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Mac mini in a Volkswagen 346

Posted by timothy
from the ultraslick dept.
pyramis writes "Matt Turner has installed a Mac mini into his Volkswagen as an integrated audio/video system. He's distributed the I/O ports around the cab for convenient access and installed a remote power button right into the dashboard. Cool pics of all of this, plus a detailed article on that cool power button."
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Mac mini in a Volkswagen

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  • Oh no... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:11PM (#11923497)
    Slashdot meets Pimp My Ride...
  • What next? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Aphex Junkie (633436) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:13PM (#11923513)
    Mini-mini: mac mini in a mini cooper?
    • by michaeldot (751590) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @11:42PM (#11923950)
      ... being driven by Verne Troyer [imdb.com]... (Mini-Me)
    • >> mac mini in a mini cooper?

      Gotta have an iPod Mini hookup too.

      Slogan would be, "I'm reverse compensating!"

    • I know you were kidding, but I have a MINI and I was thinking about using one as a car stereo/GPS/sensor monitoring computer. As someone pointed out, the MINI form factor is smaller than even a standard car stereo.
  • by CatherineOmega (863951) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:13PM (#11923518)
    "Looks like his webserver was RUNNING on the Mac Mini!" Hahahaha, oh MERCY. My aching sides!
    • by Anonymous Coward
      ...oh MERCY. My aching sides!

      Oh yeah sorry that was my pitchfork.

      Yours
      --The Devil

    • Puns (Score:5, Funny)

      by The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:50PM (#11923746) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, that really drives me crazy. I mean, I don't mean to steer the conversation in any way or another, but those jokes just don't turn my crank. They signal to me, rather, that Slashdotters prefer automatic over manual posting. The way this place is coasting along in neutral mediocrity, well, it makes me sad. We should change gears around here, and make an agreement to speed up the humor and put the brakes on predictable comments.
      • by Jerf (17166)
        OK, I'll handle the insightful commentary, and you shoot all the posters doing the automatic posting, and the moderators rewarding them.

        . . .

        . . .

        . . .

        . . .

        You know, there's this nagging voice in the back of my head saying there's something wrong with this plan, but I just don't see it. It's the only one that can work...
      • Re:Puns (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        > Run Reply Bot v2.103
        > Searching NewsPost
        > Generating AutoComment
        > Printing

        I, for one, welcome our cool remote power button overlords.

        > Exiting Program
      • Re:Puns (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Cliff.Braun (825786)
        You know, someone could write a script to just read the headlines, and post the same jokes over and over, come to think of it maybe they have...
    • Nah, he's just taken it off-road...

      Eric
      A peek at Yahoo!'s new ad program [ericgiguere.com]
    • Here [macminicolo.net]?

      Actually the Mac mini makes a pretty good web server, if you think about it.
  • Resource limit exceeded!
    Will retry in a few seconds...


    That was pretty swift, even for Slashdot! :)
  • Hard drive problems? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xtal (49134) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:14PM (#11923528)
    Those people who have done this with standard hard drives.. how do they stand up to being kicked around over time? I've seen a few people with carPC projects, but I've always wondered how the hard drives deal with the additional abuse over time.

    You'd think a notebook HD would be alright. I assume that's what the mac mini is using?

    (article slashdotted)

    • by Twid (67847) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:26PM (#11923619) Homepage
      Yes, the mini uses a 2.5" notebook drive. It's also almost fanless, so it should be good for applications like this. I have seen warning about blocking the bottom of the mini though, because that is where the vents are, so I'm not sure how well it would hold up in a glove compartment like in the article.

      • How can something be almost fanless?
        • by Twid (67847)
          Well, there is a fan here [mac.com]. And it runs very quiet. So, almost fanless.

          I don't see the grammar foul here. If I had ten cents in my pocket, could I be "almost penniless"? If I spent too much time on slashdot analyzing grammar and my wife started packing her bags, could I be "almost spouseless"?

          The mini has a single fan and it is very quiet. Happy now? :)

          • It's not a grammar error, but semantic tomfoolery. Pennies are discrete, so the question of degree of "pennifulnes" is clear and simple, if subjective. Fans are objects not usually considered in the aggregate. So you either have a fan, or you don't. But "almost fanless" clearly means "almost lacking the downsides associated with a fan", because the fan is small and quiet.
            • Fair enough. :)
              • I have to admit that I write some of these "Elements of Style" posts more for the benefit of English-illiterate (American and otherwise) geeks who might be learning English from reading Slashdot. While TV has taught generations inadequately, without much reading, at least its little written content is usually correct. Slashdot is full of bad examples of English writing, and the gains in Internet consumption time at the expense of TV watching have some alarming implications.

                OK, I'm really just showing off m
    • by utlemming (654269) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:36PM (#11923682) Homepage
      What I am interested in finding out is how the computer fairs after a nice hot summer. An August component causulty report would be kind of interesting. Well I understand that the Mac mini does have too much in terms of fans, that car does have a black interior. I can only imagine what would happen if you tried to turn it on when the car tempetures reach 140F in the sun. But I guess if he is far enough north, he shouldn't have too many problems...maybe an Idaho or Minnesota summer.
      • by adolf (21054) *
        If the interior of the car is habitable for human occupants, then it is reasonable to assume that any modern installed electronics will survive just fine, as well.

        For example:

        Juan sprints from the climate-controlled oasis of his house, over to his VW. The handle of the car door scalds his hand when he touches it, but he opens it anyway and thrusts himself into the driver's seat.

        "Jesus fuck," Juan says, "it's fucking hot in here." Juan keys the engine, rolls down all of the windows, and drives away.

        Mea
  • by ral315 (741081) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:14PM (#11923532)
    I predict the hardware might be buggy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:16PM (#11923548)
    Mirrordot article [mirrordot.org]

    --ARTICLE TEXT:

    GTi - MacMini

    Well, it kept me from posting regularly, took about two weeks to plan and occupied nearly every night for about three weeks, but the big project I've been promising to post on is done...finally. I actually finished it last week, but wanted to make sure I had covered all the bases and that everything was working properly before putting the car back together and photographing it (thanks to Ryan [lighttight.com] for the quick shoot).

    When the dimensions for the MacMini were announced, I immediately got to work figuring out what the best way to integrate one into my own car would be. If I was going to put a Mac in my car, I wanted to make sure it had all of the functionality that it would have in a home environment while still maintaining an easy-to-operate interface so that distractions could be kept to a minimum. So the researching, planning, sketching and disassembly of my cars interior (to see what would fit where) began. After taking the thought process to every extreme imaginable, I decided on the following equipment list:

    - 1.42GHz MacMini with 512mb RAM, Superdrive, Bluetooth and Airport Extreme
    - Xenarc [xenarc.com] 700tsv 7 USB touchscreen monitor with VGA and dual composite video inputs
    - Cirque [cirque.com] EasyCat USB trackpad
    - Griffin PowerMate assignable USB control knob
    - Lacie 8 in 1 USB flash card reader
    - Belkin USB 7-port powered hub
    - Belkin USB four-port bus-powered hub
    - Belkin Firewire 6-port mini hub
    - Alpine PXA-H701 Multimedia processor with RUX-C701 controller
    - MonsterCable MCPI300 300watt power inverter
    - Female USB, Ethernet and Firewire ports
    - 40gig iPod dock
    - Griffin RadioShark USB FM/AM tuner

    Over the next few days, I will be putting up a post on each general aspect of the install to more closely cover how I did what where and any problems I encountered, as well as the solutions I came up with for these problems as they arose. More detailed pictures of the process will accompany these posts as well, for those interested in the more technical aspects of the install - such as removing the power button and indicator from the MacMini and relocating them to the switch panel in the dash, extending the Apple power supply's cable to locate the "brick" in the rear side panel of the car, fabricating the brushed aluminum trim bezels and rebuilding the glove box interior to accomodate the MacMini. So, enjoy and please check back over the next few days to check out these posts and two new iPod dock installs from last week...

  • good site (Score:5, Interesting)

    by golfsportila (760666) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:16PM (#11923550) Homepage
    www.mp3car.com is a great site if your looking to get into these.
  • is the back of a Volkswagen still an uncomfortable place?

    /try the veal. ;)

  • by mblase (200735) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:17PM (#11923564)
    The question of "why would anyone do this?" simply doesn't exist. It's only a question of "how do I do this?" and, even more importantly, "how far can I take it?"

    Of course, eventually this leads to things like cloning carnivorous dinosaurs and destroying small planets, but that's what science fiction writers are supposed to worry about.
    • The "why" question is quite easy to answer! They wanted to make a fusion of machines from two companies known for being overpriced because of their trendiness ;)
    • Yeah the question of why is now more entertaining -- he could have pitched this as an "Integrated War-driving solution." It would be kinda of interesting to read the posts if it was pitched that way instead of an in-console multimedia center. But then again, most people don't think of using a Mac as the preferred way to do war-driving.
  • Site down... (Score:5, Informative)

    by ral315 (741081) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:18PM (#11923566)
    Mirrordot link [mirrordot.org]
    Coral cache [nyud.net]
  • by alanbs (784491) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:20PM (#11923583)
    I predict in 20 years, half the articles on slashdot will be cool cyborg mods (to the human body).

    "I slipped the mini under my frontal lobe, so that latencey to the computational region of my brain is minimized, it is powered on my body heat, and the coolest thing, is that I have an IO port on my forehead so that I don't have to deal with the irritation of reaching around to the back of my head to plug in my peripherals."
  • Ports vertical? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gyorg_Lavode (520114) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:27PM (#11923626)
    Did he mount the various ports vertically? In a car that seems like a very bad idea as paper, grime, food will likely all get stuck in it.
  • by Zugot (17501) * <<bryan> <at> <osesm.com>> on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:29PM (#11923638)
    What is needed is some decent car computer software. Stuff to manage the AC and the radio. I'll try it out when someone manages that.
    • Ha, I crack me up!

      Too bad only Macheads will get the joke, which on Linux-for-fun/Windows-for-work Slashdot is almost no one. Oh well.
    • by momogasuki (790667) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @11:07PM (#11923811)
      His car, a GTI 1.8T, can be reprogrammed (chipped) to run the turbo at higher boost, in addition to running octane-specific timing maps for more power. Stock is 180 hp, but the ECU can be reprogrammed for around 215 hp on 91 octane, 220 hp on 93 octane, and 235 hp on 100 octane.

      There is already aftermarket ECU reflashing software (e.g., http://www.giacusa.com/) for the 1.8T. However, it would be cool if he could rig the Mac Mini to switch between different performance programs. That would be a true hack.
      • by cjsnell (5825)

        GIAC offers software and hardware [giacusa.com] to do the switching on the fly. Hook up a serial port analyzer and figure out the protocol that the win32 app is using and duplicate this on the Mac. Integrate (as someone else said) into a Dashboard widget (heh, a Dashboard dashboard...).

        The air conditioning shouldn't be *too* hard if the controls are analog. It could probably be done with some sort of microcontroller that interfaces with the Mac via a USBSerial adapter.
    • 'll try it out when someone manages that.

      Microsoft tried it with Windows CE for autos. I doubt very seriously that anyone could find a way to interface with automotive computers since there is no standard. You'd have to have some super ricer that would install a custom AC unit.

    • What is needed is some decent car computer software. Stuff to manage the AC and the radio.

      Already exists. Quite a few cars have automatic, dual zone climate control. The software especially isn't hard, but it DOES have to interface with the hardware to make things actually happen. And the automatic part of the hardware can't be added later on. Well..it can, but not cheaply.

      As far as the radio...how many times do you change the station on a typical drive? I don't. One station in the morning commute, a dif

  • Pfft... (Score:5, Funny)

    by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:31PM (#11923652) Journal
    I'll be impressed when he can fit it into this [cnn.com].
  • Mirror (Score:5, Funny)

    by Joey Patterson (547891) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @10:38PM (#11923685)
    500 Server Error
    The web server encountered an error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request. If this error persists, please contact the webmaster, and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.


    Matt Turner may have turned his Mac mini into a Volkswagen, but we've turned his Web site into a Yugo.

    Oh, well, at least there's MirrorDot [mirrordot.org].
  • Now all we need is some sci-fi esque program that runs when you get in and start the car, it has to have some sort of voice to welcome you and in green-screen run through all the cars systems listing their status and then showing a 3D wireframe of the car and noting that the rear left tire has slightly lower tred than normal but is still within operating safety parameters and that it will notify the mechanic at the next check-up.
  • by dm614 (841165) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @11:15PM (#11923832)
    As I was reading this I was thinking how far could one take this? I remember reading on Slashdot a week or two ago that people managed to use WiFi while driving (I forgot how fast)... Then I met inspiration, in a city like Philadelphia (commerical WiFi may be better suited but work with me), for instance, where there will be Municipal WiFi, if you had other friends with a Mac Mini in their cars or even Macs at home you could in theory have Video chat with your friends- for free in car.

    Imagine having an iChat icon pop-up while driving, let's ignore the immidiate safety risks and think about the "cool factor," you accept and your friend is right there in real time staring at you. It seems like something out of a movie, huh? But it's a really possibility. Especially with iChat AV's adoption of H.264 as its codec of choice (less bandwidth and better quality).

    I wouldn't think it'd be hard to figure out where to mount an iSight or to just make a custom case for it to be mounted stealthly in your car. You could even use it as a security system. If your alarm goes off it firesup and sends the stream to a police server. You could even have GPS installed to let the Police know where the crime is being committed.

    I think the possibility for uses of the Mac Mini in cars is amazing and hopefully we'll see things like this in the near future.
    • I did exactly this 2 days ago. iChat AV 2 way video while going 60 MPH, see this link for pictures and a quicktime video (it was very cool).

      http://www.evdoinfo.com/Tips/PC_5220/EVDO_iChat_2_ Way_Video_at_60_MPH_2005031194/ [evdoinfo.com]
    • Imagine having an iChat icon pop-up while driving, let's ignore the immidiate safety risks and think about the "cool factor,"

      Let's not. Instead, let's remember that this is a car we're driving, and not a mobile party room. A car with more kinetic energy than a bullet.

      I know this sounds boring and pedestrian, but not everything that has a high 'cool factor' is a good idea to put into practice.

      For your alarm idea, we already have LoJack [lojack.com].

      • Let's not. Instead, let's remember that this is a car we're driving, and not a mobile party room. A car with more kinetic energy than a bullet.

        We've only been driving cars for 100 years. How much longer do you think we're actually going to have to pay attention to what's happening on the road?

        I'm going to be pissed in a few years when I get to work late after being stuck in traffic, and get on Slashdot to see that in Japan, people go to work in mobile party rooms.
        • How much longer do you think we're actually going to have to pay attention to what's happening on the road?

          You can do that already. Take a train/bus/taxi. Let someone else drive. If you want to travel in your private cocoon, be prepared to give up a lot of control.

  • He'll violate this law AB 301 passed in 2003-2004

    http://info.sen.ca.gov/pub/03-04/bill/asm/ab_0301- 0350/ab_301_bill_20030529_amended_sen.html [ca.gov]

    Of course, there's a lot of exceptions.
  • by alphakappa (687189) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @11:22PM (#11923862) Homepage
    is being developed at iDash (http://www.idash.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    • The actual link (Score:4, Informative)

      by michaeldot (751590) on Saturday March 12, 2005 @11:32PM (#11923901)
      http://idash.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
      "iDash is software for the newest frontier in computing on the Mac: the car. While OS X does have one of the best user interfaces among all of the operating systems out there, its pretty difficult (not to mention dangerous) to use while driving down the road. iDash is a frontend that is able to control almost any applications via a plugin written Applescript. Thus enabling the intigration of music, movie and photo collections as well as GPS & Radio features into an easy to use all-in-one application."

      It would also be pretty cool to have Dashboard [apple.com] widgets on your dashboard...!

  • by Hard_Code (49548) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @12:20AM (#11924078)
    I AM SAYING, LADY - STEP INSIDE MY VOLKSWAGON!

    [Lameness filter encountered. Post aborted!
    Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.]
  • by sjonke (457707) on Sunday March 13, 2005 @12:30AM (#11924105) Journal
    and your VW's AC is broken and the power windows no longer work. At least you'll be entertained, and the dim video will be preferable to the flickering dash lights.
  • but I've never seen software in the bug.

    Thank you, I'm here all week. Try the veal.
  • Looks like he's got a trackpad to control the Mac. Under the display, in the console hump. So you have to take your fingers off the wheel. Why not a trackpad, or other controller, on the steering wheel? In fact, wake me when he's got the monitor projected inside the windshield as a Heads Up Display. Until then, he can't compete with my laptop strapped to my BMW dashboard.
  • Are there any other VW owners that have a problem with this picture [mirrordot.org].

    I tried installing my iPod the same way, but I quickly found that it wouldn't rest in the ashtray location while leaning back. There isn't enough clearance of the A/C controls. In the picture, you can clearly see that the iPod leans BACK (away from the vehicle driver).

    Did he do some voodoo here, or is it possible to install an iPod this high in the ashtray and have it lean back (instead of forward, which was my solution)?

    Can the instal
  • We get a viable HUD (Head Up Display) system. Military pilots have had these for over 20 years so it is about time this bit of military technology percolated down into civvi-street. A HUD would allow the use of such a system without taking your eyes off the road ahead.

    I would like to see legislators try to ban this though. After all how could they ban devices that are ok for the military while flying at up to Mach-2? but I am sure some politician will try to make a name for himself.

    Actually, HUD displays

    • "After all how could they ban devices that are ok for the military while flying at up to Mach-2?"

      I'm no pilot, but if you take your attention off the clouds for a couple of seconds at mach 2, you risk running into more clouds. If you take your attention off the road for a couple of seconds, you risk running into a suddenly braking car, or a pedestrian.

      Even if there are factors I haven't considered, pilots are slightly better trained than licensed drivers.
    • HUDs are actually base equipment on some of the higher end cars.
      The 05 Corvette has a HUD for speed and a couple other things. Some Cadillacs had the night vision mode that was projected through the HUD - that seems to have dissapeared, but stuff like song names / volume, blah, blah is displayed through the HUD on the Cadillac SLR.

      http://www.chevrolet.com/pop/corvette/hud_en.js p

      I wonder how hard would it be to create a simple (5x6)? LED matrix and project the speed, etc onto the bottom of the window.

      And
  • You might laugh about "Pimp My Ride" and stuff, but this is really a neat business idea. It just needs to be extended a bit and put in a different frame. After all guys who run customs companies are doing just that for lots of money, only with a bit different slant focusing on paint, upholstery etc.

Heuristics are bug ridden by definition. If they didn't have bugs, then they'd be algorithms.

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