Introduction: 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
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

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.

Step 2: USB Ports

The second most important item is USB ports, more and more devices need USB power
and all devices "Talk" to the computer via USB - So I added a Powered USB hub in my glovebox
with a 15' USB cord to my computer.

Step 3: The Front End / GPS System

When your driving, you need to keep your eyes on the ROAD.
not on a computer screen, so my front end had big descriptive icons that where easy
to touch, and access, with minimal eye time away from the road

The Buttons: (reading counter clockwise)
Photo library - For showing off pics of the build, etc to passengers
Mac control button (settings / other computer access)
Time and (green button) Wi-fi enabled and joined to a network
Movie player  - Awesome being able to throw a movie on while waiting for my mom shopping!
Car access system (diagnostic computer interface)
Available button for other features (like window control etc)

Step 4: Rear View Camera

I mounted a Back up camera in the rear, so when I put my car in reverse no matter what mode the screen is on, it went to the back up view.

Step 5: Power / Reset Obsession

Ahh me being Obsessive again, This project is where I spent more time and more revisions till
I was satisfied. All this does is reset the computer if it crashes, and glows when the computer is
in "sleep" mode (it also doubled as a 'Security' light when the car was parked)

Step 6: The Wiring

Since I was running wires along side airbags and other passenger safety devices
I decided to let a professional do that wiring.
I built the harness beforehand, and then they wired it in for me.

Step 7: The Console and USB Cam

Here you can see the whole setup - the video is a live conversation I was having wi-fi with
my friend phil. and below I will describe the pictures in detail:

First Picture:
The front, you can see the mac mini mounted above in what was a place for glasses,
all the wiring sits behind it with a cutout access panel.
to the left of the rear view mirror is a USB webcam hooked in.
One of the ideas I had was to mount a frontview camera as well, and if there was a accident
automatically record the incident (trigger from the car system) but never got around to doing it.

The center console with a pop up touch screen, that was hidden when the car was parked
The computer is also out of the line of view, and when my car was robber last year
they didn't touch the computer. (prob didnt even see it)

Second Picture:
The remote on the left controls a Built in Garmin GPS system - which pumps the video
to the same screen, To have everything integrated I could not get a touchscreen unit
so to enter in destination data I use the remote.

Third picture:
This is the roof of the car, the back antenna is a radio :)
there us a wifi antenna as well as two GPS antennas (one on top, one in the front)
the wifi antenna on top added about 500' or extended range to my wifi
(enough time to find a open wifi, download mail / updates to my computer)
(this was before EVO cellular internet was a viable option)

Picture four:
Just the car, I love my car.

Step 8: Voice Navigation Demo

Showing off a voice activated GPS I added to the system.
it was fun having the garmin and this system argue over who had the better directions
I'm being filmed with the built in webcam and recorded on t he mac.

Step 9: The Future

There is a line of portable laser projectors coming out,
and I am thinking of removing my screen and going with a heads up display and air mouse, or even something more eclectic

I know that most "upscale" cars have voice controlled navigation, and a entertainment console
but I did this 3 years before they where available.