do not want the system to obstruct my driving any more than a normal car radio would. This means controls that can be operated blindly and a visual interface that displays pertinent information clearly and efficiently.

    Car:
    '01 Ford Taurus (sedan, bench seats)
    JVC KD-G420 (sounds better than stock system, but cheaper than standalone amp)

    'Puter Hardware:
    M1-ATX PSU
    Ampie Case
    VIA M-1000 mainboard
    60G HD
    SUPER 7" touchscreen LCD
    Griffin powermate (soon to be replaced by a Shuttle Xpress)
    Microsoft GPS

    Software:
    Windows XP
    Guino's Roadrunner with Enforcer's iDrive skin (slightly modified)
    ###Ninja Monkey's MapMonkey -DROPPED
    CdRSkull's Freedrive
    Girder
    GammaControl


    Section 1: General comments on the setup (likes, dislikes)
    Car:
    I'm rather fond of the Taurus. It's an unsassuming car. The problem of theft is mitigated. The factory audio configuration is a bit of a pain in the ***. The front unit (a crazy huge monstrosity that has input for the audio system and climate controls combined into a giant panel) is merely for control. The actual tuner and amp are in the trunk. This means that to run an aftermarket head unit requires extending the speaker connections to the front of the car. Annoying, but surmountable.

    Computer Hardware:
    The ampie/M1/m1000/60G combo suits my needs wonderfully. It fits where I need it to fit and the external molex makes disconnection a breeze. The touchscreen was a decent deal (I got it about $50 cheaper than a lili from eBay), but the octopus connector is REALLY annoying. The connector extends past the edge of the housing and you end up with a bunch of dangling connectors that aren't in use.

    Software:
    I really hate windows. I run linux on all of my machines except for my laptop. Unfortunately, the frontend and GPS software for linux did not suit my needs, so I didn't have much choice. Roadrunner is incredibly flexible and has come a long way in the past couple of years. I love it. Mapmonkey is a little unstable for me, and crashes occasionally, but it gets me by. GPS is more of a show item.

    Section 2: Mounting/Hardware Placement/Cable runs

    Head Unit:
    The head unit is in the space under the arm rest between driver and passenger. Power was run from the dash around the passenger side, underneath the passenger seat, and up to the middle. Similarly, speaker connections had to be run from the trunk.

    Pros:
    Completely hidden. When the car is off, the system looks stock. Nothing to steal. HU is semi-accessible and can still be used when computer is disconnected.

    Cons:
    The HU is not accessible enough. The faceplate is not visible and the infrared remote must be used to operate the unit, which is tricky and requires a good aim and holding the controller backwards. As with any amplifier, the unit also generates quite a bit of heat, which could burn wandering fingers. If someone decides to spill his milkshake, the HU could be in danger. HU is not mounted at all. Fit is incredibly tight, and I haven't gotten around to drilling a couple mounting holes.

    Possible options:
    Relocation to under or in the dash - (theft issue)
    Relocation to under a seat - (passenger, is there room? computer is already there)
    Faceplate extension - (requires heavy modification, does not address theft problem)
    Remote control hacking - put custom buttons in dash wired into IR remote (probably will happen when I get around to it)

    Case:
    In the current configuration, I have the ampie simply resting on the floor underneath the passenger seat. This seems like an OK place for it. Two USB hubs are connected. One rests in the glovebox and the other between the driver and passenger seat. Both are easily accessible for future expansion.

    Pros:
    It's easily accessible, hidden from prying eyes, not as subject to the operating temperature extremes that the trunk would inflict. It is also near the underseat vent for temperature regulation

    Cons:
    I don't like it being so low to the ground, I have a concern that wet feet/spilled liquid on the floor of the car would do some damage. Also, being unsecured, it slides around a bit, but not much. Keeping the cables out of the slide track for the passenger seat has presented a challenge as well.

    Todo:
    Perhaps I will make some sort of risers to keep the box slightly off the ground and out of harm's way. Priority: Low

    LCD:
    This is the one part of my setup that I've really been struggling with. Right now it just rests by the cupholders. I tried fabricating a fold out system for it where the factory HU is, but ran into some problems and will have to start from scratch. I may try to get another dash panel from a junkyard, chop out the cigarette lighter, and use the space, along with the cubby hole next to it, to try to make a fold out system.

    Bottom line for the LCD:
    I NEED it to be hidden when stowed, but easily visible with deployed. This is by far the most challenging aspect of it all, as my dash presents no easy option without the loss of the climate controls or the creation of a slide/hinge system. I'm working on the latter.

    I will post pictures when there is something exciting to look at.

  2. #2
    Newbie
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Louisiana
    Posts
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    Audio questions:
    Hey man, I just got a 2001 Ford Taurus and I'm already frustrated. Can you tell me more about how you put your stereo in the between-seats storage? I imagine the head unit is vertical - do CDs get messed up? I'd love to see a picture of that part of the setup!

    And is the aftermarket enough of an improvement that you don't feel the need to get new speakers (I feel like I'm lacking on bass)?

    OS:
    I'm pretty excited about the Linux install. I feel like Mac/Windows is overboard.

    Music:
    Is your name a reference to the very awesome Doughty-led Soul Coughing?

  3. #3
    Newbie SoulCoughy's Avatar
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    Mar 2004
    Location
    Ohio
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    AlexJAnder,
    I realize I'm about 4 months late replying to you. I've since sold the Taurus and purchase a Camry with factory nav. If it's still relevant, here is what I can tell you.

    In my Taurus, between the seats and under the armrest was a plastic molded part that had slots for casettes and some change. I took that out. There was then just enough room to squeeze the HU in there. It was mounted horizontally with the disc eject facing forward. It actually wasn't very accessible, mostly because I didn't need it to be. I never listened to the radio and I didn't need to play CDs since I had my whole Mp3 collection on the computer. You could get a CD in and out if you really tried, but it wasn't easy. I also, for the most part, did a set it and forget it on the volume knob. Volume was controlled in software from the PC.

    The aftermarket unit was certainly better than the factory unit in terms of sound quality/power/bass, but still relatively low quality. While speakers are an important piece of the puzzle, I've always felt that the amp was more important. Either way, this was just a $150 head unit attached to factory speakers. The setup was good enough for me.

    Man, I hear you on the Linux thing, but for whatever reason, the community has embraced windows as a development platform, probably because of the mild learning curve Visual Basic has.

    Is your name a reference to the very awesome Doughty-led Soul Coughing?
    Yep.

    Hopefully this info is still useful to you. I see that you posted this in January. Maybe you saved your carputer work for springtime.

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