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Carputer Project

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Hello Everyone,

I have posted this elsewhere, but maybe a good idea to do a log on an all-Ozzie website, maybe someone with BF/BA Falcons can use some of my ideas.


1) Most important is the factory look! The mod must/will not detract from original factory looks...

2) Powerful system, doing multitasking without ANY hickups.

3) Deadreckoning GPS system, using Gyro and GPS input (this might not happen though)

4) Capacity to play MP3's, DVD's

5) Internet Wireless connectivity.

6) Infrared (IR) control of computer

7) On/Off activation either manually, or selectively ignition controlled

8) OBD-II (onboard diagnostics) display and logging of variables.

9) Quiet operation, minimizing powerdrain.

10) High-quality Touchscreen - 5-wire resistive or capacitive.

11) Afterthought - I want to add a GSM modem/phone setup, which will be housed in the same carputer enclosure, so if I dial the simcard number, it will start relaying GPS NMEA strings - in other words, positional data, from the GPS, via sms messages, to my cellphone - or something similar - will need to think about this one a little.

So, as you all can see, the goals above will determine plenty much what components I select for this Project, as I have realized early on although a Via Epia "may" work, it will not do so to satisfy my unique requirements.

I need a machine that can multitask, and do so without effort!

a Few pictures to follow.

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The candidate - these are pics when I first got the car from Etheridge Ford in Vermont, Vic, nowadays it has Nizpro Stage 2 Plus with 370rwkw.



Edited by MrBean

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Bought a 2nd hand ICC from someone on the forum, and tested it at ASL - thanx FADI...I must admit, people can go and learn a lot wrt Customer Service levels from Fadi - thanx Mate, great Service!

Just as a reminder, this is what the UTE came fitted with from the factory, manual aircon control unit, monocolor LCD, nothing fancy.....


So, I fitted the new unit, this is what it looks like in daytime:


and then, in nightime, it inverts LCD background to take strain away from your eyes while driving:


a Big upgrqade, one that would now allow me to mount my carputer, and display that info on the TFT LCD in the new ICC, something which enables me to keep that "Factory" look - but maybe I will do something different here, as the display quality of the factory LCD is not that great, plus it is on the small side...

Well, everything working, except aircon system - will need to take the UTE to Ford tomorrow, to flash "high-level" HIM (Hvac Interface Module) software, to enable new control unit to correctly operate aircon and ventilation system, pump, vents, etc.

Edited by MrBean

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As mentioned, one of my early objectives were to keep the fitting of the Carputer as factory-looking as possible, and with that idea in mind, I had to properly route powercables etc...

I am using 12gauge cables for the Carputer, even though the current-draw from the system would only be totalling 10A max of my 12V rail, I would still like to over-engineer a little in this department, as I would not like undersized cabling giving me problems later.

With that in mind, I found a spare "plug" close to my brake master cylinder, allowing me a pass-through from the engine compartment into the passenger compartment.

Here you can see it next to the master cylinder....


And here is a shot from next to the brake-pedal (footwell) on the inside.....


It will be properly routed and secured on the inside with a proper power-distribution block, similar to the ones the audiophiles use to tap off power for their amps....

Here you can see how I routed the cables over the brakebooster, inside the split-loom - 10mm x 2m tubing obtained from Jaycar.


And a close-up of the same, using saddles and cableties to secure the split-loom.


Here is how I routed the split-loom/cables into the fusebox.......see where I mounted the earth wire.....properly soldered into the correct 12-gauge lug, and secured with a bolt to the vehicle chassis - I checked resistance from this point to the std vehicle earth points, as well as to the battery negative, and the resistance is 0.1 ohms - good quality grounding :)


Here is another angle of the wiring, and the circles would indicate where the positive would be connected to - I will check my w/shhop manuals to see which of the 2 points are the best, but both seems to originate directly from the battery + pole. I may use the one with the least current-drain on based on info in the manuals.


Here is a last shot, showing with the water reservoir bolted down again, and the fusebox lid secured - you can hardly see that there is 2 new beefy 12-gauge cables running into the cabin.....


And in this area here is where the Carputer will be located - or maybe not, let's see where the best location is....


Can hardly wait.

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On a recent trip to Bangkok, I decided to pick up a Mac Mini, Core-Duo setup, 1.83gig, well, quite nifty for a Carputer.

The next few posts will be a temporary installation only, a new location to be decided later on in the project.....

Here I have made the cutout in my Cubby, and glued a support brace in place, which will prevent the Mini from slipping back:


Testfit of the Puter....


and from behind....


Looking cosy in there, nice and level ;)

Mounting the new VGA-CGA converter to drive the Ford stock color LCD screen, tested, and works like a charm....except for not-so-good display quality from Factory LCD, as I suspected would be the case....


And here is a close up of the Mini from behind, power- and on-control from the Carnetix fitted....


and a shot of the complete assembly from behind....


and lastly, from the front....


Just done a quick test of the unit in the UTE, works like a dream, shutdown controller functioning as claimed, all that remains now is routing of ignition control wire, and connection of LCD cable.

Nice and stealthy, and if you do not open the Cubby, you won't know there is a very powerful and capable little computer fitted in there.

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I am not happy with the result from the stock Ford ICC LCD display, and yes, being able to use that would have made matters very easy, but the text quality is just to bad.

Using OBD tools, browsing the net to d/l updates etc is next to impossible, so I decided to temporary mount the Xenarc LCD in a convenient location.

Why temporary mount only? Well, it will be removed at a later point in time, when my dash is complete - I decided to embark on a project to built a complete TFT LCD-based dashboard, running of WinCE port on a Industrial based mainboard, eg Commell LV-677.

RPM and Speed will be dispalyed on there own LCD's, with a 3rd doing temp, oil press and turbo boost, as well as fuel level.

Anyway, that's a project on it's own, so here is what I did to fit the Xenarc.

Here is the standard Xenarc display stand:


remove the little screw in the head, like this......


and purchase a Nokia universal carmount kit.........on the left....


and fit the little screw in there...


and onto the back of the Xenarc LCD.....


and here.....


then mount the base of the Nokia stand in the UTE like this....take note that the original Nokia base had 4 holes, I removed the one to make it fit in a bit better from an aesthetics viewpoint....


and another angle.....


then bolt the 2 together.....


Making for a very easy to adjust, secure, vibration-free and safe/easy to read LCD.....


another one.....


Now to run the wiring to the MacMini located in the glovebox, then it's done :)

Well, I did not feel doing an indash mount of this LCD (yet, it may still happen though), as the next phase of the project will house another onboard computer/lcd setup in the original Instrument cluster.

PC have been working on the in-car ICC LCD, everything ready, just need rewire the Carnetix P1900 PSU 12V rail to the Xenarc, and connect the VGA cable

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Ok, finalized the LCD installation. Removed my Intrument Cluster and ICC to properly route all the cables, power to LCD, usb and signal to LCD, and the OBD-II usb cable.

Came out very nice, no hich-ups, and the screen works as expected. I powered the screen from the Carnetix P1900 Secondary Output, and all the noise on the LCD is gone - I had a similar issue with "noise" on the ICC LCD, and this is definately from the raw 12V (13.80V) from the battery, probably the alternator causing some ripple, picked up by the LCD.

Anyway, here's a few shots from the driver's view, some with flash, others without, as it was getting dark outside.

Instrument Cluster view......


LCD view, slightly off-center from Instrument Cluster...


and another one with camera flash on....


and a little further away, to give you a better perspective of how the LCD blends in" with the Instrument Cluster - I like it, very practical, easy to replace, do maintenance on, whatever, no bondo cracking etc....


ICC view, with stock Ford LCD.....


and here's a close-up of some datapoints I was reading on the OBD-interface to test functionality.....with the advanced Ford s/ware pack I bought from Autoenginuity, I can read a couple 100 sensors ;)


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As mentioned a while ago, fitting the MacMini and Carnetix to the Glovebox was just a temporary measure, for testing hardware, ease of insert/removal making software adjustments, etc....see pic below.....



Well, I have decided to relocate the MacMini to a more permanent home, but where.....this area immediately below the ICC/Radio unit seems to be a good candidate....here I have some sidecovers removed to be able to remove the Console from the UTE....


So the Mini would fit perfectly in this area....or maybe not, will have to measure up a little....


and here....


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I spotted this hiding behind in the dark recesses of the innermost areas of my car....so scrap the idea of fitting the Macmini in there...


This little bracket, which is held in place by a bolt, could probably be removed - I have a feeling though it forms part of the support for the ICC backplane, and/or HVAC unit....will check it out on the weekend when I remove the ICC to see where it goes.

Would be nice if it can go here, with a custom fascia manufactured to hide the MacMini, with just s lit for the slotload DVD Multi-burner....the problem with this little bracket is that there is a DVI-I converter that plugs to the back of the Mini, and when the plug is inserted, the Mini protrudes on the front, making it stand out, making a smooth transition from the ICC to the Gear selector panel impossible....

Sort of a pimple on an otherwise pretty Girl's face....

So, as a precautionary measure, incase I cannot remove the bracket, I removed the Console, to look at alternatives.....

Here is a few pics of the console, again more for the benefit of any Ozzies who wants to do something similar to their Falcon BA/BF UTE/Sedans....

From the rear, where I will fit a nice, quiet 120mm 12V Pabst or similar computer fan to allow decent airflow...


Top-front view...


Side view, lid open....


and the same, with the CD-holder lid closed....


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I have a few options, mounting the MacMini here....in the area that used to be occupied by the cupholders....


What I will do though, as the width is a perfect fit....I will drop the Mini in such that it sits level with the sill of the console....excuse my l77t photoshop skillzzzz.....but you get the idea.....


a shot from the top to show how it would look, just imagine the slot-side dropping in a few centimeters, so the mini would be level as shown above....


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The problem with that location is that I will have to open the cd-holder's lid to insert/remove dvd's/cd's from the MacMini - not that I will be doing it often, as I rarely watch DVD's, and all my music will either be on the MacMini's HD, or playing via the Apple 8gig iPod....

So, I have another location, which I might go for for 2 reasons.....firstly, stealth....

I can mount the MacMini inside the cd-holder area, which means it will be hidden from view, as the lid will be closed, effectively hiding it from view - I can then mod a slot to the front of this area, just on level with the original cupholders, and insert cd/dvd's from here, which makes it very practical.....see pic....


So the idea is that I mod the Mini to "submerge" into this space, like shown below....


The second benefit would be that I can then mount my new SpaceTraveler input device in the area that was occuoied by the cupholders before, possible custom manufacturing something out of real CarbonFiber, and enhance some of the cabin plastics with one of the decent CF-kits available for these cars....

Should look very nice.....

But, that is all dependant on the very 1st option, if the MacMini can't fit below the original ICC/Radio unit

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a small update, and a nice bit of progress....

Remember this:


Well, I had to go and see how it would look once the MacMini was fitted (submerged) into this area, so, out came the dremel, and a hour or so later......



It sits flush with the top of the console, so the lid can close proper, and thus effectively making a full stealth install of the CarPuter.


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In the next shot you can see a slight problem though....how to load/eject DVD/CD's from the MacMini.

Soz, the photo is not that clear, the top of the Mini is sitting flush with the top of the console, so effectively the slotload drive is below the surface of the console.


At this angle from above it is not that obvious, it appears as if the slot is protruding, allowing easy access, which is not the case.

Well, to make a short story long :) , I have decided to design an eject mechanism for the MacMini - most likely fully motorised.....I am seriously considering this move, but it may or may not happen.

Just imagine a normal cd jewelbox, with a hinge on the one side, that is how the MAcMini would be sitting on a tray, hinged on a trayplate, at the rear....

The front would be able to lift up and down, either via a screwfeed, or maybe a linear motor, to drive it up and down, like a clamshell opening/closing - this would allow me to raise the front 1/2 of the Mini, exposing the slotloader, and then push another button, lower it again.

Good idea I think, and would be quite easy to implement - I know exactly what I want to do, and how I am going to do it - ideas/feedback would be appreciated though.

edit:Just another bit of info: This area would also house the Carnetix P2140 controller, an USB hub, and a few small odds and ends, such as 2x 120mm Scythe Silent fans, etc.....

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Got a bit more done, adjusting the cutouts to accommodate the rubber-beading (u-channel) and keeping the MacMini not to cosy and tight, as I still want to fabricate (maybe) a linear actuator to jack the front of the Mini up approx 1", to allow me to mount/dismount DVD's.

Anyway, that's still something in the pipeline, which will happen soon, as I have placed the order for the FusionBrain to enable me to control this linear actuator, as well as the temperature inside the console to keep the Mini happy and not to warm.

Thanx to Tim and Nick for their superb service, it ia appreciated, Guys.

Anyway, as mentioned, I fitted the rubber-beading to better round off the edges on the ABS plastic, I still need to clean up a little - secured it in place with that old favorite, superglue.

Here a few shots of the unit with the lid closed....




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and here a few shots of the Mini, with the console lid open:



and here you can see the u-channel beading a little more clear, the Mni fits cosy, but not overly tight:


Well, there's a lot of space below the Mini, so I have decided to mount a few extras in there - to keep wiring simplified, and neat, the Carnetix P2140 would go in there, as well as push-pull 120mm fan configuration on either side of the enclosure, if they will fit. Otherwise 2x80mm units will do, spinning at a lowly 5V, the speed of which will be controlled by the FusionBrain unit measuring exhaust temp on the Mini.

So, the console will house the complete setup, other than the LCD, and I hope to make it nice and neat, so I won't feel ashamed of opening the lid to showcase the unit

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My new 10.4" screen turned up, and I am really surprised by the absolute clarity of this 10.4" screen - this Samsung panel looks amazing!

Wow.....and so much more real-estate than the puny 7" and 8" I were going to use - I am glad I opted to buy this, as it looks sweet :flowers:

Well, here is a few sreenshots, but suffice it to say, the camera cannot capture the quality.

Centrafuse Main display, showing 6 of 16 application-shortcuts I have in use - scrollling left or right via mouse, or touchscreen, or using Voice-command, I can select the others.


Then, a shot of my GPS, showing my the street where I live in Melbourne:


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One of my mobile phone contacts list - you can also observe, in the top right-hand corner, the green button showing connection to phone, as well as the blue bars, which represents signal strength, and finally my prode and joy, just left of the signal stregth, the little icon that looks like a headset - as mentioned earlier, this Carputer now also acts as a full audio gateway, meaning I can talk throught the car stereo, and a mic, via the carputer, and utilize it as a handsfree setup for my mobile :) Nice feature to have working......


And, lastly, a screenshot showing current weather conditions at the main Tullamarine Airport, approx 20km away from where I live.


There's also displays for internet, my OBD-II applications, and a few others, but you get the idea....

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Remeber this?


to replace the old Manual MCC witch my UTE came with (and no option for an upgrade)


and now it looksd like this - quite an improvement, even if I say so myself - just looks more rounded...


Well, to go to the next stage of my Carputer installation, I had to get a 2nd bezel, which I picked up from ASL in Lynbrook, Victoria - thanx Fadi :)


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I will remove the factory LCD, with buttons:


and install it immediately below the ICC, where I earlier considered mounting the MacMini, but which was since relocated to the cd-onsole:


and then, this area I will have to remove, and fabricate my new 10.4" LCD in - area indicated is the approximate viewable size of the LCD :)

Nice and big, but not overly so.....just the what the doctor ordered.


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Here you can see the PSU fitted to the rear of the console - it will be hidden inside the structure, there's a cover that goes over it.


Cooling fan fitted.....


a shot from the top, indicating the switch to enable/disable the shutdown controller....


and a photo from the bottom, which will be pointing to the "tunnel" of the car.....


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Here is where I am hiding the Autoenginuity OBD2 interface, behind the instrument cluster, properly secured with cable-ties....


and, allowing me to replace the fusebox cover, a nice 90-deg interface cable ;)


of course I still have the Mongoose FEPS interface as well, I will use it in cascade with the Autoenginuity

Then, here is the power plugs, feeding the shutdown controller, and the blue line will be the ignition on/off to the SC controller. The same plug will carry the 12V to the LCD in the fascia. Of course there are receptor sockets in the back of the console to feed the Macmini/SC-controller etc....all hidden very nicely. Will show pics of the completed console a little later.


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Ok, started with the fascia too, forcing a 10.4" LCD into the area where previously there was a 6" unit located - fun, I tell you.

Here is the original spare unit I purchased from ASL Logistics in Melbourne for the princely sum of AUD $80- not bad.


This is the part I rather nicely removed, as it will house the original factory LCD, and radio-control buttons......relocated to the area that currently houses the tissue-box....


and Here is the space that will be required to house the new 10.4" LCD - nice, and big, but not overpowering....


I have stripped the LCD, now I can start fitting the thing, finally - whew...

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Anyway, a few more pics as promissed -

Here you can see the rear slot through which the cables will connect to the MacMini


Here's a bottom shot, indicating how the wiring was done, relay location etc....


and another 1, showing bottom wiring to switch mounted in the console....


Here's a rearward view of the connectors....


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and this is what it looks like with the console lid on....all hidden very nicely, out of the way, in a very practical location :)


Here's the mounting base I am doing for the LCD, made out of angle-aluminium, the screen at the bottom will be 30mm in from the face of the bezel, while the top will be close to flush, with a 5-7mm lip.....this way it will sit at a very much similar angle to the original LCD...


And here is an angular shot from the topside, showing what the screen would look like in the cut-out - this is the beginning stages of the mounting only, lots of work to do.


I need to find some solvent that will dissolve a thermo plastic, PPE/PPO (Poly-Phenyline Oxide)

The screen will be sitting in an aluminium frame, the base in the 2nd last pic the beginning phase of that frame, while there will be an aluminium backplate from bottom to top of the LCD, on which all the electrnics will mount ;)

I want a very sturdy, indestructable LCD mount....

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