rebelgtp HalfDork
9/17/08 8:41 p.m.

Hey guys I was wondering if anyone here has ever done an in dash computer? Basically the geek in my is trying to take over the ideas for my next project car.

I was thinking strip out the stereo and all, use a 7 inch or however big touch LCD mounted in the dash, run a linux OS on a solid state hard drive. I have seen some of the ultra compact custom systems that people have built that are about the size of a regular stereo deck, thing is those don't have anywhere near the power I want. I'd like to build something with the power equivalent of my desktop at home. Actually I would like to be able to run multiple wifi cards to trace multiple connections at one time, another reason the ultra compact systems won't work.

The main body of the system does not have to be in dash however wherever I put it I need to have enough air flow to keep the thing cool hmmm I suppose I could always do a water cooled system. What about adapting the power from the car to be usable by the computer power supply?

hmmmm I think I need some Jolt

EastCoastMojo Reader
9/17/08 8:45 p.m.

I think you're going to have to define "do"

Sorry, I was just having a flashback to a book I read, "Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S."

rebelgtp HalfDork
9/17/08 9:01 p.m.

lol ok has anyone here ever built an in dash computer system. better?

oh that is more than sticking your old apple newton to the dash using a weeks worth of chewing gum?

Tommy Suddard
Tommy Suddard
9/17/08 10:05 p.m.

Here's a link to a mac mini installation:

wlkelley3 Reader
9/17/08 10:09 p.m.

Am I the only one thinking operating a computer while driving might be worse than the cell phone talkers? Or just cruising for free internet via WiFi.

Maybe a keyboard in the center of the steering wheel and joystick on the top of the gearshift lever.

Tommy Suddard
Tommy Suddard
9/17/08 10:10 p.m.

Even better: bluetooth headset voice commands!

Osterkraut Reader
9/17/08 10:18 p.m.
wlkelley3 wrote: Am I the only one thinking operating a computer while driving might be worse than the cell phone talkers? Or just cruising for free internet via WiFi. Maybe a keyboard in the center of the steering wheel and joystick on the top of the gearshift lever.


I've been planning a carputer for years...

rebelgtp HalfDork
9/17/08 10:40 p.m.
Tommy Suddard wrote: Even better: bluetooth headset voice commands!

Exactly what I was thinking Might stash a mini keyboard in the glove box for when parked.

And no would not be using the computer while driving except for you know the things it replaces, stereo controls, gps etc. I would also integrate the voice commands so heck wouldn't even need to take my attention from the road. The wifi access would only be used by me while parked or by a passenger.

Oh and actually yeah the first thing I thought about when I saw the Mac mini was hmmm in a car it goes lol. However I would still need to swap out the drive for a solid state, hit a bump while the regular drive was reading or writing and bye bye drive.

GameboyRMH Dork
9/17/08 11:06 p.m.

I've also been planning a carputer for some seriously badass instrumentation and data logging...but haven't done it.

rebelgtp HalfDork
9/17/08 11:46 p.m.

found a site with some good info here is their basic run down of what is possible and whats needed

shoot you can even buy premade computer packages ranging from around $300 to a little over $1000.

jezeus Reader
9/17/08 11:54 p.m.

you probably want to get yourself a mini-itx or nano-itx sized motherboard. Then they make dc-dc power supplies that plug right up to them. Some of the mini-itx boards have a CF slot that you could boot linux off of, then use some type of removable media for song storage.

walterj HalfDork
9/18/08 7:23 a.m.

Not yet... but I looked at these gumstix and thought about a small, low powered device using linux and some graphing software to make an LCD dash with logging.

I built a GPS data logger using an AVR micro last year but it was kindof a bust except as a learning experience. The cost to make it by hand was only about $15 less than I bought a BT GPS logger for and I just used the AVR to process i/o to ascii and write it to the logger. This is a little like that - a used laptop can be had for $50 reducing your project to writing the code, interfacing the sensors and making a mount. I wouldn't use wifi either - makes the sensors expensive. I'd hardwire them to a microcontoller that processed commands with a serial port or USB. They do i/o with a few DACs and some digital i/o to control things really well for very little money.

bluej HalfDork
9/18/08 9:16 a.m.

there may be a panasonic cf-27 touchscreen coming to a challenge car near you

rebelgtp HalfDork
9/18/08 9:55 a.m.

hehe i use to have a cf-27, However I gave it away awhile ago.

hmmm I woke up this morning and had a bit of a creative spike in what I want to be able to do. And a name for the project . The car will have multiple wifi cards built into the system to be able to track multiple connections at one time.

Basically aside from the data logging, ecu control, gps, in car entertainment (radio, cd, mp3) and security. I'll also be incorporating the functions of the Janus project computer

John Brown
John Brown SuperDork
9/18/08 9:59 a.m.

I named my next project this morning as well


mad_machine SuperDork
9/18/08 12:51 p.m.

I am slowly working on one for my Saab. As it is destined to remain a much more luxerious and softer car than my Bimmer, I felt it should have a good Computer driven stereo and GPS unit.. the rest is just icing.

The saab is going to be my long distance car.. those two items are a must for traveling more than an hour

Dr. Hess
Dr. Hess SuperDork
9/18/08 1:20 p.m.

Have you guys considered a pentop? You can buy them cheap on eBay. I have two that I use for Megasquirt datalogging and fiddling. It is easier to use if you plug a keyboard in, but still useable without. Buy one with the OS already on it so you will have an easier time of getting it going. On the Sportster, I would put a pentop in a backpack, data cord running down to the saddle bag where the connector for the ECU was, then ride around data logging. Pentop in the saddlebag didn't work, too harsh an environment. In the Rolla and Truck, I just leave it on the seat and have a HF 12V->110V cigarette lighter inverter that I plug the power supply into.

Anyway, you could build the pentop into the dash and that would be cool. Try to get one with a screen that is visible in daylight, unless you're going to shroud it.

YaNi New Reader
9/18/08 8:19 p.m.

Check out its the best/only carputer forum on the interweb. The prices are pretty outrageous, but the forums are very informative.

You are limited to only a couple hundred watts if you go the route of available DC-DC ATX power supplies, so your not gonna have a screamer. I don't see the point of running anything more than an Intel Atom 1.6ghz or a Core 2 Duo. Both are available in a Mini-ITX (170mm x 170mm) form factor, and should run very quickly on a stripped down version of Windows XP. Linux is less than stellar in a carpc.

rebelgtp HalfDork
9/18/08 9:43 p.m.

Yep already been digging around on MP3car loads of good info on there. I actually found a mini atx with a AM2/AM2+ port, good for me considering AMD is my preferred proc.

oldopelguy HalfDork
9/18/08 10:54 p.m.

I actually have two car-puters I built, one a win-blows machine that was running in my MINI and another Linux machine I built for my Trooper. Both seemed kind of useless after I got an EEE PC

Our Preferred Partners