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Freelander Computerised


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Hello all,

Still in my first posting days here.

Well everything good with my Freebie so far, had a new cylinder head, valves, belts, clutch, waterpump etc etc so I decided to begin bringing her upto date.

Im quite a young lad at 25 and am very much into technology, so have decided to work on an incar pc project, not sure if any of you have embarked on anything like this, anyway what I intend to do is have a small form factor pc installed into the passenger side glove box, a 7" touchscreen embedded into the dash and ODB and some other cool stuff going on.

Why bother? Well I love music and do I lot of long distance, I also find that radio stations I like in one place have no reception in another so internet radio is a must for me, also because it will have full internet connectivity and I happen to be in a hotel or away from home I can jump in the car and watch the football streamed.

I'm going to install a Dell Optiplex GX620 Ultra Small Form Factor (USFF) with 2GB of Ram and a P4 3.00gb processor, this will connect to an inverter through an inline fuse to the car battery.

There will be a 7" Touchkit that when the car is turned on at the ignition will load into Centrafuse.

Should look very cool when finished, I want to know if there is anybody else out there that has done something silimar, not fussed if its a Petrol or Diesel Freelander, just interested to see how anyone else has done it.


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The only point I would raise would be how sure are you that you will get a useable Wifi signal wherever you go (and you will need an external aerial if the PC is buried in the glove box). Have you tried it yet?

Also watch out for legislation being considered to reduce the number of things that drivers can do in a car. Many accidents are caused by people texting, watching DVDs or playing with satnavs and this trend will only increase as more technology is introduced into cars. A lot of this is illegal already and what you are planning constitutes a vehicle modification which could invalidate your insurance if you don't declare it.

Otherwise it's an interesting project I agree with your comments on internet radio, DAB is a dead duck despite the government pushing it so that they can sell off the FM spectrum.

Incidentally there is no such thing as a 3.00gb processor - should be 3.00 gHz.

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Ive got a 3 USB modem, that I have tested with the PC hidden, and yes oops I know its GHZ but it was a tad late when I posted and didnt notice that when I re-read it.

From what I understand there is legislation already about watching dvd's and video whilst driving, as long as it does not distract the drivers attention, i think this is why most of these dvd come stereo's have a lead to the hand brake so that when the hand brake is off the video function will not work.

However am I right in thinking that almost all new cars come with some sort of screen in them I know BMW do, and the Freelander 2 does also I believe... so with alol these cars having this feature as standard how is new legislation going to cover it?

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Easy way to a decent signal is to hang the modem on a USB extension cable so it can "see" out of the window/sunroof.

Edited to add: Why do you need an inverter to run a small PC, surely one of the supplies from Mini-ITX.com / LinITX or similar would be an easier option?

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have you looked at the 12v DC-DC PSUs available?

I know nothing about a "Dell Optiplex GX620 Ultra Small Form Factor (USFF)" but it's very easy to get a cranking-proof ITX/ATX 12v DC-DC power supply to work, with or without ignition switch controlled booting.

Pretty old-hat now, but i did this about 5 years ago. The dash has since been rebuilt for an 8" screen.


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I've thought about doing this in the past and have decided against it several times for various reasons. Personaly I would be more inclined to either custom build a mini-itx based PC or harvest a laptop rather than use a pre-built SFF solution. A custom built solution can be designed with lower power overheads and be slighlty more robust from the outset.

There are PSU's out there that will monitor supply and switch off the PC when a certain threshold is breached to avoid a flat battery, these will also auto start up and shutdown the PC.

Heat may become an issue in the summer months, as will cold in the winter. HDD's designed for laptops will be slighlty more robust and it's also worth looking at booting from CF.

Have you done any tests with the 3 USB 3G solution? you might find that trying to stream internet radio whilst travelling at 70mph up the motorway is intermittent, heavy buffering might solve that though.

Just the thoughts I had when I considered implementing this myself :)

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Have you thought about a SatNav, most of them run WinCE once unlocked and should be able to do most of what you require. I got a Navman from Halfrauds for just over 100 quid, unlocked it and it will run a lot of WinCE applications including iPod emulators.

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