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    Thread: Carputer for FIAT Grande Punto

    1. #1

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      Carputer for FIAT Grande Punto

      Hi GHs,
      Joined this forum recently and would like to share my carputer build story.
      As you all know the build process is a cyclic (never ending) and it has some steady states.
      Now I have achieved such a state. I have already installed the pc in the car and is using it for almost an year.

      Not wasting much time, I am directly jumping into it:

      The story of a Carputer
      “Caputer, what the heck is that???” was the expression or question that I got as a response, when I told my dear and near ones that I am building one.
      Second question was to why we need a Carputer when laptops/tabs/mobiles can be used inside and outside the car.

      Immediate response is a smile followed by:
      1. Carputer is CAR-comPUTER, which is designed to use in automotive environment. Used for Media playback (Audio/ Video with multi monitor support), GPS, Hands free phone, OBD (Onboard diagnosis), DVR, Reverse camera, games, Internet. blah blah blah.
      2. The same can be achieved to a level by using Laptops/, but what about hardware updating? And normal usage of a laptop is not possible while driving (unless you are tired of the world and want to R.I.P). But there are still carputers based on Laptops/ Nettops, but those systems are just being used for CPU part, screen or keyboard is not used. Also powering, automatic startup/shutdown is not possible here.
      3. Using an Android/ Windows mobile/ iPhone is good, but still the hardware maintenance, limited application support and small screen move it to the bottom of the list.

      History
      All started with my inability to drive to unknown places, Most of the roads in Mumbai, Thane and even Dombivili (where I stay) are unknown to me. And in the traffic, one cannot stop and ask for directions. I used to rely on Google Maps to get directions and take a printout of the map along with when going somewhere. It helped to an extend but still I used to miss some turns or places.

      Then I enquired about the Sat Nav devices (GPS) in India and wanted to buy one. But I never had hands on experience with these devices. Last year I was on an official visit to U.K, where I found that almost all cabbies rely on these devices for route guidance. So I checked the availability of these devices in India. MapMyIndia (MMI) was the chosen one. But I felt that the price was on the higher side so looked for alternatives. Then found mobile version of MMI maps, I am having an HTC touch and compatible map software is available with MMI. But as I always do before purchasing anything, I searched for product reviews on net and accidently read on article on using computer inside a car. Phew….I was flattened.

      Calculated the cost effectiveness and found it is the best choice for me as I haven’t invested on high-end music player for my car (most of the time I play music from my Nokia N91 or Transcend media player through aux input of my JVC head unit). Using the phone even provided some level of hands free functionality also.

      Here my primary requirements were
      1. Route guidance
      2. Audio/ Video playback. [But I don’t watch movies while driving ]
      3. Phone Integration
      4. OBD
      So the research started.....

      to be continued.................

      --Rajeev


      disclaimer: This log is already published in TFI. I may be using some images watermarked by TFI as my home PC crashed and I am too lazy to reinstall the O.S.

    2. #2

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      Research and Implementation

      Research
      Most of the activities were online searches. During one of my searches, found this article ([WD] The Czar's guide to Carputers).

      Took a print out of the same and gave it to my wife for reading after presenting the idea of Car-PC. Her only concern was the time I am going to spent with Carputer/ Car.
      However after somedays she asked again "Do we really need one?" then I showed the demo video and she was like woooow.

      Then the hunt was for a good Front-end software. Downloaded and installed Ride Runner, Centrafuse 3.0, openMobile and Linux ICE. After trying out these, decided to go for Centrafuse 3.0 with Satguide One India maps for navigation. I was using my home desktop for experimenting with the software and peripherals.

      The mp3car forum helped me a lot so does TFI member ishankarve. He was very helpful in answering my queries.

      I checked iRide& panache for components. Sheldon Nunes of iRide was very helpful in answering my queries and providing some vital information. He is a team-bhp member and offers excellent support for their products. The price may appear to be high compared to eBay but they offer excellent after sales support.

      Configuration and procurement
      Hardware:
      Mobo, RAM, HDD were bought from a local vendor. Attached an excel sheet for reference.
      parts list: Carputer.xls

      Software
      Operating System: Windows XP SP3
      Frontend: Centrafuse 3 Standard Edition
      Maps: Satguide One India maps

      Initially, I bought GPS receiver and OBDII adapter and Satguide maps, and tried to integrate my phone and configuring GPS for Centrafuse in my home rig. It worked without much hardwork, but lesson learned is we need a good quality BT dongle, else the voice may not be audible. OBD adapter I tested with OBDScope for Symbian, it was able to connect to the car and read error codes and some limited parameters.

      By that time most of the components ordered from eBay were arrived. But I made a mistake in ordering the P.S.U, I ordered Pico P.S.U instead of M3-ATX. Pico P.S.U is a normal DC-DC converter and it cannot be directly used in Car PC. So I ordered M3-ATX again.

      Some WIP photos:
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      Initial plan was to buy Lilliput car pc monitor from U.S, later I tried to source it from Hong Kong, finally bought from AMS Impex, Mumbai.
      After that more rigorous testing started at home...

      --Rajeev

    3. #3

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      Touch screen monitor

      Hi,
      Sorry for not completing the story. was busy with some build releases.

      Some pictures of the monitor and the complete setup before going into the car. I kept the PC running for days to test the heat dissipation. All tests passed but I decided to add an extra c.p.u fan to the case to force the ventilation.

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      I started searching for an installer many said they cannot do that or i was not convinced the way they reacted to the query. It was not a tough job, but I don't want to break any of the panels during installation.

      --Rajeev

    4. #4

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      rajeev_pillai looks really good so far ...what are your plans for audio and also do you mind sharing the price/model of the touch screen monitor.

      Venki

    5. #5

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      now thats looks great.... wat u r sourcing for supplyin power... .. ..
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    6. #6

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      rajeev_pillai good build... keep posting the rest of it... eager to read...

      ghost06
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    7. #7

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      nice set of equipment...
      all the Best with your setup...
      Last edited by monty9991; 29th Jun 2012 at 09:24. Reason: As usual, I am bad at spellings because I am undergraduate.... lol
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    8. #8

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      Quote Originally Posted by venki7744 View Post
      rajeev_pillai looks really good so far ...what are your plans for audio and also do you mind sharing the price/model of the touch screen monitor.

      Venki
      Thanks Venki,
      So far I am using the existing audio setup. Aux in of existing H.U is being used. I am already contacted Ajay for updating the audio setup. Monitor is from AMS Impex, Mumbai and costed me 8K. I am having an excel sheet containing the component details. I will share it later..

      Quote Originally Posted by JJB View Post
      now thats looks great.... wat u r sourcing for supplyin power... .. ..
      Thanks JJB, power is drawn from car battery and the complete setup consumes around 60w. I am using a 120W dc-dc p.s.u (M3-ATX)

      Quote Originally Posted by ghost06 View Post
      rajeev_pillai good build... keep posting the rest of it... eager to read...

      ghost06
      Thanks ghost06.

      Quote Originally Posted by monty9991 View Post
      nice set of equipment...
      all the Best with your setup...
      thanks monty9991, the build completed in last year and I am using it in my car for almost an year now.
      Only thing I am struggling with is placement of monitor. Will share the rest and the issues faced in next post.

      --Rajeev

    9. #9

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      Installation

      One of my TFI friends got his cars audio system modified from Auto lounge, Kharghar. The job they have done looked quite descent. So I contacted the owner of Auto lounge, Mr. Kamran. Initially he said he had never done anything of this type, but his installer is familiar with FIAT cars and electricals. I fixed an appointment for the next weekend and went to his shop.

      First I had to explain them all the parts, how i want it to be inside the car. Then we started the installation, first a testing fitment was done and verified all the connections and functions, later on opened the panels and made permanent fittings. However the monitor positioning was a a major issue. Later we decided to fix it temporarily on a dashboard slot using the original base. My plan was to buy a windscreen suction mount and use it later on. The audio output from the system was given to the aux input. I am aware of the limitations of this method, but i wanted to retain the H.U. Also I have upgraded the front speakers to jbl comps which enhanced the experience. The installation took around 5hrs to complete with a test drive.

      Now some pictures taken during installation.

      Testing
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      Testing functionalities
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      Fixing the monitor
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      Final placement : sorry for the blurry picture...
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      Will continue with the On-Road experiences and the issues faced...

      Rajeev

    10. #10

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      Arrow How to fry a car pc

      After struggling a lot with the position of the monitor, I fabricated a dashboard mount to fit the touchscreen monitor without altering anything on the dashboard.
      Thanks to TFI member Rajan for the idea and design. You can find it here
      I used his diagram as reference, but used a GI sheet instead of ABS plastic.
      The metal sheet is very easy to work with. Also I just needed the back plate to fix the monitor. I used a vinyl sheet to give it a nice texture.

      Another issue was with the laptop hdd. It was producing some noise during startup and was taking its own sweet time to load windows.
      So I decided to replace it with an SSD. Bought one used Intel 80GB from eBay. During the software setup, the molex connector I used was getting loose and the P.C was restarting frequently. So I decided to get rid of that and connect the wires directly. I did that and when I switched the pc again, some smoke came from the VGA connector side and the monitor display went off.

      Yes... I successfully smoked the setup!!! . Verified the monitor by connecting to other pc, it is gone...Now don't have enough courage to check the CPU and PSU.

      Lesson learned: Don't work when you are really tired, the excitement of DIY may push you to cross the limits, but don't do that...


      Rajeev

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