Hello everyone. Logging in again for the first time in over a year. After my carPC died (Mobo and proc in one swipe) I called it quits. 2 weeks later, I went to college and didn't drive. Now I'm on an internship, and commuting (instead of dorming) to college. I have a 2006 Ninja 250 motorcycle, but I also enjoy the minivan. The warm interior, the ability to eat, and of course no saddle sores. I've decided to take my old laptop, (which works OK, bad power connector) and integrate it into my minivan. My only constraint is I need to be able to remove the laptop easily (for schoolwork). I know, this seems a bit weird, because my laptop DOESN'T HAVE A DOCKING STATION! But I think I may be able to custom manage a solution.

Howdy. Me again, about to start working on Carputer 3.0. My typings worse, my coding's better, and the budget's gone up! This time, I'll be working off what was once my brand-new-laptop.

My Dell Inspirot 1150 has gone well out of warranty, and out of a fully mobile environment. It's kind of slow, and the power adapter/usb connectors are loose. So bad so, that only 1 USB port is usable, and the charging becomes quite a chore, and unreliable. However, I would like to use my laptop outside of the minivan. So here's my objectives/constraints.

  1. Complete Carputer.
    None of my "3-button" carputer. I want a legitimate screen and input device.
  2. Must be able to remove Laptop in moments, for use in classroom
    It's a broken-down laptop, but still my classroom amusement. Therefore whatever I do needs to be able to detach easily, from the drivers seat.
  3. Must be expandable
    I'm always looking for fun new hardware. I want to be able to do all sorts of projects from this
  4. Must be reliable
    The USB and power connections are shaky, so they need to be repaired
  5. Must be stealthy
    I park in West Philadelphia constantly. I don't want to advertise my valuable electronics.
  6. iPod integration



Now with that said, here's what I plan:

The vehicle ('95 Dodge Caravan) has a "coin tray" on the middle of the dash at the very top. I plan to remove this, install a screen to the bottom, and have it automagically rise up, to show the screen, but collapse down to hide it.

For the main circuitry, I plan on purchasing a "Car Organizer Unit". You know those plastic things that sit between the seats? Within there, I will install most, if not all of the required electronics, except for a few that have to be located elsewhere (microphone, GPS, wireless, etc)

Finally, for my most "complex" part. The laptop itself. I would love to be able to simply repair the power-port and be done with it, but I feel that is unlikely. What I can do, and have been doing is zip-tying the cord to the fan, to pull the plug tight in one direction, which seems to help. Problem is, it becomes quite a hassle to move the laptop with a 6-foot tail. Another aspect is the 1150's lack of a docking-station, making any docking attempt home-brew. I was planning on making a U- shaped system, as wide as the laptop, that the closed machine slides into, with corresponding plugs at the base. Only problem is the power-connection, and power-button (I'm going to investigate modifying the power-button to an external plug). A possible solution: Purchasing a small, metal/rigid case, to build the laptop into, including power-cord, and possible wireless mouse/etc. The case itself would have docking ports on it.

Thoughts?