Sunday, January 2, 2011

Resolution: CarPC / EEE case mod

I'm really not one for making New Years Resolutions, or rather, every time I've made them, they haven't lasted past January. But this year, I'm going to try to keep one: making a CarPC. I've always been extremely intrigued by it. The thing is, I don't really see that many advantages to it, but it sounds so interesting and exciting. Plus, my in-dash nav system is so terrible, making something else would be wonderful.

It's just unfamilar territory. There's specific hardware and ARM processors and all that jazz. But it sounds like so much fun, I really want to try. Maybe this summer or something, but I really need an in-depth guide like a book, or maybe eve just, which is a good resource for that kind of thing.

Secondly, and this is less of a resolution since I'm hoping to start and finish it ASAP, I'm trying to find a new case for my EEE 901. I kind of took it apart and can't get it back together, plus it was boring me. (For those curious, I mostly couldn't get the damn touchpad connected and working, and I think I might have even ruined the tiny cord for it.) So I want to put it in a new case. Here's what I'm thinking.

It's not going to be a netbook anymore. I'm going to trash the keyboard and mouse, and probably the screen. It's basically going to be an uber small box. I've always wanted to use a toaster, but I'd rather save that for mini-ITX or something more powerful/feature filled. But anyway, it's still going to be more or less the same features. Pretty much nothing is going to connect straight to the board, but rather through extensions.
  • USB will be just a squid/hub, like [this] - $5
  • The SD will also be an extension (which I did not know existed), like [these] - $8
  • VGA will hopefully be a very small extension, if I can find one like [this] - $15 (pricy?)
  • The audio (mic and headphones) will both be short extensions like [this] - $4
  • The Ethernet will be a short extension like [this] - $10 (pricy?)
  • Things like the speakers, mic, and fan will probably all be inside the case, or ditched. The webcam will probably have to be ditched.
  • The power Cord (see this) will be completely inside the PC, with the edge of the box sticking out.
  • The Battery will probably still be attached, but will be inside of whatever the case is.

The only things I haven't figured out are the monitor and the power switch. Well, the monitor's cord is extremely short so if I were to want to keep this a mobile device, the screen would need to be within like 2 inches of the board, unless I could find an extender, but I can't. The closest I've got is people mentioning it on the mp3car forums.
As for the power switch, instead of a traditional mobo that has pins and can be extended, the "switch" on the EEE is actually a button, so to extend it at all, I think I might have to create a clever lever mechanism. But I can't really figure that out until I decide on a case.

For the specs of the case, it needs to be somewhat open, meaning airflow is possible, and at least the following size.
  • Length: 9" for just the board, probably more like 12" because cords will be coming out both sides.
  • Width: 6" for just the board, 7" including the battery.
  • Depth: 1" because of the power box; the board is only 1.5mm though, but then it does need a little space anyway.
  • SUMMARY: 12" x 7" x 1"
As for case ideas, I really can't think of any; things like a DVD case popped into my head, but it's far too small. The best thing I've thought of is buying an iPad dummy like [this], and putting it inside. True, the screen wouldn't work, but I still think it would be hilarious. There are two problems I've run into. First, there aren't enough places to leave the ports; I think I'd end out needing an SD, VGA, two 3.5MM, an ethernet, and whatever number of USB I need, so 6+. But the iPad looks like it only has like 2 holes. Secondly and more importantly, it's too skinny. It's only 1.2mm, which the mobo itself might fit in, but I know for a fact that things like the VGA and power brick wouldn't. If the dummy was $5, I might get it just to see if I could, but at $20, I could stand to put that money toward something that will actually work.

Another idea is putting it inside a keyboard, which has already been done and is incredibly cool. But I have no idea where the Russian dude found that huge keyboard, plus he's done it first and I kind of want to do something original.

The only other idea I have is to stick it in an old video game system. I have a Sega Saturn I was thinking about getting rid of, but that this is the size of an Xbox.

It's frustrating....the things I think of are either too large or too small. I need to find one that's just right. The goldilocks of the nerd world.


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