Jan 11

Car PC – Cabling

Quick progress report and a picture dump. Nothing really interesting here.

For any CarPC, there are a few main subsystems:

  1. LCD/Monitor and bezel (molding)
  2. Core Computer Hardware
  3. Peripherals (sound cards, cams, GPS, etc)
  4. Audio (including car speakers, amps, etc)

This dump is mostly related to the audio (and peripherals, i guess). I was putting the “lay cable” to do list item off a little bit due to the pain-in-the-ass process of tearing down my car interior. Generally this means removing seats, floor liner, sometimes the head liner, etc etc etc. It can turn into a full day project for custom installs. I found a solid teardown guide on VW Vortex and got to work. I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to HAVE to tear down much at all. I ended up removing rear seats, and the floor trim near my driver side doors, and that was about all I needed to do.

For my PC, there are a few goals in mind (introduced in the… introduction). I decided to lay all the cables I could possibly nead, even though I am probably not going to use them all. I picked up a USB 3.0 extension, USB 2.0 extension, HDMI & VGA extensions, Audio extension, and Cat6 Ethernet. The USB2.0 (15ft) turned out to be too short, but since I had already zip tied all the cables together, the end is awkwardly tucked away near my door…

AS AN INTERESTING ASIDE: Since I purchased my car, there’s been this mystery AUX cable from the back of my car that was run to the front. I traced it to the rear driver’s side seat, but lost where the cable went… I never took the time to pull everything apart to see where it was going, but when I tore down the car for laying my own cable, I vowed to find it. Well… I did. Anyways… log time.

Easy access, this is what my golf looks like with all the doors open… but one.

Removal of the rear seats (pretty simple, a mallet and a screw driver was all I needed). The seat backs were significantly heavier than I thought they’d be.

Most of my trim and seats, as well as hatch floor cover piled up.

Removing the rest of my trim.

Driver’s door showing the bundle of cabling that I installed. I left out the video cables due to bulk. Zip tied and laid the Ethernet, Shielded Audio (3.5mm), and two USB cables (only one actually made it to the back). You can also see the trim removed near the foot well.

Lifting up carpeting to peek at the stock cables.

Stock/OEM cabling (lighting, etc).

The bastard/mystery cable that runs from my trunk to SOMEWHERE in the cabin.

AAAAAAAND… The mystery cable runs up the driver’s footwell and goes through a stupid coupler and runs into the area below the steering wheel. I believe it came out of the defroster vent originally. From what it looks like, the previous owner ran a cigarette adapter power converter for XM radio and added a charger. I stripped out the job, which was a tiny bit sloppy (but overall not too bad) and laid my own cable. It’s sitting behind my jutting-out-head unit.

Prototyping the radio cage and laying out the hardware in my next post, it may be more polished than this quick turd post. 🙂

Cheers

Jan 08

Car PC Worklog Update

I decided I’d probably just post incremental updates instead of long “post-mortem” work logs after everything’s done. I’m pretty bad about documenting the process as I go, so this might work, it might not…

For any CarPC, there are a few main subsystems:

  1. LCD/Monitor and bezel (molding)
  2. Core Computer Hardware
  3. Peripherals (sound cards, cams, GPS, etc)
  4. Audio (including car speakers, amps, etc)

This post is largely about the Monitor assembly (specific to my car). Back when I started researching Car PCs (>5 years ago), there weren’t many good commercial(ish) products dedicated to mobile computing (“Infotainment”). That’s all changed, though. I determined that the best use of my time would be investing in a Bybyte Double-Din LCD frame specifically designed for the Monitor I was using (Lilliput 669GL w/ HDMI). After receiving the unit, I quickly found out (by an eyeballed test fit) that my head unit was actually larger than a standard DoubleDin. I ended up buying a Metra dash-kit for my Golf, and assembled it (with some support by the wonderful folks of the Bybyte team). Some assembly notes follow:

I bought a DIY/disassembled Double-DIN kit on ebay via mo-co-so. After my first one came in with some imperfections/blemishes, mocoso support shipped me a new one free of charge. EXCELLENT customer service, I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone looking for CarPC accessories. This photo shows my impromptu binder clip “clamps” while assembling the mounting tabs.

The disassembled Lilliput HB 669GL HDMI and assembled frame.

Assembly process, routing cables. Hiding the panel control buttons. Well designed kit by Bybyte, no risk of dangling cables that will eventually get broken off. Only slight here is that there is no physical access to the buttons. This isn’t really important as there’s a remote, but to enable “auto on” functionality upon powerup, you need access to the buttons at least once.

Assembled kit.

This is a shot demonstrating how the Metra dash trim kit fits over the Bybyte DoubleDIN enclosure.

 

How the kit looks when it is actually lined up. The step between the Bybyte and Metra is pretty ugly, but I’m not going to invest any time (at the moment) to clean it up and/or custom fab a better solution. Maybe if it bothers me in the future.

Splitting the enclosures up

This photo shows the modification required to get the Bybyte DDIN kit to fit with the Metra trim kit. Just cut off the bottom shelf.

This shows the one major issue I had during assembly. The DDIN kit mounting holes do NOT line up with the Metra dash kit when they’re centered. I recommend removing the bottom shelf, inserting the LCD frame, and THEN mounting and gluing the mounting arms. They will NOT be centered. I ended up removing some material with a dremel to get the mounting screws to go in.

A quick test fit of my NUC behind the mounted display. My initial thought is to remove the NUC from the enclosure and build a fan system for it as well as the PSU.

Showing the minimal clearance.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for the next phase, which is cabling my car. Fabrication for PC/Audio/PSU mounting will probably come shortly after that. Once that’s through, it’ll be the test run/test fit.