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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I guess this is the place for this...

Project GTO

Just wanted to start my worklog on my carputer install procedure. This install was a group effort to make this carputer both very functional and look as close to stock as can be. I didnt want to have wires and such hanging everywhere, and I didnt even want the stereo to scream (I am a geek and let it be known that a geek's stereo lives here), not that I am saying others do. Just that I didnt want to attract attention to a costly stereo either.

I chose the following components for my build:
1.6 Mac Mini Core Duo (Windows XP Pro)
Lilliput 7 Inch in-dash screen (VGA/TV Tuner built in/Radio (50X4)/Rear Camera/Dual RCA in)
Seidio 4200M Phone mount
Seidio 2010 Bluetooth GPS
Streetdeck (Front end software)
Bytecc Hard Drive ATA/USB adapter
Carnetix P1900 power supply (with Mac Mini wire adapter)
Custom front panel (fabricated)
misc odds and ends

Here is a quick shot teaser of some test fitting till I can finish my worklog and project... Very happy with the project so far. Should be done in the next two weeks for those interested...

This project is being brought to you by AustinModders.com and all the featured members there. (www.austinmodders.com)

Members include in this build but not limited to:
Mr. Red

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83 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Project GTO

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Started "Project GTO" this past Saturday (July 8th, 2006), as many of the AustinModders already know, and wanted to log our progress for all to see here. Hopefully it can give you ideas on your own car project or at least get you stimulated to do something creative.

I recently purchased this Pontiac GTO to replace my daily driver 1997 Mustang. I initially wanted a new 2007 Shelby Mustang, but after waiting so long and comparing the Shelby to the GTO performance/price wise, the GTO just made more sense. That and I could get the GTO now. Hmmmm, instant gratification and a lot of speed and power, or wait another year and pay 20K more. Let me think.... A new Mustang will probably be in my future, but for now the GTO is a fantastic ride and saves me money regardless of the mpg. "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up." :)

Part List:
Apple 1.6Ghz Mac Mini Core Duo - A Solo will do but I wanted as much power in the small package as I could get, and I liked the integrated DVDRW - Apple.com - ~$800
Carnetix P1900 V2.0 - DC/DC power supply regulator - works flawlessly with the Mac Mini - Carnetix.com ~$100
Carnetix "MacPac" Cable - Adapts the P1900 so you dont have to cut your Apple supplied power supply for use in car - Carnetix.com ~$25
Lilliput 7" In-Dash Touchscreen (GL701NP/C/T) - Builtin TV Tunner/VGA & Audio IN/Dual RCA Video&Audio IN/Rear Camera IN - Lilliput.tv ~$450
Seidio RBT-2010 Bluetooth GPS receiver - Allows GPS connection via bluetooth - SeidioOnline.com ~$115
Seidio G4200M PPC6700 Phone Cradle - Mounts my phone and adapts the connections for true stereo phone connection and microphone - SeidioOnline.com ~$120
Bytecc 2.5"/3.5" Hard Drive ATA/USB adapter - Allows for add on hard drive for more storage and large file transfers - ByteccUSA.com ~$20
Seagate 200GB 7200RPM - Transfer files/additional storage - Seagate.com ~$70
Streetdeck.com Streetdeck - Windows based "front end" software - Streetdeck.com ~$200 (paid $150 early prepay option prior to initial release)
~10ft of 12-14gauge wire - various wire runs if needed - Hardware/Electronics store ~$5-10

Fabricated pieces:
Front face plate - Laser cut P99 Black acrylic matte finish (You can use your model DIN adapter as well of course)
Acrylic hard drive mounting rails - Clear acrylic
Mac Mini mount/shims
VGA to DVI slim mount cable

Tools Needed:
Preferrably an extra set of hands or 12 :)))
Soldering Iron (including various consumables like solder, wick, etc.)
Screwdriver set (various lengths for tight spaces)
Wire Cutters
Wire Strippers
Electrical tape or Wire shrink
Heat gun
Utility knife
Wiring diagrams (clearly labeled) for both wire harnesses in use and your model of car
Volt Meter or Digital Multimeter
Analog or Digital Calipers (taking measurements)
VGA extension cable (will be cut in most cases)
DVI-VGA adapter (will be cut as well in most cases)
USB Keyboard (dont forget this)
USB Mouse (dont forget this)
Driver CDs
USB Flash Memory key (not necessary but makes it easier)
Wire nuts (or various clamp/loop/grip connectors desired - testing)

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
We started the build on Saturday July 10th, 2006 during our regular ~bi-monthly meeting at Zapwizard's home in Northwest Austin Metro, Texas. First, we layed out the parts to go over what we had to work with and looked the car over to consider ideas on how to proceed and where best to mount things.

From left to right you will see:
Bytecc adapter box with power supply in it
DIN adapter kit (not used in this build in the end, but yours may look something like that)
Carnetix P1900 DC/DC power supply (silver aluminum box on cardboard box)
Apple supplied power supply (used for testing only - pure white box with cable at upper left)
Seidio Bluetooth RBT-2010 GPS receiver (small black object to right of DIN kit)
Wire harness for GTO (most wire harnesses will come like this - in plastic wrap above GPS receiver)
Lilliput 7" In-Dash screen (wire harness included and already attached in this image - center of picture)
Adapters and cables for phone cradle and microphone (upper right)
Apple Mac Mini computer (lower right)

Next on to the demolition phase. It is important to have on hand all the tools you need for the job at this point. It will take more time if you have to constantly get out of the vehicle to grab something else. It is a good idea to work on the vehicle on a very level ground and not a bad idea to put wheel stops on the vehicle. Since you are working on the center dash, you will find that often you have to disengage the transmission to pull something off or fit something in and it would be a bad idea to have the vehicle going somewhere in the process. At times you may also turn the engine on to test something and it would be better if the vehicle was going to stay in one place for the test. If you are new to electrical work or just want to play it extra safe, you should disconnect your car battery to make sure you arent working with live wires. You wil want your car repair/maintenance manual onhand for reference in the dismantle of your car dash and removal of the stock stereo unit if necessary.

In our case the stock removal of the stereo is quite easy. We took a wire hanger and cut 4 sections out of it. You can get by with two large sections as well bent into a "U" shape like the factory tool is. The wire sections will be inserted into the holes found at the four corners of our factory stereo unit. Once inserted, slight pressure outwards from the vertical center of the stereo will grab hold of the stereo. Afterwards pull the stereo towards the back of the vehicle. Here is where an extra set of hands may be particularly helpful.

I really liked the design of this stereo. The wire harness and antenna are situated at the back of the DIN cage so that you dont have to squeeze your hand back there and remove the harness by hand. Inserting the stock unit back in makes the connections once again if needed.

On this car, the dash is fairly easy to remove. The plastic moldings will all have to be removed. We were very pleased with the fit and finish though of all the screws used and cloth wrap to keep the moldings and wires from making noise. The top molding was one piece followed by the bottom center console molding. About 8 screws were removed to take the moldings off.


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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Once the plastic moldings were out of the way, we proceeded with test fitting our idea of mounting the Mac Mini and the screen vertically in the dash together. Initially I was going to try and mount the screen on top of the Mac Mini, but space constraints lent more to the Mac Mini being above the screen. The screen movement will clear the shifter by about an inch when it extracts and retracts. Very important to remember any parts that will be moving on their own and check for clearances. The screen being on the bottom also means I have to reach up less to change volume and work the controls viewable on the screen.

Everything looked like it would fit very well. We used a digital caliper to take measurements of various distances. We needed to know everything about how to create our own faceplate since we decided early on the DIN adapter look and feel would not fit well with the custom design we were going for. We measured the distance from left to right, top to bottom, mac mini cd slot height/width/spacing, screen enclosure height/width, center of buttom placements on the screen, everything. We designed a face plate in Corel Draw 11 that would give coordinates to a laser cutter to cut and etch a face plate for us. Sounds a lot easier than done. Even with our precise measurements it took us 4 hours straight just to get it perfect. You can see just some of the attempts we made to get the curves right.

We didnt want to use the more expensive black acrylic 1/8 inch stock we had for the test fitting, so we used much thinner scrap pieces to do the testing. Faster to cut with the laser and much less expensive. After we thought we had the dimensions and fit we wanted, we planned the final cut and created designs for the face plate. I didnt want the face plate to look open and plain so we put "Project GTO" across the top of the face plate and positioned the AustinModders logo (minus the capitol building) seen at the top of the AustinModders.com website between the MacMini slot and the screen opening. To give it a more custom and finished look, we added "Volume" and "Menu" to the bottom left and right in order to label the buttons on the screen portion (unlabeled on the screen controls). I really liked how the etching ended up and the black matte finish is a near perfect match to the stock OEM matte moldings.

More images of the laser cutting

We used masking tape on the etching because stray laser beams tend to tarnish the areas around the material being cut when etching. Even a stray laser beam can make an area look gray in a fraction of a second. Best to protect the area you dont want to get etched. The masking gives just the right amount of protection.


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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
In order to make the power button modification to the Mac Mini, it needs to be opened. The Mac Mini plastic housing on the top is a force to be reckoned with. :) But if you know a couple of tricks, you can safely remove the top cover without destroying anything. Here you will see the Mac Mini "Wire Trick" to removing the cover. Simply loop a piece of scrap wire (fairly thin) through each of the holes shown below. You will find that the wire wraps around a plastic tab. Pulling on both ends of the wire simultaneously releases the tab and thus allowing the cover to be removed.

You will have to work each tab individually to eventually take the cover off, but no harm will come to the unit. Be carefull not to wrap the wire around anything other than the plastic white tab. Yes, there are that many tabs. We solved opening the Mac Mini at a later date by cutting about 50% of the tabs off (or in other words removing 2 of the 4 tabs on each of the three sides where tabs are located). What was once held in place by 12 tabs now has 6. Still very secure but not annoying to remove in the future should an upgrade to memory be performed for instance. Speaking of RAM, I find that 512MB is enough RAM on this unit for this type of duty, but you may want to increase it in the future. It may be worth considering upgrading it before you do this install should you not want to remove the Mac in the future.

Inside you will find a connector as indicated in the manual PDF file for the Carnetix P1900. It shows the image of the Mac Mini power button that needs to be changed with the included power button "Y" cable. Once the change has been made, be sure to let the extra part of the "Y" cable hand through the cover and replace the cover. Of course by this point we had already used a pair of wire cutters to snip the extra retaining clips. Doing so may void your warranty and in no way am I responsible. In fact opening the Mac Mini by anyone other than a certified Apple repair technician for the purpose of Apple certified repair work may void your warranty as well. Be warned, but we here arent that worried about warranties now are we?

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
You see, the goat is a 4 seater. That means more than one person can be in it. Yah, I know, weird right. So you see, there can be 3 more people in there. Some of which begging to drive, yah, I know again. Weird huh how they would expect that. So the DVD playing a movie will keep them preoccupado so to speak. :)

Seriously though, I drive down to see my family every few months or so and the drive is like 6 hours so it helps to have something to kill the time. My car is a daily driver and comfortable enough to take on long trips. Remember, I live in central Texas here in Austin. EVERYTHING is far away. Dallas 4 hours, Houston 2-3 hours, San Antonio 1.5-2 hours, El Paso 10 hours, Amarillo 7-9 hours.

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Mickey21 said:
Seriously though, I drive down to see my family every few months or so and the drive is like 6 hours so it helps to have something to kill the time. .
If you watch movies while driving, time is not the only thing you'll kill. I may just be too old, but it sounds like you're trying to turn your goat into my minivan.:seeya:

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the lecture...

If my GTO is anything like your minivan, than you have an awesome minivan. Apparently it seems my car is the first car anyone has ever tried to entertain themselves in while being driven anywhere. And if you think I am watching movies while I am driving, I am probably still 200% safer than the other drivers out there. Not saying I do or condone watching anything but the road while driving. If I was, than wouldnt I deserve it? What, I am supposed to drive a minivan whenever I take anyone but me somewhere else? Dont think so... I will leave that to others...

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
We tested out everything before placing it in the car just to make sure all our wiring and connections were right. It's a good idea, but not necessary of course. In the picture you can see we used a 500W power supply to get the 12V needed and supplied that to the P1900. From there it powers the both the Mac Mini and Screen in this test. However, the final install will not be that way. The screen will get it's power from the factory car harness just as the stereo did before it, and the P1900 will supply power to the Mac Mini.

Here's and idea of what the final setup will look like. This was part of our test fitting procedure. You can see some of the silver from the Mac Mini protruding through the cd slot, but I feel it matches nicely with the silver on the dash molding pieces. Cant wait to have this all done with.

Stay tuned. Coming up we have the the actual screen and Mac Mini installed and ready. Power supply mounting in the dash. GPS receiver placement. Streetdeck front end testing and demo video. Final demo video. More into the future we have a front bumper forward viewing nightvision camera, rear view reverse camera, video capture, OBD-II code reader and performance display, and more. Come back for updates very soon.
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