Sunday, April 30, 2006

Software Installation - Part 2

Nothing much has changed... Except.. I got the sound drivers to install! It took a lot of searching (hours) but I got them to install without freezing! Now the only problem is the computer won't start up upon loading the sound drivers. So, the issue is still not resolved, but I feel quite accomplished being able to say the sound drivers are installed.

Software Installation - Part 1

So far the computer has been nothing but bad luck. It took me two hours to find my lost Windows XP cd, but Windows did install smoothly. After Windows installed the sound card was not detected, but everything else was. I installed all the drivers only to find that the video card would not display the native resolution of the LCD monitor I am going to be using. I installed powerstrip and found the custom timings to override Window's display settings (found here) so the display was looking good. Sound card still didn't show up, so, I shut down and went to what I thought was the source of my problems (two slot pci riser card). Looking at the directions provided by OPUS, the case manufacturer, I changed the pin settings on the card to work with my motherboard. This worked and the sound card was detected by Windows.

I began installing the sound card drivers and in the middle of installation the computer froze solid. I booted back up and right when the sound drivers loaded in the computer froze again. I booted into safe mode (done by pressing F8 at startup) and removed the sound card drivers and then the computer started up just fine. I went to the creative website and downloaded the drivers from there. Those drivers froze the computer as well, so I began to search for alternative solutions.

After a few hours of searching I found an alternative that looked promising, and would give me better sound quality. I followed the directions exactly (and even used some personal knowledge to clean the drivers further), but again, upon installation of the audio drivers the computer froze. I did everything I could to make the sound card installation work (updating bios, system drivers, etc.). With the software setup being planned as the simplest part of the process I was beginning to grow worried, so I deemed the sound card faulty and went to Best Buy and bought a Sound Blaster X-Fi in desperation. I installed this card to the PCI slot and then the computer would not post the bios.

Beginning to really worry I cleared the cmos and still no post from the bios. I then took the sound card out and the system posted again. I put the sound card into the top PCI slot and then moved the video one to the bottom and, aside from some new video issues, everything worked fine. I re-installed the video drivers and configured the display timings again using PowerStrip. Upon having the system stable again, minus the sound drivers, I put in the different sound cards driver cd. During the installation everything was going smoothly until at 76% the sound drivers began to install at which point the computer froze again. This time it was not as easy as going to safe mode and removing the drivers; I had to do a system restore to get Windows to start up again.

Presently I have downloaded the newest drivers from creative and I am about to install them. Taking a break to post this update was quite therapeutic because these sound card issues are quite stressful. There isn't an alternative to using this sound card, so I do not know what I will do if I can't get it to work. If anyone has any suggestions it is no longer required that you are a registered user to post comments.

All is not lost; I do have some good news to post! I still have not set up the GPS antenna, but I have set up the Bluetooth connection and the Cingular interface program. As of now I can connect to the internet using my cell phone as the modem. The cell phone connects to the computer via Bluetooth, so on top of being able to make calls from the computer I will have internet wherever I get cellular service. The display and touch screen are set up as well; I had a lot of fun playing solitaire with my finger.

What's left to do before the computer goes into the car?
1. Sound card must function
2. GPS program needs to be configured
3. Centrafuse (main GUI for use in car) must be configured
4. Important files from my desktop have to be transferred
5. I need to find where the computer is going to mount
6. I need a way to interface the disc drive
7. Case needs to be re-assembled

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Construction is now underway...

I couldn't wait until Monday to get started, so I have already begun building the computer. So far building this computer has not been what I had expected. It usually doesn't take very much time for me to make a computer, but this one has taken twenty minutes just to figure out how to open the case.

Here is the case with the motherboard and ram installed:
Once I installed the motherboard and ram I created a space to setup the rest of the computer and install the necessary software:

There are several problems that I have encountered in just building the computer outside of the car. The first was that the power supply for the computer is DC-DC so I had to use an AC power supply and this created the problem of how to interface with the hard drive.
The way the case is designed the hard drive fits in a slot just next to the power supply. There the hard drive connects to a small PCB that converts the 2.5" laptop drive to IDE interface. This makes it possible for the hard drive to connect to the motherboard since IDE is the standard I/O for motherboards, without this PCB it would be much more difficult to use a hard drive with the computer (note: a hard drive is required for most computers to function) . Luckily I have a laptop drive interface to IDE converter that I used to connect the hard drive to the motherboard. I connected the slim type cd rom interface to ide converter and plugged the dvd-rom drive into the motherboard as well.
Next I connected the video card and sound card to the computer. Normally this motherboard has only one PCI slot, but the case that i purchased offers two and includes a two slot PCI riser card. Since the two slot PCI riser card is connected to the same piece as the power supply I had to remove it to allow me to use my sound card and video card. With those two devices now installed I connected the screen and currently I am ready for software installation.

Here is how the hard drive mounts onto the power supply piece:

Friday, April 28, 2006

The parts have arrived!

A slow trickle of parts had come in, but then today everything missing came in! Assembly and hardware construction will begin Monday, so for now here are some pictures of the individual parts:
- Motherboard next to my hand...
- Case + Power Supply
- Touch Screen + Accessories

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Parts Ordered

Since approval was given I have taken the initiative to order the parts required for making the Knight Rider '06 project a reality.

The parts ordered are as follows:
1 x ElmScan 5 (for interfacing with the cars diagnostics)
1 x 7" Xenarc touch screen (for interfacing with and viewing output data from the computer)
1 x Panasonic CD-RW/DVD-Rom slot loading slim type Disc Drive (for adding data to the computer)
1 x Mini-itx PC case w/ 120w power supply (encloses computer in safe environment and provides power to its components)
1 x VIA EPIA SP13000 Mini-ITX Motherboard (the heart of the computer)
1 x Slim Type Disc Drive Adapter (for interfacing the slim disc drive with standard components)
1 x BU-353 Waterproof GPS Receiver (GPS antenna for use with GPS software receives data based on location)
1 x USBBT100 Linksys USB Bluetooth Adapter (for interfacing the car with cell phone, wireless keyboard, etc.)
1 x Sound Blaster Audigy 2ZS (provides optimal sound output)
1 x Labtec Microphone (allows cell phone usage through car handsfree)
1 x Radeon 128Mb 9250 PCI (provides higher quality video output to touchscreen)
1 x 100Gb Samsung 2.5" Hard Drive (stores data)
1 x Corsair 512Mb DDR 400 RAM (inserts into the motherboard and is essential for the computer to function)

These are the hardware components I have chosen after weeks of researching what the best components would be. Anyone who would like to see the process involved in selecting the components may e-mail me requesting them, but the document is too long to post.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Well, I still haven't heard for sure, but it appears that the OK has been given to proceed. With that comes an explanation of the project : The goal of the Knight Rider '06 Project is to install a fully funtional PC running Windows XP in an '06 Scion tC. This blog will serve as an excellent guide to those who wish to do the same and as proof that I am actually working on my project. The computer will feature several additional functions to that of a regular computer: GPS Navigation, WiFi, Bluetooth Cellular Telephone Link, ODB-II Data, 160Gb of my music, videos, etc playable on the fly, and a 7" widescreen touchscreen as a means to interface while driving.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Approval Pending.

All the forms have been turned in, twice actually, and once approval is received expect to see more information on the Knight Rider '06 Project.