Meet Benjamin, a trainee air traffic controller from the south-east of France.
Benjamin was bored of the simple radio setup in his Peugeot 207. Instead of investing in a new system, he decided to build a carputer using a Raspberry Pi.
He started with a Raspberry Pi 3. As the build would require wireless connectivity to allow the screen to connect to the Pi, this model’s built-in functionality removed the need for an additional dongle.
Benjamin invested in the X400 Expansion Board, which acts as a sound card. The board’s ability to handle a variety of voltage inputs was crucial when it came to hooking the carputer up to the car engine.
As Benjamin advises, be sure to unplug the fusebox before attempting to wire anything into your car. If you don’t… well, you’ll be frazzled. It won’t be pleasant.
Though many touchscreens are available on the market, Benjamin chose to use his Samsung tablet for the carputer’s display. Using the tablet meant he was able to remove it with ease when he left the vehicle, which is a clever idea if you don’t want to leave your onboard gear vulnerable to light-fingered types while the car is unattended.
To hook the Pi up to the car’s antenna, he settled on using an RTL SDR, overcoming connection issues with an adapter to allow the car’s Fakra socket to access MCX via SMA (are you with us?).
Benjamin set the Raspberry Pi up as a web server, enabling it as a wireless hotspot. This allows the tablet to connect wirelessly, displaying roadmaps and the media centre on his carputer dashboard, and accessing his music library via a USB flashdrive. The added benefit of using the tablet is that it includes GPS functionality: Benjamin plans to incorporate a 3G dongle to improve navigation by including real-time events such as road works and accidents.
The carputer build is a neat, clean setup, but it would be interesting to see what else could be added to increase functionality while on the road. As an aviation fanatic, Benjamin might choose to incorporate an ADS-B receiver, as demonstrated in this recent tutorial. Maybe some voice controls using Alexa? Or how about multiple tablets with the ability to access video or RetroPie, to keep his passengers entertained? What would you add?