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May 19, 2008

Car Computer V4

Can you believe the FJ Cruiser is over two years old?  It seems like only yesterday that people were following me around to get a better look at it, and now they seem to be on every corner, at least here in Boulder.

If you've been following the Car Computer Project, you know that V3 of the project never really left the work bench in my office.  V3 was a replacement for V2, which died back in June somewhere in Kansas.  V2 was an Infill T3 that I bought from mp3car.com.  When it died I found out that they could either send the unit back to Korea for repairs, or they could replace it with a new Vista-ready machine.  I chose the later, but it turns out it would have been quicker to wait for the boat from Korea.  As of last week, I still didn't have the radio module for the new unit and I decided to stop waiting and cut my losses.  I wasn't really looking forward to taking a hacksaw to the dash of the FJ to make the new touchscreen fit, and I still think an AM/FM radio is a requirement, so I'm salvaging the computer that MP3car.com sent me and matching it up with a new combination radio/touchscreen unit that is getting great reviews.


That's it on the left, a Xenarc MDT-X7000.  The touchscreen is motorized, and with it retracted the unit looks like any after-market radio.  My hope is that when I don't want to fool with the computer, I'll have a very functional AM/FM CD player with real knobs and preset buttons.  Then when I push a button, it will transform into a car computer.  Here's a photo from the Xenarc website.


This will even leave some space in the dash for something else, and the actual computer will be hidden out of sight in the back of the vehicle.  There is an intimidating amount of wires in the harness, but I'm going to try to install it myself when I get a free weekend.  Unlike the Infill, this unit came with documentation and the wiring harness is labeled in English so how hard can it be?

Let me give two quick disclaimers.  If you want a car computer of your own, buy a Ford with the Sync option.  The kind of system I've built is pretty far from being prime time.  Second, don't type and drive.  We don't need people surfing the web while they are driving!

May 19, 2008 in Car Computer | Permalink


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The trails and tribulations of being on the leading edge.... Actually Terry wouldn't it be great if half the CEO's around would seek to experience the everyday use of technology and vendor relations typically encountered in their own marketplace. I'm sure many changes would occur if they did. I applaud your perserverance.

By the way the Microsoft/Ford Sync solution really is pretty cool. It does require a little practice to adapt to but when you consider the big picture it is pretty great:
- totally self contained in the auto, doesn't require any outside service signal, license, power packs or any other higly specialized unit to function
- it is upgradeable within the vehicle
- they make it work with iTunes as well as all other MP3 players, good choice
- completely leverages any of the investment you've already made in cell phone technology (assuming bluetooth capable).
- not to mention making direct use of all the time/effort one puts into loading their cell phone call list and mp3 player content
- it seems to be TOO logical a design to have caught on much, they seem to market stricly to the youth sector when I think parents and families would get the most benefit!!
- anyway I hope you get some time to just enjoy the units you've been working with.

Posted by: Tom | May 27, 2008 9:14:52 AM