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Friday, July 08, 2005

Construction HELP

Situation: I have extra money lying around. I have no concept of saving money. I'm a spontaneous shopper.

Outcome: Buy parts to build a carputer or carPC.

That's right...I decided to build a PC for my car. A full PC running Windows XP. Why would I do this? Because I love my truck, technology, and computers (also rates a 10 on the cool factor). With this PC I hope to listen to my entire collection of songs in ANY FORMAT THAT I WISH. Plus, I can watch movies and DVDs (while not driving of course). If I'm near a hot-spot I can use my wireless connection to surf the Internet and download stuff. Or I can incorporate GPS.

For the past week I've been researching this carPC concept and have found tons of info on it. www.mp3car.com is the best place I've found for parts and info. Today I finally ordered everything I needed. Here we go:

Motherboard: VIA EPIA M10000 Mini-ITX
CD/DVD: Panasonic Slot Load DVD-ROM/CD-RW Combo Drive
PSU: M1-ATX 90 Watt - Smart Automotive Power Supply
Display: Lilliput 8" VGA Touch Screen TFT LCD

All this for under $800. Not too bad and well within my spending limit. I didn't buy a hard drive because I have a 40GB drive sitting here at home doing nothing. I also have an unused full copy of WinXP pro sitting here.

I like the motherboard because of its size (17cm x 17cm) and integrated devices. It comes with a VIA C3 1Ghz CPU, integrated AGP graphics w/MPEG-2 acc (will have no trouble playing DVDs), onboard 6 channel audio, etc.

It will probably take me a month to put everything together, mount it in the car, and set it all up. Hopefully all goes well. I'll keep you informed with lots of pics and info.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

GTi - MacMini

Well, it kept me from posting regularly, took about two weeks to plan and occupied nearly every night for about three weeks, but the big project I’ve been promising to post on is done…finally. I actually finished it last week, but wanted to make sure I had covered all the bases and that everything was working properly before putting the car back together and photographing it (thanks to Ryan for the quick shoot).

When the dimensions for the MacMini were announced, I immediately got to work figuring out what the best way to integrate one into my own car would be. If I was going to put a Mac in my car, I wanted to make sure it had all of the functionality that it would have in a home environment while still maintaining an easy-to-operate interface so that distractions could be kept to a minimum. So the researching, planning, sketching and disassembly of my car’s interior (to see what would fit where) began. After taking the thought process to every extreme imaginable, I decided on the following equipment list:

- 1.42GHz MacMini with 512mb RAM, Superdrive, Bluetooth and Airport Extreme
- Xenarc 700tsv 7″ USB touchscreen monitor with VGA and dual composite video inputs
- Cirque EasyCat USB trackpad
- Griffin PowerMate assignable USB control knob
- Lacie 8 in 1 USB flash card reader
- Belkin USB 7-port powered hub
- Belkin USB four-port bus-powered hub
- Belkin Firewire 6-port mini hub
- Alpine PXA-H701 Multimedia processor with RUX-C701 controller
- MonsterCable MCPI300 300watt power inverter
- Female USB, Ethernet and Firewire ports
- 40gig iPod dock
- Griffin RadioShark USB FM/AM tuner

Over the next few days, I will be putting up a post on each general aspect of the install to more closely cover how I did what where and any problems I encountered, as well as the solutions I came up with for these problems as they arose. More detailed pictures of the process will accompany these posts as well, for those interested in the more technical aspects of the install - such as removing the power button and indicator from the MacMini and relocating them to the switch panel in the dash, extending the Apple power supply’s cable to locate the “brick” in the rear side panel of the car, fabricating the brushed aluminum trim bezels and rebuilding the glove box interior to accomodate the MacMini. So, enjoy and please check back over the next few days to check out these posts and two new iPod dock installs from last week…