About two years ago i decided to build a computer that i could use in my car. With the help from a bunch of people over at www.mp3car.com this is the carcomputer that i have built. It it always going to be a work in progress as new technologies emerge and i feel need to be adapted into my system.
I built the system around a VIA EPIA PX10000 PICO ITX moterboard. It has a 1.0 Ghz processor and 1 GB of RAM. Its small size and large feature set makes it a good option from mobile computing. I needed lots of storage for music, movies, and GPS so i choose a Segate 150 GB SATA harddrive. I wanted to go with solid state due to the extreme conditions that the drive would have to face but they were too expensive to implement. To interact with my car computer i purcased a 7 inch Lilliput USB touchscreen. It has a VGA out that hooks up to the computer but also supports composite connections. Two kenwood amplifiers were used to power four Alpine speakers and the other to power two 12 inch Kicker subwoofers. The audio out connectors on the pico board were header pins that i couldn't find an adapter for so i purchased a usb audio device to connect the amplifiers to the computer. One issue that many car pc builders face is how to get standard AM/FM radio to their computer. A guy name Mitch JS over at mp3car.com created a serial cable that is compatible with Visteon HD radio recievers. I hooked up my HD radio to my serial port and the audio out to my usb audio connector. A generic "puck" style USB reciever is a cheap and simple way to offer navigation capabilities to any computer. To power the motherboard, the harddrive, and the touchscreen i used an M3 power supply and startup / shutdown controller.
On the software side of the car computer i used Windows XP with a car computer interface called RoadRunner. It as opensource front end designed for car computers. It has been in development over at mp3car.com for many years now. There are many independant skin designers that have designed beautiful looking skins to appear to almost everyones tastes. RoadRunner interfaces with WinAmp to play and manage music. Mitch, the guy that i got the HD radio cable from, wrote the drivers that will let the HD radio interface with RoadRunner. I did many different customizations to the OS as i had different issues and ideas came up.
I am in the process of moving to cloud computing car PC environment. Media is begeninning to be streamed over the internet has almost removed the need for storage on mobile devices. Tethering to my phone through bluetooth is an option for now but i wat to imoprove it to be more streamlined. Like i said before, a car PC will turn into an ongoing project that may not ever end for some people. I enjoy working on mine as much as i like working on my car. It will have to be finished when my car becomes finished.