Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Final update

Computer passed all testing in the car... The new screen should arrive tomorrow... Construction on the subwoofer box is almost completed (and its looking very good)... I'm almost done installing the front speaker cross overs and then the front seats, glove box, etc. can go back in... Tomorrow I am going to install the new screen, wire the amplifiers and finish the project! Here are a bunch of pictures to make up for the past posts...

Posting from inside the car!

Well, the computer is now installed and the subwoofer box is under construction. It appears as if the project will be completed just barely in time to present on Friday. There are a large number of things that have taken place since I last posted. Monday I organized the computers wires and connected everything. The same day the subwoofers arrived in the mail and we were able to track down the two amplifiers for the front and rear speakers. After I hooked up the computer we tried to test it but it would not boot so after an hour of so of fiddling with settings on the power supply we went home. The next morning I called the power supply manufacturer and they were able to halfway solve the problem. The man on the phone had me unplug the extra USB ports that came with the case because the opus company had the header for the USB misconfigured for my motherboard.

This took away some of my concerns but the computer would still not boot. Mike searched through the power supply documentation and figured out that the power supply had to be configured the first time it is connected to the battery and so after that the computer booted! I went online and figured out the proper way the extra USB ports plugged in and then they worked as well. I then re-installed the computer to the car only to find I had forgotten to put in the IDE cable to the hard drive and so it had to be taken out again and then properly set up. This time I made sure everything was right before it put it back inside the rear panel in the car. I connected all the wires and then connected the touch screen...

After connecting the touch screen and powering on the screen instead of displaying the computers information the screen turned solid white. I called the screens manufacturer and they said it was probably a bad ribbon cable and that I could send it in for repairs. That wasn't going to work because of the time constraints on me so I overnighted a new screen and should have that Thursday. In the meantime I am using a screen from home to test out the functions of the computer. First post the computer would not boot this was caused by the USB DVD rom drive so after I unplugged it the computer booted. This left me with the problem of the computer not working with the DVD rom drive, which is a must, and while I was doing this Dave and Mike began to construct the subwoofer box. Windows was a bit confused by all the ports being changed on things, but eventually everything worked out and I even made the computer boot with the DVD drive plugged in.

The only thing left now is for the screen to come and the subwoofer box to be made and have the amps configured. The car should be assembled back together, mostly, tonight. I have no way to connect my camera to this computer, but I will post some pictures when I get home.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mothers day

It's really nice just having the day off and relaxing. I still have stuff to do before work tomorrow though. I need to get some LED lights to make the amps more showey and I need to get three minijack to RCA adaptors. The mini<->RCA cables will allow me to hook the computers directly to the amlifiers providing me with optimal sound quality. I also need to write an english essay and take care of some prom stuff... I have a lot more to do than that because working on my car so much I have kind of put my life on hold, but I think it will be worth it in the end. Oh! It's my birthday tomorrow as well.

Here's me hard at work:

Saturday, May 13, 2006


The shop isn't supposed to even be open Saturday, but it was just so I could work on my car. Dave came in to help me and I think we got a lot of stuff done. I took the carpet out of the car and Dynamatted there. While I was doing that Dave was working on putting the touch screen into the car (see pictures). I also installed the USB hub in the little gap below the AC controls, along with the disc drive. After Dave mounted the screen we put it back in the car to look at it and it looks very nice. Then Dave and I worked together to put the comptuer into the car. It looks like the case will fit in the spot we chose, but just barely. We put padding behind the computer so that it wouldnt dent the car should anything go wrong ever. Tomorrow we have a break then monday the subwoofers come in. I still don't know how the amplifiers and box are going to work out, but come friday I will be there presenting.

Here are some pictures:

Friday, May 12, 2006

Large update

That update at 4am the night I finished my computer never happened because I went to sleep. Here is a recap of the things that have happened since:

That night I gave up on getting the voice recognition to work, but I am still going to install the microphone into the car. Integrating the GPS program didn't work out as well, so, I just sealed up the computer and brought it to work.

Monday: I stripped the car completely, down to the metal on the inside, and began to lay dynamat (antivibration padding) wherever there was bare metal. I also ran all the new speaker wires from their respective places into the trunk of the car. -14 hours

Tuesday: I continued laying dynamat and began preparations for mounting in the new speakers. This involved tracing the old speakers risers with wood and then using a jigsaw to cut the new risers out. I continued to dynamat throughout the car. -14 hours

Wednesday: I put a lot of dynamat on the inside of the car and the amplifiers came. Dynamatting is quite an intensive process because dynamat must go everywhere where metal is inside of the car the old panels must still be able to go on. -10 hours

Thursday: Chose the mounting spot for the computer (in the rear driver side quarter panel) and began to run wires for the screen, etc. I continued to lay down dynamat. That day I also ran a 1/0 power cable (very thick power) through the firewall of the car, from the battery, to the trunk. We also took apart the screen of the computer and began to look at how that was going to mount.

Friday: I mounted the GPS antenna and ran the wire to where the computer is going to be. I finished running the computer wires (this involved taking out the center console and running wires under the carpet. I finshed dynamatting under the trunk and put it back together. I looked at the amplifiers for the first time and realized that the four channel amp is not going to work with my system because it doesn't support two sets of hi-pass speakers, so I am going to need to order two 2-channel amp's in order to have audio. This will mean I am going to have better sound, but it is going to cost a little bit more. I am not sure I can even get a hold of the two amp's that I want so we will see. Aside from that I installed the rear speakers and am almost done with dynamatting the rear quarter panel (passenger side, driver side is done).

Once all of the dynamatting is finished I will mount the computer and connect all the appropriate cables. The computer will not be powered until the sound system is in place however because I am going to use a 15 farad capacitor in order to prevent the car's battery from dying. So, in order to turn on the computer I will have to set up that capacitor first. Aside from that I have been sick since last thursday, but still coming in from 7:30am-~9:30pm.

Tomorrow the computer should be installed, along with the screen and disc drive. I also bought a USB hub so that I can hook up things to the front should I have the need to. This means the center console can go back in, along with the seats, etc. Any extra dynamat will go onto the floor of the car, so I think I will also have to lay some of that. If I can get a hold of these amps I should just barely be finished in time to present on Friday. After the computer goes in the only thing left to do is make a sub-woofer box (which can take days) and wire the amplifiers, capacitor, etc. Provided I can get these amp's the project should be alright and done on time. I also need to buy some really high quality minijacks to rca adaptors to connect the computers sound card to the amplifiers. I have also been checking everyday for a newer version of Centrafuse, but it has yet to come.

Here are some pictures (if you have a question feel free to comment on it and I will gladly answer as soon as I have some free time, but I have been pretty busy working these 14 hour days on my car):

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Just a little update...

I am putting the finishing touches on my computer tonight as my boss said I have to bring it all in tomorrow. It's been crazy because today was the beginning of stripping my car and I worked from 7:30am-9:30pm. Tonight, just now, I found some really cool things that I am going to do before I assemble the computer. I was planning on installing the mircophone anyway, but the future add-on of my cell phone looks very promising through a company called "Parrot". Aside from that there is a voice recognition feature in Centrafuse that I am going to have a go at after the Microsoft SAPI files download and are installed. Voice recognition would be incredibly cool and helpful because I wouldn't need to take my hands off the wheel. Aside from that I think I may have just stumbled upon a way to integrate my external GPS program into Centrafuse so everything doesn't look so rough. This is all great news and expect a post later tonight (around 4am) when this is all done.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


I have decided to use Centrafuse as it is because everything compared to it is garbage, so I will have to make due until the final version comes out.

Power supply configured...

It took a while to understand this documentation, but I think that I finally understand how to set up the power supply for the car. I configured Windows to go into hibernate when the power button is pressed and this picture shows how to configure the jumpers on the power supply in order to send the proper signals to the jumpers on the computer motherboard. The way I have the power supply configured it should work right away when i put it into my car.

Software Decisions...

After communicating with the programmers of the PhoneControl software I have reached the conclusion that it is impossible for my phone to be used as I had planned it. The internet will still be available wherever the internet is, but due to America's phone standards it is impossible to use my phone with the software I had planned. That being said it is a feature I am going to miss, but it is not that big of a loss.

Centrafuse definitley will not be ready by the time of the projects completion and I have decided to use an alternative called "Mobile Media Center" temporarily. This software will allow me to do everything as I had planned, doesn't look bad, and will allow me to integrate my current GPS software. So minus the phone control integration the computer is about ready.

This morning I called my contact about fabricating the computer screen into the dashboard and hopefully we will be able to complete that today. Tomorrow I am going to be waking up at 6:30am and beginning work on the car until around 11pm. It's going to be a long week full of long hour days. Monday should consist of Dynamating the car (anti-vibration padding that improves sound quality) Dynamating consists of stripping the panels of the car and applying the Dynamat adhesive padding to the bare metal of the car. This Dynamat will add about 30lbs. to the car, but that is nothing compared to the 200+ lbs. the speakers and computer will add. Stay tuned for photos and other updates on my progress.

Friday, May 05, 2006


I got GPS working... still working on the cell phone's functionality, but it still looks promising. The computer should be about done now and next week I will begin installing it into my car. Hopefully Sunday a co-worker and I will fabricate the screen into the dashboard. In the mean time, while I am working on my bluetooth problems, here is a logical diagram of how the car will be set up:

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Nothing but trouble...

Good news:
-All my songs transferred great (via ftp).

Bad news:
-Cell phone still won't work, but I tested another phone that halfway did, so I am on the fence about buying a different bluetooth adaptor.
-Centrafuse is not going to be ready by the 19th.
-GPS isn't set up.

With that said... I am thinking about using an alternative program temporarily while Centrafuse works on developing its final version. This program is called Road Runner and is almost the same, but it would let me use the GPS software I already have and, although it doesn't look as pretty, it would allow everything to be integrated in one unit, so Road Runner looks like it will be my temporary skin over Windows unless more develops with Centrafuse.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Cell phone update

In my search to find the reason for the cell phone connection not working I stumbled upon a better way for the phone to connect to the internet. This means that I will not have to use the Cinuglar Connection Manager and so I can save RAM and CPU time. So, this discovery is a good thing, however, I still can not get the phone to function as a phone. I have progressed some and established a serial connection between the phone and computer. I am still testing the phones responses to signals sent, but everything is returned as a *timeout*, but the phone is trying to connect. I do not know what is going on, but I will solve it soon.

Software Installation - Part 3

Now that sound is working I feel a lot better, but I am still having a lot of difficulties setting up all of this very sensitive hardware that I am not very experienced with. I installed Centrafuse, but only the beta is out right now and Tom told me to prepare the computer expecting that the final release of Centrafuse will not be out before the project time is over. The only serious problem with this is that makes me undecided about how to prepare my GPS software because Centrafuse has GPS integrated, but the final version will have a different program integrated and GPS maps are sort of expensive, so, I will have to find an alternative GPS program in the meantime. Aside from the GPS not being set up I have attempted to set up the phone with the computer (as an actual phone, not for the internet), but I am having some problems with that as well. I am going to spend a lot of time tonight searching through the PhoneControl.NET forums looking for the answers to my problem.
I installed WS_FTP and have begun transferring music and other relevant files over, so the computer is nearing completion, but it still a ways away.


I FINALLY GOT SOUND WORKING! This means everything is back on schedule of barely being finished by the 19th! With the sound working now I am in the process of moving over audio, etc. from my desktop computer. I also realized that I have to install some video codecs into the machine, but that won't take very long. I talked to my boss today about mounting the case in the car and I think we both reached the conclusion that under the drivers seat should fit and will be the best place possible.

With sound working now I have finalized the position of the cards in the system by installing the brushed metal bracket that prevents them from moving.

Here are the PCI cards installed:

Here is the culprit behind the sound not working:

Here is the disc drive running via USB:

Monday, May 01, 2006


Ok, so a few posts ago I said I still needed a way to connect the disc drive to the computer. Today, as I didn't have much to do while waiting for the new riser card, I drove to Fry's Electronics and bought an IDE to USB converter. Running an IDE cable through the car would have been horrible, so this USB cable will be much better. The only problem posed by this is the pins on the dvd drive for power and ide are too close and can not fit on at once. I already solved this by taking out the power connectors from their harness, covering them in electrical tape, then plugging them back on streamlined. So now I am just waiting until tomorrow when the two slot riser card comes and then I will finish the software installation.

Here are some pictures of the dilemma posed:

Here is the new sound card (note the huge heatsync):

Sound card ex-woes!

I really didn't want to call M$ because I didn't think they would be able to fix the problem either, so, I went to the root of the source (the company who made the two slot PCI riser card). They told me I needed the other version of the card and that this version wouldn't work with my motherboard. Before everyone goes blaming me for this; the website I ordered the card from didnt give me a choice and it was just bad luck that I didn't get the right one. So, I ordered the new riser card and should have it tomorrow. Until then I am going to set up the rest of the computer and worry about the sound card tomorrow when my package arrives.

Sound card woes.

Well, I just got off the phone with Creative's tech. support and the root of the problem is what I had suspected all along. Since I am using this two slot PCI riser card I am getting a resource conflict in Windows. The Creative guy said that I would need to phone Microsoft about this problem and that they are not responsible for fixing the sound card that I just bought from them. So I am going to google around and hopefully find the solution to my problem before having to call M$. I know it is some setting in the bios and it probably just involves changing some IRQ's, but I don't have much experience with that, so I guess doing this senior project is already teaching me a lot I didnt know.