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Inexpensive Dashboard PC 149

Kristian - Dreamless writes "Wanting to war drive with style? The other day I surfed the web to find a free dash pc solution to my car since the commercial ones cost around 2000-2500$ here in Denmark. I found and I must say this looks promising a very nice GUI and the features seems to be endless: Navigation with War driving, Multimedia and so on. Requirements? Low cost pc and a dash LCD display."
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Inexpensive Dashboard PC

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  • by SYFer ( 617415 ) <> on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:32PM (#8756040) Homepage
    Well, yes. This guy must be a Slashdotter. From the FAQ:
    Does the car run Windows or Linux?

    "It runs linux. The first generation of it had windows installed. There are still many pictures out on the web of the first generation [windows] dashpc. The pictures over at Parallax are a good example. In them you can also see that the LCD was a 10.4". They are very old pictures, please disregard them. I've moved onto better things. There's a reason that everyone is moving to linux."

  • Down (Score:3, Informative)

    by beeglebug ( 767468 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:33PM (#8756046)
    It's down already and there are only 2 replies. God bless that Slashdot effect.
  • Nice (Score:3, Funny)

    by mikepaktinat ( 609872 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:35PM (#8756052)
    Looks like the website was hosted in a car, it's already down.
  • I've been watching this project for quite a while. Every time I think its perfect they make it a little better. Now if I could only find a cheap touchscreen LCD, I'd be all set.
    • If it isn't new, is it 'news'? We should call it 'olds' (or maybe 'chevy', 'ford', etc.)

      Slashdot: Olds and Dupes. Stuff you've heard about before.

    • This remind me of this ./ story [] (it's about using old discarding laptops and building a digital picture frame).

      Now, it's probably not as easy to just an old laptop display for a project like this, especially if you want it to retract into the dashboard but it might be worth a shot. Plus, it sounds like a really cool project.

      Alternatively, try go get yourself a display from a new-model BMW or Mercedes (2000 should be sufficient) from a scrapyard; those cars have pretty nice and clear displays and you won't

    • Discontinued internet appliance, runs QNX and has been hacked. 7" diag 640x480 touch screen, nice and sharp, cool Jetsons design. $80 on eBay. I bought several to stream mp3 through.
  • This is a fantastic idea, assuming you can afford the cost of an LCD screen (you will probably want touch capability) and a cheap pc. (Most likely something based on the Mini-ITX board because space in a car doesn't come cheap.)

    Another site with a plethora of information on doing this is [] If you have the time, I recommend going through the site. Tons of information about the kind of power supply you will need (obviously a DC~DC converter).

    I want one myself!

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Another site with a plethora of information on doing this is If you have the time, I recommend going through the site. Tons of information about the kind of power supply you will need (obviously a DC~DC converter).

      It's probably worth noting that it doesn't take a PC to play MP3's in your car. A (usually) cheaper solution is just to buy a car stereo [] that does it.
      • Im in the process of completely overhauling my car. Ive opted to not use a reciever in lieu of a laptop. Why? For all the reason the site lists for theirs (compatibility with DVDs, mp3s, ECU interface...) but also so I can drive up next my house and download my songs off my computer. Plus I can use my cellphone for wireless internet. Who needs OnStar when I can download a map from Mapquest or another similar site.

        Who knows, maybe people will start sharing music in their cars via wireless networking. RIAA c
    • Actually, I would want voice control of the system.

  • another link (Score:5, Informative)

    by iffer ( 559606 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:38PM (#8756075) [] seems to be working.
  • {mini,nano}-itx (Score:1, Interesting)

    by name773 ( 696972 )
    why not build it yourself? the dc-dc converters for nano and mini itx boards are commercially available or easily made, the boards are cheap, and an lcd shouldn't be too hard to find.
    i'll bet you could build one for like 500 usd

  • by nih ( 411096 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:39PM (#8756083)
    Sites down, can someone go clean their spark plugs?
  • I was surfing pr0n at the time of the accident...
  • by vudufixit ( 581911 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:40PM (#8756088)
    I wrote a pithy note to Forbes five years ago in reply to a story about WinCE-based car computers. What I said still holds true, "Some people can handle any technology while they're on the road and still drive, and some can't. It's the process of sorting them out that frightens me." On a lighter note, it sure changes the meaning of "crashing"
  • He lists his occupation as professional soldier, does that mean that he wardrives for a living? ;)
  • by Chairboy ( 88841 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:41PM (#8756099) Homepage
    For those of y'all just thinking about putting a computer in a car for the first time, here are some answers to basic questions.

    Currently, the most popular motherboard for Carputers is the Epia M10000. It's full featured and super low power consumption, runs about $160 US.

    For the monitor, the most popular now is the Lilliput 7" VGA touchscreen. It sells for $300ish with shipping on eBay new from a lot of vendors. (eBay search)

    The best power supply is from and is a smart DC-DC power supply with automatic standby handling for when you car turns off and on and can survive the dreaded voltage drop when you crank the engine.

    For GPS, anything works, but USB GPS 'mice' are popular because they are small and powered over USB. (an eBay search)

    For connecting to your OBD-II interface on your car, and sell cheap serial interfaces.

    Hope this helps, and for more answers, visit and be sure to read the forums. Lots of great info.
    • If your car came with onstar you can hack it [] to get the GPS for almost free, plus the antenna is installed nicely for you. Slashdot had an article on this [].
    • I've been thinking about pursuing this project. The one thing that I still haven't quite figured out is how to mount the GPS antenna. The USB "mice" antenna look convenient, but not a good solution for long-term use: they're magnetically mounted (so anyone could come along and mess with it), and they have a cord coming out the end. Will the cord be long enough? How do you route it?

      What I'd prefer is an antenna that mounts to a hole drilled in the roof (non-magnetically), and has its cable coming throug
  • Slashdotted (Score:5, Informative)

    by frostbane ( 660953 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:42PM (#8756109)
    The site is already down but there is an example of it in a VW: here []
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:46PM (#8756132)
    Do they yet have a display for this in which the computer output fills the windshield? This would be way cool....
  • Mirror (Score:4, Funny)

    by Zardus ( 464755 ) <> on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:47PM (#8756138) Homepage Journal
    Site's buckling. I managed to make a mirror [].
  • by miracle69 ( 34841 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:52PM (#8756175)
    That webserver won't let me see paradise by the dashboard lights.
  • Cheaper solution (Score:3, Insightful)

    by krygny ( 473134 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:54PM (#8756185)
    Get a Hagstrom street atlas, a copy of the local paper, turn on the radio, and call somebody on your cell. All that should be distracting enough to get you killed in short order. That's the whole point of this, isn't it?

    When did operating a two-ton piece of machinery at high speeds become relegated to an afterthought?
  • Imagine (Score:1, Funny)

    Imagine a beowulf cluster of .. th..

    oh never mind, too much Carbon Monoxide

  • Who sells that? or Is it an open source project?
  • by GoRK ( 10018 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:56PM (#8756195) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot tends to link car-pc stuff as if it's new and different from time to time, and they always link to some fringe stuff like one particular piece of software or one person's particular (usually fairly hackish) installation. They have actually linked to the dashpc project before -- when the interface was built in perl/tk and barely worked! (Actually it's still pretty hard to install and make work -- I'd say it's at least as hard to install as MythTV) Anyway, the reality is that there are hundreds or even thousands of computer projects driving around out there, and there are many possibilities for what one can do on any type of budget from an old 486 embedded board with a LCD display that plays MP3's to a full-on LAN of fast pc's for backseat passengers to play games.

    The best resource I found when I started looking into car-pc stuff were the message boards at []. They have sections for hardware, software, cabling, audio, gps, networking, OBD-II, etc. There are thousands of users on there, and everyone is very helpful. The archives contain a lot of good information that became invaluable to me when I was building my own car-pc project []. It is currently going through a new overhaul where I am fixing some problems with the original design and functionality and adding some new stuff like OBD-II and reversing camera as well.
    • that's quite an excellent set of photos you've put into your car. I noticed there was some mention of the IBus interface and it led me into a yahoo groups forum about the same subject. I would very much like to replace the crap UI that came with my 2003 M3 - seeing as that's what I enjoy doing most - and thanks to your message here I'm definitely going to look into doing it further. Do you know if anyone has ever re-used the LCD & buttons that come with the builtin nav package or not?
      • Yes; you can reuse both the screen and the buttons if you want. The buttons are hooked directly into the I-Bus and the navigation unit reads the button presses over I-Bus. The head unit part of a Nav system car doesn't actually do more than display an image and put button presses onto the I-Bus. The radio tuner and all the other stuff is located in the trunk. There is also room in the factory nav screen that you could probably put a touchscreen overlay in there also..

        To use the screen, you can build a VGA-
  • ...and a little work, you could have your own version. Hack an I-Opener! [] I used a nostromo game controller (bound to winamp) to control the music. Using Earthmate GPS is pretty sweet too.
  • "Warning: mysql_connect(): Too many connections in /home/httpd/htdocs/ on line 37
    Too many connections"

    How did he get MS Access to return this custom error?
  • Why does it seem like MySQL suffers from slashdotting more than any other DB backend?

    Warning: main(includes/include_once.php): failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/httpd/htdocs/dashmatics/includes/application _top.php on line 172

    Warning: main(): Failed opening 'includes/include_once.php' for inclusion (include_path='.:/home/httpd/lib/php') in /home/httpd/htdocs/dashmatics/includes/application _top.php on line 172

    Fatal error: Call to undefined function: tep_db_connect() in /home

  • (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ransak ( 548582 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @01:34PM (#8756399) Homepage Journal
    A terrific site for 'carputer' enthusiasts is []. I've built a fully integrated PC into my Camaro based off of alot of suggestions on this site.

    It's a terrific resource for those of us who want GPS, MP3s, wardriving, etc. and don't want to have to haul seperate devices around for all of it. Also, lots of links to free GUIs that people are developing for carputers.

    Check out the Show Off Your Project forum for some cool implementations.

  • by MoFoQ ( 584566 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @01:56PM (#8756559)
    Not too long ago, some ppl got busted for watching p0rn in a car (the passengers were and other drivers happened to witness it); well...this will add new meaning to the phrase: "distracted drivers."
    • I would still like to know what the law says about obscene music, blasted from car speakers? Some of the "gangsta rap" is even more profane than the pr0n videos watched.

      Example of a lyric I heard on XM channel 66: "I stuck my foot up her ##### and make her suck my toes..."

  • Join our group (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Offical Group for Dashpc
  • California has a law against having a PC running in your front seat. I'm sure our intelligent and well informeed law enforcement drones will have no trouble with the distinction.("But officer, this is Linux, much less operator intensive...".)
  • Another cool thing I'd like is a heads up display projected on my windshield (yes, very much like the cockpit of a fighter jet). The idea is to have things like my tac, speed, etc. directly in my line of sight so that I wouldn't have to divert my eyes from traffic to get vehicle stats.

    Do they even exist? Does anybody know of any shops that build and install these kinds of systems? (How about in the Washington, DC area? :) How customizable are they? For example, I drive a Civic Hybrid and I'd like to

  • For the sake of completeness, if you have way too much money to burn, there's also megaCar []. They do a complete vehicle outfitting except for a few more zeros on the price.

  • Xbox (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vveak ( 588748 )
    After going through 2 car pc's of my own, I've finally arrived on the cheapest and most practical solution. A modded xbox. If you want it for GPS and wardriving, gotta go gentoox. If not, XBoxMediaPlayer/Center for movies, music, emulator games, etc. Put it in the trunk and throw in a few wireless controllers and you get the added benefit of HALO! All for about $250 with solderless mod chip. Ive spent about $400 for a comparable mini-itx and still the graphics card sucks. The only 2 downsides are the
  • wouldn't it be just as easy to just mount a used decent laptop somehow, with the 12 volt charger? Once you've bought these components, etc, it's (roughly) the same price as for a used laptop or notebook isn't it? Just build a mount for it somehow, or cut the dash out for the screen, or a sliding shelf or something?

    No, reading the comments I understand the site is down, so haven't read the article yet, but 12 volt mobo,ram, various drives, LCD screen etc bought separately has got to add up quickly. I unders
  • by The_Laughing_God ( 253693 ) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @04:54PM (#8757649)
    When Virgin went out of the Internet access business, four years ago, they behind a lot of of Webplayer personal appliances in their customers houses, and even more in their warehouses. The 200MHz CPU was adequate for most car uses (by the standards of the time), and the low power 256MB DiskOnChip could hold most common OSs. It had IDE, USB, built in NIC or modem, room to wedge in some surplus slimline laptop CD drives, a built-in 800x600 color LCD (the Webplayer was VGA, but the LCDs were physically 800x600, and needed only a simple driver upgrade) etc.

    Total draw was under 1 amp at 5v.

    You could buy them directly from the company for $100 (Boundless was selling them for a bit more through internet auction houses, years later). I bought a few through a group buy, and one of them ended up in a car, and ran perfectly for three years until the car was rear-ended, cracking the screen (no, the computer wasn't in use - in fact, the car was being driven by a family member who didn't realize it was there at all)

    That was a trivial weekend's work and $200 in total parts (hard drive, USB accessories, power supply etc.) four years ago. The GPS was added some time later (it was initially an MP3 player)

    There were many other similar 'web appliances' at the time that I wonder what makes this particular project worthy of /. today. Sure, it's nice -kudos to the builder- but 4 years is three cycles of Moore's Law, and scaling the cost/performance backwards, I get the feeling I must be missing some key feature. It only seems to be droolworthy for gawkers, not hands-on geeks.

    Yeah, Moore's Law doesn't apply directly, but it's not a bad scaling metric for hobby project cost.

    Car computers based on small surplus off the shelf systems are trivial for anyone interested in using them (vs. bragging rights for tech specs). If this article interests you, you could have a computer in your car two weeks from today, with minimal work (including eBay buying/shipping time)
    • If your WebPlayer was integrated with your car's computer, then I'm impressed. If not, your example is sufficiently behind the curve to have fallen off the table in the mean time.

      OBD II [] is the key feature that converges yesterday's non-integrated mobile computer with today's integrated and interactive monitoring, communication and entertainment system.
  • I see plenty of posts here about technology to use in the car, but none of them write about the chassis in which the motherboard resides! carcpu [] has some enclosures []for sale. They're expensive though, but it has a anti-vibration chassis for your hard drive and it's protective for your motherboard.
  • There are quite a few half-height ISA or PCI SBCs on eBay with a Pentium cpu, 32+ mb ram and 16+ mb flash Disk-on-Chip. They'll fit nicely into a small empty radio case, or something similar made manually from Home Depot parts.

    Ive won bids on one card with a PCI connector on it, and will plug in a Soundblaster Live, and run Linux on it. It takes standard ATX power and guess what, the car battery is 12V too. My only worry now is adjusting the card output current to what the amplifier takes, and if the PCI s
  • Car PC (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    These are pretty cool too..
    car pc []
  • Oh Geez! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Warn me when these guys are gonna be driving around and surfing p0rn at the same time!!!

    Whatever happened to DRIVING while driving?
  • I've got an '03 Murano that I'm winding up to hack. Got the stock GPS and the SAT-ready Bose. Nissan won't sell you a satellite cable for the '03s but there are ways to get them. OTOH, this place [] is about to release a device that fakes out the radio to accept aux audio in via the unused SAT radio port. The radio controls (next/prev channel, next/prev preset group, presets 1-6) are all passed through their adapter to accessories, and text data is returned to the head unit for display as if it were RDS text.
  • Many a times I have wanted this in a car... a device that uses my sprintpcs unlimited mobile internet service and hooks to my treo 600 (has full featured browser) and converts text to speech. So before I head to work, I just get in the car, load a webpage on my phone and plug that device to the car FM transmitter so I can listen to the /. discussion over the radio and still keep my eyes on the road...

    The more cumbersome option is to take my laptop with me in car, hack my phone so I can use it as wireless m

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