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skeurton
12-05-2007, 12:02 PM
i completed this project a couple months ago and never got around to posting it here.

i used a SPAL linear actuator and controller to motorize a 7" LCD monitor. it flips up and down with the ignition signal of the car. the monitor is a vga touchscreen, which is connected to a laptop computer in the trunk (aka carputer). i use it for music, movies, navigation, and internet.

here are a few videos of it in action...

http://virtualskies.ulmb.com/carputer/index.htm

http://www.picpanther.com/albums/userpics/11066/screen.gif

Alex
12-05-2007, 04:17 PM
Pretty sweet project skeurton, thanks for the submission!

Do you happen to have any pictures of construction to go along with this submission, and possibly explain a little more about how you interfaced with the linear actuator? We like all the geeky details:)

skeurton
12-05-2007, 06:25 PM
hey alex, thanks for the comments! i believe we spoke on the phone before. i was having a problem with the controller/actuator responding to the ignition signal. we agreed that it may have been a short in the potentiometer, but i never got around to checking it. nevertheless, the thing just started working again. weird stuff.

anyway, i'll try and fill in the details as best i can, along with some pictures. i got some shots of the actual construction phase that was going on inside my house while the dash of my car was torn down. unfortunately, i never took any pictures of the actual installation process.

first off, the actuator and controller...

http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=106&stc=1&d=1196900497


this is the "map pocket" that sits in the center of the dash. i had to remove it in order to do some modifications to it...

http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=107&stc=1&d=1196900497


i used a door hinge and the SPAL bracket to attach to the monitor...

http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=108&stc=1&d=1196900497

http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=109&stc=1&d=1196900497

skeurton
12-05-2007, 06:30 PM
the other side of the hinge is attached to the lid of the map pocket...

http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=111&stc=1&d=1196900826

http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=112&stc=1&d=1196900826


in order for the monitor to fold down completely and have everything close flush, i had to "gut" the map pocket...

http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=113&stc=1&d=1196900826

http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=114&stc=1&d=1196900826

http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=115&stc=1&d=1196900826

skeurton
12-05-2007, 06:42 PM
as far as the computer itself is concerned, it's an old laptop i had laying around. it sits on a docking station in the trunk. the little silver box above it is a computer power supply made specifically for car computer applications. it takes the ignition signal and automatically starts and hibernates the computer. so for instance, turn the car on and the computer boots up in about 5 seconds. turn the car off, and it goes into hibernation in about the same amount of time.

like i said before, it holds all my mp3's, video files, and has GPS navigation. when i'm parked outside my house, i can get internet access. but i mainly use the wireless connection to transfer files between the car and home computers.

the monitor is a touchscreen, so control is made easy in concert with an intuitive GUI. i also have a wireless keyboard/mouse just in case. an even more useful little item i added was the griffin powermate. it basically a rotary dial that lets you control the computer. so i can use it to scroll through my long list of music, play, pause, volume control, etc., just by turning it or pushing it like a button. it's highly programmable and easy to use. there's also an external dvd drive in the glove compartment, perfect for watching movies, burning/listening to cd's, ripping cd's, etc. it's an all-in-one multimedia center and works out great for me!

http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=116&stc=1&d=1196900826

http://forums.trossenrobotics.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=117&stc=1&d=1196900826

kdwyer
12-05-2007, 07:33 PM
Great project!
Um, I'm not sure I want to be in front of you while driving though LOL

skeurton
12-06-2007, 11:06 AM
Um, I'm not sure I want to be in front of you while driving though LOL
that's ok. i don't like it when people drive in front of me anyway. :veryhappy:

Alex
12-06-2007, 11:30 AM
WOW:robotsurprised:

I knew there were some really geekilicious things I didn't know about with this project! Thanks for the pics and explanations.


so for instance, turn the car on and the computer boots up in about 5 seconds. turn the car off, and it goes into hibernation in about the same amount of time.


What OS are you running that boots up and shuts down that quickly?


I remember talking to you now:) Glad everything started working again, strange though...

skeurton
12-06-2007, 11:36 AM
What OS are you running that boots up and shuts down that quickly?
it's basically a really watered down version of xp. lots of programs and drivers have either been disabled or deleted. only the essential device drivers are loaded up.

kdwyer
12-06-2007, 11:38 AM
Here's a source for some low-power SBCs

http://www.embeddedarm.com/index.html

I think they all use a Linux distribution. All seem to be very low power, with a few really low.
The specs say one of them can boot in under 2 seconds, and shut down about as rapidly. I hope to look into this sometime early next year.
Looks like a great way to "brain up" a bot.

Alex
12-06-2007, 11:46 AM
I never knew you could get XP to load up that quick!

SBC's are pretty cool stuff.

Have you ever checked out the pico-ITX or nano-ITX before:

http://www.mini-itx.com/store/

I know they're not "SBC's", but damn do these little computers pack a punch for their size!

skeurton
12-06-2007, 11:50 AM
if i didn't already have a laptop laying around, i definitely would have gone with a mini-ITX system. those things are great and well suited to car applications. in fact, a majority of the people over at mp3car.com (http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin) use mini-ITX boards. they're so small, you can fit them just about anywhere!!!

Alex
12-07-2007, 11:23 AM
mp3car.com has some great stuff! I've looked through their site on many occasions:)

Too bad I'm so wrapped up in robotics, else I'd totally pimp my car out with all sorts of geeky cool stuff from there.

skeurton
12-28-2007, 07:21 PM
pictures are what we like around here, right? well, i've got some more of those to share... :tongue:

but how 'bout a video first??? :veryhappy:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzZZIBbHjic

and now the pics...

this is what the interior of the car looks like...

http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/attachments/show-off-your-project/47082d1198741658-mazda-6-carputer-update-interior.jpg

the following are screenshots of the front end software used to control the system...

main menu
music player
GPS navigation
current weather
weather forecast
audio mixerhttp://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/attachments/show-off-your-project/47083d1198741658-mazda-6-carputer-update-1.jpg

http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/attachments/show-off-your-project/47084d1198741658-mazda-6-carputer-update-2.jpg

http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/attachments/show-off-your-project/47119d1198885475-mazda-6-carputer-update-7.jpg

http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/attachments/show-off-your-project/47086d1198741658-mazda-6-carputer-update-4.jpg

http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/attachments/show-off-your-project/47087d1198741658-mazda-6-carputer-update-5.jpg

http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/attachments/show-off-your-project/47088d1198741658-mazda-6-carputer-update-6.jpg

charliex
12-29-2007, 07:11 PM
Here's a source for some low-power SBCs

http://www.embeddedarm.com/index.html

I think they all use a Linux distribution. All seem to be very low power, with a few really low.
The specs say one of them can boot in under 2 seconds, and shut down about as rapidly. I hope to look into this sometime early next year.
Looks like a great way to "brain up" a bot.

I'm building an in car system using the ts 7300 from embedded arm, its pretty good has a lower power mode, battery backup up rtc, battery backup for power loss, it has a couple of modes , boot up a a mini system in about 1.6 seconds, then a 'full' debian in about 20-30 seconds.

Its based on kernel 2.4 but you can get 2.6 working.

I've got phidgets working on it too, the ts7300 has vga at 640x480 565 rgb and 800x600 with a hardware blitter using the custom fpga. lots of io pins are available , adc, can bus etc.


http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8529945700778593730&hl=en

Alex
01-02-2008, 10:42 AM
Pretty cool stuff skeurton! I always wanted to see one of these carputers in action:) Did you build any of the software?

I can hear the clicking, but is this clicking your ignition turning on and off, which signals to your computer to raise/lower your actuator?

skeurton
01-03-2008, 01:43 PM
Pretty cool stuff skeurton! I always wanted to see one of these carputers in action:) Did you build any of the software?

I can hear the clicking, but is this clicking your ignition turning on and off, which signals to your computer to raise/lower your actuator?
i didn't write any of the software. i'm using RoadRunner as a front end, which is open source and highly customizable. then i took someone else's skin design and customized it to my liking. it involves a lot of image and text/code editing, but the result is worth it. and it's free!!!

the navigation is provided by iGuidance, which i just recently upgraded to v4.0. i used to have v2.1.3, and while the GPS features were there, it just wasn't very "carputer" friendly (i.e. hard to read, small buttons, etc.). but the company really lends itself to the carPC community and has really been making strides in improving the interface.


i believe the clicking you hear is the actuator controller. it is indeed wired up to an ignition signal, but in series with the monitor's power signal. in other words, the screen only comes up when the monitor is getting power. this is done with the intelligent PSU that i got from carnetix. here's what happens...
turn the car on
the PSU detects the ignition signal
the PSU powers on
the PSU sends a momentary pulse to the computer to turn it on
after a 6-second delay, the PSU's 5V and 12V rails are activated; devices on these rails include the external DVD drive and monitor
the actuator controller detects power flow to the monitor
the actuator extends and the monitor flips upturn the car off, reverse the process, and... VOILA... the monitor goes down.

skeurton
02-20-2008, 01:59 PM
just another update...

i filed my taxes for the year, so i decided to spend a bit of my refund on a new carputer setup. you can see all the iterations i've gone through with my current setup on my website: http://imondepression.com/carputer.

here are the parts that i've kept from the current setup:

- external dvd drive
- soundblaster live! 24-bit external
- microsoft gps locator
- griffin powermate
- BTC wireless mini keyboard

and here's a list of all the new parts:

- intel D201GLY2 motherboard (1.2GHz celeron)
- M2-ATX power supply
- MCS mini itx case
- 1GB kingston RAM
- d-link 7-port usb hub
- hitachi travelstar 80GB hard drive
- XM direct + Mp3Car.com USB adapter

TOTAL COST: $465

in addtion to the hardware upgrade, i've also upgraded the front end software to StreetDeck (payware). i was previously using Road Runner (free), which is absolutely fantastic. it's highly customizable and packed full of features. but i love the StreetDeck interface. it's intuitive, easy to navigate, and looks great. customization is a bit more challenging, but it comes with a SDK. in the end, it's worth it.

i got the case from Mobile Computing Solutions (http://www.mo-co-so.com). i gotta say that it's a great design and solidly built. it'll fit just about any mini itx board, along with almost any power supply. it comes with everything you would need, including an extra long power cord for a monitor. it also has an extra pair of USB slots on the back panel, as well as a 12V barrel connection for a monitor and a 6-pin molex connector. i used 3 pins for +12V, ground, and ignition, and the other 3 pins for 5V connections (USB hub and external DVD drive).

the last thing i did was add XM satellite radio functionality. it's fully controlled through the StreetDeck interface. i bought the XM direct receiver + USB adapter bundle from Mp3Car.com. normally, the XM direct receiver would send its data to a car stereo in order to display the song and channel information. but the guys at Mp3Car.com developed a little breakout box that sends the receiver data to the computer via USB.

overall, i'm happy with the new setup. it took a few days to work out some bugs and customize StreetDeck. the motherboard in particular has a few quirks that need to be tweaked. for instance, it took a long time before it would post and begin to load windows. i would say anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. but going into the BIOS and disabling legacy USB brought that time down to practically nothing.

anyway, here's a vid and some pictures...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB0tU8MuWTY

the interior of the car remains the same...
http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/imagehosting/865747a9b93b71a3e.jpg

the case from MCS:
http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/imagehosting/865747a9b9122314a.jpg

intel D201GLY2 motherboard...
http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/imagehosting/865747a9b9128c485.jpg

rubber bushings used to mount the motherboard (also used to mount the hard drive)...
http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/imagehosting/865747a9b912b8761.jpg

M2-ATX power supply...
http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/imagehosting/865747a9b912e32d9.jpg

build completed and ready to close the case...
http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/imagehosting/865747a9b91373167.jpg

back panel...
http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/imagehosting/865747a9b9139dcd8.jpg

PC that looks like an amp...
http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/imagehosting/865747a9b913c78aa.jpg

i also got this modified power adapter that lets me use the PC outside of the car...
http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/imagehosting/865747a9b91347657.jpg

bench testing...
http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/imagehosting/865747a9b913f241c.jpg

installed in car... i tried to get the PC mounted on the seat back, but i broke 3 drill bits trying to make pilot holes for the screws. i don't know how i ever got those amps on the other seat back. oh well, maybe i'll try again some other time.
http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/imagehosting/865747a9b93b1a800.jpg

http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/imagehosting/865747a9b93b46317.jpg

lastly, i drilled a hole in the front panel of the case to wire up a momentary switch in the front of the car. this is more for convenience for when the PC freezes. i've been on the road at times when the PC decided to stop working and had no way of resetting it. problem solved!
http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/imagehosting/865747a7e0c034ee5.jpg