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Although I have been leaning more towards buying a cheap xbox for the project, this is the primary DIY project I've been eyeing.

http://www.mini-itx.com/projects/bmwpc/

In the right hand column is a list of DIY projects similar to this showing all the wild places people have stuck their tiny PC. Just keep clicking "Show Random" to see all of the other projects.

If you look at the website of the vendor of the DC-DC power supply on this project, however, they have a full-blown PC that looks nearly identical to this DIY project. What's really quite nice about this project is the fact that (again) the power supply takes DC, and it uses a switched line to sense when the car has been on for a few seconds before booting (prevents the shock as the you turn the key from off to on to start and back to on) and also sends an ATX-style "power down" command to the motherboard when you turn the car off but doesn't kill the power supply for 30 seconds (also tunable) allowing the PC to perform a safe shutdown.

You can boot off a disk-on-chip or even replace the BIOS with Linux to make boot times super short. Of course, as Generator says, you'd be hard pressed to find a better PC than a used xbox for about $100.

Anyway, I've been considering starting a thread for it once I order the motherboard, but I saw this one got bumped today.

EDIT Just went off to go reading about DC-DC for Xbox (or the lack thereof), and a big problem people are facing is the need to keep the clock charged in the xbox while it is powered off. People are soldering PC backup batteries to the clock chip to keep it set. I often keep my xbox in a custom backpack, and reading this reminded me that I do have to set the clock every time I hook it back up. I completely forgot about that issue. Generator, what did you do to tackle this, or once you chip it and load Media Center, you don't really care about the system clock being off?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
jaak said:
But they don't have the integrated display, if you like it...
[/B]
That is what I thought was kinda cool about the mini-box with their case is that display that you can cutomized and the 14 buttons on the outside that you can customize too. With something like that you could have an MP3/OGG player running on Linux and have the song info displayed on the boxes LCD. I am guessing that you could also build a PCI card that could access the N-Bus if you are really daring or gifted in design. The other option would be to have a USB or RS-232 controlled exeternal box that could access the N-Bus.

Jaak does the interface that you are looking at have a PC interface that could have a PC controlling it?
 

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Major Geek
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That is the kit jaak's designing, afaik.. to provide an rs-232 interface for the n-bus, and provide aux inputs to the head unit via the unused sat port (a la PAC Audio). Perfect for taking audio from a PC and turning head unit and steering wheel button presses into the virtual keyboard and displaying text on the one (or three -- depending on whether or not you have nav) lines normally used to display artist/album/track/channel information.
 

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No Joy Hacking XBox

I sure wish I had taken more seriously the issues with the 5659 xbox dashboard before I bought adapter cables from Hong Kong!! I found a 128MB keychain USB drive that works perfectly, got MechAssault to boot into Linux, but alas, the dashboard is too new, and the MechInstaller hack no longer works.

I managed to track down a zip of the 4619 dashboard, but I have to make a raw disk image out of the files and hope it works when I drop it on C. The web site should really be updated to reflect the fact that you cannot do this easily if your xbox is newer than, say, 1-1-03. And I wish ebayers would list their dashboard versions. Apparently, that is a huge deal in the xbox modding community. 5659 broke a lot of capabilities for modders.
 

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I bought mine this year and did the mechassault hack, so I wonder if it was old stock?

Took me a while to find the right version of mechassault, that was the biggest problem for me. If I recall correctly, there's two versions...

The problem with my interface, is it requires custom software. Not to read the commands, but to send them, as I'm using one of the RS-232 hardware flow control lines to drive the REQ line in the Murano's interface.

I can write and read, now, but next step is to successfully emulate the startup procedure.

Then I'm hoping someone will write something for a 16F688 PIC to do this automatically, as that's what I've designed onto the board. If no one writes it, then I'll teach myself how to and do it. You can imagine how long that'll take!

I've been working on drawing the schematic and an updated PCB, the last few days. Since the connectors are so difficult to find I've managed to layout a pattern of pins on the board that the connector for the sat, can plug into. This way, there's no tearing out the radio to plug it in. (Unless you have an '03)

EasternPA, if you can tell me how to zip the dashboard, I'll get it for you...
 

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EasternPA said:
Generator, what did you do to tackle this, or once you chip it and load Media Center, you don't really care about the system clock being off?

Do you know it never occured to me. My xbox does not ask for the time to be updated. Maybe the clock is always wrong. I dont really care though. Maybe because I boot in modded mode it bypasses the clock setup screen. Trust me if that screen came up everytime I started my car you would have heard about it. My car basically sits dormant all week because I use a company vehicle, so I know it should be asking for time updates, but I never see it.
 

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Buy a refurbished XBOX if you are going to hack it. A lot of times they don't come with any games, and the hard drive is coming out anyway. Also you probably won't be using the CD drive much either. Much more likely to get an older version. I bought mine for a $100 ages ago (at least a year).

Thx,
Jason
 

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jaak said:
I bought mine this year and did the mechassault hack, so I wonder if it was old stock?

Took me a while to find the right version of mechassault, that was the biggest problem for me. If I recall correctly, there's two versions...
Hello from beautiful Poughkeepsie!

The easiest way to roll up the dashboard is with a simple dd of the C drive (can't remember the full path right now) That will get the MBR, too, if there is one in there. OTOH, if that doesn't work for some reason, maybe I could buy/borrow your version of mechassault, as I may have the wrong one..

From the dashboard, could you please go into Settings and System Information, and tell me the two software versions after the long legal disclaimer? I'd like to know if you have the 5659 dashboard.

Thanks!
 

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They look great. And they use the motherboard I plan to use. For a car kit, I would want DC power. Somewhere out there I've seen a power supply with switched and unswitched leads. It pauses 5 seconds after first receiving power before supplying power to the mainboard, and sends an ATX shutdown command to the mainboard upon loss of power to the switched lead. After 30 seconds, it then cuts power to the board to allow for safe shutdown of the OS.

In the pictures, it looks like they provide DC power, but I can't see if they use the switched and unswitched lines. Otherwise, if you don't mind powering off the PC without a safe shutdown, then they look fine.

Edit: not to mention, the entire hard drive is smaller than my mp3 collection. I would definitely need a 60gb drive or better to leave room for drive-by downloads.
 

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Not sure how much reading you've done around here (at 30 posts), but if you have Nav, you can convert its display to also be your PC display.

You can use Generator's $149 kit to attach a hacked Xbox to your display (crystal clear display) - $100 for the Xbox, maybe $50 for the modchip, and $150 for hacking the display. Or you can buy this PC for $650, and either a TV tuner that takes composite in from the PC (can be grainy, but its also a tv) or a multi-I/O that only takes S-Video (should be less grainy) and composite in (no tv) from AV Electronic for $550 or $650 respectiveley. So, $300 for an XBox Media Center or $1300 for this guy. Additional screens are always going to look odd, IMHO.

If I didn't have Nav, I would just do a 2-line 40-char display from Matrix Orbital or wait for Jaak to finish his project for aux audio input with on-screen text display. I may still use Jaak's kit so that I can still see the song information while keeping my display in Nav mode.

Both Nav-hacking options will let you drive additional screens, btw, such as rear-facing headrest displays, and let you switch the Nav screen back to Nav without affecting the rear.
 

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I have the non-color NAV Screen....its the only option I dont have on my Murano...

I want this CarPc Mainly for GPS & MP3's...I have a Laptop that I have been using for some time that works great for GPS...however
Having a LCD mounted would look better(if I can find a spot for it) with that small pc (mounted under the shift gear) than having it someones lap or on the Passenger side seat.

This is the setup I would like to have, you let me know if it can be done.

I want to replace the Black & Orange Screen with a Touchscreen Lilliput LCD. I want to be able to use this Lilliput LCD to toggle between the CarPc and the data that the Black & Orange provided. I know that using a touchscreen Lilliput LCD would not give me touchscreen access when using the Nissan Data but just to have the ability to veiw the info as it does now with the current black & ornage screen. Can this be done?

Would I be able to Place that small PC (pictured in this thread before this reply) under the Shift gear console?

Would I be able to hear the GPS Voice & MP3's or Bose Music coming out of the Current Bose System?
 

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No, unfortunately you cannot replace the non-Nav system information screen with an LCD. The information that's displayed is done using LED segments and indicators. There is a separate, special controller that drives those indicators. You would need some software that would intercept and interpret the electrical levels of, what, over 100 LED indicators and segments. Not an easy task at all. Of course, OTOH, anytime you have a big accessory screen sticking out of the dash, that just screams to cops, "Look at me! I'm probably doing something illegal!" How about a screen standing up somewhere in the middle of the dashboard shelf? Then, you can lay it down flat at night, and inverse the image to use it as a heads-up display ;) If you do set something up, I would suggest that you kick in a screensaver based on GPS detecting movement. That should at least keep you legal.

As far the location of the PC goes, I think you'll end up finding it much easier to install underneath the driver's or front passenger's seat. There's plenty of room under there, unlike the space in the center console beneath the shifter. There is also plenty of room behind the console, in between a couple of panels that hide space up against the firewall. Some would argue that with the heating ducts in that area, it would get quite hot back there, and is not a great place to install a car PC. Of course, you could also install inside the armrest, but no sense in giving up a perfectly usable space when you have more than enough room beneath the front seats.

And finally, if you pass the PC audio to the Bose via a PAC Audio adapter, you'll hear whatever the PC audio card is putting out, music, GPS speech, whatever. If you wait for Jaak's project, you'll be able to do that and turn most of your radio and steering wheel buttons into a keyboard of sorts for your PC, and display the song details on your built-in information display.
 

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carPC in my MO Finally !!

I finally got to the first stages of finalizing the actual prodcutive use of a navigation/MP3/whatever I feel like having system. I managed to move the factory non-nav screen to the area behind the gear knob (first removing the tray of course) and building it a case to hold it. I had to extend the wire for the factory screen to reach the bottom and I replaced the screen with a 7" touchscreen. I also managed to squeeze the GPS reciver right in the same spot where the factory nav ones do. I will have to build a website on what I did .. it wasnt that difficult, it was just collecting lots of information from many different places and diving into some risk. I am attaching a picture and hope to publish all I now know .. I am currently using my spare laptop as I dont wanna spend money on a small form factor PC at the moment. The navigation SW is awesome (Routis 2004) and it all makes me glad now that I got what I think is in a NAV equipped murano plus a lot more ..
Here is what is capable of right now .. BIg thanks to freeware from hard working folks at mp3car (frodo, coyote, zorro, moremods and lot more. All their rights are reserved in any of the pictures posted
below.
* Frontend to launch MP3 database browsable by artist, title etc.
(Frodo and Coyote for the engine and incredible Alpine skin mimic from moremods).
* GPS navigation with USB GPS mouse hidden in dash and ROUTIS 2004 for SW.
* Bluetooth phone dialing and incoming call message notfication.(Phonoecontrol from Zorro).
* In car sound integration with the help of the PAC Aux adapter.

On a rough scale, cost upto now is about $500ish
 

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More Pics....please.
 
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