Carputer for Lil'Blue

TonyP

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Well I have been planning this for quite a while now. I looked at various options including double din computers with integrated touch screens, but I soon eliminated these as the CPU's used in them are quite dated now and I also wanted a "proper" computer for the car.

So in the end I went for a small form factor pc with a reasonable touch screen. All in all I think this came to about £400 which is less that half the 2 din units....

Components:
PC - Acer Revo (4 Gb Ram, Dual core CPU can't remember the spec now, 500Gb HDD, integrated Wifi, 1 Gb net port, and 6 USB ports) (Link)
Screen - LinITX 8" 4:3 VGA/Composite Monitor with Touchscreen (Link)
PSU - DCDC-USB Intelligent DC-DC Converter with USB Interface (Link)
GPS Receiver - GPS Receiver+ Antenna 4 Laptop PC USB Car Google Map G2 (Link)

So the reason for the PSU is that the Revo is essentially a home computer without the intelligence to start up and shut down on the ignition on or off. Also I needed a PSU to convert the 12v to the 19V required by the Revo. As a bonus it also has a switched 12V for the screen. One of the nice things about this psu is that you can set both what output voltage you want and also what time delay you need once the ignition goes off with jumpers. You can actually also program it via the USB port, but I did not need this. his is really a impressive bit of kit.

Ok so first things first. I needed to modify the Revo so that it could be remotely triggered for power on and hibernate. This involved opening it up and soldering a pair of wired to the on/off switch. It does mean I have invalidated my warrantee, but so be it:

Couple of pics:
Revo open with the wire that will go to the PSU:
984445496_j69HT-L.jpg


Small PC board with the on/off switch also showing the soldered wires (sorry about the focus on this one):
984446201_khgrB-L.jpg


Next I needed to mount the PSU into a small box. Got this from my second home (Maplin):

984444598_VDoof-L.jpg


At this point I also found a old Lenovo laptop psu and used the power connector which fits the Revo. Made all the cables, including the one for triggering the Revo (its the one connected close to the fuse). The other one is for the screen. The connector on the left is 12V, gnd and ign in and the connector on the right is 18V switched out for the Revo.

All assembled and bench tested to insure that it works:
984443196_aURqr-L.jpg


Finally installed it in LB, by mounting the PC on the wooden partition behind the drivers seat:
984447222_aWwkd-L.jpg


And the screen I bolted to the dash... meant 4 more holes, but I figured that LB will never be a shiny showroom vehicle again :cool:
984446707_kqgn9-L.jpg


So I have a little bit of tiding up to do as far as the cables are concerned, but overall I am really happy with it. Future enhancements:
  • Get the Bluetooth to work so that I can use it for phone calls
  • Get a USB radio interface
  • Get a external amp so that I can connect it to the car speakers, and thereby eliminate the car radio.
  • Get Carfusion to work which will be the user interface.
 

Chris

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Sorry Tony, I didn't understand a word of that, but I think that the aux battery needs charging. It's down to 10v. Flick the switch to activate the charger next time you are out and about.

So what is that thing? Is it a table? LB was always short of somewhere to put my coffee. That looks perfect. Does it heat up then to keep it warm? Seems a lot of wires for a table. Or does it need those to fold away electrically? Ahh, I see now. An electrically operated, heated picnic table. Very good. Wish I'd thought of that.

C :lol:
 

nathanrobo

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Apr 6, 2010
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Looks pretty cool! :clap: What do you use it for? Can it connect to interweb thingy? It'd be great if it could stow away when not in use! Could this be made into an off the shelf product?

Sorry bout all the questions!
 
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TonyP

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The real use will be for the OS mapping so that I can plan routes etc, but with a computer in the car the uses are pretty limitless. With bluetooth and wifi you could connect to the internet via the phone or wifi hot spots.

I have also copied all my music to the pc, so I have hours worth of music, should I ever need it. You could do the same with video's too.

The application that pulls it all into a nice user interface is Centrafuse (link)

So most folk would install this under one of the seats, but it was easier to bolt it to the wooden board. The PC is on a quick release mount, so can be easily removed, but as it's hidden by the seats this does not bother me. I have not used quick release fasteners on the screen, but this is also easy to remove as there is only one wire to unplug.

I guess it could be made as a off the shelf item, but most folk who build these do them as a custom build to suit their needs......
 

24Seven

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Mar 1, 2010
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I'm using a Acer Aspire Revo R3610 as my everyday PC and think they are great little PC's which use very little power and are more or less silent. I "upgraded" from an Intel quad core fire breathing beast and hardly ever miss the power. :mrgreen:
 

Matt Wright

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May 26, 2010
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Lol - funny Chris ;)

In all seriousness tho, imho I think you've found the best machine on the market for this Tony :) I have one at home I use for my home media centre / "download area" where the maps come from :shhh: / Full HD and Blue Ray type film watching etc etc..
As Tony said, Zero noise, very speedy and all round, the best thing I've seen on the market to date. I've recommended them to mates and 4 have bought a very similar "kit" as T described and made media centres out of them too. An important point on this is the choice of operating system because as you may know, Windows Vista and 7 are "more resource hungry" than other operating systems out there so I have a stripped down version of Windows xP running on mine and it flysss. If anyone needs the drivers let me know - they're not all easy to find..

[I am one of "those mac people" and I have tried to install the hackintosh Mac OS on here but the drivers aren't all available so if you get this working please let me know.. For now it'll have to be a windows box. All the Linux flavours work 100% so if that's your thing go for it - might not be compatible with all the GPS bits tho..]

One small problem is sourcing them nowadays - I've looked but can't find any more :( I'm sure they're out there somewhere. I think I paid £212 all in for the computer, media centre remote and memory upgrade so a steal..

I am reallly like that touch screen (come coffee table :p) idea so going to look for a cheaper one - although that one looks great Tony :) My budget is taking big strain :(

On a side note - I have only seen reports of everyone using Memory Map for their carputers to run live maps ie maps that track while you're driving like a normal GPS would. I have this working but

My problem with this is that MM only runs UK maps (unless you do a lot of mod jobs) so

Seeing that I have a large amount of Garmin and T4A maps that are detailed and all routable, I've come across an app that allows you to use Garmin & T4A maps while driving which is Garmin Mobile PC. I've just downloaded it and if it does what it says, Lincomb might be a bonanza for everyone who wants copies of "everything"..
A link if interested is : https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=13484&ra=true#

If everyone is already using this :oops: then all good and any tips are welcome :)
Matt

PS, this is the * BEST * machine out there imho so get one if you can get your hands on a cheap one..
 

Jon Wildsmith

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Matt Wright said:
Seeing that I have a large amount of Garmin and T4A maps that are detailed and all routable, I've come across an app that allows you to use Garmin & T4A maps while driving which is Garmin Mobile PC. I've just downloaded it and if it does what it says, Lincomb might be a bonanza for everyone who wants copies of "everything"..
A link if interested is : https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=13484&ra=true#
I've been using mobile PC for a few months for ordinary sat nav, as a bit of an experiment really because my tomtom has such a tiny screen. I haven't tried to add any other maps or data to it though so if you get somewhere with that I'd be interested to hear about it ;)
 

Matt Wright

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I am in south_africa
May 26, 2010
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Will do John, I'll be setting it all up this weekend..

You've used it, but for everyone else : From the video tutorial on their site it looks really neat - like a "big Garmin gps" that shows a lot more of the screen. I think it'll be useful for overlanding / laning where it's important to see not just the road you're on, but rather if you're heading in the dight general direction but still have the detail. I don't want to end up in the "Democratic" Republic of Congo by mistake when I'm in Africa..

I'll be installing East Africa Streetmaps, Tunisia (routable), a Routable world map that covers the odd countries, Tracks 4 Africa latest edition (routable), Europe Streetmaps (Routable) and Southern African Streetmaps (Routable) + a bunch of way points

On the computer side of it, a hint is if you're trying to save £'s, the unit comes with a 1 x 1GB installed and has 1 free slot. I added 1 x 2GB as they're cost effective. I have yet to use more than 2GB odd so 4GB is always good to have :) but 2 - 3GB should be more than fine.
The hard drive is soldered in so be careful when removing it if you are swapping it out for a bigger one. Mine came with a 160GB. Tony's sounds like it was bigger or he changed it ;) I haven't been brave enough and 160GB has been plenty so far..
 

Jon Wildsmith

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I forgot to mention, the one gotcha I had so far is when entering a post code for a destination in Wales, it couldn't find it, until I realised I had to choose Wales as the destination country and then it could. Seems obvious now but had me thinking it's post code lookup was rubbish for a bit. It's a shame the license won't let you run it on your home PC and the car PC without buying two copies :(
 

24Seven

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Matt Wright said:
One small problem is sourcing them nowadays - I've looked but can't find any more :( I'm sure they're out there somewhere. I think I paid £212 all in for the computer, media centre remote and memory upgrade so a steal..
The 3600 has bee replaced with the 3610 which has a dual core Atom

The price goes up and down at http://www.ebuyer.com/product/225754 I've seen this Linux version at £180 in the past.
 

24Seven

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Jon Wildsmith said:
I forgot to mention, the one gotcha I had so far is when entering a post code for a destination in Wales, it couldn't find it, until I realised I had to choose Wales as the destination country and then it could. Seems obvious now but had me thinking it's post code lookup was rubbish for a bit. It's a shame the license won't let you run it on your home PC and the car PC without buying two copies :(
First time I used my Garmin (tomtom type) to go to Wales I found just the same thing :lol:
 

Andy Harvey

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Mar 6, 2010
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Matt Wright said:
My problem with this is that MM only runs UK maps (unless you do a lot of mod jobs) so

Seeing that I have a large amount of Garmin and T4A maps that are detailed and all routable, I've come across an app that allows you to use Garmin & T4A maps while driving which is Garmin Mobile PC. I've just downloaded it and if it does what it says, Lincomb might be a bonanza for everyone who wants copies of "everything"..
quote]

OziExplorer is pretty good too and you can load up anything you can scan and scale and set co-ordinates on.
 

chriscolleman

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Sep 7, 2010
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Belgium
Allthough I really like these big screen vehicles I'm always amazed at what people like to do whilst driving their vehicle.

Got a Garmin, an Ipad, a digital camera, cell phone but do like my old fashioned and withered OS maps. There is something adventurous about folding out the map and pondering which trail to follow next.
 

chriscolleman

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Sep 7, 2010
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In the last overland journal there was a nice article about these digital mapping computers. Interesting read comparing various systems and programs.

I could well be the ultimate luddite, there's a Compass app on my Ipad :lol:
 

Matt Wright

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I am in south_africa
May 26, 2010
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Cape Town, SA
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Andy Harvey said:
[quote="Matt Wright":1c7q8qxd]

My problem with this is that MM only runs UK maps (unless you do a lot of mod jobs) so

Seeing that I have a large amount of Garmin and T4A maps that are detailed and all routable, I've come across an app that allows you to use Garmin & T4A maps while driving which is Garmin Mobile PC. I've just downloaded it and if it does what it says, Lincomb might be a bonanza for everyone who wants copies of "everything"..
quote]

OziExplorer is pretty good too and you can load up anything you can scan and scale and set co-ordinates on.
[/quote:1c7q8qxd]

- That's a good tip, thanks Andy, will check it out..
 

Matt Wright

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I am in south_africa
May 26, 2010
474
3
36
Cape Town, SA
Garage
And Thanks for the updated link Matt - I just ordered another one :ugeek:

Just need to justify why now! At that price they're worth having spares (£199.99 incl vat & delivery)
It may be that I can get it to the point where there's a "Standard build" that we can save somewhere that'll have a stripped down version of the OS and include all maps possible :whistle: . Will have a word with John W when I get to that point and maybe we can store it somewhere.. It'd be v useful in that anyone who bought one of these units just needs one file to build their machine to a 100% ready to use state :dance:
 

24Seven

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You and Jon have got my playing with Mobile PC now, at the moment I use nRoute on a Laptop and a standalone Garmin Nuvi 1490T for getting places.

I have just installed Mobile PC on the Laptop, I'm still going to use nRoute as well because of the easy of swapping between maps, example between Garmin Topo and Olaf's Map Morocco map which both are very handy.
 

TonyP

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Not sure about MM and use outside of the UK, not thought about that, but I will check with the resident mapping geek (calling Crispin) :lol:

As a quick update I have purchased the Centrafuse app including the EU maps, so I can use that as my day to day sat nav for getting to normal on road places. Is it as good as my Garmin, not really, but it will get me from a-b and it is all nicely integrated.

I have also installed a cheepo Halfords 4 channel amp in LB so the computer now drive the four car speakers. For anyone considering changing speakers for upgraded versions, don't bother. With the added amp I think the sound is now pretty good. I have also purchased a cheepo usb dvd player which I will install in place of the head unit so that I can play CD's (or dvd's for that matter), and it means I am now only one step away from removing the head unit altogether. Just need to sort out a usb radio, I have on loan a Hauppauge USB DTV tuner, but I have yet to get it working. In theory this can do DAB too, so it may well be what I need.

Issues..... well hmmmm... it is running a Microsoft OS (Win7) and I have had a couple of blue screens..... :x and on one occasion on boot up Centrafuse lost all it's settings so I could not use the Sat Nav piece.

Overall I am happy with it though, but not sure I would use this in my day to day car, bearing in mind the main purpose of it was to run MM to use when green laning!
 
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