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Adam

Car Computer

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I've got my car computer setup installed and working in my ute now. I'm wrapped with the results!

Everything looks stock and nothing is out of place...

P1020126.jpg

The hardware for this setup consists of...

Mac Mini for the computer.

VGA to CGA - RGB Converter to convert the Mac's video output to what's required by the Ford ICC.

CarNetix CNX-P2140 for supplying 18.5v power to the Mac Mini and 5v power to the video converter.

Visiontac VGPS-700 for receiving the GPS signal for the SatNav.

Ford AUX Audio Kit for playing the audio from the Mac through the car stereo.

Car Stereo Line Isolation Transformer to remove all traces of audio interference.

The software for this setup consists of...

Windows XP Pro SP2

Centrafuse XLE for the user interface.

XPort3 to allow the blue tooth GPS receiver to communicate properly with the Mac.

PSUmoni for monitoring the power levels, outputs and consumption. It's also used to program the startup, shutdown and hibernation/sleep settings of the CarNetix CNX-P2140 and therefore the Mac.

DivX codecs for playing AVI's etc.

CinePlayer DVD Decoder Pack for playing DVD's.

Here's a pic of the Visiontac VGPS-700 receiver. It's incredibly small...

P1020129.jpg

The main Centrafuse screen...

P1020133.jpg

Browsing the music collection by album...

P1020131.jpg

Playing an album and viewing the tracks on it...

P1020124.jpg

The SatNav screen...

P1020130.jpg

Playing a music video clip...

P1020132.jpg

Note: All of the screen shots appear a lot more "grainy" through the camera than they do in the flesh.

I have 2 switches installed. The first allows me to turn the ICC overlay on/off. The second switch is in the trigger wire for the CarNetix PSU so I can choose if I want to start the Mac up or not. This switch has a little red LED in it. LED on means the Mac is running, LED off obviously mean the Mac is off.

I must give a big thank you to Panda, ShockF6, Veczar and last but certainly not least MrBean. It was from MrBean's car computer project that I got most of the information on what components to use and why. The build log of his setup can be found here... Ford F6 Tornado Project Log

Thanks again guys! :fear (5):

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that's awesome mate. I've gone the other way and im installing an xbox into mine. I have it all working appart from the dc-dc power supply part. Im probably going to put two switches in mine also, one for the video and one for the power (exactly like you did) however your idea of the switch with the built in LED is one that I had not thought of previously, its a great idea.

Just out of curiosity where did you mount the two switches in your car?

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Just out of curiosity where did you mount the two switches in your car?

Here's where the switches are...

P1020135.jpg

They are out of the way but easily, and safely reachable while driving. Ideally I would of liked a flusher fitting switch but I was limited to these in a "nice" looking switch. It's not really a big problem given where I located them. If they were in a more obvious place I would of gone for different switches.

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Cool. I just sat in my car and pretended there were switches in that spot, and yeah its a relatively hidden spot with easy very access.

How did you hook up the power to the Carnetix? Is your power switch (with the built in LED) controlling the +12V input into the Carnetix, or does it control the 'ignition' input into the Carnetix?

I'm not 100% sure how I'll end up hooking mine up. I would like there to be a 'main switch' which will completely kill the power supply and pc/xbox, yet when the switch is on then the whole thing operates as per normal with its intelligent startup/shutdown functionality based on the cars ignition status.

Thanks.

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How did you hook up the power to the Carnetix? Is your power switch (with the built in LED) controlling the +12V input into the Carnetix, or does it control the 'ignition' input into the Carnetix?

The power goes to the positive lead in the engine bay fuse box and the earth goes to the battery all via 8AWG car audio wire and a fuse. The ignition (trigger) line for the CarNetix (and the earth line for the LED switch) are taken from the mobile phone connector ACC terminals behind the interior fuse box. The LED switch therefore acts like turning the ignition on. If the switch is already on turning the key controls the CarNetix.

I'm not 100% sure how I'll end up hooking mine up. I would like there to be a 'main switch' which will completely kill the power supply and pc/xbox, yet when the switch is on then the whole thing operates as per normal with its intelligent startup/shutdown functionality based on the cars ignition status.

The CarNetix always has power and earth running straight to it. It will just sit there dormant until the trigger wire is energised. Just like a car audio amp really.

that's awsome adam, is it a pricey task?

I've had a bit of trial and error along the way, but the final cost would be close to $2k, easily more depending on what exactly you wanted. I guess it depends on how you look at it. Factory fit SatNav is very expensive just on it's own. This setup will do so much more than just SatNav though!

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I should also point out that all the wiring including making the ICC video lead and all of the install was done by myself.

I'm certainly no computer or electronics expert but I've got a bit of knowledge (which is dangerous sometimes) so anyone is quite capable of doing this themselves with a bit of advice and info from the right sources, and of course some spare time. I actually took Thursday and Friday off work so I could get stuck into installing all of this. Planning out where all the wiring and hardware will go takes a fair bit of time. It's also hard when you only have the weekends to work on it but need your car to be in a driveable state come Monday morning. It limits what you can do. But like most things it would be so much quicker and easier to do after the first time.

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Great effort Adam. Not all that different to mine EXCEPT for the power supply means AND the VGA converter (as opposed to software conversion).

Hows XP go on the mac to tranny haha :P Glad you didn't go for vista :tonguepoke: I HATE VISTA!

Any way that's a comprehensive write-up well done. I would be interested to know how much you paid for centrafuse and also what the GPS part of it is like as I may buy it. Maybe I could see it some time?

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I like Vista, I have it on my PC but it uses alot more resources than XP. XP is all that was needed for this application.

XP running on the Mac via Boot Camp works perfectly, which is cool since Boot Camp is still a Beta release until OS X Leopard turns up.

Centrafuse is $275US for the Australian version. The SatNav uses Destinator maps which only Centrafuse has this version of at this point in time. There is also the ability to load in other maps. The operation of it is great! I used it to go to Melb and back on Friday and also a bit around town just to test it out. The one thing that isn't in it is the new Craigeburn bypass. I would expect that to be in the next update. A good receiver is also a must and I think I got arguably the best on the market for this application.

I'm going up to Canberra on the 10th of September and back later that week. I can drop in and show you if you like?

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Good going, Adam, glad you got it all sorted ;)

Just one thing you may want to do though - install a relay on ther main-supply to the Carnetix, with a switch to power it on/off - for thos eperiods your car will be sitting for a week or longer, the Carnetix will drain the battery.

Trust me, I have been there ;)

So, basically the ign will still shut the Carnetix on/off, provided the relay on the mains is energized. Realy off, Carnetix don't power up.....easy solution.

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Thanks for the tip Phillip!

That will actually be really easy as I still have the relay in place from when I tried the inverter.

I'll just use the ACC trigger wire for the CarNetix's to also trigger the relay. Easy!

Where did you get the CarNetix CNX-P2140 and how much if I may ask.

From here... MP3Car.com: Carnetix CNX-P2140 185W Dual Output Intelligent DC-DC Regulator

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Is that because the PC's use the standby voltage even though the computer and the ignition are still turned off?

Dont these power supplies have a thing which shuts them down when the battery voltage drops below like 11 Volts or something to prevent this?

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Yes the CarNetix has a dead man timer function (DMT) it's set to 72 hours as standard. I changed mine to 1 hour for the time being. It also has a low battery function (LO_BAT) which is adjustable, I've left mine at 11.8v.

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Just one thing you may want to do though - install a relay on ther main-supply to the Carnetix, with a switch to power it on/off - for thos eperiods your car will be sitting for a week or longer, the Carnetix will drain the battery.

Trust me, I have been there.

This happened to me last week. I didn't drive my car for 24 hours and it wouldn't start.

I've sinced changed the LO_BAT setting to 12.6V and this week I've had the chance to test it out so I haven't started my ute since Monday...

It just fired up straight away. :laughing:

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Thanx for the update ;)

Glad the lo_bat sorted it for you, I am using the relay anyway...hehe - call me paranoid...lol

Which ground-loop isolator did you buy?

Edited by MrBean

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Hey Phillip! Sorry for the delay, I'm in Canberra on holidays.

There's a link to the ground loop isolator in my first post. :spoton:

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This install is much better in the flesh (thanks for taking a detour to drop in to see me Adam)! I liked where you installed the external video converter. Good Idea there. Neat job! Well done! Whats next :P

Edited by veczar

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I have a Really Useful Mac Mini Modding Ebook if anybody is interested, PM me and ill upload it to rapidshare or something :)

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