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CarPC v.2.0 Project

 

I’ve been using my CarPC without any particular problems for a couple of years now, but eventually I decided to go for an upgrade.

The main reason which led me into this decision, are the occasional slow downs, when simultaneously using GPS navigation and playing multimedia files, due to the slow 1GHz VIA C3 processor.

I will take advantage of this upgrade, to make plenty more changes to the whole setup. What will change in the new version of my carPC project are:

  • An Intel D201GLY2A motherboard with 1.2GHz Celeron-M processor (300+% the performance of the VIA C3 1GHz), and improved graphics card. I will be most probably using 1GB of DDR2 RAM this time.
  • I will replace the single-DIN in-dash 7″ screen with a brighter and maybe bigger one, fixed in place as double-DIN. A custom made console surrounding plastic will be used, to fit in place the bigger screen.
  • A new tiny 125W DC-DC power supply (M3-ATX) will replace my previous bulky 90W (M1-ATX) one.
  • A new, reduced size case will be made to accommodate the new components.

Process log:

  1. 22/05/2008: New motherboard arrived and tested
  2. 25/05/2008: Old carPC taken apart. New case is under development
  3. 30/05/2008: Removed the in-dash screen from the car, measured the available space and the possibility of using a custom made bezel to fit a screen bigger than a typical 7″ one.
  4. 1/06/2008: Installed Windows XP and performed some benchmarks on the new motherboard using the 7Zip application. The results indicate a huge performance increase with the new board 🙂
      Compressing / Uncompressing
    • Old Via MoBo: 331Kb/s (389MIPS) / 3772Kb/s (444MIPS)
    • New Intel MoBo:770Kb/s (875MIPS) / 10283Kb/s (1101MIPS)
  5. 4/06/2008: M3-ATX Power supply tested… and thank god working 🙂
  6. 7/07/2008: some more work has been made on the casing of the new CarPC. Comparing to the work made on the previous CarPC, my process is very slow! Hopefully I will speed up, when I have with me all the parts.
  7. 9/07/2008: Finally, my new screen found and ordered! I’m going for an 8.4″ LCD. It’s not in-dash type one, so it will be fixed in the dash, taking up the 2-DIN space the current LCD and radio are using. It’s even a bit larger than that, so modifications will be made on the current bezel accordingly. Another candidate was a 4:3 ratio 9″ LCD, opposed to the traditional 16:9 widescreen ratio used usually in cars. But it was too much. It would involve extreme modifications of the car’s bezel, and a high risk at the end, not fitting properly.Improvements:
      Old vs New screen
    • Size: 7″ vs 8.4″
    • Brightness: 280cd / m^2 vs 400cd / m^2
    • Contrast: 150:1 vs 350:1
    • Top resolution: 1024×768 vs 1600×1200 (physical resolution is 800×480 for both though)
  8. 19/07/2008: It has been 10+ days since the LCD was sent from USA, so I decided to check its status via the USPS tracking. I was shocked to discover, that the item was sent to CHILE!!!! There was even an unsuccessful delivery attempt there!!! Thank god “I” wasn’t home!
    USPS’s initial confirmation email had all my correct address, but I guess someone thought that there is no such place as Cyprus, and the correct destination should be Chile!
    What can I say?I’ve seen worst examples of American lack of geographical knowledge 😛
    At least, this issue was sorted out very quickly, after contacting the seller and USPS, and right the next day, the package had already arrived to Germany. Europe at last! 🙂
  9. 1/08/2008: FINALLY! The LCD found its way here! In one piece too! 🙂
    I’ve performed some general tests to confirm its correct operation and I must admit that I was impressed by its image quality! I can’t wait installing it! 

  10. 11/08/2008: Due to the size of the LCD, direct fitting into the dash is out of the questions. Some mod-ing will be required (lots of it actually).
    This means sacrificing the bezel (plastic surrounding of the A/C controls and radio). So my quest to locate a backup bezel began.
    But this part was nowhere to be found. Apparently no second hand spare parts shop has such an part. Who would ever manage to damage it and require a replacement one anyway?
    My only hope would be locating a totaled Starlet/Glanza. But I never thought this would be so hard!!! I’ve been looking around for some time now, with no result! 🙁
  11. 12/08/2008: Today I performed some more accurate measurements to fit the LCD into my dash. Using the plastic bracket included with the screen, to allow headrest installation, I was able to find a nice spot to fit the screen with a good viewing angle.

    Finally here is a rough estimation, of what needs to be cut off the bezel (marked in yellow color), to allow the LCD fit in:

     

  12. 03/09/2008: at last!!! The bezel was cut to fit the screen. It took a lot of courage and thinking before I begin cutting through my beloved OEM bezel… but I made it 🙂
    Despite some small inaccuracies, I’m pretty satisfied by the outcome of this “operation”.

     

  13. 08/09/2008:it has been a long time since I began revising of the CarPC project,� but today it has finally come to an end!!! Not that it required so much work, I just had trouble finding some free time to spend on it. Today I can say that the project has been completed

    For this installation, the CarPC case was placed inside the dash, at the bottom, behind the gearstick (over the airbags ECU!!!). A plexiglass base was cut into shape and placed between the airbags’ ECU and the CarPC, just in case!

    In this new setup of my CarPC project, the screen utilizes both DIN slots in the dash, therefore I was making thoughts whether I should keep, or remove the radio/mp3 player. Finally I decided to keep the radio, as I managed to hide it inside the dash, down on the floor, between the driver’s and passenger’s legs.

    Currently conntected to the CarPC, I have a USB bluetooth mini dongle for controlling the mobile phone, USB mini keyboard for shortcuts, USB GPS receiver for satellite navigation and a USB hug for future expansions.

    Unfortunately, the Linksys 802.11g low profile PCI wireless card I used in my previous CarPC, won’t fit in the small case of the new one. So, in the near future, I will be buying a USB WiFi dongle, that also utilizes an external antenna, for improved reception.

    Mainly this project has been completed, but some minor works will take place at some point. I might do some touch up work on the bezel, or even paint the whole thing. Some other small additions to this project, include a USB FM receiver (not that I ever listen to the radio), a good screen protector for the LCD and a wired remote control for controlling the hidden radio unit. But these are future plans, for now I need to detox 🙂


Updated: September 9, 2008 — 12:00 am

2 Comments

  1. Hi,

    I’ve just coincidentally bought the same Power supply and motherboard. However I can’t get the motherboard to work with that PSU, a standard ATX one works fine. I wondered whether you’d encountered the same problem or whether my PSU is just messed up. Would be interested to know of your experience.
    Thanks!

  2. It sounds like a PSU problem or misconfiguration. Make sure that the timing jumpers (J7) are correctly set.
    My configuration is:
    A: Close
    B: Open
    C: Open
    D: Open

    Also make sure that you connect the Switching pins (J6) to the motherboards POWER pins (Pins 6&8 of the F_PANEL pins set).

    Finally make sure that you correctly connect 12V, switching-12V and Ground to it.

    That’s all I can advice. If the above configurations are correct, and the fuse is not blown, then I believe u have in ur hands a dead M1-ATX power supply.

    Good luck with your project, and if I can be of any assistance I will be glad to help.

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