Custom VGA Dash Display Console for 2000 Jeep Cherokee

This post is cloned from http://www.mp3car.com/forum/general/show-off-your-project/86872-2000-jeep-cherokee-carputer-install-worklog


OK, first off, props to Shakes and his install. I stole almost all my ideas from him.

I’ve been working on this system since the beginning of August. It has taken a little longer to install than I expected, but mainly because I’ve been waiting for parts to arrive here and there.

First off, the dash bezel. Here’s my original with head unit still installed.

I didn’t want to mess with my original bezel, as a call to the dealership revealed a $265+ replacement part price. So, I managed to get another one to play with on eBay. I did search the local junkyards, but it seems the pop-off bezel is the first thing to disappear before the head unit, maybe even before it gets to the junkyard.

So, on to bezel fabrication. I constructed a new frame for my 7″ Lilliput. I grabbed some 1/2″ aluminum L stock and 1/4″ square hardwood to support the frame from the inside. I removed the necessary plastic from the bezel with a Dremel and epoxied the frame in. Note: use the gel epoxy – much easier to work with and build up where you need it.


Next 3 days: bondo. sand. bondo. sand. bondo sand. primer. sand. bondo. sand. primer. sand. glazing. sand. primer. wet sand. primer. wet sand.

this gives us:

Notes: I probably didn’t rough up the plastic enough at the edges where the bondo feathered off… I notice that while working with what I thought was a finished bondo job, that the edges started peeling up a bit. If I were the perfectionist I used to be, I would go back and do this all over again. But, after spending 30+ hours working with what I have now, I think it is good enough for the time being – I’ll live with it. Most people don’t notice anyhow. I’ll get better pics of the problem and add them later.

The finish paint I used was a satin finish enamel, black. I heard that Kelly Moore will match paint for you and put it in a spray can. Once again, if I were a more patient and less frugal man, I would have had them match my factory grey interior color in a satin finish enamel. Instead, I went with the best that I could find at Home Depot. I am happy with the texture of my current finish – almost matches the orignal bezel texture perfectly.

note: bad reflections on the pic – I should be able to get a better image when it is installed and the car is out in the sunlight

Line driver: I’ll be keeping my factory amplifier (from the factory “premium Inifinity” sound system) – I am happy with the sound of the system and didn’t want to re-engineer the amp’s crossover between the door speakers and the tweeters. Because of this, I needed to boost the voltage on the signal coming from the sound card to match the line level of the old factory head unit. The Phoenix Gold SLD44 is working great to fill this need. Now that the factory head unit is out of the dash, there’s a ton of room behind the area the LCD will be sitting. That’s where the line driver got installed. I used a couple of short drywall screws to secure the unit to the back of the plastic vent channel thats back there. It was a tight fit to get all the RCAs to fit back there, but with a little patience you can make sure that none of the wires will be pinched with the final placement.

AM/FM solution: I scored a RadioShark on eBay for $35, so I’m going to see how it goes before I decide to drop a bill and a half on the HQCT. I reboxed the board and added my own antennas on there… more details in this thread. The hardware will go into the same area I have the line driver… all kinds of space in there

The USB GPS, bluetooth and 802.11 adapters are fitting nicely in the gap between the air vents and the top of the dash. No interference that is limiting their operation as far as I can notice… great, becuase everything is totally out of sight.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m waiting on the parts to build the case for the motherboard – that’ll be going into the center armrest console. I’m also re-fabbing the storage compartment. The storage area will be very shallow, so I can store a mouse and some other things in there – also status lights and all the switches I’ll need – oh, and the two external USB ports will be accessible from there as well – great for adding JPEGs from the camera for review after sightseeing…

I’m soooo glad this forum is here, thanks to all involved for sharing knowledge and discussing new ideas. I’ve picked up far more than I expected in the month I’ve been reading here.

I’ll post updates as they happen.

 

UPDATE

 

install complete

OK, I’ve managed to get everything in. I’m pretty happy with the look, overall. I think most people would pass it off as a stock install…

Dash:

And the center console:

Yep, the PC is under there. I just cut the stock storage area down to make it very shallow – but enough to store the mouse and some other goodies. I added all the switches and status lights I’ll need here. Clockwise from top right, Ign bypass (valet switch), P/S Power switch – then over to the top left I have the night/day switch for the monitor (coming soon), middle left is two USB ports, bottom left if monitor power and then the HDD, Power and Sleep LEDs.

I’m pretty happy to have been able to build in some more storage. I used that console to store all kinds of stuff and would have missed it if I had to remove it completely.

Now back to the drawingboard to figure out what is up with the reception on my radioshark…

2000 Jeep Cherokee Limited 4WD
Lilliput 7″
VIA EPIA M10000, 512M, 80G WD
Soundblaster Live! 24-bit
Phoenix Gold SLD44 Line Driver
Griffin Radioshark (reboxed)

Reboxing a RadioShark USB Radio for use in a automotive entertainment PC (CarPC)

this post is cloned from http://www.mp3car.com/forum/mp3car-technical-hardware/car-audio/72803-radioshark-to-car-antenna/page2


I’ve had good luck with this

I recently reboxed my radioshark as well.

The reception has vastly improved. I added a motorola connector to the FM and a new AM loop that I snagged from a indoor tuner.

I noticed some confusion about where to wire up the FM leads (AM leads are a no brainer). I found an alternate ground, the square hole open on the top of the board where it is labelled J9. So, the center pole of the motorola connector is soldered to the board where it is marked FM, and the outer ring of the connector to the new alternate ground I found on the RadioShark board.

UPDATE: I’m now wondering if using the vehicle’s ground might improve reception – maybe utilizing the metal on the car as antenna might not be a bad thing… of course, could add tremendous amounts of noise and interference…

I haven’t run the car outside of the garage with the RS hooked up, so I don’t know how reception is affected when the car is moving, but in my garage the FM reception is pretty good. I’m still fiddling with AM, as I’d like to mount the loop under my dash. Problem is that the station I listen to the most comes in best when the loop is standing up in a way that would be impossible to mount… maybe things will improve when I get fully installed and moving on the road. If not, I may look into wiring into the rear defroster for use as the AM loop.

UPDATE2: Do NOT ground the antenna to the vehicle’s ground.  It won’t do you any good.