Raspberry Pi 400 provides in-car entertainment for backseat passengers

Anyone who has driven young, boredom-prone passengers on long car journeys can easily imagine why someone might have created this Raspberry Pi 400-powered in-car entertainment system. What you might not be able to imagine is what a “long car journey” means for an Australian. Here’s how maker CapQ79 made a bespoke solution to help those hours (and hours, and hours, and hours) slip by.

raspberry pi 400 in-car entertainment system

The screens are portable touchscreen monitors, Blitzwolf BW-PCM3. CapQ79 couldn’t find an off-the-shelf mounting solution to fit their size, so the screen mounts are custom-built from MDF and aluminium channel. Industrial-strength Velcro is holding them in place at the moment, but an upgrade may be on the horizon to make the whole setup feel more robust. The system is designed just for those ultra-long Australian drives, so it doesn’t get bounced around in the car every day on short city journeys.

A Raspberry Pi 400 sits in the glovebox, easily accessible to the front-seat passenger, and feeds video via HDMI through a powered splitter. Both monitors are powered over USB. One screen has an additional USB connection for touchscreen input, so it can act as the “control” screen.

raspberry pi 400 n-car entertainment system 01

The maker wants to make things a bit tidier, with wire-wrapping and slimmer screen mounts. Their wife isn’t a fan at all because the screens block her view of the kids, something the maker thought was “an added bonus”.

Painful car journeys of yesteryear

While I am of course far too young to be using this phrase, back in my day, we were at the mercy of books for in-car entertainment. And if you got travel sickness from reading, all you had was the view from the window and two cassettes on rotation. Those cassette tapes did not hold music you liked, oh no. They were your parents’ music. And they were likely (for millennials at least) to be a combination of the following: The Best of Billy Joel; Miami Sound Machine; Tubular Bells; and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours. The horror. No wonder I leaned so heavily into my [lifelong] Emo phase.

SING IT Piano Man

Share your own endless childhood car journey flashbacks in the comments. Gen Z need not apply.


Skalamanga avatar

The pi 400 seems an odd choice, why not use a regular pi4 and a wireless keyboard with trackpad, reducing the amount of cabling significantly.

Daistaar avatar

I did this in 2018 but much cleaner. Definitely worth it once done right. My setup includes:
Raspberry Pi 4B, 4GB
128GB MicrosSD with RetroPi
2x Generic PSX shaped BT Controllers
XTrons 9″ headrest monitors
HDMI splitter with 3 inputs
Fire TV stick 1080p
Nintendo switch portable dock

All of this is powered by a 12v cigarette lighter converter that has 3 additional 12v puerta and 4USB ports. Cables all neatly run into the seats and center console so nothing is visible except the power button for the 12v adapter. Kids and adults love it as the setup also has wireless headphones.

Ashley Whittaker avatar

They didn’t think of THIS when they stopped making cars with cigarette lighter ports did they?!

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