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Car PC Hacks

Book Description

A car PC or carputer is a car tricked-out with electronics for playing radio, music and DVD movies, connecting to the Internet, navigating and tracking with satellite, taking photos, and any electronic gadget a person wants in a car. All these devices are managed and controlled through a single screen or interface. The only place car PC enthusiasts can go for advice, tips and tools is a handful of hard-to-find Web sites--until now. Car PC Hacks is your guide into the car PC revolution. Packing MP3 players, handheld devices, computers and video-on-demand systems gives you a pile too heavy to carry. But add a car and put them together, you've got a powerful and mobile multimedia center requiring no lifting. The next time you give kids a lift, you won't hear, "Are we there yet?" Instead, expect "We're there already?" as they won't want to leave the car while playing video games from multiple consoles. Car PC Hacks is the first book available to introduce and entrench you into this hot new market. You can count on the book because it hails from O'Reilly, a trusted resource for technical books. Expect innovation, useful tools, and fun experiments that you've come to expect from O'Reilly's Hacks Series. Maybe you've hacked computers and gadgets, and now you're ready to take it to your car. If hacking is new and you would like to mix cars and computers, this book gets you started with its introduction to the basics of car electrical systems. Even when you're unclear on the difference between amps and watts, expect a clear explanation along with real-life examples to get on track. Whether you're venturing into car PC for the first time or an experienced hobbyist, hop in the book for a joy ride.

Table of Contents

  1. Car PC Hacks
    1. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly
    2. A Note Regarding Supplemental Files
    3. Credits
      1. About the Author
      2. Contributors
      3. Acknowledgments
    4. Preface
      1. Why Car PC Hacks?
      2. How to Use This Book
      3. How This Book Is Organized
      4. Conventions Used in This Book
      5. Using Code Examples
      6. Safari Enabled
      7. How to Contact Us
      8. Got a Hack?
    5. 1. Car Power Basics
      1. 1.1. Hacks 1-11: Introduction
      2. Hack #1. Understand Car Electrical Systems
        1. 1.2.1. Computer Voltages
        2. 1.2.2. Car Voltages
        3. 1.2.3. The Key to Car Power: Off, Accessory, On/Ignition, and Crank
        4. 1.2.4. Discovering if Your Car Power Outlet Is Switched
        5. 1.2.5. The Hack: Making a 12V Power Supply for Indoors
      3. Hack #2. Prevent Electrical Fires
        1. 1.3.1. Amps
        2. 1.3.2. Fuses
        3. 1.3.3. Protecting Your Devices with Fuses
      4. Hack #3. Gauge Your Wires
        1. 1.4.1. Wire Sizes and Amp Ratings
        2. 1.4.2. The Hack: Powering Everything
      5. Hack #4. Connect Your Wires
        1. 1.5.1. Connecting Wires
          1. 1.5.1.1. Twist and tape.
          2. 1.5.1.2. Solder and shrink.
          3. 1.5.1.3. Crimp and save.
      6. Hack #5. Calculate Your Car's Battery Life
        1. 1.6.1. The Difference Between Amps and Watts
        2. 1.6.2. Battery Capacity
        3. 1.6.3. The Hack: Calculating Battery Drain
          1. 1.6.3.1. Method one: Power arithmetic.
          2. 1.6.3.2. Method two: Amp meter.
        4. 1.6.4. Testing Drain
      7. Hack #6. Upgrade Your Car Battery
        1. 1.7.1. Convenient Power Connectors
        2. 1.7.2. The Hack: Installing a Deep-Cycle Battery
      8. Hack #7. Add New Power Connectors Throughout Your Car
        1. 1.8.1. Planning Your Wiring
        2. 1.8.2. Drilling Holes
        3. 1.8.3. Switched or Unswitched Outlets?
        4. 1.8.4. Installing the Power Outlets
      9. Hack #8. Use a Huge Capacitor to Sustain Power
        1. 1.9.1. Understanding Capacitors
        2. 1.9.2. Car PC Capacitor Use
      10. Hack #9. Upgrade Your Car's Alternator
      11. Hack #10. Add a Second Car Battery
        1. 1.11.1. Battery Isolators
        2. 1.11.2. Dual-Output Alternators
        3. 1.11.3. Conventional Versus Deep-Cycle Batteries
        4. 1.11.4. Battery Fumes
      12. Hack #11. Put Home Power Outlets in Your Car
        1. 1.12.1. What Inverters Do
        2. 1.12.2. Choosing an Inverter
        3. 1.12.3. Powering High-Amperage Inverters
        4. 1.12.4. The Hack: Wall Outlets in Your Car
        5. 1.12.5. Hacking High Voltages Safely
    6. 2. Automotive Audio Entertainment
      1. 2.1. Hacks 12–22: Introduction
      2. Hack #12. Get a Headful About Your Car Audio
        1. 2.2.1. Head Units
        2. 2.2.2. Amplifiers
        3. 2.2.3. Cabling
        4. 2.2.4. The Hack: Remove Your Head Unit
      3. Hack #13. Install a New Head Unit
        1. 2.3.1. Standard Head Unit Wiring
        2. 2.3.2. Adapters for Mounting
        3. 2.3.3. Proprietary Bus Connectors
        4. 2.3.4. Caveats
      4. Hack #14. Get Computer Audio into Your Head Unit
        1. 2.4.1. Tape Adapters
        2. 2.4.2. FM Modulators
        3. 2.4.3. Auxiliary-in Adapters
        4. 2.4.4. Aftermarket Head Units
        5. 2.4.5. Digital Inputs
        6. 2.4.6. Adjusting Input Volume
        7. 2.4.7. Choosing Your Adapter
        8. 2.4.8. Multiplexing Your Inputs
      5. Hack #15. Amp Up Your Computer Audio
        1. 2.5.1. Amplifier Inputs
        2. 2.5.2. Bypassing Your Head Unit
          1. 2.5.2.1. RCA switch box.
          2. 2.5.2.2. PC pass-through.
          3. 2.5.2.3. Eliminating the head unit.
      6. Hack #16. Make a Very Cheap AUX-in
      7. Hack #17. Reduce Your Audio System's Noise
        1. 2.7.1. Install Better Wires
        2. 2.7.2. Install Shorter Wires
        3. 2.7.3. Use a Better Power Supply
        4. 2.7.4. Upgrade the Sound Card
        5. 2.7.5. Eliminate Short Circuits
        6. 2.7.6. Use Electronic Noise Filters
        7. 2.7.7. Eliminate Ground Loops
        8. 2.7.8. Use an Audio Isolator/Decoupler
        9. 2.7.9. Use Better Connectors
        10. 2.7.10. Use Better Power Inverters
        11. 2.7.11. Segregate Cabling
        12. 2.7.12. Add Shielding
      8. Hack #18. Control Your iPod with Your Car Stereo Knobs
      9. Hack #19. Tune Your PC for Radio Reception
        1. 2.9.1. PC Radios
        2. 2.9.2. Problems with PC Radios
        3. 2.9.3. The Hack: Getting Radio to Your Car PC
        4. 2.9.4. PC XM Radio
      10. Hack #20. Record Radio Shows
        1. 2.10.1. TiVo-Like Functionality for Radio
      11. Hack #21. Listen to Email, Weblogs, and RSS Feeds on the Road
        1. 2.11.1. Reading Email
        2. 2.11.2. Reading RSS Feeds and Weblogs
      12. Hack #22. Find Out What Was Playing on the Radio
        1. 2.12.1. Hacking the Hack
    7. 3. Automotive Video Entertainment
      1. 3.1. Hacks 23–40: Introduction
      2. Hack #23. Understand Video Connectors
        1. 3.2.1. Choosing Your Connector
        2. 3.2.2. Powering and Feeding Your Screen
      3. Hack #24. Choose Your Screens
        1. 3.3.1. Off-the-Shelf Screen Options
        2. 3.3.2. Factory Screens
        3. 3.3.3. Custom Screens
        4. 3.3.4. Mounting Your Screen on the Dashboard
      4. Hack #25. Install a Headrest Screen
        1. 3.4.1. Replacing Your Headrests
        2. 3.4.2. Clamping onto Your Headrests
        3. 3.4.3. Digging into Your Headrests
        4. 3.4.4. Velcroing onto Your Headrests
        5. 3.4.5. Installing the Wiring
      5. Hack #26. Install a VGA Touchscreen in Your Dashboard
        1. 3.5.1. Maximizing the Screen Size
        2. 3.5.2. Determining the Placement
        3. 3.5.3. Adjusting the Angle
        4. 3.5.4. Ensuring Brightness
        5. 3.5.5. Exposing Infrared Controls
        6. 3.5.6. Integrating Existing Navigation and Video Features
        7. 3.5.7. Finishing the Installation
      6. Hack #27. Install a Sun Visor Screen
      7. Hack #28. Install a Motorized Fold-out Screen
      8. Hack #29. Install a Fold-Down Ceiling-Mounted Screen
        1. 3.8.1. Selecting Your Screen
        2. 3.8.2. Scouting for Locations
        3. 3.8.3. Building the Set
        4. 3.8.4. Costumes
        5. 3.8.5. Action!
      9. Hack #30. Supersize Your Fold-Down LCD Screen
      10. Hack #31. Turn Your Laptop into a Fold-Down or Dashboard Screen
        1. 3.10.1. In-Dash or In-Seat Monitor
        2. 3.10.2. Fold-Down Laptop
      11. Hack #32. Connect a Car PC to Your Factory Screen
        1. 3.11.1. European A/V Entertainment Systems
        2. 3.11.2. Rearview Mirror Systems
        3. 3.11.3. Installing an RGB Screen Adapter
        4. 3.11.4. Finding Your RGB, Sync, and Ground Wires
        5. 3.11.5. VGA to RGB Conversion
        6. 3.11.6. Composite Video Screens
      12. Hack #33. Install a Rearview Mirror Screen and Camera
        1. 3.12.1. Installing the Screen
        2. 3.12.2. Installing the Camera
        3. 3.12.3. Hacking the Hack
      13. Hack #34. Boost Your Video Signal for Multiple Screens
      14. Hack #35. Customize Each Passenger's Video
        1. 3.14.1. Built-in Switchers
        2. 3.14.2. Automatic Switchers
        3. 3.14.3. Matrix Switchers
        4. 3.14.4. Proprietary Switchers
      15. Hack #37. Receive Satellite TV While Driving
      16. Hack #38. Play DVDs with Your in-Car Computer
        1. 3.17.1. Locating Your DVD Drive
        2. 3.17.2. Connecting Your DVD Drive
        3. 3.17.3. Running the Right Software
        4. 3.17.4. Putting It Together
      17. Hack #39. Put Multi-Channel DVD Surround Sound in Your Car
        1. 3.18.1. DTS Versus Dolby 5.1
        2. 3.18.2. Audio Connectors
          1. 3.18.2.1. Analog approach.
          2. 3.18.2.2. Digital approach.
        3. 3.18.3. Auto Upgrades
      18. Hack #40. Install a Video Game Console Computer in Your Car
        1. 3.19.1. Installing a Game Console
        2. 3.19.2. Hacking the Hack
    8. 4. In-Car Computers
      1. 4.1. Hacks 41–54: Introduction
      2. Hack #41. Choose an in-Car PC Hardware Platform
        1. 4.2.1. Fast Computers
        2. 4.2.2. Cheap Computers
        3. 4.2.3. Small, Power-Efficient Computers
        4. 4.2.4. Laptop Computers
        5. 4.2.5. Non-Obvious in-Car Computers
        6. 4.2.6. Cases and Enclosures
        7. 4.2.7. See Also
      3. Hack #42. Power Your Car PC
        1. 4.3.1. Inverters
        2. 4.3.2. DC-to-DC Power Supplies
      4. Hack #43. Start Up and Shut Down Your Car PC
        1. 4.4.1. Starting Up
        2. 4.4.2. Shutting Down
        3. 4.4.3. Startup/Shutdown Controllers
        4. 4.4.4. Alternative Solutions
          1. 4.4.4.1. Switches and long wires.
          2. 4.4.4.2. Relay circuits.
          3. 4.4.4.3. Capacitors.
          4. 4.4.4.4. Shutting down.
      5. Hack #44. Reduce the Boot Time of Your in-Car Computer
        1. 4.5.1. Breaking It Down
          1. 4.5.1.1. Stabilizing power.
          2. 4.5.1.2. Optimizing the BIOS settings.
          3. 4.5.1.3. Optimizing boot loading.
          4. 4.5.1.4. Trimming the operating system.
          5. 4.5.1.5. Giving the user something to see and hear.
        2. 4.5.2. More Hardware Approaches
          1. 4.5.2.1. Using faster hard drives.
          2. 4.5.2.2. Starting the computer earlier.
      6. Hack #45. Keep Your Computer on During Engine Cranking
        1. 4.6.1. Stabilizing the Voltage
          1. 4.6.1.1. Adding a second battery.
          2. 4.6.1.2. Adding a small 12V battery.
          3. 4.6.1.3. Using a crank-proof power supply.
          4. 4.6.1.4. Using a big capacitor.
      7. Hack #46. Turn On Your Car Computer Before You Start Your Car
        1. 4.7.1. See Also
      8. Hack #47. Boot Your Car Computer on a Schedule
        1. 4.8.1. Computer BIOS Wakeup
          1. 4.8.1.1. Problems with timed wakeup.
          2. 4.8.1.2. Using a second battery.
          3. 4.8.1.3. Using a startup controller.
      9. Hack #48. Choose an in-Car PC Software Platform
        1. 4.9.1. Windows
        2. 4.9.2. Linux
        3. 4.9.3. Mac OS X
        4. 4.9.4. DOS and Other Operating Systems
      10. Hack #49. Install Windows on a CompactFlash Card
        1. 4.10.1. Setting Up MinLogon
        2. 4.10.2. Setting Up Enhanced Write Filter (EWF)
        3. 4.10.3. Setting Up Your XP Installation
      11. Hack #50. Power Your Portable Devices in the Car
        1. 4.11.1. Powering Hard Drives and Optical Drives
        2. 4.11.2. See Also
      12. Hack #51. Install USB Ports in Your Car
        1. 4.12.1. See Also
      13. Hack #52. Build an in-Car PC
        1. 4.13.1. Choosing a Computer and Screen
        2. 4.13.2. Installing and Mounting the PC and Screen
        3. 4.13.3. Powering the PC
        4. 4.13.4. Peripherals and Controls
        5. 4.13.5. Audio Connection
        6. 4.13.6. Networking
        7. 4.13.7. Frontend Software
        8. 4.13.8. GPS/Navigation
        9. 4.13.9. Movies and Music
        10. 4.13.10. Conclusion
        11. 4.13.11. See Also
      14. Hack #53. Build an in-Car Macintosh
        1. 4.14.1. Choosing a Computer and Screen
        2. 4.14.2. Installing and Mounting the PC and Screen
        3. 4.14.3. Powering the PC
        4. 4.14.4. Peripherals and Controls
        5. 4.14.5. Audio Connection
        6. 4.14.6. Networking
        7. 4.14.7. Frontend Software
        8. 4.14.8. GPS/Navigation
        9. 4.14.9. Movies and Music
        10. 4.14.10. Conclusion
        11. 4.14.11. See Also
      15. Hack #54. Install a Mac Mini in Your Car
        1. 4.15.1. Choosing a Computer and Screen
        2. 4.15.2. Installing and Mounting the PC and Screen
        3. 4.15.3. Peripherals and Controls
        4. 4.15.4. Audio Connection
        5. 4.15.5. Networking
        6. 4.15.6. Frontend Software
        7. 4.15.7. GPS/Navigation
        8. 4.15.8. Movies and Music
        9. 4.15.9. Future Plans
        10. 4.15.10. See Also
    9. 5. Car PC Interface Options
      1. 5.1. Hacks 55–61: Introduction
      2. Hack #55. Control Your Car PC with a Keyboard and Mouse
        1. 5.2.1. Wired Keyboards
        2. 5.2.2. Wireless Keyboards
      3. Hack #56. Control Your Car PC with a Handheld Remote
        1. 5.3.1. Understanding Infrared
        2. 5.3.2. PC Infrared (IR) Receivers
        3. 5.3.3. PC Radio Frequency (RF) Remotes
        4. 5.3.4. Integration and Compatibility
      4. Hack #57. Control Your Car PC with a Touchscreen
        1. 5.4.1. Solutions
      5. Hack #58. Car-Enable Clunky Applications
        1. 5.5.1. Scripting a Solution
        2. 5.5.2. See Also
      6. Hack #59. Listen to What Your Car Computer Is Saying
        1. 5.6.1. The CarBot Player Software
        2. 5.6.2. Can I Have a Screen with That?
        3. 5.6.3. Listening to Your Apps
      7. Hack #60. Control Your Car PC with Voice Recognition
        1. 5.7.1. Controlling Routis and iGuidance
        2. 5.7.2. Text-to-Speech Output
        3. 5.7.3. SAPI Hints
        4. 5.7.4. Further Development
        5. 5.7.5. See Also
      8. Hack #61. Find More Ways to Control Your in-Car Computer
        1. 5.8.1. Rotating Knobs
        2. 5.8.2. Car PC/Head Unit Integration
        3. 5.8.3. Future Controls
    10. 6. Wireless Connectivity and in-Car Internet
      1. 6.1. Hacks 62–68: Introduction
      2. Hack #62. Get Online in Your Car
        1. 6.2.1. Wireless Internet Options
          1. 6.2.1.1. GPRS (20–40 kbps).
          2. 6.2.1.2. EDGE (60–80 kbps).
          3. 6.2.1.3. CDMA2000/CDMA 1xRTT/W-CDMA/EVDO (40–60 kbps/80–144 kbps/300–500 kbps).
          4. 6.2.1.4. WiFi (802.11) (1500–50,000 kbps).
        2. 6.2.2. Getting Online with 3G
        3. 6.2.3. On-Road Experience
        4. 6.2.4. Making Your Car a Mobile WiFi Hotspot
      3. Hack #63. Make Your Mobile Phone Hands-Free with Your Car PC
        1. 6.3.1. Installing Bluetooth on Windows
        2. 6.3.2. Searching for Your Mobile Phone
        3. 6.3.3. Pairing with Your Mobile Phone
        4. 6.3.4. Setting Up Your Phone
        5. 6.3.5. Initiating a Call
        6. 6.3.6. Choosing the Right Phone
      4. Hack #64. Transfer Data to and from Your Car PC
        1. 6.4.1. Flash Drives
        2. 6.4.2. Portable Hard Drives
        3. 6.4.3. iPods and Other Portable Media Players
        4. 6.4.4. Portable Media Synchronization
        5. 6.4.5. WiFi/Lan Synchronization
        6. 6.4.6. See Also
      5. Hack #65. View Real-Time Traffic Data on the Road
        1. 6.5.1. My Traffic Viewer Application
        2. 6.5.2. Using Seattle's Raw Data
      6. Hack #66. Videoconference from Your Car
        1. 6.6.1. Choosing Your Conference Software
        2. 6.6.2. Going Wireless
        3. 6.6.3. Not Quite There Yet
      7. Hack #67. Use GPS on Your Car PC
        1. 6.7.1. How GPS Works
        2. 6.7.2. Reading and Understanding GPS Sentences
        3. 6.7.3. Creating a Record of Your Travels
        4. 6.7.4. Displaying GPS Data on a Map
        5. 6.7.5. See Also
      8. Hack #68. Find WiFi Hotspots on the Road
        1. 6.8.1. Staying Free and Connected on the Road
        2. 6.8.2. Finding WiFi
        3. 6.8.3. Improving Reception
        4. 6.8.4. Internet Telephone over WiFi
        5. 6.8.5. Conclusion
    11. 7. In-Car Applications
      1. 7.1. Hacks 69–75: Introduction
      2. Hack #69. Plug into Your Car's Built-in Computer
        1. 7.2.1. The Four Flavors of OBD-II
        2. 7.2.2. Access Your Car's OBD-II Data
        3. 7.2.3. Going Beyond OBD-II
        4. 7.2.4. See Also
      3. Hack #70. Put a Video Jukebox in Your Car Theater
        1. 7.3.1. Hardware Requirements
        2. 7.3.2. Software Requirements
        3. 7.3.3. HTPC Comparisons
          1. 7.3.3.1. Windows Media Center Edition ($150 OEM).
          2. 7.3.3.2. Meedio ($59.99).
          3. 7.3.3.3. Media Engine (free).
          4. 7.3.3.4. Media Portal (free).
      4. Hack #71. Choose Your in-Car Navigation Software
      5. Hack #72. Play Thousands of Games by Emulating Video Game Consoles
        1. 7.5.1. Emulators
          1. 7.5.1.1. Nintendo emulation.
          2. 7.5.1.2. Sega emulation.
          3. 7.5.1.3. PlayStation emulators.
          4. 7.5.1.4. Other game emulators.
        2. 7.5.2. Game Controllers
      6. Hack #73. Use CENTRAFUSE as Your Car PC Frontend
        1. 7.6.1. Installing CENTRAFUSE
        2. 7.6.2. Integrating External Programs
        3. 7.6.3. Changing CENTRAFUSE's Appearance
        4. 7.6.4. Setting Up the Radio
        5. 7.6.5. Adding Support for New Audio and Video Formats
        6. 7.6.6. Adding Phone Support
        7. 7.6.7. Getting Online in Your Car
        8. 7.6.8. Changing the Voice Commands
        9. 7.6.9. Video Poster Images
        10. 7.6.10. Future Improvements
      7. Hack #74. Use Neocar Media Center as Your Car PC Frontend
        1. 7.7.1. Neocar Media Center
        2. 7.7.2. NMC Features
        3. 7.7.3. Configuring NMC
        4. 7.7.4. Neocar Manager
        5. 7.7.5. Future Plans
      8. Hack #75. Use FrodoPlayer as Your Car PC Frontend
        1. 7.8.1. Installing FrodoPlayer
        2. 7.8.2. FrodoPlayer Features
        3. 7.8.3. Third-Party Tools
        4. 7.8.4. Replace the Windows GUI with Frodo
        5. 7.8.5. Future Improvements
    12. Index
    13. About the Author
    14. Colophon
    15. SPECIAL OFFER: Upgrade this ebook with O’Reilly