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Raspberry Pi Mini-PC/Mobile Entertainment Center


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Hey guys! It's been quite a long time since I've posted! I wanted to share something I have been working on. In truth, I've been using the system for a while now but I was just thinking today that you guys might appreciate this.


First we'll look at the result...








Please excuse the broken suction cup mount. The previous owner put it on there and I have yet to buy a new door. It broke when I tried to remove it. Last owner used super glue for some reason! :spin:


The system consists of...


-Raspberri Pi Model B miniature computer

-Logitech K4000R wireless keyboard/mouse (Slim, fits nice between seats and console)

-Generic 14 Port USB Adapter W/2A Power Supply

-Mini 10A 12VDC ~ 110VAC Inverter

-Generic 1-to-3 Plug Wall Plug Adapter

-Slim Powered Desktop Computer Speakers

-Generic 7" TFT LCD Screen

-Adjustable DC Voltage Regulator

-12V Cigarette Lighter Adapter W/Built-in 5A fuse

-Logitech USB Wifi adapter

-Class 10 SD Card (Numerous, 8GB being the smallest I use)


First I had to make the enclosure for the Pi. Working at a well-equipped machine shop, this was no problem. I used to do a lot of the rework, before I got an office job and I didn't want to spend a whole lot of time on this. I used about 2 lunch breaks and nothing other than pnuematic tools, a Bridgeport, and a Tig Welder. I had a professional welder from our TIG welding department do the welding, and he went a bit hard on the benching afterwards, but the end result isn't bad.





The material its made from is HAST-X 5536. Fabbed up really fast. The next one will look 100X better.









The inside is insulated with 1/8" rubber sheet and the board is secured with foam to the inside of the case. Since these pictures have been taken I've glued the top rubber insulation in place on the underside of the cover. Not shown is the trimmed top foam for the board that "Clamps" it down and keeps it from moving.







There are holes cut for access to the HDMI port, the 3.5mm audio jack, the USB ports, & the component out plug. The system is powered through the USB port by the power supply for the external USB ports. The entire system powers on when you turn the key.









I run multiple operating systems, all based on Linux. Each one is stored on a separate SD card. I have a couple 8GB cards, and a couple 16GB cards (All Class 10). Shown in the pictures is Raspbian (Modified to play Flash elements on Midori. Chromium is for surfing), and a modified version of the XBox Media Center (XBMC). I keep spare SD cards in the glove box, so if I want to surf the web or get some work done I can plug in Raspbian. If I want to entertain the kids I plug in XBMC. Sound comes from speakers mounted under both front seats facing rearwards. No modifications to the factory audio system were made. Wifi comes from anywhere there's a hotspot (I use my phone). The rest of my storage comes from the 14 USB ports in the form of thumb drives or external hard drives.








The whole thing fits neatly in the console. It is possible to make it much neater, I'm just lazy. Inside the console is the AC inverter, the adapter to power my speakers the lazy way, the power supply for the USB adapter, the Raspberry Pi and the USB adapter itself, complete with plenty of storage, WIFI, Wireless keyboard and mouse, and anything else that takes a USB port. It will even speed-charge phones and tablets.








The monitor is powered by a hacked up Garmin charger with an adjustable regulator soldered inside of it. To keep the monitor safe, I dialed in 9V even. You can't be too careful when dealing with Chinese electronics. Although the Pi is capable of HD viewing through the HDMI port(Which I take advantage of quite often whenever I remove the Pi from the car) I'm using the component out for the vehicle with custom resolution setings in the config.dat of the O/S's that I run. The reason for this is that SD TFT display's are $40~something whereas good HD displays of the same size are $150+. The display plugs into the cigarette lighter, so its easy to turn the display off whenever you put the car in gear (Never use while driving).





And there you have it. Hope you guys enjoyed it! If you want to get one of these computers, hit me up through Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/honestrepair And with that plug, here comes a couple obligatory shots of the car.





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VERY nice! I was thinking about putting Rasberry PI in my car but now I see this does work. I was more interested in adding CAN logger capabilities since there is some extensive CAN development under Linux.


Do you plan any upgrades to the system?

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The only real mods (If you could call them that) would be a slight overclock to Raspbian, increased video memory, and custom resolution settings. The overclock and reallocation of memory was done to try and make YouTube videos smoother. I'm using Gnash with Midori to play Flash elements. Since all Gnash does is create a virtual Safari/Mac operating environment to install Flash onto, its very resource intensive. YouTube videos are still a bit hit or miss, but the advantage is Flash elements on other pages will usually load and work fine. Chromium isn't HTML5, but if they ever make some kind of HTML5 browser for the Pi you can bet I'll be one of the first to get it.


On XBMC the only mods would be a custom fixed resolution. If I do anything else to the setup it will be to make it more streamlined. Hiding the rest of the wires, blending the mount for the display, hiding the cigarette adapter by hardwiring it into the car, and hardwiring the inverter and the numerous power supplies to save space. I figure I could make the entire system about 50% more compact if I made my own custom voltage regulator with dash switch for all the various hardware. Although every part of the system has different voltage requirements, I'm sure I could make it smaller and reduce temperatures in the process.


Someday I'll get around to powder coating the case. I was even thinking about masking the silhouette of a Penguin on the cover. Maybe the Raspberry logo. Maybe something else. Who knows!


After that I'd like to get some extra LiPo R/C car batteries and fab up some electronics for powering the entire system on the go. My vision includes another $35 Raspberry Pi, another (larger) enclosure, another identical screen, 2X 5,000 Mah 7.4V Li-Po's, and a compact custom power supply that will power the Pi via external 110V power and charge the batteries for mobile use. The design will hopefully look just like a miniature desktop computer, but will be free from wires and completely portable. Not as powerful as a laptop or even a netbook, but way cooler.





By the way, do you have any links to good Linux CAN analyzer software? I really want to look into the potential of this. The thought has crossed my mind, but I always figured there would be a lot of programming involved. Other than a couple goofy Python programs, I've got no programming experience. If there are some free open-source programs compatible with ARMv6 architecture I might be able to get some results to share.

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