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Niraj

The Project : Is200 By Niraj

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Three most common questions I hear are:

- What is an ICPC?

- What does it do?

- Why?

Let me try and explain each of them.

- What is an ICPC?

An ICPC is an In Car Personal Computer. It's as simple as having a laptop in the car. Nearly all businesses rely on some sort of computer. ALL forms of electronic communication rely on computers. Infact, if you're reading this, you are using some sort of computer related device whether it's a laptop, desktop or even a PDA. We are in the 'Computer Age' so my thoughts are "lets embrace it!"

- What does it do?

Well like any computer device, laptop, desktop, PDA, the primary function of an ICPC is to serve the user. Like a laptop, the capabilities are similar in the sense that the user has access to applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Solitaire and Calculator. It doesn't end there. The user can extend the ability to do more than just write a document, create a spreadsheet or play a game. Infact, I would hope that the ICPC is a form of ICE... In Car Entertainment! In the good old days, ICE included an audio source (headunit) and an audio output (speakers). Technology has advanced to such a great degree where speakers turned into subwoofers, and headunits turned into high power amps. With the ICPC I take this one step further. The PC becomes the audio source and brain of it all.

- Why?

In Car Entertainment has been around for many years, and will be around for a lot longer yet to come.

iPod's have hit the market in a big way, MP3 players are all the rave, and TomTom dominate the satellite navigation market. Not to mention the likes of Cobra and Clifford, who take care of vehicle security, and the likes of Creative who have taken Hi-Fidelity audio to a complete new level. The internet is now the "information superhighway" we had all dreamt it would be, and communication all seems to be by email.

Now to answer the question... why? Because we can combine all of this into one neat combined package, and produce something that is unmatched in its superiority.

My question to you... Why would you need anything else?

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Location

The first thing to do is to find a location to house the computer.

Places I considered were:

- Under a seat

- In the glovebox

- In the boot

Lets analyse these locations one at a time.

Under a seat : A small desktop can possibly be hidden under the driver or passenger seat. However, it is likely to be subject to lots of vibration and shock, and the lack of good airflow may increase the temperature at which the components are required to withstand. It is also in a vulnerable position to dirt and being kicked.

In the glovebox: The glovebox lacks space and is rather small to fit a normal sized motherboard and peripherals into comfortably. However, vibrations can be reduced as the entire unit is already on a swinging hinge. There is neither a great deal of air flow, however does have the conveniancy of being close to the air ducts.

In the boot: a normal PC (desktop or minitower) can quite easily be housed in the boot area. There is plenty of room, and lots of air circulation. This would be possibly the best place to mount and secure a PC out of the way, hidden from the users in the cabin.

I chose the glove box, purely because it suited my requirements. I couldn’t use the boot area, as you will see I needed the space for something else. I didn’t fancy sticking it under the seats because certain PC components could easily melt or burn under summer temperatures.

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Components for the PC.

You will need:

- a motherboard;

- some compatible memory;

- a hard drive (preferably laptop 2.5â€);

- an optical CD drive;

- a power supply;

- and an operating system.

I chose the following equipment:

Motherboard – VIA EPIA M10k (£90-£100) Linitx.com

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Memory - 1Gb Crucial PC2100 (£45-£65) Dabs.com

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Hard Drive – Momentus 2.5†8mb Cache 60Gb (£50-£80) Savastore.com

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Optical Drive – 8x CD Drive from an old PC.

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Power Supply – M2-ATX (£60-£80) Linitx.com

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Operating System – Microsoft Windows XP Pro (£95) Savastore.com

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Additional components I started considering at the time were… Optical DVD drive, Soundcard, Cooling fans, GPS receiver, USB remote, USB Hub, USB Wifi, USB webcam and a TFT screen. I will talk more about these later.

Build a PC

If you have an old ATX power supply I’d suggest you use this so that you can power the components indoors, and you’ll also need to borrow a VGA screen for the meanwhile. Connect up the components and install your operating system. For those who have done this before, it shouldn’t take longer than an hour, including installation of all motherboard drivers. If you’ve never built a PC before, there are plenty of guides on the net to help you with this.

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Fabricate a PC box: Fibreglass (28 August 2006)

As I decided I would be using my glove box to house the PC, I was left with a puzzle organising all the bits so that it would fit neatly in the space, and still have enough room to breathe. I decided the easiest way to do this would be to take a fibreglass mould of the glovebox and mount the components to this.

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However, this was my first ever attempt at using fibreglass and wasn’t impressed with my efforts. This meant I had to find a new material to make a mould of the glove box with. I chose acrylic.

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Fabricate a PC box: Blue Acrylic (30 August 2006)

I found acrylic to be easier to handle and cut into shape. I’ve used it before (a long time ago at school) so was familiar with how it can be used. The tools required to continue were easy to find. A heatgun, Stanley knife, a metal rule, a workbench, and a hot glue gun.

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After cutting the back panel of the glovebox out of acrylic to shape I could lay the motherboard and hard drive to find their best fitment.

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I then cut the sides and top out to support the housing, and hot glued it together

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At this stage I was pretty happy with my work, so went on to make a lid, and attach some cooling fans to it. These are 80mm fans with blue LED’s and can be picked up from any local PC store for not more than £8 each.

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This is what it looked like when installed in the car:

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Fabricate a PC box: Clear Acrylic (30 August 2006)

Pretty chuffed at my second attempt, I realised that I couldn’t actually get to any of the motherboard outputs, not could the additional soundcard I was planning to upgrade to. This meant I was back to the drawing board.

I used some clear acryclic and knocked up this little beauty using the same tools:

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This is how it looked fitted to the car:

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Double Din Fascia for 7" TFT (5 December 2006)

To control this PC I would need a visual output. A TFT. So I chose the 7†Linitx Touchscreen (£200). However placing a TFT on the dash was not really the OEM effect I was after. Luckily a fellow member on LOC (Billsy) had made cut an Alluminium fascia with dimensions that fitted this screen. Thank you Billsy for the fascia! However, by the time I got round to using the fascia, I had damaged it in parts, so had to repair it.

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The following pics were created by Billsy when he first made the fascia

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My screen, fitted in pretty much the same way.

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Headrest screens: 6.5” Veba LCD for headrests (£200) ebay.com (3 December 2006)

You have to be extremely daring to do the following. But me being me, I couldn’t let anyone else do the job for me… where’s the satisfaction in paying someone to do everything for you? So I got out a nice ink pen and a Stanley knife. I don’t think the next few pictures require any comments, so just enjoy.

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Voila!

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Nice job don’t you think? :)

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Shark Fin Aerial & Customised Gearknob (05 December 2006)

As I hadn’t created my ICPC for Radio, I decided to remove the rather large aerial, and replace it with a sharkfin aerial. Small and quite nice. A can of colour coded spray from Halfords costs around £10 and the Shark Fin aerial can be snapped up on ebay for around a fiver. While I was at it, I thought I’d customise the rather stock deteriorating gearknob.

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Let the 2 dry for a while before attaching them to the vehicle.

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Voltage Stabilization & Grounding kit (£75) Danotech (30 July 2005)

A simple device, like small capacitors fitted to the front battery reduces any voltage surges the electrical system might require. For example, when the Air-con switches on. Or the wiper motor turns on. As this was one of the first few mods I did to the car, I was very precious in how I installed it, and this is what I ended up with.

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Good earth grounding is a MUST when installing additional electronic devices in a vehicle.

More battery: 3.7l Optima Yellowtop (16 December 2006)

I then decided to upgrade the battery to a 3.7l Optima Yellowtop that retail at roughly £200 (not the price I paid).

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Sound Deadening : R-Blox 100sq ft (10th October 2006)

I have already posted my progress on this but for those who missed it I will put it all in this section.

Here is the original topic : http://www.lexusownersclub.co.uk/forum/ind...showtopic=36714

You'll be expecting it to power a nice set of speakers right? But what's the point in having nice speakers if the sound is lost because of bad acoustics. Unfortunately, as silent as the IS200 is, it's still not enough. Extend the audio capability of the IS beyond stock speakers and things will start to rattle.

BUT.... there is a fix!

For those who can afford the branded stuff... dynamat is the guaranteed way forward... for those on a budget, there are other various similar products on the market, but make no mistake, it's the best investment you'll ever make.

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Here's what the roof looks like when that's sound deadened too :)

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Doubling up on the roof made an approximate 30% improvement! Which all counts towards the final effect.

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Sound Deadening : Front doors

In the same way that the sound deadening was applied to the rear section of the car, I got to work at the front doors. The following images show only the outer skin of the door being lined, however the doors were double layered, and then the inner skin was sound deadened, to produce an enclosure.

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Voltage monitor : LED Voltmeters (£16 each) ebay.com (23 December 2006)

With all the electricity that will be surging through the car front to back, it would be a good idea to monitor the levels. So I opted for these rather lovely looking LED voltmeters.

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Boot Install : Subwoofer Box

The subwoofers I opted for, were TS-W3004SPL by Pioneer. They are cheap and cheerful subs and can be picked up for around the £90 mark from most car audio shops. The box then needed to be designed as per specification. As I have always loved the sound of sealed enclosures, my target was 24.1litres per subwoofer.

Here is the design of the box.

External Dimensions

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Internal Dimensions

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I was then able to build an install around the enclosure and came up with this:

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The false floor will house the amps... the side compartments will house an extra battery, and other audio equipment. The carpet colour is just for demonstration... the actual finishing i'll be using will be slightly different.

The flat floor between the amps and subs is still undecided, i may fiberglass a small slope to allow air flow from the face of the woofers without the wave being bounced flat faced from the side of the false floor. (if that makes sense)

Then it was time to build the box out of MDF:

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Front Speakers: 6.5" Rainbow SLC-265 Kicks (£200) caraudiodirect.com

Now that we’ve got the rear speakers, it’s time to upgrade the front components. I opted for the Rainbow SLC-265 Kicks. Rather pricey, but worth their weight in gold. However, mounting them into the door wasn’t easy. The depth of the speaker meant that it wouldn’t fit in the door. So I had to make some MDF baffles. Tools for this were some G-clamps & a jigsaw.

This is what the final product was.

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Being a perfectionist, I wasn’t happy with these ^ so I got to work with Router and converted them into these friendly looking things.

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After fitting door card over the baffles, you can see there is enough clearance at the front:

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Tweeters; Rainbow 20mm

These were as easy as opening them out of the OEM plastic shell and epoxy resin them to the original metal bracket.

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Rear Speakers : Pioneer 6x9’s (£40)

I’ve now got the subwoofer enclosure and the front components done and dusted. An audiophile would stop at this stage as a good SQ setup doesn’t require rear fill. However, as a matter of taste, I prefer my sound to be available at all corners of the vehicle. So I got to work at making some rear baffles for a set of 6x9’s.

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However, as you can see, these look extremely thick compared to the original speakers. So they needed to be slimmed down, otherwise the rear parcel shelf would not fit.

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Rear Battery: 4.2l Optima Yellowtop (RRP £250)

As I’m planning to have a second battery in the boot to power the additional electronics I was going to need more power. So this deep cycle optima yellow top was perfect for the job. But where do I put something that weighs over 20kg! I made a battery tray out of MDF. A snug fit for the battery, which allows it to sit in the rear right corner of the car.

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Cabin stripped (18 February 2007)

It all feels like I’m making progress at this stage, and about time I get to the core of the car. So it’s time to strip it all out, and make way for some wiring! First we remove all the interior trims and seats.

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Then we remove the carpet.

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Looks scary, but it’s really not. These cars have been really well designed, and it should all go back together like an easy jigsaw puzzle (I hope)

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EQ Tray for EQ : Boss Audio EQ BX35 (£50) ebay.com

Software EQ’s are wonderful things, but nothing bits an active bit of hardware. The Boss Audio BX35 is more than capable of doing the job. It has 3 RCA inputs and 3 RCA outputs. By my calculations that equates to Fronts, Rears, and Subs.

So to house the EQ I made this lovely little EQ tray, which fit snug in the left corner of the car. Opposite the Optima Yellowtop.

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Boot Fabrication (01 April 2007)

So far the bits I’ve made are the Subwoofer Enclosure, Battery tray and an EQ tray. From my original design, these were going to be hidden behind partitions for a slightly “stealth†look.

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The air pressure in the boot created by the subwoofers means the rear speakers in the parcel shelf would need protecting. So these had to be sealed away.

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You can also see a voltmeter from earlier, that I fitted to the parcel shelf enclosure. This will be connected to the amps that power the subwoofers.

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Mounting Boot Fabrication: Angled Irons (06 April 2007)

Unfortunately, the IS200 has many curves and angled shaped, which make mounting anything in situ, extremely difficult. So I bought some iron from B&Q. Cut it into 10" lengths and bent them to the shape I needed.

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I then attached some of these angled irons to the side of the subwoofer enclosure and joint at the shock absorber mount. It keeps the enclosure from moving side to side, and acts as an amateur rear strut brace.

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The rear of the enclosure is mounted into the car where the ski-hatch used to be.

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The partitions are held against the angled irons bolted into the floor on either side as shown below.

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Split Charge Relay Kit (£45)

Having the benefit of 2 batteries in a car, means having to maintain two batteries. Using the power from them also means having to charge them up. The best known method to do this from a single alternator, is by using a split charge relay kit. These are easy to install as you can see from the following pictures.

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Don't forget to cut the cable ties, lol.

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Dashboard wiring (29 April 2007)

There is far too much to say in this area, so for those who are interested, post any questions and I will explain. Generally though, what we have here is:

+12v continuous

+12v switched

-0v earth

USB

RCA

S-video

Composite

and Serial wiring.

I tend to go extra lengths in everything I do, so not all of this is necessary.

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Blue LED Conversion AC Panel

I love blue LED’s so I thought it would be really neat to convert my AC panel and all the lights on the dash to blue. It was going really well and looked alright, however, me being as fussy as I am, could not live with the uneven distribution across the panel. This is what it did look like though.

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4 Channel Amp

I am currently using a 5ch Kenwood amp, that I used in my previous car. It is more than capable of outputting the required audio to the speakers, and made for a good choice in this setup. It is the KAC-859 which I bought 5 years ago for roughly £200. There are better and cheaper amps on the market these days one of which I recommend highly is the JBL GTO 75.4

It is screwed onto the inside of the left partition.

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