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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We all seem to be fairly good at building HTPCs.
Well, I have been kinda messing with a complete overhaul of my BMW's AV system, and been messing with it for almost a year and a half..
Anyway, I have a fair number of wrinkles ironed out (took a stupid amount of reading and poring over BMW technical manuals). The gist of it is that I'm gonna dump most of the stock BMW electronics....
There's multiple reasons for it.


1. My car (a 2001 740i) is getting old according to car standards. It's an amazing car and drives and works great as such. However, as the car is 10 years old, so are the electronics. Getting an iPod hooked (properly) into the car costs, well over $400..



2. Even though the car runs great, the electronics are probably reaching their EOL. BMW is not gonna continue making electronics for 10 year old models (as of today, and probably 15 years old in the next 5 years). The car will probably outlast its electronics by a wide margin.


3. From a functionality standpoint, even though the electronics were state of the art 10 years back, they are not now. The damn thing has a MONO audio input...as an auxillary input
The Nav system, while works from a directions perspective, has very little integration with things like traffic, and the maps don't even get updated that often. (And when they do, BMW wants $130 every time....)


Anyway, long story short. Here's the "new" system architecture..





Notice all the devices that I'm removing on the right side?
The CarPC will replace the stock radio, the stock Nav, the stock DSP system, and the CD changer. The stock TV tuner is being kept, but it's basically a glorified switcher, to switch the rear camera input, it doesn't do any TV functions. Since ATSC/M only got approved a few months back, if and when mobile ATSC tuners become feasible, I'll add one.


Anyway, here's what I'd like to discuss. The "audio" side. The system will have 2 Delta 1010lt sound cards which can provide 16 active preamp channels. I only need 9 for now, but they are there. Now, from a software perspective, here's what I'm thinking.


- Use Virtual Audio Cable as the main/default audio device. VAC has the functionality to enable "volume control" as well, so that will be the master volume control.

- I'll be running Audiomulch as the vst host.

- The output of VAC will go to Audiomulch

- Within Audiomulch I'll be using crossover, time alignment, and EQ plugins. (We'll get into the details of the plugins later).

- The final output of Audiomulch is rendered to the 1010LTs, and then onto the amps and the speakers.


Hardware:

- The CarPC itself will have a dual core 3GHz processor and atleast 2GB of RAM, if not more. The OS will be Windows Embedded 2011, but it's basically cut down Windows 7, and is binary compatible with it.

- Radio Tuner - Directed DMHD1000 with AM/FM/HD radio. This can be controlled via a serial port, and that's how I intend to control it. It will be hooked into the car's existing antenna.

- Navigation - Will be Microsoft Mappoint 2010. I'm playing with iGuidance as well, but I'm not too fond of it.


All of this will be controlled by a custom front end that I have been writing for about 2 months now. Here's an in progress screenshot of it.




I looked at all of the existing CarPC front ends, and none of them "feel" right. Enter, C#, .NET, WPF and a crapload of code writing. The front end will be "controlled" by multiple inputs. It wil be hooked into the car's existing IBUS system, so that it can be controlled by the existing buttons (already tested the integration), or voice input/recognition (I already have the mic wired into the car, and the speech SDK will be the stock Windows 7 speech SDK for now), or input via the SpaceNavigator (this is the i-Drive style knob. I already have it installed and fabbed into the interior of the car, and it works great with Windows 7 with modified drives, to control ANY program).


Does this look "right"? I spent a fair amount of time, researching different things, and I "think" this is a fairly logical approach for active sound processing on the CarPC.


I'd welcome any suggestions to criticize the plan or make changes.
 

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Oh My Dear God.


It is really, really something.


Such a tremendous effort.


I was thinking about CarPCs as well, but I am lazy.


My solution was very simple. For my MB CLK 320 I have replaced stock CD changer and stock audio with the double in-dash DVD system which has an AUX in. Modified Asus 900HA turned into the TabletPC with the touchscreen installed is serving as a CarPC and navigation system and audio/video server (320GB HDD inside).


And that's it.


I'll put pictures some day on this forum. So far I like it.
 

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I run a Samsung Q1U UMPC as my car pc. It's mounted on the dash with a proclips mounting bracket and a modified mount for it. I run Streetdeck 2 which works well and is pretty much a plug and play option. Only thing it's lacking is bluetooth phone integration which, as I understand it is somewhat difficult to get working due to echoing issues. Just thought I'd throw that out there.


I run the pc into a USB hub which has the GPS receiver and external sound card connected to it. The sound card then goes into a hard wired FM transmitter into the radio's antenna jack. I can turn the FM transmitter on and off If I want to listen to the radio (never really need it though). I get no tinterference at all through the radio since it's a hard wired option. The only drawback to this configuration is the usb cable that runs into the glove box. It's a bit unsightly but, I really can't think of any other options really without modding the dash. That and the power cord as well. Nice thing is, When I get a new car, I can move the whole setup without any real concerns.


You're front end looks really good. Might want to post it over at www.mp3car.com . I'm sure they'd all love to see it. Prepare yourself for requests for skins though. They're skin happy over there.
 

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im sorry, but don't we have enough distractions on the road?


I hope you live really, really far away.
 

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I didn't see you mention how you're going to power this beast. You'll need a pretty hefty DC-DC power supply, like a M4-ATX, with shutdown controller, etc. Also I don't see a GPS, which was probably in the Nav unit that you're removing.


Definitely, post your setup on mp3car.com and see what they think.
 

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My hat's off to you!

You've scaled Mt. Everest.


Next stop....CarLAN with server, touchscreen netbooks/ipads embedded in headrests, satellite WAN....


have you thought of adding buttkickers or another form of tactile transducer to the seats?


we officially need a new Forum!

CTPC (Car Theater PC)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by coppertubing /forum/post/18313632


I didn't see you mention how you're going to power this beast. You'll need a pretty hefty DC-DC power supply, like a M4-ATX, with shutdown controller, etc. Also I don't see a GPS, which was probably in the Nav unit that you're removing.


Definitely, post your setup on mp3car.com and see what they think.

Sorry, the system also has a BU-353 USB GPS receiver, for getting GPS signals. And yes, it IS powered by an M4-ATX.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by heartsurgeon /forum/post/18313642


My hat's off to you!

You've scaled Mt. Everest.


Next stop....CarLAN with server, touchscreen netbooks/ipads embedded in headrests, satellite WAN....


have you thought of adding buttkickers or another form of tactile transducer to the seats?


we officially need a new Forum!

CTPC (Car Theater PC)

I DO have a gigabit router in the car! A modified DD-WRT based unit. I actually use it the other way. The radio is used to access my home lan, and the CarPC is direct wired to it. I even ran a CAT5-E from the switch to the glove box....just in case......



No buttkickers...I don't like em.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by mike_311 /forum/post/18313451


im sorry, but don't we have enough distractions on the road?


I hope you live really, really far away.

That's the whole point. This should work better than integrating things with the stock system, and butchering that integration. The voice integration is something else. I have been testing the Windows 7 speech API, and it is quite good.
 

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This is precisely why I got out of the car stereo industry about 7 years ago! Do you see what you have to do to "get around" a stock system? Ridiculous!!! I spent more time troubleshooting "adapters" than installing them.



Good luck with it!
I'd love to see pics when you're done!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by In2Photos /forum/post/18315889


This is precisely why I got out of the car stereo industry about 7 years ago! Do you see what you have to do to "get around" a stock system? Ridiculous!!! I spent more time troubleshooting "adapters" than installing them.



Good luck with it!
I'd love to see pics when you're done!

Oh, I know.
And BMW has one of the most complex audio systems. But hey, I love this car, have had it for 4 years, and this is not getting sold. I'll run it to the ground!. And I love challanges...
 

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Kapone,

I have also been thinkering with the same idea. I have several other projects ahead of this one, but I do plan on building my own car pc.

My sound system will not be completed at all, but I do plan on adding as many gadgets as possible.

I also plan on using the win7 speech API.. One of the heresaid projects is to make my MCE setup speech controlled, I plan on using win7 for this so will have learned a thing of two by then.

Have U checked out mp3car.com ? Alot of good info

Tester
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
mp3car.com - trust me, I have been on every single car audio website. There's very little information out there, and what there is, is mostly crap. Why do you think it took me months of poring over BMW technical manuals??
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kapone /forum/post/18314231


I DO have a gigabit router in the car! A modified DD-WRT based unit. I actually use it the other way. The radio is used to access my home lan, and the CarPC is direct wired to it. I even ran a CAT5-E from the switch to the glove box....just in case......



No buttkickers...I don't like em.

Just FYI if you have a windows smartphone there are a lot of apps that allow you to tether for free. Also I have an app that turns it into a wifi router. Just something to think about so you can surf the web.



I've been thinking about going this route for my A6 but haven't gotten around to it glad to see there's others trying to setup a real carPC. I tested centrafuse and it was a pretty cool frontend a couple years ago.


Good luck setting everything up!! Working on my audi I know how complicated german cars can get. Keep us all updated in the thread I'd love to see how it turns out!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by justinm0424 /forum/post/18316319


Just FYI if you have a windows smartphone there are a lot of apps that allow you to tether for free. Also I have an app that turns it into a wifi router. Just something to think about so you can surf the web.



I've been thinking about going this route for my A6 but haven't gotten around to it glad to see there's others trying to setup a real carPC. I tested centrafuse and it was a pretty cool frontend a couple years ago.


Good luck setting everything up!! Working on my audi I know how complicated german cars can get. Keep us all updated in the thread I'd love to see how it turns out!!

Centrafuse is good...but only for basic stuff. Trust me, I have evaluated every single front end out there. They are all spaghetti, hacked up collections of plugins. I don't wanna trust my car to that.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kapone /forum/post/18316435


Centrafuse is good...but only for basic stuff. Trust me, I have evaluated every single front end out there. They are all spaghetti, hacked up collections of plugins. I don't wanna trust my car to that.

Yeah they are. The last thing you want is to click on radio and it's not working. That's the main reason I don't have one yet. We go on a lot of roadtrips and it'd be a lot nicer to have a carPC to surf the web and studd instead of using a laptop. But the technology isn't there yet. I'm surprised they don't have a full win7 carputer forsale. I can see in the next few years kenwood or pioneer making a carputer that runs their software on a win7 machine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by justinm0424 /forum/post/18316638


Yeah they are. The last thing you want is to click on radio and it's not working. That's the main reason I don't have one yet. We go on a lot of roadtrips and it'd be a lot nicer to have a carPC to surf the web and studd instead of using a laptop. But the technology isn't there yet. I'm surprised they don't have a full win7 carputer forsale. I can see in the next few years kenwood or pioneer making a carputer that runs their software on a win7 machine.

Kenwood, Pioneer?? Hell, the 2010 BMW 7 series IS running embedded Windows CE... that's what drives the iDrive system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yup. As another input method as such. The IBUS integration works great as such. (btw, THAT required me to write a whole new IBUS communications library....
)
 
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