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Go Back   TDIClub Forums > VW TDI Discussion Areas > Upgrades (non TDI Engine related)

Upgrades (non TDI Engine related) The place of handling, lighting and other upgrades that do not relate to the performance or economy of the TDI engine. In other words upgrades to your TDI that don't fit into TDI Fuel Economy & TDI Engine Enhancements.Please note the Performance Disclaimer

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Old August 3rd, 2006, 23:44   #1
grimlock
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Default B4 Passat, PC Installed, GPS, VAG-COM, 7" VGA, (not dial-up friendly)

I installed a full desktop PC into my car last year, but never posted about it. Only recently I cleaned up some of the setup.

The main objective was to have a GPS onboard w/ audio directions, mp3 playback, VAG-COM. DVD movie playback is also possible, but I do not use it for DVD's... (doesn't look good if/when stopped by the police )

The secondary objective was to be able to remove the VGA Screen and Keyboard easily to prevent theft.


Obviously from the pictures it's no where "done". A number of things need to be changed, but for the most part the system is functional.

The computer & hard drive has survived a 3+ hour drive in mid-summer heat, and many speed bumps at a fairly decent speed. (speed bump test was tested first thing... if the hard drive was going to crap on me, I wanted to fail asap vs. during a road trip, winamp mp3's were playing to ensure disk was spinning while I performed this "road test")

1) The motherboard, CPU and hard disk get hot. A better cooling solution needs to be implimented

2) The hard disk needs to be secured. (maybe upgrade to laptop hard drive) Will not upgrade to flash memory drive(s), limited flash cycles/lifetime and too expensive at this time.

3) Various other upgrades: Add USB Wireless G, move DVD-ROM to the front dash area, change audio to play through external speakers vs. currently playing through car stereo, Add Rearview Camera for reverse (?)



Overall View. Mini 88 Key Keyboard with Trackball built in. 7" VGA Screen (not that cheap TFT stuff)






Mid console control.

Top Switch - main power switch, turns on the inverter on/off, huge red bulb indicated on/off.

Middle push button - PC power on/off, green LED indicates power on

Bottom push button - PC reset (when Windows XP decides to crap on me)



Vag-com connected. OBD2 interface in the trunk connected to the motherboard. (I know, not a good idea to connect the interface directly to the motherboard....)



GPS seen from outside (Garmin 18 USB). The reception works fine even through the defrost lines. (some people have reported problems with GPS reception under windows with defrost lines....)



Access to Serial port and one of the USB ports from front dash


Hard Drive mounted vertically to help prevent disk damage.
A7V-400MX Asus motherboard, built-in VGA, Audio, Ethernet 10/100, 4 USB, and 1 Serial
AMD CPU 2200+ Ahtlon XP
512MB DDR Ram
7200 RPM Desktop Hard drive
DVD-ROM
Mini-ATX power supply



Trunk View - small vent hole not visible in the picture. Power supply brought up top lessen the heat load near the motherboard/cpu



Power for the Motherboard, Inverter taps power from the Audio Amp fuse/power splitter



Overall system with VGA monitor and Keyboard put away.
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Last edited by grimlock; September 8th, 2006 at 13:21.
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 23:47   #2
grimlock
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What I use to prevent the battery going dead when working on the computer for long periods of time in the car.
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'96 Passat Sedan

Carputer, Passenger Side Alarm LED, Mann Provent 200, Diesel Geek Short Shifter, 0.205 injectors, Mufflerectomy, Ventectomy, Descreened Intake, 15" Konig Helium w/ Yokohama T4, Corrado G60 11.0" Front Brakes

Last edited by grimlock; April 23rd, 2007 at 11:45.
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Old November 16th, 2006, 14:25   #3
lupin..the..3rd
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I would love to have on-board vagcom! Check IQ or timing any time! Pull fault codes during a road trip!

Just a question - why use a DC-to-AC invertor connected to an AC-to-DC computer power supply? Wouldn't it take up much less space, create less heat, and cost less to just use a DC-to-DC computer power supply? Is the interim conversion to AC really necessary?

Several DC-to-DC computer power supplies to choose from here:
http://www.mini-box.com/s.nl/sc.8/category.13/.f
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Old November 16th, 2006, 14:31   #4
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DC to DC power supplies cost more. That GPS receiver is awesome though. I have been using it for misc stuff for the last 2 years.

The battery charger is a great idea though. Did you wire in a quick disconnect for it somewhere so you can just plug it in, or do you have to hook it up to the battery?

Another idea might be to buy a second obd connector and tap it off the original so you can hide it in the dash and not have it sticking out.
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Old November 17th, 2006, 08:22   #5
lupin..the..3rd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_594
DC to DC power supplies cost more.
How do you come to this conclusion? There are several in the $50 range on the web link provided. I don't think a standard computer power supply AND the automotive DC-AC invertor are together less than $50.
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Old November 17th, 2006, 08:47   #6
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It was a generalized statement. If you check out the car computer forums people tend to start out using spare parts they have laying around. Going from a desktop mounted in the trunk to something more specialized.

Plus people who do projects like this are likely to have spare AC-dc power supplies kicking around... and who doesnt have a few dc-ac inverters kicking around either?
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Old November 17th, 2006, 12:18   #7
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Quote:
Another idea might be to buy a second obd connector and tap it off the original so you can hide it in the dash and not have it sticking out.
Here, here... I was running some logs the other day in my B4 and couldn't use the intermittent wiper feature because the VAG-COM was plugged in...
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Old November 19th, 2006, 06:55   #8
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on the vag-com program you can go into the options to change the window size to make it easier to view on that small screen.
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Old November 19th, 2006, 07:01   #9
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Dave, is this your next mod? Another charger idea that might do the trick is a motorcycle battery trickle charger. They're small and may provide enough power to keep the battery topped up.
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Old November 19th, 2006, 18:34   #10
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I had thought about doing this like 2 years ago but basicly decided it wasnt worth while. It cost a good deal of money to do a nice car pc and at the time I didnt really think there was good mature software for it. Although the scooter could really use its own pc....
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Old November 19th, 2006, 18:59   #11
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It would seriously compromise its top speed, however. Big power drain, don't you think?
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Old November 19th, 2006, 19:04   #12
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Yeah, im having a hard time finding enough spare watts to power the seat heater...
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Old January 26th, 2007, 10:07   #13
grimlock
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lupin_the_3rd
I would love to have on-board vagcom! Check IQ or timing any time! Pull fault codes during a road trip!

Just a question - why use a DC-to-AC invertor connected to an AC-to-DC computer power supply? Wouldn't it take up much less space, create less heat, and cost less to just use a DC-to-DC computer power supply? Is the interim conversion to AC really necessary?

Several DC-to-DC computer power supplies to choose from here:
http://www.mini-box.com/s.nl/sc.8/category.13/.f
Oh, I didn't realize anyone had replied to this post... I haven't logged-in, in a long time... (been browsing anonymously)

Yes, I'm familar with the mini-box website. I went through a fair amount of research before installing in the car.... The more I researched, the more money I wanted ("needed") to shell out.

To your question: The DC-DC converter would have been a far better choice, not to mention reducing the possibility of a PC reset during start-up. Thankfully the car battery I have atm, is beefy enough so that the PC can boot-up first and then start the car, w/o cutting power to the inverter (and thus rebooting the PC). Crappier batteries obviously will not let you do this. I normally like to fiddle around with the PC, get the GPS program up & running (enter any addresses I need) before starting the ignition and driving....

In short, yes! to all your questions... a DC/DC converter in this case, less heat, less space, and more efficient.

True the DC/DC converters are cheap, but at the time they were sold out. Besides, if they did have them in stock, I would have ended up buying a mini-itx motherboard w/ CPU (all fanless). This would have defeated one of my goals for this project. (economical system) I notice they have nano-itx motherboards! (drool!) Not to mention I live in Canada, and shipping items across the border is generally hassle free, however, with an extra price tag attached. (taxes & brokerage, as well as currency exchange grrrrrr.)


Quote:
Originally Posted by david_594
DC to DC power supplies cost more. That GPS receiver is awesome though. I have been using it for misc stuff for the last 2 years.

The battery charger is a great idea though. Did you wire in a quick disconnect for it somewhere so you can just plug it in, or do you have to hook it up to the battery?

Another idea might be to buy a second obd connector and tap it off the original so you can hide it in the dash and not have it sticking out.
I did plan to make a quick connect/disconnect for the battery charger, but haven't gotten around to it. For now it's fairly quick to connect directly to the battery. There is zero current draw when the system is off (assuming I turn off the PC and switch is off to the inverter). Even in the event I'm forgetful, the inverter monitors the input voltage and turns-off, if the battery voltage is too low.

As a side note, I do know of a fellow, who has THREE microcontrollers in his car (controlling too many things, listing them would require another thread) The current draw in is car is so great, he plugs his car in every night (with an AC power cord) He paid ~$300 for an auto-ejector for the AC cord, so as he pulls of his garage the AC cord is automatically spit out. (apparently the part came from a firetruck?) Oh, and if he's not parked at home, his car will automatically start up and recharge the battery for awhile. The long-term parking attendants at the airport were baffled why his car would start every few days by itself and shut itself down after awhile... (can you say hard core electronics?)



Anyway....I was going to vampire tap behind the OBD connector and hardwire the four lines for vag-com directly to the interface. (no hassles of connectors, except at the PC end....)


In short, I recall going through a LOT of ideas before installing the system. Finally I got to the point, where I had to start somewhere, and get something working. The system atm is far less elegant than I had planned, however it does the job. Originally I was just going to disable the passenger side airbag (which is legal in my province, however, safety wise that is another story) and install a laptop w/ laptop mount, so that my passenger (typically, the wife) can do everything, and not to mention have a much larger screen to work from.


I do have a few plans to add/change this summer. My biggest concern atm is the heat in the trunk, secondary to that is making the screen more visible for when I'm driving.

Lastly, if I were to install the system from scratch now -- I wouldn't. At this point I would probably just buy a Garmin Nuvi (or similar) automotive gps, and be done with it. (at the time it wasn't worth getting an auto NAV or gps)
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Carputer, Passenger Side Alarm LED, Mann Provent 200, Diesel Geek Short Shifter, 0.205 injectors, Mufflerectomy, Ventectomy, Descreened Intake, 15" Konig Helium w/ Yokohama T4, Corrado G60 11.0" Front Brakes
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