Picture of Adding a computer to your car (CarPuter)

a iPhone / Facetime Doorbell security system!

[Featured in the February 7th Newsletter!]

I did this project several years ago, and posted it on MP3Car.com
I have learned alot about carputing and this instructable will be about both the install
and how its been using the carputer these last few years.

This is my 2007 Honda Element, before I attacked it with Soldering iron,
wire cutters, dremel tool and other weapons of mass media

Step 1: PowerPorts

Picture of PowerPorts
One of the most needed item in any road warrior's arsenal,  is powerports (or if your over 40 they where called "cigarette lighters") so I added two additional ones - one in the dashboard, and one in the center panel. this was actually a easy mod, with me just stealing power from a "only power when ignition is on" line from the car.
Foaly75 years ago
You don't have to make it Mac, do you? I just don't like Mac, so I wanted to know.
lonwel Foaly75 years ago
u crazzy? mac all the way man, sorry i  had like half a dozen pc's go bad in 5 monts so i swear my mac now, they just work, but that's just me, if u like peeling your computer appart every fiftteen minutes to see why it's crashed by all means, i have to ask why you like pc's so much i'm just curious
Foaly7 lonwel5 years ago
I dont know how crazy i am, but you are insane. Macs suck, and I don't care who knows that I think that. Nobody can understand them execpt for superhuman freakish people descended from the first person to ever conceptualize the  Apple/Macintosh company. The software is poorly designed as far as GUI and the user format, and the hardware makes no sense at all. I wonder why the great Microsoft company ever rewrote the Microsoft Office software or Internet Explorer to be Mac-compatible.
Don't dig up the grave of the OS turf war. I use a mac pro for graphic design and video editing; trust me, it does not suck with 8 gigs of RAM. Now hear me out. I also use a PC at school for day to day work. My CNC router is a PC as well. I have realized that Macs don't crash as often as Windows systems. Just calm down please.
Run Linux.
buddy4341 pfred23 months ago
I have a degree in computers and linux has way to much command line junk for the average person. I even have trouble getting linux to do what i want it to do sometimes and i have a degree in computers and have worked on computers for 20 plus yrs now. Yes linux is more stable. But if u have to spend 4 hrs looming up stuff just to get it to do what u want its not worth it. Thats why linux never got big.
mrjkuhl buddy43413 months ago

1) Distroes made for "average persons" come with everything set up out of the box, no need to use the terminal.

2) Your having trouble getting Linux "to do what I want it to do" sounds like unfamiliarity with the userland. Hint: in your command line, enter "man man."

3) Linux is actually very big. It currently controls every computer environment outside of the personal computer and game console systems, and every day Linux's prospects in those areas improves.

It's not a dead issue, the OS turf war, but I was also angry for having my sanity questioned, I just really like PCs, and now, awhile later, I can stand Macs, but for this particular project I just don't know why it can't be Linux.
Linux all the way!!! more stable then mac and no virus infections. plus absolutely free!!
What distro do you use?
Two different systems and require different logic. I use both and they both have pros and cons but for each system you have to forget what you know on either. It's like comparing a drag racer to a speed boat - they are fantastic but require different skills.
zack247 lonwel4 years ago
i custom built my PC and its NEVER crashed.

'Nuff said.
buddy4341 zack2473 months ago
I have a pc i build 8 yrs ago and its never crashed once and i dont even use anti virus. But again im a computer tech and know how not to get a virus or overload the memory which is what causes 90 percent of computer crashes.
pfred2 zack2473 years ago
I had a PC burn up on me after 10 years of continuous operation. It had a dodgy power supply. For what a Mac costs I can buy 10 PCs though.
macgeek (author)  Foaly75 years ago
now people, lets not get into a pissing contest on mac / PC here.
there is a BE NICE rule in effect, Don't make me have to start deleting comments


Lol... Hey all...

If you BUY an operating system then you are buying into the system that made it....If you get a PC with Windows then your work is owned by Mic if you buy a Macintosh then your work is owned by Mac. If you can't read and change the code you don't own it- you are owned by it.

( Ex:Just try to root your phone)

Linux is made by.. us. You and me... and the code is included.

And.... lol, I'm working on this with an Arduino setup....

frozenstone3 months ago

There are no instructions in this instructable. I find that humorous and cute.

Brendan8026 months ago

How is this an instructable? There's nothing showing us how to do this... it's just some guy showing off. Please remove this.

macgeek (author)  Brendan8026 months ago
Brendan, Of course it's an instructable, I show details of how to build a computer into a car.. Show me YOUR instructable, and out do me, THEN I will remove it.

JimM18 macgeek3 months ago

HHMMM, I see Brendans point. This post is informing us what you did, not how you did it. Check out all the other instructables on this site. They give details as to how it is done, instructing us on the procedures to acomplish such a task. Saying I took it to a professional to get it done is no use to us...

jesterod.11 months ago

i have a question about the popup screen i have been wanting to put a computer in my car and i cant find a pop-up touchscreen than can be used on a computer the only one i found was the thermaltake one and it has been discontinued

ant_274851 year ago

how did you do the glowing power button?

You2132 years ago
I don't think the front camera and crash idea would work very well because #1 The computer hard drive would be toast unless you had a solid state hard drive and #2 The camera would have to be recording 24/7 because it would be to late for it to start recording during the accident. I would say just don't crash at all(:
Honda Element, ofcourse! Thanks!
HI! Amazing project. keep it up.
eBookLover3 years ago
Greate Work.

How hard is it to remove the covering and bring it back? I think this will never look greate when i remove it in my car.
Holy crap!!!!! That's the EXACT car I'm getting and I'm a mac geek too!!!! Awesome!
vov354 years ago
I'm not sure how you got GPS to work on this?
So far, so good. I've had a 'puter in my ride for going on 13 years now, started way back in the day with a "repurposed" computer & monitor from home (set I'd just upgraded from). Talk about "kludge", this was before LCD's so a big honkin CRT monitor and a huge tower computer...and Bungee Cords EVERYWHERE!

Current setup: 2010 Ford E350 Passenger van:
The current iteration is 1 19" widescreen up front between the driver & passenger seat, directly below that are keyboard & mouse. Mounted to the driver door, placed so the hand falls naturally on it when resting on the door, is a "game pad" (think lots of buttons) with all the most used functions mapped to macros.
In the back are 2 more 19" monitors up high to show the same content as the front monitor, and a 17" touchscreen for the passengers to interact with the system (made, with the assistance of a friend, a touch-friendly interface).
The 'puter sits behind the driver's seat, "strapped" in place with a carrying strap that came with a LanBoy case from Antec years ago. Easy to remove for upgrades, I just "click" it back in place & plug everything back in.
Dude you read that clockwise, not counter-clockwise
bendaniel5 years ago
Very cool but think you missed one major element of instructable projects - the instructions!
 I agree. . . this was a "showable"..
I second the motion.  Or third, as the case may be. 
macgeek (author)  hobomobo5 years ago
any more, and i'm going to get motion sickness.

Foaly75 years ago
How would you make this touchscreen? I think that a touchscreen is all that this needs.
simple. you can buy touch-sensetive flatscreens for PCs. its just a VGA port and a USB port. They come with software. But if you are running a Mac you may want to be sure theyre compatible.
and the reason for not showing us where you put the CPU in the car is. . . ? Dude, there are a lot of places to put it, but its a good idea if you'd tell everyone where exactly you put the computer itself.
Mikey85675 years ago
Ok for those that are concidering putting a computer in the car or want a WiFi hot spot in the car (say you have a bussiness carpool pdas, laptops, email ect, or your a family that has kids with game machines) take a look at this!


No I don't work for them, I am doing a full fledged carputer install, custom dash board, custom couputer, touchscreens in dash 5.1 surround sound the works and wanted to find a perm mount wifi solution with out using those crappy MyFi's or the even worse usb plug in cell doggles. This thing is great and good priced,

It won't phade out like the doggles and is USA baised only (They have been talking about trying in other countries).

Just a thought. And yes I still run around with my laptop using Hot spots untill I get the project compleated.

Either way your setup looks good and nice choice on letting them run the wiring if your not sure, too many hack up wiring harness's and then ask "What happened"

And for a FrontEnd software (the carputer software) check out www.Centrafuse.com  thats what I'm running and it's a very nice software for touch screen based systems (you can still use a mouse if you like).
macgeek (author)  Mikey85675 years ago
The price of data, is the same as a MiFi or sprints new device,
the advantages of it being only for your car is very limited.

If I pay $60 a month for Mobile Data, I want it to follow me everywhere
not just in my car, SO I would opt more for a MiFi

Yes price is about the same, But the battey is rechargable Lipo (would still have to set up something to the car, same as having it tethered to the car), The more people using the (Max 5 IP addys with MiFi) the faster it drains the battery. The MiFi is only ment as a stationary system (ment to set on a desk or a non moving car) where as the other is ment to be moble and won't suffer the signal loss as does the Mifi and the USB doggles do. The Autonetmobile in car system has up to a 500ft radius where as your limited to like a 100ft radius with Mifi. Autonetmobile was built for the moble applacation in mind not just a simple portable cell/wifi as the Mifi was. Mifi is a great lil gadget for those that want to set up a quick lil WiFi hot spot for a meeting or checking stocks of mail or such. It wasn't designed for the car and thats why I suggested it for the car (auto) applacation. Either way what ever works for you, I guess you could say MiFi is a personal Hotspot where as the Autonetmobile is a mobile WiFi hotspot. And with a Carputer in mind if some ones going to go thru the trouble (not a prob with me I like the idea of a computer in the car) of instaling a carputer (perm baised) then the Autonetmobile is a much better idea. Other wise what would be the point? You would just use MiFi or a Cell doggle and a laptop (thats not a carputer).
macgeek (author)  Mikey85675 years ago
My system is set up with WiFi war driving.
when it detects a open network, it logs in, gets a IP and downloads data.
if it loses connections, it picks up where it left off and Downloads again.
(think stop and go traffic, or a traffic light) - for Highway driving
rest stops, and traffic (where I would be more likely to read email, or downloaded data) - My sister has a USB (verizon) dongle and has been WiFi'ed connected
driving down from Upstate NY to NYC (her hubby drives, she surfs)

I am sure the Autonetmobile is more verbose, and is NEEDED in a fleet
or commercial environment. , But the average person...

True I do the same thing with my laptop and an external ant. war driving. As for install a computer in to the car did that also. Bought a used Police car computer with keyboard and lcd flat screen. popped in a pc card wifi and external ant. The main cpu is small; like two bricks side by side. Does the job fine since I am not intended it for gaming..
No going to get into an match about which one is better, it's personal choice, This product was not designed for the FLEET OR COMMERCIAL ENVIROMENT it was designed for the general public. Go look a tthe reviews, you'll see those that had both and for their resons prefered th Autonet, the ones that didn't like it complained about either the limited amount of data per month (there is no carrier nor product that offers unlimited datd a month for $59, Verison offered but changed it to the same), and other like you say it's mot mobile. Some said it wasn't fast enough, well it's not a hard line in your house and it's not designed for gaming or streaming of movies (neither is Mifi or doggle, it eats up your allowed data per month). Don't bother with the reviews that are 2yrs old either, the system has been in use for quite a while and things have changed. And again I'll say this "It's designed for the CAR", it's not ment to be taken out and put in your pocket and taken into the office.Thats what the MiFi's are for. So the size and portablility is a moot point. I just say weigh your choices, look at what you want out of a product and choose the product that works best for you. Oh yea again Review Each Product and make your own choice. And the War Driving is fine if your dealing with loss connections, Autonet is designed to stop that so you don't have to run special sotfware to make up for the lost connections due to other products.

Eaither way don't listen to either one of us, use your own abliity to check each product out and decide for yourself.

The End
BTW kool idea on the wifi bumper sticker.
ya would be more lucky in the Philippines with the USB dongle that uses the cell network, Php 10 for every 30 minutes, thats about .20 dollars per 30 mins. Text messaging costs about .02dollars per message.That is good news, but you will have a hard time surviving on the road. If you do survive, good luck your unit does not get stolen when you park.........

Good luck!
bdries5 years ago
 ZZ top !!
Xamith bdries5 years ago
epic band.
Is there a reason nobody's commented on the super badass flux capacitor photo?  1.1 Gigawatts!!!!  McFly, hello?  Make like a tree and get the hell outta here LOL!
just a note, its 1.21 gigawatts
Pronounced jigawatts!
 lol even MORE power than I remember  holy crap!
Vr15 years ago
 Nice Job!!! Mac Mini is a lot of fun into a great computer. I have two points to add as a coments.

1st: What about upgrading for a SSD HD instead a HHD 5400rpm?
2nd: Could you imagine the iPad runing all of this issues in your car? 

Do you think it would be nice or necessarie? Best regards, Vr1
macgeek (author)  Vr15 years ago
I am lusting (cough) looking at SSD drives, oh yea that would be sweet

I am thinking SERIOUSLY about the iPad as a carPuter.
but the mounting of it would be a bit daunting. also extending the wiFi and GPS
from the unit to be usable in a car install.
As for the mounting issue, one word. VELCRO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bagh. iPad can't multitask, which means if you're backing up it's either going to exit the current application and go to there, (so if you're listening to music, you'll have to reopen the application) or not go there at all because the current application needs to be exited. Either way you're screwed, lol.
JJ Joseph Vr15 years ago
The iPad only runs Apple downloaded applications and has no connections for external devices
hogey745 years ago
 hey cool mods.  Question - how is the viewability of the screen on a sunny day?  I am trying decide which way to jump with the screen - dedicated touch screen/ 7 inch motorized one, cheap tablet pc.... decisions!  thanks john
digimancer5 years ago
 I have the same question regarding the front-end you speak of. I am an Element owner and am running Linux on a netbook, connected to a touch screen. Currently I am using XBMC as my front end, as like Linux it is free, and fully customizable. It would be cool though to dual boot mac os on my netbook if I could find a good front end. If anything I would use Plex, which is the Mac clone of XBMC. 
Why not use XBMC in OSX. I wouldn't think that they would change it very much from OS to OS. Oh, andI though Plex was a fork not a clone.
 Hah I never even bothered to look for XMBC for Mac! I will have to try that later, Plex seems to crash on me all the time.
MT-LB5 years ago
haha, i've always called them cigarette lighters and i'm 15.
zeaps5 years ago
I must say, I'm 16 and I've never heard cigarette lighters be called powerports...ever. :P Just my two cents.
bombmaker25 years ago
Imagine this in a classic carlike my favorite the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS
what kind of cpu is this
Foaly75 years ago
Hey, just throw in a 3G USB antenna device and you can have better internet. Only if it's Verizon, though.
MagicTom5 years ago
Wow. my dreamcar! :D
JavaNut135 years ago
Wicked project! Am surprised that it is not Linux, as is the fashion among most Instructables projects. I can see this going down many, utterly pointless roads.
macgeek (author)  JavaNut135 years ago
Well, if you look at the Licence plate, you will see WHY I choose the macmini.

I can see that you wouldn't even consider using a Linux box in your car, even though most people who put a computer in there car would use Linux
I'd use windows, maybe windows 2000 or something, :P theres a program for that OS that allows you to type with your EYES..... how freaking cool is that? All i'd have to do is look at the icon i want to launch and boom, done. xD
What Program ?
hellstudios ?
I can't seem to find it anymore, sorry. I google searched for about 5 minutes and came up with nothing. I was using stumbleupon when i found it.
macgeek (author)  hellstudios5 years ago
you see a truck heading at you and the screen FLASHES "OH SH*%"

 you do know that OS X runs on Darwin Linux, right?
 Darwin is based upon BSD [Wikipedia]
automd5 years ago
That is one excellent project. But I hope you had put more details on the instructions as well as more pictures so we could have seen how you did it with ease. Thanks and keep it up.
alikmster5 years ago
There are a lot of people, how make DIY-tools in their cars in Russia. So such things can't shake our mind ) Many things we have to do ourselves, because it's cheaper then smth else )
Mr.NHRA5 years ago
 Nice flux capacitor! Being an auto guy I can tell you right now that those yellow wires are spark plug wires!
sturific5 years ago
how are you powering the computer?
icepaw5 years ago
Awesome project. One question though... Is the carputer just a regular deck with gps and video that you rigged out yourself or did you buy it that way and just mod it out a bit?
macgeek (author)  icepaw5 years ago
Nope, All (jury) rigged by myself

I fully modded a macMini, (pulling out wifi cables, speaker, reset)
Cutting the Ceiling deck to fit it all, etc

Great project, I'd love to know more too. As it is more of a gallery than an instructable.

Love some questions answered like:
How do you make the reverse feature override the other programs?
Where did you get/ or how did you make the user interface?
How does the gps work? Is it a computer device or external?
macgeek (author)  redorchestra5 years ago
How do you make the reverse feature override the other programs?

The screen has a automatic function when it gets a signal from 'input 3'
it will automatically switch to that input, by installing the camera and
having it powered on using the back-up lights (they power the camera)
it makes the perfect rear view camera

Where did you get/ or how did you make the user interface?

Google 'Front end' for Macintosh, there are about a dozen of them out there.

How does the gps work? Is it a computer device or external?

It's a external GPS that has a IR input for data, and outputs normal composite video on one of the other inputs on my monitor, it also has a independent speaker and amp set at its own level, so I can still listen to assorted music, and hear the GPS turn by turn directions. The other reason for this, is, That I wanted the GPS to be independent of the computer system and to be dedicated to ONLY providing GPS data (which I consider to be a priority)


twoherbs5 years ago
CAN WE SAY MAJOR DISTRACTION!  AND I WON'T USE MY PHONE WHILE DRIVING.......  I'm sorry, this is a major accident waiting for the right time and place.
macgeek (author)  twoherbs5 years ago
I have been car-puting since 2007,
I never had a accident, fender bender, ding, scratch, incident.

My system is MUCH safer then the annoying flash graphics on most
car systems - Not only is it safer, but the technology lets me focus on driving
and not worrying about missing exits, or turning at the wrong place.

If you don't feel safe talking on your phone when driving, good for you
Just watch out for the moron texting behind you.

It only takes once!  You may be one of the lucky ones.  I'm a safety officer (for a major university) in my real life, and something like this scares the begibers out of us.

There is a reason many states have outlawed texting and talking on a cell when driving, the results show that the safety community was correct, it reduces accidents.

Nyxius twoherbs5 years ago
 If you're a safety officer for A major university in your real life, then what are you in your fake life...?

I think there is something to be said against distracted driving, just as I think there is something to be said against sleepy driving, bad driving, rude driving, & driving while putting on your eyeliner.   But, just because I have a problem with these things doesn't mean I think the government should pass laws about them.  I mean what... is the government going to conduct random checks to make sure you've had your 8 hours of sleep?

People who get in crashes because they were irresponsible enough to let something distract them should have their licenses revoked.  But, you can't go passing laws that can't be enforced... that only makes people hold the government in contempt.  
Talking on the phone (with the proper precautions) is no different than talking to a passenger.   Texting requires more attention and as such is more dangerous.

At any rate in-situ computing is safer than trying to man-handle an atlas while driving.

@twoherbs: I can definitely understand your concern, as can the author.  I'm certain that he didn't put this instructable up in an effort to have EVERYONE do what he did, but most likely more to show what he did, in case someone else was already considering it.

One thing to keep in mind, while I agree that texting/talking on cell phones is a recipe for disaster, the biggest part of the distraction with those activities is the actual pressing of keys/looking at the screen.  With voice-activated GPS (as the author demonstrates) it's no more distracting than having a conversation with a passenger.  I'm sure you're not trying to promote "driving alone", as that would be just as hazardous to our ecology as texting/phoning.

As for the other interface elements of the author's 'car-puter', I would assume he only uses them while sitting in a stationary vehicle, rather than while driving around.

Great job, by the way @macgeek800.  I've wanted to do something like this for the past 2-3 years myself, only never followed through.

macgeek (author)  twoherbs5 years ago
Between in car GPS's, cell phones, Ipods, email, texting,
Music playing at levels you can hear 2 miles away, Car 'graphics'
(displays on radios) and the 'Warning I brake for hallucinations'
bumper stickers. I am amazed there aren't MORE accidents on the road
(Oh and A-hole drivers help)

 New Zealand has just introduced to law against talking on a cell phone in a car unless it is hands free.  Though it IS ok to used a CB or RT.!!!!!   It has been proved that talking to someone NOT in the car is the problem, not the act of holding a phone to your ear.  Sure we SHOULD be holding the wheel at 10 and 2 but who does 100% of the time.  I am sure it come down to the individual.  For instance there is a speed limit.  Some of us CAN drive safely over the speed limit.  But Because some cant we are ALL limited. Unfortunately the faster you go the bigger the mess.

What about graduated licences?

Be Safe.  Only break the law if you dont affect others or get caught (tongue-in-cheek)
 I have to admit, I have my laptop going (I'm usually skyping) sometimes txting selecting where I'm navigating to all while holding a cig... I work out in the field and drive almost 600 miles a week and I have only had one wreck, it was outside my drive way and it was my own stupidity, for gunning it in the snow and getting mad that my truck wouldn't move then it caught traction and slammed into a parked car D'oh....

So if you think he is dangerous watch out for me..,.,..... He's atleast got his eyes on the road....

MACGEEK.... Patent that shinizzle and make some mullahh.. Do you think it would be hard to add voice texting to your mac? I'm a XP guy so I don't know what the limits are with macs.....
pdawgp4U5 years ago
 So I'm way into gadgets obviously if someone is on this site they are too, I bought systems to do what you've done, but they don't even come close to what you've accomplished. Way to go man....

This by far is the coolest "Self Made Item" I have ever seen!
foghat5 years ago
I was thinking how awesome this is then i saw the word............

MAC ! ! ! ! !

soulsnax foghat5 years ago
 mac, pc, linux chrome OS... they're all the same.
I can't speak for Linux or Chrome, but PC and Mac are NOT the same. For example, my own Mac is a PowerMac that's still useful after 11 years. AND Apple supports OS 9, which my baby runs, even though you have to jump through hoops for help. Getting my Mac is the best computer decision I made since I got my old Commodore 64 in 1985. That sucker worked when I gave it to Goodwill when I got my Mac. For those of you who still use PCs, that made my ol' 64 a whole 14 years old and still ticking, even though I could make a cup of coffee while waiting for a program to load on it.
At the end of the day, it's all ones and zeros! :-P
BiffTirkle5 years ago
ive seen this on mp3car.com too. what i want to know is how did you run power to the mac mini? are you using an inverter? i put  a mac mini in my work van, and i use a power inverter. i was unable to find an adequate power source other than the power brick. if i am not mistaken it puts out something like 15 volts. a car is 12 volts, and not always 12 constant, voltage rises and drops with the acceleration of the vehicle.

good job though.
macgeek (author)  BiffTirkle5 years ago
check out


They have EVERYTHING for the Carputer user!

wow!!! thats great! i think its worth the 30 bucks for the mac mini kit.
macgeek (author)  hothmob5 years ago
i only said this like 1000 times, but I will repeat it for postarity
I did this project in 2007, LONG before I even KNEW about instructables
and youtube was JUST getting off the ground.

This was the documentation i did at the time.
I will answer any question.

I resent your comment about my hands on ability.
i have 14 instructables posted. 5 of them are featured
one of them is a winner, My latest has 50,000 hits and was featured
on engadget and other tech blogs. Let me see your credentials.


macgeek (author)  hothmob5 years ago

to start with, MP3Car provided alot of help interfacing the reader with the mac
(simple terminal emulator)

I will go into more detail, as I UPGRADE my systems,

macgeek (author)  hothmob5 years ago
DID you SEE my Halloween costume?
It makes my car look like a kNex cookie

jmyler hothmob5 years ago
ALthough harsh i have to agree a little. I would love to know more about how it was done and less about what it does. I am super intrigued with the fact that you integrated the honda AIC and would love to know more about that.
sthughes5 years ago
 What kind of receiver/head unit are you using? I am having trouble finding one that you can connect a computer to.
Nice! Love the webcam option.
Bmarygirl5 years ago
Very cool. I am WAY over 40 (my daugher says I'm "officially" old with this b'day) and call it a cig lighter (I'm going to change to "powerport").

Since my own son doesn't speak to me, maybe you could adopt me and work on my car?!  ;-)
macgeek (author)  Bmarygirl5 years ago
i'm 51 - Would I get strange looks calling you "MOM"?

In this day and this society? !     People would just think your father married a much younger woman ( and I am older than you) or you could be my younger sibling or..........

BTW: I've ridden on the Cyclone.
Wow, it sure is nice to know I am no longer the only 1 of 3 (as it seemed to be way back when I joined), as I am 51 also...
macgeek (author)  Goodhart5 years ago
Hey OLD people are smart too!
We just spend too much time talking about
"Remember way back in '67 when we had to use Neon bulbs and Nickel-cadmium batteries"
salluas macgeek5 years ago
 Nickel-who whats? Just kidding. Great instructable though! Wife would kill me if I tried on her car though, have to wait until I get my own.
thygreatone5 years ago
I'm only 20 and this is the first time I've heard of cigarette lighter sockets being referred to as powerports. I always just called them lighter sockets.
Yeah i have always called them cigarette lighters but i have seen some cars where they will have an additional one called a power port but i still call it cigarette lighters
Goodhart5 years ago
Oh I never said we weren't smart, just that, back when I joined, I was definitely in the minority :-) 
spiderfurby5 years ago
Novel Idea, I would like to know more with regards to your interface. How you actually connected your mac to the device. This would be most appreciated. You placed a lot of effort into your project. How did you plan your assault on the installation as it looks like a mammoth task. One that could of easily lead to complications and ultimately bits and pieces not going back together properly. How did you plan the installation?
macgeek (author)  spiderfurby5 years ago
your going to laugh at me, but I plan everything using photoshop

I make a 'Virtual" version of it, then fit all the pieces together and see
what it looks like, then move the blocks around till the design starts to flow
once i have "Visualized" the project, about 80% of the problems are shown

The bump with the carputer, was not the MAIN project, it was the add on's
that I threw at it during the install, THEY where the biggest issue!

WyldStyl35 years ago
where did u get that silver button?
macgeek (author)  WyldStyl35 years ago
Its the Power button from a DDR G4 Macintosh Tower
(known as the double door silver mac)

And retrofitted it for my car
Congrats! amazing project!  i wish that car was also available in greece...
mikebook5 years ago
 Where did you obtain your front end?
Someones listening to zztop!
macgeek (author)  stephenniall5 years ago
uh huh huh huh huh (they got alot of pretty women down there)
gerdva5 years ago
How do you control it? Touch screen, mouse, trackball? If not touchscreen, pls. be a little specific on what you use. Thanks!
macgeek (author)  gerdva5 years ago
Actually I control it with three different controllers, depending on the driving.
when Parked I use the touch screen to launch the applications, etc.

when driving high speed I use the apple IF controller for next / previous / etc
I also have a modified track pad / cup holder device  that I use (closer to me
I don't need to take my eyes off the road)

I am thinking of trying some kind of air mouse / minority report control in the future

kc0wys5 years ago
jurassic park!  awesome music
dasarp5 years ago
This looks awesome (except for the fact that its a Mac, but that's personal preference).

Quick question, so do you ever unhook the monitor, and are you not worried about someone breaking in to your car to steal the computer?
I live in a city where breaking windshields to steal GPS units seems to be a popular sport, so I would be worried about your setup...
macgeek (author)  dasarp5 years ago
the monitor slides into the dash, so it looks like a blank spot.


Don't worry they did the same to my car, and stole my Garmin!


soulsnax5 years ago
 who cares if it's a mac or a pc? They're both the same!
troppoforte5 years ago
One thing that is bugging me; which Garmin did you use and how did you find the connections on the board to connect it to the big display? Also, you mentioned the power button is useful as a anti-theft device, but you also said the power for the computer is only on then the ignition is on. How is that working? Or is it?

I have been optioning this project for my '95 Volvo 850 wagon because it needs some automation and ease-of-use added to it since most of it is analog (not that that's a problem for me 'cause I like my cars that way) and I'd most likely be using a Windows-based device since Windows usually has the most third-party accessories available. But I LOVE Mac computers! I have 7 of them, including an Apple IIc.

The biggest issue I am facing is finding which wires are the 12v power and so on. Did you have a schematic for the Element? If so, where did you find it?
Tdenver5 years ago
Very nice install! The Mac Mini is a great platform for this kinda stuff.
texhon35 years ago
cause thats what I have and a netbook is out of reach
CanWire5 years ago
Why not just use an inverter and a netbook?  You could still use all of the usb extensions/hubs, run a small vga (touchscreen?) monitor, and have power options for standby when operating on batteries. For more monitors configured, there are also cheap usb monitors.
CanWire CanWire5 years ago
actually... why not just install a laptop slot with connectors for power, vga, usb, ect... within your car would just be peripherals as an extension of your existing laptop. Cheap, easy, and powerful.
texhon35 years ago
This is something I have wanted for years ! I have a small format windows computer for this project .I drive a 2000 Dakota. This is way cool
billb5 years ago
Very cool project!
Could you explain more clearly how you got GPS on your Mac.
The only GPS App. I know of for the Mac is "Route Buddy".
Its expensive and isn't nearly as polished as "Microsoft Streets
& Trips" or "Delorme Street Atlas" both for Windows.
XsavioR billb5 years ago
I dont use mac at all but a bunch of devs I work with do. Couldnt you use whine? emulate windows and then use the standards rather then all the jazz suggested here.

@ poster (suggestion)
Clear mobile broadband (as low as 35$/mo no teeth contract, no teeth = no cancelation fee if you purchase the 50 $ usb dongle)

rfid tag system to utilize car / onboard pc / windows / locks / trunk.

Blue tooth link to pc , Pair cell phones to the onboard system utilize car audio (via inputs on the radio) for hands free.

but hey im just a geek with too much time on my hands (proud of it too) :)
macgeek (author)  billb5 years ago
hey Bill,

I cheated ;)

I bought a Stand alone garmin system, (buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do)
and it runs independently from the mac, i have never seen ANY DECENT GPS program for the mac (and I am still waiting for a GPS driver that would talk to google maps on the mac mini)
billb macgeek5 years ago
Their is a way to do it. First buy and install "Google Earth Plus" then connect a USB NMEA compliant GPS antenna. And install a KML converter along with another couple of Apps and your all set. Yah, I haven't bothered either.

Though their is this: http://www.axiotron.com/index.php?id=techspecs

I wounder how THEY do it and how well it works.

Thanks for your reply!!!

kingbirdy5 years ago
How did you set up the USB hub? you just said you added it, so I was wondering, did it draw power from the power port (lighter thing), your computer, or what? and how did you install it?
macgeek (author)  kingbirdy5 years ago
i found a 8 port Powered USB hub that was 12v DC input
So I just hooked it directly into my System (on when ignition on)
and it converted the voltage to 5v.

I kept breaking the USB sticks off my stereo so I connected a USB extension cord under the dash. Don't have a glovebox. Had to take it out because I wanted my amp mounted there in case of unwanted visitors. 

I am 16, don't smoke and still call it a cigarette lighter.
Wow this is cool! So what did you do? Plug in your computer into your car (basicly)? Did you have some sort of USB-to-"cigerate lighter" converter? Someday I'd really like to do this :D I don't use Mac tho, I'm a Windows user =P lol

bpfh5 years ago
 Good start but lacking in details.... So a few questions to clear things up :)

- Can you post a link to what you did on MP3Car.com?
- How did you interface the screen with the mac?
- How did you get the reversing camera to work with everything?
- Is the satnav system installed on the mac or is that an independant system?

macgeek (author)  bpfh5 years ago
Here ya go!


The screen has 1 VGA input and 2 Composite inputs,
with a "camera 2 priority" that means if Camera 2
gets a video signal it will switch to that input no matter what
(Backup camera, with power supplied when I go into reverse)

Vid #1 - VGA - Macintosh
Vid #2 - Garmin Navigation
Vid #3 - Backup Camera

any more questions?


Andy-K5 years ago
 Nice project. I think if I ever do this to a car of mine, I would want to invest in a mobile broadband system, so I could have a 3G connection while driving around. This way I am not tied down to WI-FI.
HolyTracker5 years ago
Great looking ride! But there´s a lack of instructions... How did you do it?
macgeek (author)  HolyTracker5 years ago
I did this in 2007-2008 Long before I joined instructables.
So I didnt actually track the install, But I will be happy to answer any
questions that you have!

kerns macgeek5 years ago
When you mention "large icons" - do Macs offer large macro-fronting icons like that as standard? 
From step 3 I assume you're using a touchscreen - what front-end software are you using, an Apple OS?
 Hey, I'm only 37 and I call them cigarette lighters. lol :P
 Nice Segway jacket ;)
scob895 years ago
I'm going to go with the other comments and say, lack of instructions on how to put a computer in your car, It really should be named something like put in accessories for your carputer, the part of putting in the actual computer does not exist in the instructable. Even with putting the accessories in, about 80% is missing and doesn't really show us how to do anything really.
madmikeee5 years ago
Nice project but you really didn't instruct us on anything. You showed some wiring but not any configuration for the PC, mountings, interfaces etc.

macgeek (author)  madmikeee5 years ago
As I said before, I did this project in 2007
I didn't have the forethought to photograph the whole procedure
I will be happy to answer ANY questions anyone has

loudboy5 years ago
Looks great!

How are you powering the MacMini though? Does the Element have a built in inverter with enough power for that, or did you add your own? THanks!
macgeek (author)  loudboy5 years ago
Ahh yes, I forgot about that completely!
I have a Smart power inverter (made to work in a car) called
Carnetix P1900, not only does it provide power for the mini it also has
intelligence, to keep the mini in sleep mode, and also monitor and power
other items connected to it, Its a GREAT product


Jurassic Park FTW. lol Great instructible though. I've been trying to get ideas on my own car computer.
Fieldownage5 years ago
Neat project! I only use my MacBook while in car and tether the connection with iPhone's 3G.