Car Computer

So, I have a really cool car (Subaru Forester Turbo) and as you all may already know, I’m a Macintosh freak. I’ve been wondering how to marry these two together and trick out the Scooby with a tricked out Mac.

I’ve thought it over and have come up with a suprisingly plausible mod to do using a PowerBook G4 of some model… Perhaps a 12″ or 15″ model.

Here’s a rough list:

* Use a older 800Mhz PowerBook G4 with Airport

* Remove the LCD, paint the back black to match the dashboard, retain the hinges, and mount it on the dash in the center. Use of the hinges will allow the LCD to still flip down and retain the use of the storage compartment in the center of the dash.

* Stow the PowerBook, sans LCD, on shock mounts under the front passenger seat. Convert the 12VDC power feed from the car to 24VDC and feed it to the PowerBook.

* Replace the double-DIN stock head unit with a double-DIN chassis which has a titanium-colored front grille, sort of like the “Cheese grater” front grille that the G5 sports. At the top, put a IDE slot-loading CD-R/DVD-R drive and use an Oxford 911 IDE->Firewire bridge board to convert the drive and run a Firewire cable under the console to the PowerBook.

* Below the CD-R/DVD-R, make a DIN-sized console of illuminated “quick access” buttons hooked up to a USB keyboard controller chip. Buttons would perform functions such as disc eject, volume, powerbook power on/off, LCD brightness, and a IBM-style Thinkpad mouse “nub” with two buttons. Connect this with a USB cable running under the center console to the PowerBook.

* Use a Griffin PowerMate for main mouse and presets control.

* Integrate a USB GPS receiver and use any of several Mac-based GPS map clients

* Add a multiple-ouput USB sound interface, such as one from Edirol, and wire those to amps for audio. This would be the default sound output device for all audio.

* Add a USB-controlled XMradio receiver and use MacXM to control it. Audio from that would be pass-through the powerbook.

* Add bluetooth to the PowerBook for wireless 101-key keyboard and mouse and cell phone integration.

* And since we still have an empty PCMCIA slot, add a GSM/GPRS or CDPD modem for inet on the road.

iTunes would be the main music source. iDVD can keep passengers entertained on long trips. A minijack audio in would be available on the center console so a iPod or similar device can be plugged in. The PowerBook has a Airport card so software and music can be uploaded to the car from the house, and a nice Cocoa-based GUI and applescript back-end to mesh all the functionality together would be made easily.

This will be my summer project :)

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