So, you're a bit cooky and decide that building a PC in your car would be a perfectly normal idea?
Great! you've got all the basics you need! All you need to do now is get creative enough to take the plunge.
My idea originally started with the desire to bring my whole music collection with me when going on holidays, without carrying busloads of CD's or having it all unsorted on a USB-stick (and there is this feeling of immense awesomeness when you tell people you've got a PC built into your car.
My v1.0 was a converted EEEpc (laptop) from which I disconnected the screen, installed a touchscreen overlay and extended some switches and buttons on the laptop itself. Next I hacked it into the main console of my car and was good to go.
While not being perfect it performed the job quite well (from a it-didn't-explode"-point of view).
All in all I think it was a bit of beginners luck that held it all together.
Added problem of having a carpc that is "easily" removable is that thieves tend to smash your window to steal the darn thing... Which is exactly what happened. I was quite shocked that it happened and my first reaction was to drive around for 6 months without a proper audio device in my car. Then I decided to give it another go and make the whole thing more integrated into the car itself.
This whole instructable is written in retrospect after having sold that car and secretly planning to hack the whole thing into my new car. Some pictures will be blurry because they are pictures I already shot and cannot retake. I do not intend this instructable as a step-by-step instruction, they are more guidelines to get you going.
I will focus on the LCD part, because that's the part that requires some real hacking and slashing to make it look good, the rest of the PC is down to wiring.
If any step is unclear, do ask!
Step 1: The basics
This way you can search local sellers and online sellers for some sweet deals, which might save you a few bucks.
- Small barebone PC.
(Recommended is to get a basic model. Look for specifications that focus on lower power consumption.
The model I have is a Itox G5M100 1.6 ghz (there is no need for a quad-core..single or dual will do fine).
The reason I bought it was the max. 40w power consumption
Trick is that it has a small size Solid State Drive (SSD) that speeds up things considerably compared to regular HDD's
- Size VGA-screen that propely fits in your center console.
(Mine didn't because I wanted to go big, but it inevitably adds to the workload because you have to completely alter the center console.)
- Touchscreen overlay that is the same size as your VGA screen
(they sell LCD touch screens, which might save you a hassle. The only time I recommend buying them seperate is when you already have a screen lying around)
- Power supply that runs of 12v DC.
(I went with a PicoPSU, they run directly of your car battery and can handle some manhandling from starting your car)
- A spare center console frame so you can screw up without having to start the search for the destroyed part then.
Tools and other stuff needed:
- A Dremel is highly recommended, but a powerful solder iron will do fine too.
- Several small plastic boxes that you can label to keep all screws separated as they always tend to get mixed up, or worse..lost. Which is not a good idea because they are not universal and you will end up crazy-gluing parts together.
- Basic screwdriverset for unscrewing and prying
- Utility knife
- Masking tape
- Coarse and fine sanding paper
- Bondo, Fiberglass Resin and spray putty.
- Primer and spray paint.
- Vacuum cleaner for sucking up debris and other clutter that will gather during your work.
- General electrical wiring stuff like cables shoes, cables and tie-wraps.
For the sound itself you either have to keep your current head-unit (car radio) or install an amp, because the PC alone won't be enough to drive your speakers. There are plenty of instructables on that I imagine.
**Tip of the day: Plan ahead! Take multiple measurements to make sure that all parts your order will eventually fit without causing a headache.**