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#1 (permalink) Old 04-22-2005, 11:43 AM
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Hey I just wanted to see if anyone has done this or know much about this before I venture through.

At home I have a computer that is hooked in with my entertainment center (TV, Reciever, etc..)...which is becoming more and more popular. It is strictly just for music that "always" pay for and NEVER download illegaly. It is really awesome to just find what I want to hear and click on it. Anyway, I was thinking it would be awesome to have that in my car, with a touch screen monitor, running windows XP. I could use it like a juke box in my car basically. I could transfer music useing an MP3 player. I found a website that sells car computers and monitors and seems like it will work, but I believe I will lose my radio.

http://www.mp3car.com/

So if anyone has any experience with this, let me know. If not..if anybody is interested Ill post my experience when I decide to do it.

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#2 (permalink) Old 04-23-2005, 01:56 PM
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One option would be to use an Ipod with the new alpine interface unit. If you have an Alpine head unit that is compatible with the interface unit. You can control your ipod with the head unit. This also keeps the ipod charged so it doesn't die on you after hours on the road. But it sounds like you want a full size or somekind of monitor in the dash. This is one options.
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#3 (permalink) Old 04-25-2005, 07:28 AM
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I did look into that, but I want something alittle nicer and more permanant. I like the idea of the 7" touch screen in the dash and full computer on it. I could use it for GPS, Music, even internet. I have a wireless router at the house and can tranfer files to it and have in my car anytime I need them. It seems perfect. Thanks for the idea though!

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#4 (permalink) Old 04-27-2005, 07:52 AM
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Been there, done it! Not in my BMW, but my previous car... I used a 7" touch screen mainly for MP3/Nav usage. Was pretty cool, and worked fairly well in the summer, but only so/so in the Canadian winters... If you have any specific questions, please ask, but a couple of recommendations for you if you go this way;

1) Please do a custom fibreglass job for the touchscreen or find someone who will do it for you - looks 100x better. Took me the better part of 30 hours to get my screen looking like a stock setup, but soooooo much more clean!

2) Pick yourself up a true automotive power supply - I used an OPUS 150w supply. This turns it into a turn-key system (so to speak!); when you turn the key over, the computer starts booting (surviving the cranking of the engine), and when you take your key out of the igniton the system automatically shuts down ... no buttons to turn things on/off, etc, etc...

3) Wireless networking is your friend!

4) If your feeling adventurous (and patient) grab an IBUS interface from Rolf Reisler for $40 (google him) and you can interface directly to the audio / display systems in your car (ie, get the time, write to the dash display, check lights, change volume, etc, etc, etc - but no "critical" systems interface - ie can't touch the engine, braking, etc, etc)!

5) Don't play with the bloody thing too much while your driving - it can be very very distracting - a good user interface on the touchscreen is a must - I had "buttons" in the four corners of the screen so that I could touch common commands without looking at the screen ...

Again, if you have questions, please ask and I'll do my best to answer. I have a new project underway that's more of a middle ground between a full PC and an IPOD and connects directly to the guts of the BMW!
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#5 (permalink) Old 04-27-2005, 07:54 AM
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Oh, btw, you don't have to lose your radio ... the biggest issue is jamming everything in with the 7" touch screen - remember, some of the BMW dash components can be moved!

--GTC
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#6 (permalink) Old 04-27-2005, 10:56 AM
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Thats pretty much exactly the response I was looking for! Ill start doing the research on the power supply and IBUS interface, that sounds pretty awesome. Im very good with computers so Im actually pretty interested in your project also. It would be nice to control more car functions from the PC as well. Ill definetely have to start with the basics though.

I do have a few questions, maybe your experience can help.

Heres what I currently have:
Pioneer 7000CD 7" LCD Head Unit
Pioneer AV-8000 Brain Unit under the passenger carpet
Pioneer TV Tuner Module w/ Antennas under the passenger seat
Microvision 5.6" LCD's mounted BOTH Headrests
Playstation 2 mounted under the glovebox

How can I keep the functionality of the radio/TV/Playstation?
Can I connect the PC to the current system I have, maybe just use an available Video in on the brain unit. (Ill have to pull it out and look at the connections maybe) Actually now that I think about it, I will need a touch screen anyway, so that whole system will most likely need to go, huh?

How deos a PC physically connect to the speakers of the car? especially if you keep a radio in the car at the same time?

Well if you have some ideas on that, let me know.

Thanks for your help!!

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#7 (permalink) Old 04-27-2005, 11:54 AM
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Mmm... i'm thinking audigy 2... 7.1 digital speakers... 40,000 song playlists... wireless G to transfer files/nav info from home network when parked in garage.

-orgasm-

damnit, I dont need anymore projects.

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#8 (permalink) Old 04-27-2005, 12:04 PM
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Well im already hooked up with the wireless router in the house and have planned to do that! I have the Audigy 2 in one of my home computers, which I have hooked to my stereo. Im still curious on how to hook the computer up directly to car speakers though? At home it goes through the reciever, my car deosnt have a reciever. Thats why I was asking about the Brain unit currently in my car.

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#9 (permalink) Old 04-27-2005, 04:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jkloese@Apr 27 2005, 09:56 AM
Thats pretty much exactly the response I was looking for! Ill start doing the research on the power supply and IBUS interface, that sounds pretty awesome. Im very good with computers so Im actually pretty interested in your project also. It would be nice to control more car functions from the PC as well. Ill definetely have to start with the basics though.

I do have a few questions, maybe your experience can help.

Heres what I currently have:
Pioneer 7000CD 7" LCD Head Unit
Pioneer AV-8000 Brain Unit under the passenger carpet
Pioneer TV Tuner Module w/ Antennas under the passenger seat
Microvision 5.6" LCD's mounted BOTH Headrests
Playstation 2 mounted under the glovebox

How can I keep the functionality of the radio/TV/Playstation?
Can I connect the PC to the current system I have, maybe just use an available Video in on the brain unit. (Ill have to pull it out and look at the connections maybe) Actually now that I think about it, I will need a touch screen anyway, so that whole system will most likely need to go, huh?

How deos a PC physically connect to the speakers of the car? especially if you keep a radio in the car at the same time?

Well if you have some ideas on that, let me know.

Thanks for your help!!
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Ok ... here's a few quick answers for ya ...

1) About the screen ... a couple of points; 1 - your Pioneer is probably too low res to work really well - at best most of these headunit/videoscreen all-in-one units tend to be 1440x200 pixels... I haven't checked in the last year or so, but that was generally the best you could expect - similar (and sometimes worse) then viewing on a TV screen. They are functional for MP3 playback since you generally have large font, but not great for navigation.

Your standard Lilliput or Xenarc (made by Gain - I bought this one and was very happy with the quality) should give you 800x600 resolution which is very legible! Unfortunately you do run into brightness issues - in the daylight not bright enough, and at night too bright. You can dim down the screen through software (I had my automatically dim at certain times during the day), which helps a bit, but it's tough to brighten it up. This is also worsened when you have a touchscreen film on the front, which adds a mildly hazy and reflective surface. It's not horrible, but you do lose some brightness - in direct sunlight, my screen was sometimes unreadable (If you have a tinted car, however, this shouldn't be a problem - even a slight shadow made my screen light, but legible).

Luckily the prices have dropped dramatically on the screens ... I paid about $500 when they first came out ... should be able to pick one up for about $250 or so now. Check MP3Car.com for impressions on various models.

If possible, ask for an extra "shroud" or face when buying the unit. I literraly molded the face of the unit into the dash to acheive the desired effect. It makes mounting a snap - just screw the body into the new face that you molded to your dash! (and don't forget to buy an extra BMW dash face - pretty cheap from the stealer!).

With the Xenarc unit I also had 1 VGA input (for computer) and 2 RCA inputs, so I could hook up XBOX/TV/etc ... The model was the 700yyv IIRC...

2) Your PC connects to the car via generally via an RCA input - you probably have some line inputs already used via your head unit or the brain unit (in your specific case). If you have optical/spdif inputs, you can also by a specific card (PCI/USB/etc depending on setup) to get the signal out of your computer.

If you have the standard BMW head unit, you can either go directly to the head unit with an RCA adapter from the dealer for more recent BMWs (mid 04+, I think - but check) or go with an aux-in adapter from Blitzsafe or Soundgate - these adapters connect directly to the CD changer pre-wire in your trunk. At least 1 of the Soundgate interfaces let's you connect multiple sources as well as retain the factory CD changer (if you have the changer unit). I actually opted to remove the entire radio from my old car and just use the touchscreen for the interface and a regular amplifier hooked to the PC for sound.

I also purchased a USB TV/Radio unit (Hauppage) so that I'd still have radio (and TV!). Unfortunately I never found the radio to be quite as good as the factory one, but I didn't listen to radio too much at the time, so didn't investigate much further...

Have fun!

--GTC
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