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Old 1st Jan 2004, 20:02   #1
Der Me!$ter
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M Car PC *18.8.04 - Case Update Online!*

I have been working on this project for a couple of months now. Although I am only 16 and not allowed to drive myself yet in Germany, I decided to build a CarPC for my father (also partly because the car radio is broken). Well first of all, here are the specs:

AMD Athlon Thunderbird C 1.33GHz
Asus A7M266
256MB Micron PC2100 DDR RAM
30GB 7200RPM IBM Deskstar HDD
Datadisplays Vampower 7 (TFT GFX Card)
10.4" Sharp LQ10D42 TFT Display (300 nits)
Netgear GA302T Gigabit Copper NIC
Creative SB Live 1024
Generic USB2.0 card (VIA chipset)
Leadtek GPS (Sirf 2 chipset) reciever with TMC
AOpen 300W PSU
Pioneer slot DVD 16x (still to be decided on)
Generic IDE to USB2.0 converter
Voltcraft 300W 12V Inverter

As already mentioned the PC is going to be mounted in my father's car (2000 Mercedes E280 ) I'll post some pics of the car as soon as possible. Anyway, the actual PC is going to be mounted in the trunk in a custom made wooden case. Here is the progress on the case till now:



This will be the final case layout:



The case is made from 1cm thick wood and fits perfectly into the corner of the car's trunk. When finally mounted it will be hidden under some linnen (same as used in the trunk).
Here is what I spent most of the time on till now:



These are some homemade PCBs for the front controlpanel. It features touchsensor control (power, volume up/down, DVD eject) an IR reciever and a delay switch (used to fire mainboard in startup sequence). Not included yet is the safety system. Honestly I got a little paranoid about the potential hazards associated with this in car system (e.g. fire). So I hacked apart a smoke detector and connected it to a homemade circuit, which will disconnect the power to the inverter if there should be a fire. Also the alarm would sound inside the car and a master alarm LED would flash on the control panel (just to be safe ). The touchsensor control uses QT115 ICs which will fire relays (after going through a NOT gate and a darlington transistor). I hooked up DVD eject, volume up/down and power to the relays. The volume control functions through the onboard volume control of the SB Live card (3 pins which you can connect to increase/decrease volume). The power button was somewhat more difficult to design. It switches a total of 6 relays in a sequence (I'll post the schematics soon). Fortunatelly I got it all working now . Next step will be to mount that mess in a small plastic case. This again will be placed behind the dash and connected to the PC in the trunk. The touchsensors will be mounted in a CNC'd aluminium case on top of the dash (design pics shall follow when completed).

This is the display I will be using:



Got it for EUR 90 off eBay . Pretty good price with a bundled inverter and PCI digital interface card. It has an about 3m long cable so it even works on larger distances. The problem I first faced was DVD playback with the 1MB GFX card, which I fixed by using the VGA safe mode instead of the real drivers . Works like a dream in VGA safe mode and stutters like hell with the drivers. The panel is going to be put into a custom CNC'd aluminium case and mounted infront of the car's middle dash (able to flip down). The case will look something like this:



It's going to be manufactured out of black anodized aluminium

Well that's enough for a first post on the project. Going to keep you updated

P.S. for anyone wondering about the name of the project... it stands for Meister Mercedes Machine. It is put together out of Meister Machine (English: Master Machine) which is the common name for all the computers I make (see avatar and username) and Mercedes (obviously the car which it is going to operate in)
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M Car PC

Main Rig: A64 Clawhammer 4000+, A8n SLI Deluxe, 6800GT, 2GB Corsair PC4000, 1.76TB total HDDs, W/C with dual radiators, Seasonic 550W 80+, Lian Li V2000+ II

Last edited by Der Me!$ter; 18th Aug 2004 at 00:34.
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 20:17   #2
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Looks good so far...I like the shell for the TFT
But why do you use such a fast PC, only for the stuff you need in a car?
Do you think the battery will be fine with a thunderbird?
I'm gonna build a similar system, but i will use an EPIA and try to build it in the glovefold (?) (auch wenn ich bei uns mit 17 auch noch nicht fahren kann)
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 20:26   #3
Der Me!$ter
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Quote:
Originally posted by freakweb
Looks good so far...I like the shell for the TFT
But why do you use such a fast PC, only for the stuff you need in a car?
Do you think the battery will be fine with a thunderbird?
I'm gonna build a similar system, but i will use an EPIA and try to build it in the glovefold (?) (auch wenn ich bei uns mit 17 auch noch nicht fahren kann)
Thanks, the reason I am using this PC is simply because I had it currently available. An Epia would have been an option as well, only I didn't want to spend 100+ for a slow system, when I am not needing a super small computer. The battery should indeed sustain the power needed as it is connected to a powerful alternator and the PC will only be running when the car is on (so it takes the generated power from the alternator). I test ran the system for around 1 hour off of a smaller battery without any car connected - worked beautifully.
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M Car PC

Main Rig: A64 Clawhammer 4000+, A8n SLI Deluxe, 6800GT, 2GB Corsair PC4000, 1.76TB total HDDs, W/C with dual radiators, Seasonic 550W 80+, Lian Li V2000+ II
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 21:45   #4
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wow, looks like a good idea. Got to see this.
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 22:37   #5
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Hi there nice project you got going. 2 things I'd comment on:

1. Pioneer slot DVD 16x (still to be decided on) - my experince is these are noisy buggers. You might want to go for a normal tray loading (unless of course this interfers with PC mounting).

2. I'd suggest investing in a bluetooth dongle and then using a bluetooth enabled phone for control (acts as a remote and a mini screen).
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 22:41   #6
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Yeah...from what I have heard the slot load drives are loud. I don't know how noticable it will be when it's mounted, and the car is on, etc, etc. Perhaps mounting it with audio foam of some sort?
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 22:58   #7
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Has anyone of you ever tried a normal DVD-Rom or CD-Rom in a car?
What happens when you drive over a bump or anything, will it still work properly?
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Old 1st Jan 2004, 23:14   #8
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Something labelled 'M3' in a Mercedes?!

Blasphemy

Good luck with the build, dude.

*n
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 01:38   #9
Der Me!$ter
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The reason why I am probably going to use my Pioneer slot in drive is because I had done something very stupid . I had a slot in mini DVD drive from Panasonic, which I fried in a short circuit... chips and cables fried - nothing could be done to repair it . That drive had absolutely no problems with shocks and actually was a DVD/CDRW cobo drive. The Pioneer and other standard drives do have problems with shocks at high RPMs. The spinning CD will tilt and get scratched when the drive is jolted. I can limit the CD speed of the Pioneer down to 24x with Nero DriveSpeed which does increase shock resistance, however I am still not satisfied. There is another program called "CD Bremse" (English: "CD Break"), which can limit the drive speed down even further, however I can't get it to work with the IDE to USB adapter. I heard that Pioneer released a tool to limit the spinrate of the drive as well. Anyone seen it, got a link? And no, I can't use any tray loading drives as there is not enough space for the tray to move out where I am going to mount the drive (pics will come soon) (they are also not any more shock resistant than the slot loading drives).
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M Car PC

Main Rig: A64 Clawhammer 4000+, A8n SLI Deluxe, 6800GT, 2GB Corsair PC4000, 1.76TB total HDDs, W/C with dual radiators, Seasonic 550W 80+, Lian Li V2000+ II
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 01:48   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by -H-
Hi there nice project you got going. 2 things I'd comment on:

1. Pioneer slot DVD 16x (still to be decided on) - my experince is these are noisy buggers. You might want to go for a normal tray loading (unless of course this interfers with PC mounting).

2. I'd suggest investing in a bluetooth dongle and then using a bluetooth enabled phone for control (acts as a remote and a mini screen).
I have a bluetooth phone (Siemens S55). What do you mean with using it to control? Is there software to transform it into a remote? That would be quite nice. I am going to use a normal remote with Girder to control the PC, yet that would be a nice addon. I wouldn't use it for internet access though as it costs a hell of a lot of money and is quite slow. I've read in a PC magazine that a company is going to use UMTS for wireless internet access @ 768kbit/s downstream right where I live. Should be available by the end of April and cost around EUR 30 per month for a flatrate.
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"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction." - Albert Einstein

M Car PC

Main Rig: A64 Clawhammer 4000+, A8n SLI Deluxe, 6800GT, 2GB Corsair PC4000, 1.76TB total HDDs, W/C with dual radiators, Seasonic 550W 80+, Lian Li V2000+ II
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 04:52   #11
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I always liked car pc mods so this should be fun to follow. Looking good so far! Subscribed.
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Old 2nd Jan 2004, 18:38   #12
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Der Me!$ter - I take it the computer you build is going to have a free USB port? Well in that case you can buy a USB bluetooth dongle (gives your PC bluetooth cabalities) should cost too much 30odd here. And then use your phone as a remote. Software is available to do this. Plently of bit-techers have done this with their main PCs.
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Old 3rd Jan 2004, 03:33   #13
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this is lookin good so far im gonna keep an eye on dis mod..
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Old 3rd Jan 2004, 20:57   #14
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Update:

Ok, I got the safety system circuit working now. It's nothing special, anyway here it is:



Here's how it works: I hacked apart a cheap smoke detector (EUR 3.50) and tested the different ICs for usable pins. I found one, which supplies 3.3V only when a fire is detected. With this connected at the IN port of the circuit, it will fire the darlington transistor and so fire the relay. The relay will be attached to the on/off switch of the inverter and when fired will disconnect the power. The capacitor between +12V and GND is simply there to smooth out voltage swings from the battery. The smoke detector itself can run off 12V and so will be attached to the battery so that it doesn't shut itself off when shutting down the computer. Here you can see the test circuit:



The PCB on the right is the smoke detector which is connected to my circuit on the right. Works like a dream .
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"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction." - Albert Einstein

M Car PC

Main Rig: A64 Clawhammer 4000+, A8n SLI Deluxe, 6800GT, 2GB Corsair PC4000, 1.76TB total HDDs, W/C with dual radiators, Seasonic 550W 80+, Lian Li V2000+ II

Last edited by Der Me!$ter; 3rd Jan 2004 at 21:28.
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Old 5th Jan 2004, 22:47   #15
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Update time!

Ok I've spent a couple more hours on the project and here are the results:

I've modded the NIC so that I can connect the LEDs to the front dash in the car. I had to dremel out the led holder as it was pretty impossible to solder it out. The NIC has 4 status LEDs: 10MBit Link, 100MBit Link, 1000MBit Link and Act, which is clearly too much information to wire in the car. So I connected diodes to the LED headers so that only one LED will light - be it 10, 100 or 1000 MBit/s. With that sorted I could insert the NIC back into the case and screw everything down.





Current setup:



I'll be using myHTPC as a frontend.



Next I had to configure Girder for the IR remote. I Connected the reciever and it didn't work anymore ! No recieved signals, no glowing LED, nothing. Checked everything and didn't get it to work anymore. This was also when I discovered a design error in the volume control circuit which was on the same PCB as the IR reciever. I connected the indicator LEDs all to seperate resistors using seperate cables, which would be far to much cable to install from the trunk to the dash. New, stronger resistors would be required as well to supply all the LEDs at once (2 x 4 LEDs - 4 volume up, 4 down). So before soldering a bunch of wires to the PCB to correct the error I decided to make a new PCB:



The PCB isn't complete yet as some parts are missing so I'll have to wait till Wednesday to see if the IR reciever and the volume control are working. I test fitted all the PCBs, which are going to be located inside the dash into one case.



Fits perfectly!

Here btw is the remote I am going to be using for the main control of the PC:



It's from a DVD player, which I control through a universal remote, so this one was available. I hand painted on the M text at the bottom (I have very bad painting skills, but it turned out allright )

I also finally recieved the amp which I am going to use for the audio system:



Not really the best amp, but it does the job. EUR 50, new off of eBay.

That's all for now, I'll keep posting!
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"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction." - Albert Einstein

M Car PC

Main Rig: A64 Clawhammer 4000+, A8n SLI Deluxe, 6800GT, 2GB Corsair PC4000, 1.76TB total HDDs, W/C with dual radiators, Seasonic 550W 80+, Lian Li V2000+ II

Last edited by Der Me!$ter; 28th Jan 2004 at 20:32.
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Old 5th Jan 2004, 23:13   #16
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That's some bad ass **** Meister!! Hoping to have found a great project once more right here
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Old 6th Jan 2004, 05:04   #17
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really some great work.... do you ever visit mp3car.com???

keep it up, some great stuff goin into this man
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Old 6th Jan 2004, 13:10   #18
Der Me!$ter
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Quote:
Originally posted by STellY
really some great work.... do you ever visit mp3car.com???

keep it up, some great stuff goin into this man
Thanks! I visit mp3car.com like every day and I am a registered user (with like 3 posts ). I prefer this forum to post my logs, etc.
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"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction." - Albert Einstein

M Car PC

Main Rig: A64 Clawhammer 4000+, A8n SLI Deluxe, 6800GT, 2GB Corsair PC4000, 1.76TB total HDDs, W/C with dual radiators, Seasonic 550W 80+, Lian Li V2000+ II
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Old 6th Jan 2004, 16:10   #19
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Dude... I started thinking... What's the car it will be fitted in?
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Old 6th Jan 2004, 16:36   #20
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What about throwing a wireless network card into the system? That way you don't need to have anything hardwired to transfer files, plus you can go wardriving.
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