August 05, 2005 at 09:03 PM | categories: car computer, enigma curry | View Comments

I've been spending the past month planning and building a car computer. A what you say? Yes, a PC in my car.

For all those wondering why I might want a computer in my car, here is a list of things I plan to be able to do with it:

  • Store all of my music on it. Be able to run out of gas far sooner then I run out of music.
  • Be able to play video games while waiting in the car for some reason. (About a week ago Kellie and I waited in the drive through at McDonalds for about 30 minutes.) ...
  • edit: ugg... my friend Gandhi just mentioned that yes... they now rent DVDs there too... *shudder*
  • Track my location and distance to destination with onboard GPS and appropriate software
  • Use an OBD-II interface to gather statistics from the engine's computer. (Speed, RPMs, Fuel Efficiency, engine warning messages etc)
  • Install a camera in the front of the car that will record on the computer. This will allow me to take time lapsed video of trips.
  • Wardriving
  • Just for pure curiosity: I wonder if loading a bunch of files onto the hard drive, driving across own to a friends house and offloading them to his computer via the wireless connection is faster then transferring them via DSL?

Here are the system specs:
  • Via Epia SP13000 mini-itx motherboard
  • 1GB DDR400 ram
  • 250GB Western Digital HDD
  • Opus 120W DC-DC power regulator (auto starts the computer when the car is turned on and shuts it off afterward also allowing for a specified delay after the car is shut off)
  • Ubuntu 'Hoary Hedgehog' Linux — hibernation works flawlessly
  • This screen: Image (I bought it before they raised the price mrgreen)

I completed the first major step on modifying my car this weekend. For Fourth of July weekend I went up to my parents house, where my Dad has lots of tools. He has lots of experience as a carpenter. We were able to quickly produce this:


It is a fold down computer enclosure in the right hand side of my trunk. Much credit goes to bulgogi777 on the forums for his trunk install. I belive that we have improved a bit on his design a bit (less destruction to the car) but without his initiative along with the power of the net to allowing people to collaborate in that manner,,, well I probably would have come up with something far less elegant.

More pictures of the install process are in my pictures gallery

Many thanks go to both of my parents for their assistance in this stage of the install. My Dad for his carpentry skills, and for my Mom who helped apply the fabric.

I'll post more as this project progresses.

  • Ryan
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