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Computer Guy
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30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay so I had this crazy idea the other day to repurpose the silly little flower pot behind my steering wheel into something that I can actually use...

... and of course the little gadget engineers that live in my brain took the idea and ran with it. I woke up this morning with a crazy idea. Does anybody have any experience with the Raspbian Wheezy Linux distribution? I've been tinkering with it a bit.

Graduated from simply repurposing the flower pot to act as a mount for my phone, my goal would be to mount a full-powered PC in a liquid-cooled box in the trunk. Of course I'll take shock-proofing into consideration, and I'll be using solid-state drives, and I'll put a hinge on it so it can be opened and shown off, and I've got lots of experience making computer cases look awesome with UV-reactive liquid coolant systems and black lights and LEDs and fancy fans, etc, etc...

... but that's beside the point. "Function over form," I say. Functionally, I want the system to do several things:

• Render 360° 3D maps in VGA colour from 2-4 Kinect LIDARs on a roof rack as super-overkill proximity sensors
(I've always wanted to play with homebrew Kinect LIDAR systems, and this is a good chance to do something totally crazy but totally awesome)​
• Process GPS data over serial and plot coordinates on cached satellite maps
(I'm pretty sure Google already has an API for that buried deep in their directory of API stuff)​
• Track and organize readably onboard diagnostics from the ECU
(probably over Bluetooth, if not wired serial - I'm actually not sure if I'd have to mod my ECU to be able to do that, since I would like to be able to do it on the fly, so I have a more useful indicator than a simple Check Engine light in the instrument panel)​
• Feed all of this data into a GUI front-end (probably written in Ruby or Python) with a tabbed interface that...
...the Raspberry Pi thin client connecting to it over LDAP in the dash can run as a remote app​

There's also the prospect of voice-recognition software, facial-recognition door unlocks, etc? I mean, as long as it's wired in, the sky's the limit.

I've also found that the Mimo UM-740 touchscreen monitor can be wired RPi (confirmed to work) to act as the display; it's USB (2.0) powered, so I can just run the USB cable up through where the flower pot is and still build a mount for the display right there. Obviously I'll want to tweak and brand the OS to look pretty, but that won't be until after I've got it to actually work in the lab.

Thoughts? Ideas? Damnations? Suggestions?

Help me brainstorm here. I'm obviously not as much of a car guy as I am a computer guy. I'm learning though. Give me some more awesome things that you would want an on-board computer to be able to do.
 

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Don't call me pumpkin...
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221 Posts
This is a pretty awesome idea. I've been wanting to put a PC in my cars for a long time, but funds do not allow. My friend in Chicago has been messing around with his RasPi, and I've been considering using one for media playback instead of a M-ITX machine mounted somewhere in the trunk. But, I'm no coder. He uses Python day in and day out, and I know a little HTML/CSS, but that's about it. lol...

My touchscreen would ideally be molded in where the factory stereo is. I would relocate the climate controls as well. I'll do it one of these days...
 

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Computer Guy
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30 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think I might actually, instead of one singular computer, build a more modular array of Arduino boards, each one with its own specialization. That way I can build each one, function-by-function, until I end up with what I imagine would look like a tiny, sideways blade server rack.
 
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