Mac Mini in Car - Discussion, Pics and How To...

Discussion in 'Picture Gallery' started by DavieBoy, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #1
    EDIT: Link to video on top of Page 3.

    A couple of people were asking me about how I set up a Mac Mini in my car. There are a few websites dedicated to this practice but I notice that they are not updated that much. With that said I am starting this post for all of us to ask and answer questions on the topic.

    It is my hope that soon we will all have Mac Minis in our cars, with 3g internet so we can video chat with other. HEY, IT IS HANDS FREE...

    Edit: Feel free to contact me with questions or for general help. Or for the apps or media that I talk about.

    I mainly use the Mini to listen to music or watch videos with Front Row. I also use VLC Player alot because it lets me make Music Video Playlists and plays them in Random Order.
     
  2. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #2
    Current Car - Pics

    Here are some pics of my current car with the Mini installed...

    It is a 2001 Ford Esacpe. The head unit is a 7" Kenwood Flip Out DVD player. It has one video input which is how I am inputing the computer.
     

    Attached Files:

  3. macrumors 6502a

    johny5

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Location:
    UK
    #3
    This is going to be an interesting thread for me :)

    How are you outputting the video? is it composite or do you have a vga connection in your head unit? if it is composite how are you outputting this and what resolution are you running?


    cheers :)
     
  4. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #4
    The different pieces used to install the Mini

    Of course I had to purchase a mini.

    The only other thing I bought from Apple at the time was the DVI to Analog Video adapter. Again I used that to run to the video input to the Flip Out TV.
     

    Attached Files:

  5. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #5
    Input Devices

    For input devices I used a MADCATZ scratchpad and a no name line of site wireless keyboard. It was before the new bluetooth keyboard had come out and I was able to find one that sits in the glovebox.

    I did buy a new bluetooth keyboard but the keyboard seemed to die quick and then the computer would tell me that there is no keyboard attached. It became annoying and I went back to my old one.

    Also now there are iPhone apps that can act a keyboard and mouse but do so through a wireless network. I will explain the best practice to set up an internal wireless network as soon as remember the best day to do it.
     

    Attached Files:

    • cat.jpg
      cat.jpg
      File size:
      930.4 KB
      Views:
      58
    • key.jpg
      key.jpg
      File size:
      231.7 KB
      Views:
      40
  6. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #6
    I am outputting it at 640 x 480 I believe. Looks great on such a little screen. You have to choose the "overscan" feature in the display options. (i think it is called that) It ends up cutting a little bit from the 4 sides of the video, but it is way better than having the black bessel around the monitor.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #7
    Since I mainly use front row. I double side taped my apple remote to the remote of the Kenwood head unit. I also have alot of extra apple remotes so for a while I kept one in every door handle. It looked nice and was a good idea until I had 4 people in the car and all wanted to be in charge of what we watched. ha
     

    Attached Files:

  8. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #8
    Power

    To power the unit I use a 200 Power Inverter. I think you need at least 120 watts. Don't remember because I did all the research a long time ago.

    The inverter came with a cigarette lighter adapter that I cut off and wired straight to the battery.

    I put a lighted switch under the steering wheel which is bright enough to remind me to turn the unit off whenever I get out of the car. In the 2+ years I think I only accidentally left the unit on once.

    I mainly taught myself how to wire this but I really recommend you get help from a friend who installs car stereos or something as it is the scariest part.

    They do make custom built power units that people buy to power their Minis but I didn't really understand how they worked to I went with this, It is also alot cheeper this way.

    At first I was shutting down the unit properly every time I got out of my car, eventually I set the power preferences to restart the unit when it gets power after a power failure and just hit the switch off. It is faster and easier and with over a year of doing this I have had no problems...
     

    Attached Files:

  9. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #9
    Extras

    That is mainly all you need to do to get the Mini in your car.

    Couple of extras that I did was to wire a 4-port hub to the glovebox. This is good to add new videos or music to the Mini without taking it out. Also a good place to plug in a 3G card for internet on the go.

    I mainly plug a little LED light into it to illuminate the glove box ha.


    I also have a iSight cam in my glovebox but have never figured out how I want to mount it. I did it in preparation for the 3G iPhone because I thought we would be able to tether it and I would video chat while driving. My girlfriend has a 3G card but we have never gave it a try. I promise to do so soon and get back to you guys. We have used it to video chat using our laptops on long drives and it works well.
     

    Attached Files:

  10. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #10
    Old Car Pics

    Here are some pics of the Mini when it was in my old car. It was in a 2001 Mitsubishi Galant. I took off the center armrest and custom built a enclosure to hold it. The design was good but I used my 8th grade Home Ec skills to sew up the vinyl. Also I did this project after having my wisdom teeth pulled so I was all drugged up. My mom had no clue what I was doing, ha...

    In the end I made some adjustments to the fitting and it looked pretty good, or at least no one made of of my sewing...
     

    Attached Files:

  11. macrumors 6502a

    drichards

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    #11
    The Mac Mini does a really good job in the car, but if I were gonna go for it, I'd probably go with the Apple TV.
     
  12. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #12
    Media

    So I figured that by putting a Mini in my car I was going the extra level to putting an iPod in my car.

    I mainly use front row to listen to music and watch videos.

    I usually watch music videos with VLC player because as I mentioned it allows me to make music video playlists that shuffle. (I kinda figured it out with iTunes but it wasn't perfect. If anyone has a better idea please tell me) VLC seems to crash every hour or so but what are you gonna do.

    For a couple of months while I planned out my install I used a program called Tubesock to download 100's of music videos fro youtube. I do not think tubesock works anymore so I now use TubeTV which is free on the net.

    I also used "Handbreak" to rip the many Music Video DVD's I Had.

    I have well over 1000 music videos of all kinds of genres on my unit. Shoot me a line if your starting out and maybe I could help you with your collection ;)
     
  13. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #13
    Seem pros go with the apple TV. Awesome for media. But I soon want to take "carputing" to the next level.

    Once I am 3G'd the possibilities are endless...

    Slindbox, Video chatting, lol guess thats the end, still....Slingbox!

    Forgot to mention audio so far. I started with just a mini jack to rca/composite/whatever they are called nowadays (White and Red wires)

    There was of course was a hum from the power supply I think because it is DC current. So I brought a Ground Loop Isolator which is an audio cable with a plastic piece in the middle of it that quiets the hum. Worked well but I soon bought a "Griffen iMic". That puts the audio out of the usb rather that the line out jack. I thought it would be better. Marginally at best...
     
  14. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #14
    More Extras

    The screen saver I have is the Marine Aquarium. I really like it. Hit me up for more info about it........

    Its nice because of the analog clock you can turn on. It really plays nice with frontrow and vlc player. Does not activate if you are watching videos but it does activate when listening to music with front row.

    This is accurate for all screensavers. I think the one with the FlipClock would be nice too in a car.
     

    Attached Files:

  15. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #15
    Network

    Using the iPhone to Control the Mini.

    The remote app is way better that front row when it comes to finding a specific song.

    Also, the mouse and keyboard apps seem more practical that spending cash on a wireless keyboard and mouse. However I do not like the pop-ups telling me no keyboard and mouse attached so I have them too.

    The problem is the networking of the 2. If anyone has better concepts or practices please let me know.

    There is a way to set your computer to share it's internet connection and to set up an AD-HOC/Computer-to-Computer Network.

    The problem with the AD-HOC is that as soon as you turn the computer off it deletes itself or at least inactivates the network. This means that each time you start up you have to select the network or create it again.

    There is also a way to share you internet connection. This preference seems to stay active after power downs ect. At least for a couple of months.

    It is done by entering the "Sharing" section of "System Preferences"

    Check "Internet Sharing" to activate it,

    there is a drop down menu - "Share your connection from:", Choose Ethernet.

    In the section - "To computers using:" check airport.

    Your airport icon will have an up arrow in it. I think it names the network whatever the Computer Name is so my car's network is called "Ford OSX", this is also the name of my iTunes library.

    I then tell my iPhone to connect to that wireless network, It works great with the Apple Remote App and with the RemotePad app for mouse control.

    The problem with this is that your phone will not have internet because it is trying to get it's data from your computer. A 3g card for your computer would solve this. Also I have never had a jailbreak tether for my phone to my computer, not sure how that would work.

    I switched it up and I use my touch to control the Mini and keep my phone out of the equation...


    Like I said any thoughts on the subject would be greatly appreciated...
     
  16. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #16
    Tips....

    I am going to add little tips and details as I remember them.

    1. Start up at login...

    this is great for iTunes, It cuts the time that Front Row takes to load your mscic.

    Also great for RemotePad Server which is a program that needs to be running in order the the iPhone App "RemoteRad" to work.

    Also, I tried to activate the Speech Recognition and use it with the old iSight but it didn't work well.
     
  17. macrumors 68000

    drewsof07

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Ohio
    #17
    Looks like that lcd is slightly stretched. What happened that it can't display it's native resolution?
    This is a very interesting project btw. Would never work where I live, some redneck would steal all my gear in the middle of the night and sell it for $10 scrap at the junkyard :rolleyes:
     
  18. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #18
    Definitely stretched. But hard to tell on a 7 inch screen. It looks real good on the screen with the video adapter.

    Would probably work better if you bought a small computer monitor for a car and had a head unit with aux in as most have. I already had the TV so I wasn't going krayzie...

    I think the touch screen works too....

    http://www.amazon.com/Lilliput-Inch...2?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1231719194&sr=8-2
     

    Attached Files:

  19. macrumors 68000

    VPrime

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2008
    Location:
    London Ontario
    #19
    Cool, I have a pc in my car. I hav done it a little differently.
    Molded in touch screen to make it look stock. No keybaord or any thing like that.
    Will be going through some more changes before this season.

    Chgeck out www.mp3car.com ;)
     
  20. macrumors 6502

    Bfat567

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2008
    Location:
    NewYork
    #20
    Wow this is really interesting to me, and someday i hope to do it. Thanks so much for sharing.:)
     
  21. macrumors 603

    jeremy.king

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    #21
    A tiny router in the glovebox? Perhaps, a FON router...
     
  22. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2007
    #22
    these are so cool!
     
  23. thread starter macrumors 6502

    DavieBoy

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2009
    Location:
    New Jersey
    #23
    Yea, Might be a $30 solution to the problem. Still, once your phone is on that network then you lose your 3G or Edge service.

    I guess I am just wishing for a legitimate tethering option...

    but i wonder how tethering would work...

    1. 3g in the phone ->tethered to the Mini. Then the Mini has to share it over wifi back to the phone. HMM that doesnt sound like it will work.

    2. If tethering works I hope that it makes the phone act as the router so that the computer would be on the phones wireless network.

    Would just be so good if you can tether and use slingbox, ichat, or internet radio ect. Without paying $60/month for a 3g card...
     
  24. macrumors 68000

    drewsof07

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2006
    Location:
    Ohio
    #24
    If Apple would give the iPhone true bluetooth data capability (EDR), the tether would work that way using your existing data plan... But I'm sure they'll find some complicated way so that AT&T can charge you an additional fee :rolleyes:
     
  25. macrumors 68040

    Sdashiki

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2005
    Location:
    Behind the lens
    #25
    mp3car.com?

    Only problem with Mac solutions...no front end to make using a touchscreen easy...sure there are beta projects...none completed...for years now...

    Anyway, nice project and solutions to the problems at hand!
     

Share This Page