Another Prius CarPC

Discussion in 'Gen 2 Prius Audio and Electronics' started by squirrelal, Feb 7, 2006.

  1. squirrelal

    squirrelal New Member

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    Here it is. Another 2005 Prius install. I looked around on the Net everywhere for the right parts, trying to find other Prius or similar installs that might help. Crazily enough, the only one I could find on the Net was my cousin Presto's install. After a month of research and sucking it up, I got all the parts in time for his visit last week. I suspect we got right to business more because he can't live without a computer in the car than anything else! Just kidding.

    I ended up buying the following parts based on looking around the mp3car.com boards and reading up on Prius Chat for which auxilliary input adapters to use. Ultimately, I went with the PAC Aux-Box, which I will go over later. I think I did a thorough job finding things for the best price that was out there; let's just say all told, this project set me back almost $800. Here are the parts:

    Essential Parts:
    VIA EPIA MII12000
    M1-ATX
    DigitalWW DWW-7VGA
    WD 160gb PATA HDD
    512mb Kingston RAM
    PAC Aux-Box
    Peripherals PXHTY3

    Stuff I Had Already:
    Delorme Earthmate GPS
    Motorola Wireless Card

    Wires, etc.
    RCA 6' 1/8"-RCA cable
    Belkin VGA Extension Cable
    USB extension cable
    USB 2.0 non-powered mini hub
    electrical wire, fuses, banana plug jacks

    The Install
    This is the computer and its "case" that my dad helped me assemble with a few scrap pieces from one of those fake laminate wood bookcases. It's an H shape case with the mobo and power supply on one side and the HDD mounted on the underside. Very nifty.

    Everything detaches in a couple minutes, thanks in part to the very handy banana plugs that connect the battery and such to the M1-ATX. We used the male ends on the PC side and female jacks on the car/battery side.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    After buying all the wires and cables and such, my cousin and I got off to a really fast pace around 3pm. The whole dashboard and stereo assembly was taken apart in about 15 minutes. Since he's done it so many times, the many times that followed after were also a breeze. As Prius owners may know, you have to pull out virtually every other part on the dash to get access to the stereo.

    [​IMG]

    The goal and the only reasonable place to mount a screen would be in the map slot under the stereo. We removed this. Armen at DigitalWW was helpful in hooking me up with the DWW-7VGA, which after a lot of guesswork and referring to other installs, looked like it would clear the approx. 1.5" lip from the front of the map slot to the front of the stereo unit.

    [​IMG]

    Unfortunately, we had to remove the faceplate from the front of the DWW-7VGA. The mounting system really needs that faceplate to stop the whole screen from coming out. Therefore, the piece with the map slot door had to serve this function. After several trial and error attempts, we ultimately found that the spikes holding the map slot (which needed to be removed for the install anyway) were the perfect place to drill holes that lined up with those on the screen enclosure.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    As my cousin told me, getting the screen to fit in right is the hardest part. He couldn't have been more right!

    The Aux-Box went in perfectly and sounds great. The difference in volume from CD/FM output to the MII12000's was only about 10 units or so higher, 20 in the case of video files. The Aux-Box seemed to create interference with a few radio stations when the computer was on, but I doubt I'll be listening to the radio much now with all my MP3s at hand.

    [​IMG]

    My cousin handled the electrical quite well. The ignition switch came from the cigarette lighter inside the center console. The power came from the battery in the trunk.

    We lost about two hours when we realized that there was no slack on the Xenarc ribbon cable for the extra 1/2" or so that we needed the mounting system of the DWW-7VGA to come out. The adjustment was fairly simple, but pretty complex to execute as the monitor was all already neatly wired into the car, and the housing had to stay mounted in the stereo.
    Finally, everything worked out, and as you can see, the install is fairly discrete. Like my cousin's install, the computer is sitting under the driver's seat. We found that the Earthmate GPS fit and worked well in the little front corner window on the dirver's side.

    Photo of that to come.

    Conclusions On The Install
    The car hasn't been optimized (to the max!) yet, but boot time is about 30 seconds. The total install time was probably about 6 or 7 hours to get everything in, and another 2 or 3 to get everything fine tuned. The powers that be did not leave us the good fortune of installing an EV mode button for the Prius... The re-adjusted monitor goes in and out somewhat well. It is just a bit tough to tuck back in at times. I may look into other options in the future.

    The Software
    As for software, I tested a bunch of different engines out from the mp3car.com boards and found that RoadRunner had all the features I wanted: separate and accessible video and audio libraries, access to iGuidance from within the front end, a scrollbar, and playback from the last position after booting up. I'm sure other front ends would've worked as well, but I chose RoadRunner.

    [​IMG]

    To go with it, I created a skin that my cousin and I beta tested throughout the week. The skin is not quite done, and it doesn't completely match the color scheme yet. However, as you might be able to tell, the skin is based on the Prius' touchscreen design, blue setting. It's basically designed for somewhat intuitive control for my and my cousin's needs, but I hope that when I do share the skin, it could be the right choice for others (even non-Prius drivers).

    [​IMG]

    I'm pretty happy with all the results. Using the aux input and map slot, I'm very pleased that the changes made to the car are still quite transparent.

    [​IMG]


    Thanks again to Presto for all the great help and support! B)
     
  2. ScubaX

    ScubaX Member

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    Very nice looking install. Can you explain more about the install of the monitor and how it works. Especially with regards to the mods you made?

    Did you consider any motorized models? Can we see a picture of the monitor closed but the map door open?

    TIA
     
  3. squirrelal

    squirrelal New Member

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    You can see the screen here. It's pretty easy to imagine how it might look in place of the map slot. Basically, we had to unscrew and remove the faceplate that you can see here with the white arrow at the top. The mechanism allowing the screen to pop in and out was now free to pop all the way forward.

    It was then that we realized the map slot frame attached to the door section would now have to stop the screen from popping out all the way. As mentioned, drilling holes where the spikes were lined up for this purpose quite well.

    The only "mod" would be removing a piece of tape from the back of the enclosure that kept the ribbon cable held in more securely. It gave us just a little more slack to get the screen to come out fully without breaking the cable or pulling it too hard.

    We chose this screen because it was one of the few in-dash options that cleared that 1.5"-ish lip between the map slot and stereo. As far as I know, there are no motorized versions that do this. As it is, there are very few in-dash options that will come out that far, hence the choice.

    More pics to come later for sure. Another thanks goes to Presto, who not only made the installation possible and time efficient, but also took all those photos!
     
  4. Presto

    Presto Has his homepage set to PC

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    The next step is to find a screen that is able to be hidden in the map slot and have a better mechanism for pulling the screen out. This current screen has such a crappy design for pulling the screen in/out. It's not very smooth at all. The only good thing about it is that it'll fit right in the map slot and be completely hidden, and the screen quality is great.

    I never knew there was a screen out there that would allow it to be installed in the map slot completely. I'll have to do some more searching to see what the alternates are. I don't mind having my screen stick out, but having it discreetly hidden when it's closed is a big bonus.
     
  5. LtRipley36706

    LtRipley36706 New Member

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    That's a really neat setup ya got there... I've been contemplating something like it as well, but I'm less comfortable in working with the inner components of the dash, than looking for something that might be used to just mount a screen at the same place you have and be external and reverable in a flash... I've got a Fujitsu Tablet PC (4000 series) that I've been trying to figure out a way to mount it in the same area, to use for Nav with Streets and Trips or something similar. By chance, have you or anyone else reading the thread run accross anything that might work in this reguard to essentially hold/support/mount a tablet pc/notebook above the center console and below the MFD? I've looked at proclips stuff, and it seems promising but I'm not sure it will be able to mount a tablet in the ideal location for nav functions, and some of the mobile office car desk options out there always seem to require screws or something more perminate...


     
  6. TheForce

    TheForce Ron Paul 2012

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    Very nice! I'm planning on doing the same thing sometime this year. Only things holding me back are...

    1. Trying to find an indash touch screen with slot load dvd rom drive that has output of USB or Firewire. I have seen the all in one dvd/tv/am/fm indash system with motorized screen but cant seem to find a simple touch screen with dvd rom. If anyone know of one please let me know.

    2. Need to find a place to put the PC. Under driver seat is taken by the NAV and passanger seat is taken by the JBL audio amp?

    3. Would like to add a wifi antenna to the roof but not sure on a good safe way to mount it and still have it look good. I would also consider mounting inside the car but with a higher gain antenna/more powerfull card.

    I like the way you made your screen hidden. If I can find a touchscreen that meets my requirments I would like to try to do the same. I've seen another indash screen install that sticks out and just does not look right with the interior of the car.

    I would also like a UPS system to power the pc and 4 cameras for about 10 hours (would like to use it as a security system when the car is parked :) ). I would also like it to be charged by the car when the car is running and solor power when parked :) but that would have to come much later.
     
  7. mrbigh

    mrbigh Prius Absolutum Dominium

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  8. squirrelal

    squirrelal New Member

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    I'll try to answer the questions to the best of my abilities, but I'm not really much of a tech-oriented guy. So I apologize if the answers suck.

    I just chose the one you see because it fits, comes out, and hides the way it does. The key was the whole thing hiding behind the map slot door. However, for the sake of function, I'm sure you could use any of those other in-dash screen options at the cost of removing the door and having it stick out.

    As for LtRipley36706, I'd imagine something with clips or a shelf could be made to accomodate the screen in that scenario, but I haven't seen anything or thought of anything that would be a sure thing. Then again, I haven't really even looked... :huh:

    They do make those touchscreens with the bases you can jam between something...?

    A lot of mp3car.com users have been wiring the computer in the trunk. I'm sure with extension cables and the like, this is a pretty viable option.

    I personally don't spend enough time in my car to need the Net, but the card has been working out. Sure, it'd be nice to have more range, but wifi isn't a priority. Maybe Presto would have more to say based on his experiences.

    It was mostly a budget thing for me. The case is like that because if I could save $50-200 by not buying a real case, why not? Also, it seems fairly safe under the seat anyway, so I can live with that design.
     
  9. hdrygas

    hdrygas New Member

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    So how big is the computer compared with a Mac Mini?
     
  10. squirrelal

    squirrelal New Member

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    This computer is definitely bigger, but it fits fine under the seat. I'd imagine the "case" is 7" W x 9.5" D x 5" H?

    VIA also makes some nano-ITX boards if size was a concern. The mini-ITX board itself is 17x17cm and the nano-ITX is 12x12cm.
     
  11. LtRipley36706

    LtRipley36706 New Member

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    Thanks for your suggestion! I might go that route... I like the idea of being able to stick a monitor in the front cupholder area for use with the tablet, since its got an external vga out to it.. I've got an old monitor here at the house I may do some tests on to see what nav software will look like at those sizes =)
     
  12. Virodeath

    Virodeath New Member

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    What power options are there for a computer that isn't a Nano designed to run off low voltage? Like the MB you have under the seat, it looks like a standard MB, what are you using to convert power to it and how do you have it protected from surge startup and such?

    Viro
     
  13. ScubaX

    ScubaX Member

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    He is using an M1-ATX power supply. It provides 90w and has a shutdown controller included. It will power on and off the PC with ignition or acc power. Also it will control the voltage. Prius are also unique in that we have an accessory battery that can supply the power and be isolated from the HV battery. So starting surges would not be a problem and if they were the controller takes care of them.

    [Broken External Image]:http://www.mp3car.com/store/images/powersupply/m1atx.gif

    See here: mp3car.com
     
  14. ScubaX

    ScubaX Member

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    Also, there are others available for more power for P4 systems but still limted to about 220w.

    MP3Car.com
     
  15. Virodeath

    Virodeath New Member

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    Do the touch screens need anything like this or are they GTG outa the box?

    Viro
     
  16. Presto

    Presto Has his homepage set to PC

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    Most touchscreens should be good to go right out of the box. They typically need ~12V to run. The Xenarc ones I've used have all been 11V - 24V.
     
  17. ScubaX

    ScubaX Member

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    squirrela,

    How is the LCD working out for you? Any problems?

    mrbigh, where are you planning on putting a 10" monitor?
     
  18. mrbigh

    mrbigh Prius Absolutum Dominium

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    mrbigh, where are you planning on putting a 10" monitor?
    [snapback]212933[/snapback]​
    [/quote]
    The 10 incher is replacing an 8" installed right bellow the map compartment, but for my sight view is to far and I couldn't see the streets names. I'm manufacturing a mount for the 10" or probably a 12" ( I have to decide it yet)Touch screen LCD that will stand 16" tall by the passenger side and will provide me the necessary sharp information, soon I will post pictures. Also I have problems with my DeLorme Earthmate LT-20, GPS receiver, acquaring 3D fix all the times, so I'm in the quest of shopping and purchasing a better GPS receiver, pronto!!! ;)
     
  19. ScubaX

    ScubaX Member

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    The 10 incher is replacing an 8" installed right bellow the map compartment, but for my sight view is to far and I couldn't see the streets names. I'm manufacturing a mount for the 10" or probably a 12" ( I have to decide it yet)Touch screen LCD that will stand 16" tall by the passenger side and will provide me the necessary sharp information, soon I will post pictures. Also I have problems with my DeLorme Earthmate LT-20, GPS receiver, acquaring 3D fix all the times, so I'm in the quest of shopping and purchasing a better GPS receiver, pronto!!! ;)
    [snapback]213541[/snapback]​
    [/quote]

    You might consider this one:[Broken External Image]:http://www.usglobalsat.com/images/BU-353.jpg

    BU-353 at USGlobalsat

    mp3Car.com
     
  20. mrbigh

    mrbigh Prius Absolutum Dominium

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    You might consider this one:[Broken External Image]:http://www.usglobalsat.com/images/BU-353.jpg

    Thank you, I read some reports and they have considered the BU-353 globalsat top noch for the application; I found a new one in Ebay for $70.00, it's on my way now. Again, thank you for the lead. ;)
     
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