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Install An Xbox/Linux Media System In Your Car 248

AltGrendel writes "Bored during those rush-hour traffic jams? An enterprising UK geek has installed an Xbox/Linux system in his car. With a mod chip, Freevo, a LogiTech Wingman, and a 40 gig hard drive, he has access to music, video, and games during drive time. Details and pictures are here."
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Install An Xbox/Linux Media System In Your Car

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  • car crashes? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by YahoKa ( 577942 ) on Sunday May 11, 2003 @05:34PM (#5932569)
    And we thought cell phones were bad. Just wait 'till we all have full multimedia systems in our cars.
    • here's a mirror (Score:5, Informative)

      by abhisarda ( 638576 ) on Sunday May 11, 2003 @05:41PM (#5932603) Journal
      I put up a mirror [].
    • Full portable multimedia systems have been around for a long time. They're called laptops.
      • Re:car crashes? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ethx1 ( 532391 ) on Sunday May 11, 2003 @05:46PM (#5932638)
        This is not supposed to be some groundbreaking achievement. It is just a story of a bored guy and his xbox. The /. review says so too.
        • by commanderfoxtrot ( 115784 ) on Monday May 12, 2003 @04:12AM (#5935036) Homepage
          Not to mention standard software &c., he is using a voltage inverter.

          To those who don't know what these are: they convert the car's (roughly) 12V to mains voltage so the XBox's PSU can drop it down again to the voltages the XBox wants -- probably 12V again.

          This means that when he starts the car, the XBox will turn off.

          You need a DC-DC converter in order to stop the machine turning off when you start the car, as the car's 12V can drop to as low as 7V.

          Look at my page to see how to build a DC-DC power supply. I've had a speaking, GPS-enabled Linux computer system running in my car for a couple of years. I turn when I get in the car, and only turn it off if I will be parking for over six hours, even though it takes about 25 seconds to start up.

          (And another thing: if anyone is tempted to build one of these using standard PC components, please don't use a full size keyboard!! You can pull the keyboard controller out and link in your own buttons directly. It just looks daft having a full size keyboard. Not mention ergonomics...)
    • "And we thought cell phones were bad. Just wait 'till we all have full multimedia systems in our cars. "

      Actually, radios are directly responsible for FAR more car crashes than cell phones. Cell phones are a small sliver of the pie.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2003 @05:34PM (#5932572)
    Because if he's playing while driving, he's going to need it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2003 @05:34PM (#5932573)
    How the hell did you mod the steering wheel to the passenger's side... details man details!!!

  • by Dajur ( 168872 )
    Those things are perfect $200 media servers. Even if it dies early from the hostile environment of a car, they are cheap to replace.
    • by rkz ( 667993 )
      for 50£ you can get a barebones system [], then you can add a VIA 800MHZ processor and some RAM/Hard Drive that you steal from work! for less than £100 a MEDIA server which is much better than the xbox.
    • They are $130 used through software etc/gamestop. so even cheaper than that. Plus if you change the bios you can swap to a larger-capacity laptop disk and mount it in some foam or something for shock absorption.

      Soon the xbox will experience a price drop and then the used system will probably come down to $120 and then later $100 or so. (quite a bit later, though.) At that point there will be no point to buying parts any more except by the dozen, and then xbox mods will be as common as dirt.

  • just in case... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by heXXXen ( 566121 )
    mirror []
  • by Justin205 ( 662116 ) on Sunday May 11, 2003 @05:40PM (#5932597) Homepage
    ... a way to use his car's steering wheel for racing games, and a way to make his windshield the TV/monitor screen. I hope when he does this, he will remember a cutoff switch, so he doesn't go barreling down the highway at 200 kph, as if he were being chased by the police, or something.
    • ".. a way to use his car's steering wheel for racing games, and a way to make his windshield the TV/monitor screen."

      The nice thing about this configuration is that you have a surprisingly realistic rumble pack.
    • Heh (Score:3, Funny)

      by Faust7 ( 314817 )
      so he doesn't go barreling down the highway at 200 kph, as if he were being chased by the police

      As if he were being chased by the police?
  • before it get's /.'ed

    How do I put it up as a bitTorrent now??

    I can gzip into a single file but I don't know how to start it up for bitTorrent. I have BT and know how to download torrents..

    Let's beat the rush and torrent sites in the future..

  • by Freston Youseff ( 628628 ) on Sunday May 11, 2003 @05:43PM (#5932617) Homepage Journal
    but then realised how cumbersome the setup is. Anything short of a custom LCD driver and navigation buttons is terribly unnecessary, in my humble opinion. Commercial solutions, even for MP3 stuff, are preferred by myself.
  • system CRASH! ;-)
  • Uh..WHY? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It's not like the X-Box is small, for starters. I can put together a much smaller system from parts.

    Heck, I could conceivably make a decent and very small sound system out of a Zaurus.

    And best of all, Microsoft doesn't get one cent from me.
    • If you buy an XBox and do not buy XBox games Microsoft is not getting one cent from you either. In fact they are losing money. The Xbox itself is still a loss for Microsoft and will likely be even more of a loss once they start shipping the "slim" XBoxes.

      GameTab [] - Game Reviews Compilation Site

      • You guys are funny- STILL conning yourself about this one. Money is cheap. Mindshare is expensive. You yourselves are actively helping Microsoft expand into all forms of media and entertainment. I'm just glad I don't care much about these things, but it still seems a shame. How many wizzy-keen XBox articles have run on Slashdot, of all places? You people... stupid, self-deluding people...
  • why play Wreckless on Xbox when you can do it in real life?
  • Details? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by billstr78 ( 535271 ) on Sunday May 11, 2003 @05:46PM (#5932636) Homepage
    This site is pretty light on details. I have seen more in depth explantions on HOWTO bake a cake. If this guy did this himself, he must have been way to tired or un-motivated to document any of it.

    A damn cool project though. I'll bet MS would be proud to see thier XBOX used in such a versitle way. They should get some bright ideas from this.
    • I'll bet MS would be proud to see thier XBOX used in such a versitle way.
      Yeah, I'm sure they got really excited when they saw this photo [].
      • Re:Details? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by billstr78 ( 535271 ) on Sunday May 11, 2003 @06:10PM (#5932727) Homepage
        They would. They know that the XBOX is positioned to enter into the home entertainment sector. The next iteration of the game console will be something closer to a PVR.

        The would be happy to see that thier is an emerging market for the same use in automobiles. The problem is that there are not enough Gangsta Rappers to make this sector popular. Maybe the minivan crowd will provide enough motivation for them to make the push into developing mobile consoles.

        Funny how kids and gansta rappers are the only ones interested in playing video games in thier cars.
    • Completely agree with you - I'm sure MS are proud to see Xbox with Mod-chip running GNU/Linux :-)
    • It's really quite simple - the parts used are all standard and readily available. An inverter powers the X-box. X-box plugs into a standard (but expensive) head unit. It's been done using Playstations for years. Pity it's been installed in what looks like to be an old Rover 400... the equivalent of this being sellotaping money to a turd.
  • comparison (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SamBC ( 600988 ) <> on Sunday May 11, 2003 @05:48PM (#5932640)
    Has anyone compared this to a broadly equivalent mini-itx [] setup, in cost or spec? It just seems that an xbox probably has some unnecessary systems...
    • Re:comparison (Score:5, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Sunday May 11, 2003 @07:55PM (#5933211) Homepage Journal
      On the contrary, the xbox has only the necessary systems. It has only the minimal I/O (if you consider ethernet necessary, which I do) and actually it could use more, not less. On the other hand, if you kept the system entirely intact (powered it on with a servo, perhaps) then you could pull it out and take it into a house to use it to play games with a minimum of effort, since you need only connect two or three cables depending on what you're doing with it in the car. One might seriously consider hooking up an ethernet to 802.11 bridge, or a USB hub, and one will certainly connect power and the A/V cable.

      The xbox is a pretty barebones legacy-free PC. It could use more ram (As I understand some models have the motherboard requirements to upgrade to double the memory fulfilled, with some hard work) for the purpose of in-car use but I think that it is fairly well sufficient for the things I would want to use it for; in-car navigation (using linux, probably, and gpsdrive) and playing of DVDs, MP3s, and the like. I think I'd go ahead and install a mixer alongside it to support a classic car CD changer, with the control box used with the "FM" type car changers which have the radio modulator. Naturally, I'd tap into the audio lines directly...

      The xbox seems an ideal candidate for this. They're $130 used. The little in-dash screen will cost you several times that. I guess you could use it with the redant tft 5" or 7" from lik-sang if they'd ever get them in, that seems like a decent screen, plus you can flip the image (at least on the 7") so you can use it for a rear view mirror, and/or hang it from the ceiling. The install will have to be custom, though, whereas the in-dash fits in a 1/2 ISO DIN or something, there are numerous adapters for that.

  • by OwnerOfWhinyCat ( 654476 ) * on Sunday May 11, 2003 @05:51PM (#5932650)
    Friends with whom I installed my first LCD and keypad-driven in-car MP3 player were really impressed at the time, but it was considerable work, and there was lots of software tweaking involved.

    With Freevo's help, and some off the shelf components, this guy has a whole different level of cool going on without significantly more work.

    When people point and look and ask questions, they're going ask what software it's running, and they're going to hear Linux. In the mindspace of youth, it's cool stuff like this that competes with all the fluff in WinXP (it really is pretty), and challenges the assumption as to which is cooler. Projects like this will win us more teenage users than Clippy could ever hope to.

    Kudos John.
    • I just put two pieces of PVC pipe in my car's cupholders, built a shelf onto that, bought a toshiba libretto, and run custom power/analog audio to that. Very easy. 0 custom hardware or software (xmms hotkeys work quite well, including intelligent fast searches with one hand while at a red light). Power was just a matter of buying the adaptor (~$50 IIRC, inverters work but cause too much audio interference), and dropping another cigarette adapter hidden up in the dashboard.

      Libretto cost me $450. And th

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2003 @05:52PM (#5932655)
    It's amazing how he moved the wheel to the other seat so that when you are in the drivers seat, you have your hands free to play games. very nice.
    • Re:Moved the wheel (Score:2, Informative)

      by falonaj ( 615782 )

      In Europe, it is usual custom to buy your car in a different country, as both car prices and taxes vary a lot. Britain and Ireland were the only countries left out, as they keep driving on the wrong side of the road.

      Well, this invention might at last lead to more international car business between Britain/Ireland and continental Europe. French people will start buying their cars in London, so they don't need to move the wheel when they install an XBox afterwards.

  • Car entertainment centers are bad news...

    My cousin had a in car DVD player in his Audi A4, and he greatly regrets this purchase. While driving on the highway during a sunday afternoon he was momentarily distracted by a fight scene in the latest Vin Deisel flick and in that split second his car hit another.

    After several surgeries he has regained his normal functions (his left arm was severely injured) but his car was completely destroyed. He has vowed to never install an entertainment system again and his
    • this is exactly why (in california, anyway) it's illegal to have a tv/dvd player/etc viewable by the driver when the car's in motion. I believe most commercial systems require the car be in park for the systems to do anything but radio controls, navigation, and such.

      Not to be an asshole, but seriously - you'd have to be a retard to try to watch a movie (or play a video game) and drive at the same time...

      My roommate's got a hacked system so it CAN play DVDs, but christ, he's not stupid enough to do it whi
    • oh please (Score:5, Insightful)

      by malakai ( 136531 ) * on Sunday May 11, 2003 @06:14PM (#5932752) Journal
      in car entertainment centers don't kill people. Morons who try and watch movies while driving kill people.

      The same moron will die when he tries use WAP to buy a book from Amazon while cruising the Autobahn at 120

      Honestly though, if your "cousin" had died while doing this, i'd recm'd you submit his story [] here. I'd sure vote for him.

    • WHAT?! (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You mean those minivan commercials with Bugs Bunny showing the benefits of the "new" model of minivan--with the built-in LCD DVD player (you know, for the kids) LIED to us?

    • I feel for your cousin - hope he gets better.

      Car entertainment systems are common place in places like Japan - most people however have the common sense to only turn it on when its stop and go traffic where frankly you could do both.

      Its just like anything - I'm an amateur radio operator and personally I'm not into manually matching hf antennas while traveling at freeway speeds - so I don't - if I have to make a major change I'll pull off to the side of the road. I don't think they should ban antenna match
    • they are _NOT_ meant to be watched by the driver while driving, obviously.

      much like it's not meant that he would be reading a fine book while driving, or read a newspaper, or do his makeup(a guy who does sunday driving while watching a dvd might just as well be doing makeup).

      _anything_ that distracts the driver is illeagal in 99% of countries... because if you get distracted you obviously can't commit yourself to driving the vehicle, and if you cant do that then you should not be driving. it's a f***** b
    • Thank you for listing the expensive cars he purchases, it makes me feel much more sorry for him when I know a nice Audi was completely destroyed.
    • "My cousin had a in car DVD player in his Audi A4, and he greatly regrets this purchase."

      I'm sorry to be insensitive, but he should have gone to jail for it. What he did was illegal and wreckless. He could have killed somebody for the sake of watching a video while driving. The reason to have something like this is for the passengers in the back seat.

      Like I said, it's not my intention to be an ass. I'm glad he's recovering and that no lives were lost as a result of it.
    • My cousin had a in car DVD player in his Audi A4, and he greatly regrets this purchase. While driving on the highway during a sunday afternoon he was momentarily distracted by a fight scene in the latest Vin Deisel flick and in that split second his car hit another.

      Your cousin's an idiot.

      I mean, he has an in-dash DVD player and he wastes it on Vin Diesel? Has he not heard of DVD pr0n?
    • While driving on the highway during a sunday afternoon he was momentarily distracted by a fight scene in the latest Vin Deisel flick

      I'm sorry, but your cousin is a fucking dipshit. Period. At least maybe his life will serve as a warning to anybody else here who thinks watching movies in a 2-ton missile is a good idea.
  • Hmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by Eudial ( 590661 )
    Now you can both play F1-sims AND drive IRL at the same time!
  • ...for articles like this one. 'Cause whenever one of my friends accuses me of being a computer/video game/music/whatever geek, I send him or her the link to such an article. Works every time! :) Even though they say that it's pretty geeky just to know about stuff like this...

    Go-go Gadgetto-XBox! :)
  • Here are two mirrors as I'm sure this photo-heavy site will start suffering soon:

    Mirror One []
    Mirror Two []
  • Mirror (Score:2, Informative)

    As it's going to get pounded, here's a mirror []
  • this certainly much easier and cheaper than buying a mp3 deck for your car!

    but wait, that wouldn't involve linux, casemodding or car boxen, you know, nerdman's kryptonite.
  • "he has access to music, video, and games during drive time."

    I hope he doesn't plan on watching many videos or playing many games while driving.
  • by tnak ( 163802 ) <mlibby AT 4geekscomputing DOT com> on Sunday May 11, 2003 @06:22PM (#5932794) Homepage
    Does anyone besides me think that it's appropriate that the movie [] he's watching is one in which the main objective is to crash as many cars as possible?

  • illegal (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    at first i just thought it was another lin geek taking it too far, but it actually looks pretty sweet.
    however isn't it illegal to have a screen in the front capable of playing video? i thought that stuff was only allowed in the back due to driver distractions
  • How 'bout a HUD? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by RealBeanDip ( 26604 )
    I mean having a monitor is OK, but HUD, that would ROCK!

    And just think about once you get past having the necassary stuff on the HUD, and get into the simulated effects.

    Yep, X-Box is OK, but I want a HUD, with Falcon 4.0 installed.
  • by Pettifogger ( 651170 ) on Sunday May 11, 2003 @06:41PM (#5932870)
    Before anyone tries doing this, check your local vehicle code. This is usually a subset of the statutes handed down from your state legislature. Typically, you can buy the book at a DMV, the AAA, or similar.

    In many jurisdictions, it is a violation to have a video display device like this capable of being viewed by the driver. If you get pulled over, the officer IS going to take a look around inside and probably give you a "fix it" ticket to get the multimedia system out of there.

    However, I have noticed that the laws haven't exactly stopped a lot of people. Seems like almost every day I'll see someone with a monitor in their sun visor or someplace else. And speaking as one who knows, don't get in an accident while the multimedia system is on. Depending on the jurisdiction and circumstances, that could be seen as some SERIOUS negligence, or possibly even as criminal negligence. And if the plaintiff's attorneys find out... well, your insurance policy probably won't cover what they'll be looking for. Just leave multimedia in your home.

    • I am in the UK, and am almost entirely certain that this installation is illegal under UK law. As I recall, anything that is like a TV or video must not be visible to the driver.

      However, a quick look through the Highway Code (2001 edition) (a government book giving a guide to UK traffic law) showed only the following under rule 128 []: ".....PCs, multi-media, etc. Do not operate, adjust or view any such system if it will distract your attention while you are driving;...", so perhaps the rules have now change

      • Two friends here in the UK have Audi's with in-car nav systems like this that can also play TV and DVD's - the system turns off any ouput (except the nav system) when the car is moving at less than 2 mph.

        This is factory fitted, so I dare say this is how it gets past the local laws about screens being visible.

        Years ago Leyland made a design-concept truck that (amongsth other things) had cameras at the back so the driver could see behind him when reversing, but they pointed out then that this would be illeg
        • turns off any ouput (except the nav system) when the car is moving at less than 2 mph. I guess you mean it turns it off when you are moving at more than 2 mph.

          is not actual law, but more a government condoned guide to preferred conduct. Well, the Highway Code has a bit about this in its introduction. Firstly, it is actually published by the government (Her Majesty's Stationary Office) rather than simply being condoned. The rules themselves are partly prefered conduct and partly simplified explanations o

          • less than / more than

            Oops yes - sorry.

            Highway Code

            Yep, that sounds about right.. just pointing out that The Highway Code is not the be all and end all of road law in the UK.


            Good point, suppose we should wait to hear from someone involved in the vehicle approval procedure.

  • by telstar ( 236404 ) on Sunday May 11, 2003 @07:12PM (#5933034)
    This will end up in the courts. If you think not, check out this new bill approved in NJ. Though this article doesn't give all the details, the new ban prohibits eating, drinking, cel phone use, faxing, and reading while using your car. Information [] can be found here.
    • Jesus, what the hell CAN you do in your car these days. I tell you, these legislators will stop at nothing to take our liberties away! At least road head will still be legal...and thanks to this guy, if you don't have a willing partner, now you can get pr0n in your car for a bit o' the five knuckle shuffle. ;)
      • Actually, it's just legislating things because a very small subset of people can't handle it.

        Hell, if this passes, I won't be able to drive through New Jersey in the spring/summer. The pollen makes me cough (badly enough that I end up not being able to see sometimes), and the only way to prevent it is to drink a bit of soda every once in a while to keep my throat wet.

        Meanwhile, I've been stuck behind a woman on the highway, doing 65, putting on makeup. I wish I had gotten there while she was doing lip

  • Va (Score:4, Informative)

    by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Sunday May 11, 2003 @08:06PM (#5933251)
    I don't know about other states, but in Virginia, a media setup where the driver can possibly see a screen that can, by design, show DVDs or television is completely illegal. Even most media systems that could, because of their components, display such media (IE, the cd player in BMW 5 series cars), has to prevent the user from playing video.
  • by MixMiesterT ( 672651 ) on Sunday May 11, 2003 @11:30PM (#5934103)
    when you can play halo while driving your car, drinking that frappucino from starbucks, and eating that hamburger from McDonalds ... now THATS multi Tasking!
  • My Setup in the Car (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BlackListedCard ( 588042 ) on Monday May 12, 2003 @01:43AM (#5934646)
    Here is my setup: Hardware: Pentium II 400mhz 256megs of ram 80gig HD Voodoo 3 pci video card. Creative Labs DVD accel. video card Kworld USB TV Tuner with custom wired antenna. DVD 16x drive. 802.11b wireless USB card. Installed on back dash. Garmin GPS serial sensor. Mint!!! Looks like a mouse. Datalux 10" touch screen off ebay. With full 360 hardware mounting clamp. USB, serial, etc cables 10 feet up to the front dash of the car. SB Live into Alpine 7959 tape deck. Canadian Tire power inverter. Cheap, Cheap! Software: Windows 2000 Power DVD Holleywood DVD player CDEX mp3 ripper. Microsoft Streets and Trips 2003 Microsoft Map Point 2002 Winamp v3.0. Love the backgroud displays. Mame v.62 Doom Shareware virtual keyboard with speech. For keyboard input. Great software. Voice notification for maps and gps. Putting the system together was some time. Not a lot, but the system is a full Windows system. It blows the shit out of anything on the market. It nice to connect to my mp3 server in my house. I download new mp3's or backup some mp3 which I ripped from the car. I can also connect to my main system which runs Linux and the apache server. Backup data and anything else. The environment: The system has been installed in my car for two years. Previous laptop was installed for 5 years. NOT ONE FAILURE. I can not believe it. Nothing has gone wrong. I live in Canada, so I can expect the temperature range of -30oc to +35oc. I would of thought that the dew would get to the componets. Nope, no problem. I also have the power to change anything I like. Other commericial systems you are locked into their operating system and software. With a regular computer. You have the freedom to do anything you want. The hardest thing, is the LCD display. It's also the most costly. If you look on ebay, you can find something cheap. I paid $200US for mine. You can put together some really cheap......
  • He'd better not leave the screen poking out when it's parked - that'd just asking for some asshat to smash his window and try and nick it. Even when it's in, the unit still looks too shiny to thieves for my liking...
  • Didn't anyone see Sunday's episode of the Simpsons. Kinda reminds me of homer's car. :)

Adding features does not necessarily increase functionality -- it just makes the manuals thicker.