Nerd Hotrod

Since I got my new car in October, I’ve been planning and scheming and pondering how I would put a computer in it. Actually, a mobile car-mounted computer has been on my mental (Want)ToDo list for a while, initially just to play mp3’s. Then I got an iPod, and the need for bogomips speed became less pressing.

With the new car, I had no tape deck .. so hacking was required to add a line-in (by way of FM modulator) to connect my external digital audio device. In the course of this hacking, I discovered it’s fairly simple to take apart the interior of a Mazda 3 (see my links for some hints). So ideas and possibilities started popping into my brain .. “I could put the GPS under this panel here .. and the wires would go here”.

Also, there’s this nifty device called the “AuxMod”: .. which provides a much cleaner line-in than a modulator. And the Advanced version adds a serial port for some nifty interfacing to the OEM head-unit — the buttons on the steering wheel could control a PC, and the PC could send text to the in-dash display ..
more ideas 🙂

Anyway, I finally started this weekend. I pulled off a few plastic panels and put USB WiFi adapter and a GPS receiver under the dash, right behind the defroster vent. The actual computer (case+board+DC-DC power supply) is still on the way, but I’m planning on sticking it right under the driver’s seat. I already have the USB and audio cables under there, ready to plug in. I also stuck an open USB port where the ashtray used to be.

Once I get the PC in there, I’ll start playing with the software.
OS will be Linux of some flavor (probably “Debian”: or “Ubuntu”: ) .
“MPD”: has worked great around the house as a headless music player, should work well in the car too.
Still looking for a GPS program that will work well with a text-only display (or no display). Some simple track logging should be pretty easy to set up though.

Other possible hardware:
bumper mounted digital camera(s) – you’d be surprised how hard it is to accurately remember the license plate number of a hit-and-run driver 😛
OBD-II interface – think /var/log/car_engine 😀

Case and PC should be arriving this week, I’ll post more after I have it installed .. *evilgrin*