Now youre probably wondering why would I install a computer into the car? Well, the PC allows access to:
VIA SP-13000 Mini-ITX motherboard, 1.3Ghz VIA CPU
I decided one day that since I had an awesome car, why not have an awesome stereo to go with it! Then as I was thinking of all the stuff I wanted to install in the car, I realized that I was going to have to install a load of equipment. Instead of using a seperate CD deck, DVD Nav system, in-dash LCD display, etc. I could do all that and more cheaply by using a computer with a touchscreen interface.
Below is the gallery displaying the system in progress with a small summary of the image:
To make room for the large 8" LCD display, I had to relocate the AC control knobs. I spliced approximately 20" of wire into the stock wiring, and made all connections using solder and heat shrink tubing. The controls were moved to the glovebox.
The controls were mounted in this little wood bracket I fabricated from 3/4" MDF and 1/4" hardboard.
Here are the controls finished after I carpeted the bracket with some black carpet. See all the space I have remaining in the dash cavity now!
I screwed a sheet of black ABS plastic to the back of the cavity, and mounted the power supply to the top. The 3.5" 320Gb hard disk is mounted to the right side (since replaced with a 2.5" 100Gb) The round rubber piece was glued over the bottom metal mounting bracket of the ABS to prevent shorting on the bottom of the motherboard.
The Motherboard was mounted (minus the pink foam, it's ESD conductive foam- it can cause MB problems) Next, the screen gets mounted over it.
This is a pic of the stock radio trim bezel. I cut out the crossbar that seperates the AC controls from the radio, and filled in the gaps using plastic repair epoxy and a ABS plastic slurry made from ABS plastic grindings mixed into acetone solvent.
Next, I used some heat from a heat gun to fold some ABS pieces onto the top and sides of the stock piece to create a small hood to help protect the display from direct sun. The ABS was glued in place using the ABS slurry and epoxy.
The ABS bezel was sanded down into it's final form. It will be held into place using velcro.
The front face of the Lilliput 8" LCD was cut off, and molded into a piece of ABS plastic thet fits the dash opening. two USB and one Firewire ports were added beneath the screen as well (later removed) The LCD is being test fit here.
The LCD display controller was mounted onto the back of the LCD module using square wood dowels and Velcro. (I have since re-mounted it- screwing it into plastic stand-offs epoxied to the back of the module)
I painted both pieces using a black textured paint (Home Depot) and assembled them together in the dash. (also added new billet aluminum shift knob)
The touchscreen menu interface is skinnable.
UPDATE 12 JUL 2009
I have completely redone the entire system as of July 2009, and added a few new features:
-Bluetooth Phone link
Whenever I'm in the car with my phone, the PC will transfer calls from the phone to the speakers in the stereo system. I have a USB directional microphone installed in the car. The music mutes and the call comes in if I tap the green phone icon on the display.
Since I have an unlimited data plan on my phone, I was able to get a cloned SIM card made from my cell provider. This SIM card goes in a USB device that is intended to give you internet access to your laptop. I am just having it plugged into my USB hub, and voila! now I have net access, weather updates, and (soon) Google Earth images superimposed over my GPS Navigation maps.
Steering Wheel Controls
Finally got the steering wheell controls to work, so I ditched the Griffin Powermate I had in the center console. I used a Pacific Audio Corp. SWI-X steering wheel interface, a USB infrared receiver & a little program called Girder to make it all work.
The old Mini-ITX motherboard with VIA CPU wasn't cutting it. I would have music stutter sometimes when using the GPS, and the CPU would be running 70%-90% most of the time. So I went with a Micro-ATX Asus board which is home to a Intel E1400 Celeron Core 2 Duo. Now, my CPU usage rarely goes above 20% even with lots of switching between programs & music.
New LCD bezel
I built a new bezel to give the dash more of a custom look. Also the old bezel/sunshade part kept popping off no matter what I did. The new design looks better, and gives the LCD more shade.
New Front End
I switched front ends to Centrafuse since it is much more smooth and automated than Road Runner ever was. Besides, updates and bugfixes come out much more frequently. Centrafuse 3.0 will be coming out shortly, which I intend to buy: