Introduction: Ram-Mount

Ram-Mount.com sells mounts for most if not all vehicles. Oddly, this version that uses your seat bolts to be held in place isn't listed as being available from them. If you serf the web you can find this version for sale by an on line seller but it won't be Ram-Mount. It'll be an on line company that sells Ram-Mount products. I bought mine from Ram-Mount two years ago and it was listed in their on line catalog at that time. Try down loading their catalog. It might be listed there.

Step 1: Get a Mount That Doesn't Need Any Drilling.

This model uses the seat bolts so there is no need to drill holes in your car floor in order to attach the mount base.

Step 2: Extra Cost Option

I paid extra for this swivel adapter. It made adjusting the placement of the mount upright support pole much easier. The pole is firmly pushed against the dash which makes the mount more stable.

Step 3: Hide All of Your Wires.

Run the GPS antenna wires behind the dash. Put the A/C power supply under the seat. Hide as many wires as you can to make every thing as neat and safe as possible.

Step 4: More Versatility More Money.

Here are three more adapters. A VESA mount, the dog bone shaped swivel adapter, and the clamp holding the dog bone shaped swivel. I used these so I can pivot and place the monitor in a better position for me to view the monitor as efficiently as possible. These enable me to swing the table top in a vertical position only its not the table top I'm swiveling but a home monitor.

Step 5: More Combobulation More Money.

Here's a better look at my combobulation using the three optional components.

Step 6: You Better Shop Around.

I originally mounted an HP 15 inch LCD display. It had great spec's and only cost $87.00 at Office Depot. No there was no rebate, it wasn't a close out or a display model. It was simply a great price. The cheapest I could find it on the internet was for $129.00. The moral of this story is to shop around. There are great prices everywhere not just the internet.

Step 7: Make Things Neat.

Use zip ties and a plastic conduit to protect your wires and make everything neat. You can find these at an auto supply store.

Step 8: USB Hub

I used an inexpensive USB hub. The laptop only had two USB ports. I'll be using two GPS USB antennas, a hand held trackball and a keyboard made of silicone. A USB hub with multiple ports was necessary.

Step 9: Shoot the Sky.

Here's an out of focus shot of the two GPS antennas on the dash board with a clear view to the sky.

Step 10: Power It.

I used a 150 watt power inverter to convert 12v DC to 120v AC. It's bolted to the transmission hump. I have electric seats so it wouldn't fit under the seat. This is used to power the laptop along with the home monitor. A digital volt meter was used to see how much voltage was used buy my setup and it was less than a 1/10 of a volt. I don't know how many amps. With everything powered up I can start the car and everything stays on. The power converter squeals but the monitor doesn't cut out. If I had to do this over again I would probably buy a bigger power inverter. Eventually everything stopped staying on when I would start the car so I purchased a new 750 amp hour battery and everything stays on again.

Step 11: Monitor Spec's.

This instructiable is not my original install. My eyes aren't as good as they used to be so I have found it necessary to install a slightly larger LCD display. I'm going from a 15 in. to a 17 in. Here's the box for the 17 in. display. I searched the web for a year looking for a 17 in. display with the same maximum dimensions as my original 15 in. display. The 15 in. HP had two speakers in the fascia the 17 in. Acer does not. The 17 in. is less than an inch wider. The Acer cost $129.99 from TigerDirect. Make sure you get one with great spec's or it wont be readable in sunlight. Look for at least 300 nit's and 800 to 1 (or better) contrast ratio. You can find displays for as little as $89.00, but I have found anything selling for less than $129.00 had poor spec's or was a referb or reman. Don't buy a display with poor spec's or one that had problems. You'll be happier in the long run.

Step 12: Woah, 17 Inches.

The 15 in. HP and the 17 in. Acer face to face.

Step 13: Swap That Mount.

Here's the mount on the HP.

Step 14: Swapped Mount.

Here's the mount moved to the Acer.

Step 15: Wire It Up.

Attach the VGA cable etc.in the car.

Step 16: Bundle It Up.

Tame your excess cable behind the monitor.

Step 17:

Fire up the $399.00 Crapway (Gateway) laptop. It's not a piece of you know what because its inexpensive. Its simply a piece of crap and Gateway does nothing to help. They do return your email's with useless information. If you "Google" Gateway notebook won't charge battery, you'll discover they make a large number of laptops (many different models) which won't charge the battery. You would think they could figure out how to eventually get it right. I'll stop burdening you with my troubles.

Step 18: Cover It Up.

Close the lid and cover your laptop with a pillowcase that's the same color of your cars interior. Then put your armrest down on top of that. I live in a city that's known for a greater than average crime rate and in two years I haven't had a break in. I cover the display with a black pillow case. I don't take anything out of the car. I park in the driveway and mall parking lots etc. And like I said I've never suffered a break in. Maybe I'm lucky. Maybe not. If I had to remove this setup every time I left the car I wouldn't do it.

Step 19: Microsoft Streets and Trips

Launch MS S&T; 2006 first. It doesn't play nice with others. Plug the GPS USB antenna into its own USB port on your computer. Everything else (USB) can be plugged into your USB hub. If you Google the web to find out the difference from 2006, 07, 08, you'll find out there is no difference. MS S&T; 20009 has the same "old" map database but must be authenticated on the internet in 30 days or it will shut down.
What that means is, find an older version at a deep discount. Save yourself some money and a headache.

Step 20: Here Is Streets and Trips

Here's S&T;.

Step 21: Shrink S and T

I shrink S and T down to 1/3 of the desktop, on the left.

Step 22: Activate GPS

To activate the GPS, click the red spike in a circle button. This exposes a box that enables you to check off "Start GPS". You also choose at this time to configure the map. At the end of the day when your finished and you exit S and T it remembers nothing. YOU MUST DO THIS EVERY TIME YOU START S&T.; Yes, I know I could come up with a little script to do this for me but Windows products are buggy enough. I've seen these scripts on the internet but like I said MS is buggy enough.

Step 23: Start GPS

Start GPS etc.

Step 24: All Set Up

All set up and ready to launch Street Atlas.

Step 25: Launch DeLorme Street Atlas

Launch Street Atlas. Every version of SA is better than the last (what a concept). I recommend buying the latest version. Newer database, more features, more stable. What's wrong with this company. They can't make any money that way. When I can find a deal on SA 2009 I'll take it.

Step 26: Street Atlas

Here's SA on my old monitor. Oops.

Step 27: Shrink SA

Shrink down SA to cover 2/3's of the desktop on the right. Click the options button at the top. You'll be able to configure SA under the GPS Settings Tab. The funny thing about SA is when you exit SA if you choose Save, it remembers all of your settings and uses them the next time it's launched. Maybe Microsoft should pay attention to it's competition. Ok, your asking why am I using S and T if it's so inferior. It does a lot of things poorly but it's a lean mean address finding machine. You can give it a partial address and it'll probably find it.....SA doesn't like partial addresses. If you have the full address including the zip code then SA is all you need. But if you often have a partial address then MS S and T is a must.

Step 28: Gps Settings Tab

Here's what the GPS Settings tab looks like.

Step 29: Side by Side

Here's both programs side by side all set up.

Step 30: At Night

Here's S and T's night time map.

Step 31: Street Atlas at Night

For Delorme SA under the GPS Settings tab choose ...high contrast colors... for night time use.

Step 32: Can't Read at Night.

Both set up for night time use. I find the maps very difficult to read at night but usable if set to a high magnification.

Step 33: Shut Her Down.

Windows is such a pain to shut down, I recommend downloading a little shut down script from the internet.

Step 34: Love Me Love My Trackball.

I use this hand held track ball. Google......hand held track ball....... and you should be able to find one for $10 to $15. It makes program manipulation very, very easy.

Step 35: Yahoo Widgets

These are Yahoo Widgets (Konfabulator Widgets).I like them better than Googles Gadgets. But surf the web and try both.

Step 36: Keyboard

I have three keyboards at my disposal. The laptop's keyboard which I don't use. the on screen keyboard which I can use in an emergency. And this flexible silicone USB keyboard I have glued to a thin piece of fiberboard. I keep it on the floor under the seat. When I need it I simply pick it up and put it on my lap.

Step 37: Cover Her Up.

Here's the way things look with a black pillow case covering the display.

Step 38: Merry Christmas

I'm making this inbstructable in Dec., 2008. So here are some more Yahoo Widgets. Red tinsel, a Christmas globe with how many days left till Christmas, and of coarse a Christmas tree. This is my first instruct able. I hope you have found it useful. Have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you and yours.

Comments

author
abadfart (author)2009-12-27

nice but i think id build a mouse on the searing wheal  and just get a laptop charger for the car

author
billb (author)abadfart2009-12-28

Where on the steering wheel would you attach the mouse "Pad"?
I do use a laptop charger "in" the car. It keeps the battery topped up.

author
abadfart (author)billb2009-12-29

well i was going to put a thumb stick in the place where the media controls go on a newer car and as for the charger i was thinking something like this that will put less of a draw on your battery 

author
billb (author)abadfart2009-12-30

That charger looks like it would work just fine. As far as mounting the track ball or thumb stick or mouse at a fixed position would work well for a vehicle that isn't moving. However, being able to hold the trackball in your hand makes it easier to manipulate while you are driving. A thumb stick would look a lot cooler than a hand held trackball. If you live in a city with smooth streets then the fixed position thumb stick may work BUT if you live in city with EXTREMELY bad streets like me then keep an open mind about that hand held trackball. Trust me.

This project looks like I threw it together but its actually been evolving. I took the photos and created the Instructable after 2 years of trial and error.

Good luck with whatever you try.



author
abadfart (author)billb2010-01-03

ya i live in farm country so i spend allot of my time on the highway where something on the wheal is plausible and as for the rest of it i just try to cut down on wires seeing as how i have to many loose in my car already 

author
billb (author)abadfart2010-01-03

Wires can be a problem. The Delorme Street Atlas program can be purchased with a Blue Tooth GPS receiver. I'd still use the wired USB version though. With my luck the Blue Tooth GPS batteries would die at the wrong time.

I've been thinking about mounting the display on the dash board in front of me. The map images would then be projected (or reflected) into the lower part of the windshield. That way you wouldn't have to take your eyes off the road. I haven't worked out how to reverse the image thats reflected backwards into the windshield though.

To get an idea how that could work simply put a paper map on your dashboard.
It works better on overcast days but still looks doable on sunny days.

author
abadfart (author)billb2010-01-03

you mean like a HUD on on newer cars? 

author
billb (author)abadfart2010-01-04

Exactly. Fighter planes use HUD to fly (fight) better and Cadillac has an infrared HUD for night driving. When Cadillac did it I thought it might be plausible for daytime use.
Their are a lot of issues to work out. For example, not bright enough in the day, to bright at night and don't forget the reflected map will be backwards.

author
abadfart (author)billb2010-01-04

my cousin has a 01 grand pix with a hud and it works day and night but and it shows radio info, low fuel light, speed, and turn signal 

author
billb (author)abadfart2010-01-04

Someone makes a program for windows that displays your engine information on your PC. You run a USB cable to the diagnostic port in your car.
Most engine info is all ready on my dash so I would prefer a dedicated diagnostic meter. Its not as sexy looking as a Tach or Oil Pressure but its more useful.

Here are some links you might find interesting:
file:///Users/williambudde/Desktop/YouTube%20-%20Video%20captura%20OBDII%20Mazda%20Miata%20MX5%20NBII.webloc

file:///Users/williambudde/Desktop/YouTube%20-%20OBDII%20Scanner%20Working!.webloc

file:///Users/williambudde/Desktop/YouTube%20-%20DIY%20OBD-II%20Car%20Computer%20Interface%20with%20LCD%20and%20Microcontroller.webloc

author
abadfart (author)billb2010-01-05

what programs did you use? and where can i get that  diagnostic program?

author
billb (author)abadfart2010-01-05

I use two programs, Microsoft's "Streets and Trips" and Delorme "Street Atlas".
As far as the diagnostic programs, I don't use any. I use the gauges on my dash. I supplied those links to show you what others  have done. Go back too "You Tube" and drop those posters an eMail. I'm sure they can help you out.

author
mayney93 (author)2009-08-06

where can i get a trackball like that?

author
billb (author)mayney932009-08-06

Hi, I use track balls for everything. I hate mice!! A hand held track ball works extremely well in this circumstance, a mouse just wouldn't cut it in a car. I purchased this T.B. from Micro Center in Houston Texas. They no longer sell them and haven't for several years. If you Google HAND HELD TRACK BALL you'll get a plenty of hits. They sell anywhere from $9.95 plus shipping all the way too $79.95. I bet they are for the most part Identical. I bought one from the web about 2 years ago and spent $12.95 including shipping. It was identical to the original one I purchased from M.C. I purchased a third one about a year ago and guess what? You guessed it, it was the same. Three different retailers, three different brands, three similar but different prices and they were all identical. I went to Amazon.com and in the search box entered "track ball" and of coarse got many hits. Two hits were Hand Held Track Balls like mine for $15.95. Good luck and ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!!

author
mayney93 (author)billb2009-08-07

k thanks im in the UK so a fiver for a mouse is sweeet

author
tigersboyuk (author)2009-01-03

Just signed up to the site just to say thanks for this instructable. Well explained and illustrated. Very useful as I am an HGV driver and will use alot of the info given here. Good effort and thanks.

author
billb (author)tigersboyuk2009-01-03

WOW, you just signed up to thank me. Your very kind. I'm glad you could find something useful. That's why I did it. Instructables is a very cool sight and the people who visit are also very cool. By the way, please excuse my ignorance, whats a HGV driver? Just curious. Thanks again!

author
xerxesx20 (author)billb2009-01-08

HGV: Heavy Goods Vehicle.

Just found this: SATNAV-HGV

Poor guy, imagine explaining that!

author
billb (author)xerxesx202009-01-08

Thanks for the HGV update. This is in the UK. I bet the driver is from the US and isn't used to driving on the wrong side of the road. I'm guessing Americans and especially the french couldn't be wrong. Could they? Seriously, that looks like a really cool truck. It must be a fun job at times, though I bet the HGV driver isn't having much fun. Thanks again for the info!!!!!!!

author
xerxesx20 (author)billb2009-01-10

Aye, 'tis no problem. :-)

author
CaseyCase (author)2008-12-30

I am a big fan of RAM mounts--infinitely adjustable, puts your gizmos right where you need 'em and they are rock solid. I had three in my old Jeep Wrangler and one on my mountain bike. Highly recommended!

author
billb (author)CaseyCase2008-12-30

I couldn't agree with you more. They are expensive but extremely well made and will easily out last the vehicle. The other mounts I looked at weren't as well made or as sturdy but just as expensive. Ram-mount also has a monster size catalog filled with components. No one can touch them. The instructable spell checker wanted me to replace.....catalog......with........godlike. Go figure.

author
LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-12-30

Great job! You might want to try a touchscreen in a future version

author
billb (author)LinuxH4x0r2008-12-30

Thanks!!!!!!! I've thought about a touch screen but they start around $300 and go up from there and I haven't seen a kit I liked. So I just use the track ball and silicone keyboard, both were very cheap and they work very well.

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