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by Drew Shelley

Note:  Before we get to Drew's excellent write-up, I just want to extend a BIG thank you to Drew for allowing me to share this outstanding Jeep modification with everyone.  You don't see a project like this very often and rarely (ever?) at this level of quality.  Drew, congrats on what is obviously a lot of work and a labor of love! 

I put this write-up over in the GPS area of the web site since I felt the computer is fundamental for mobile GPS applications.  Granted, Drew uses it to play MP3s, among other things, but I felt it would be much harder for his stereo to display a map of the Rubicon trail....so I still see mobile mapping as the primary function.

OK....on to Drew's write-up.


As technology shrinks computers and broadens their multimedia capabilities, the gap between consumer electronics and computers is shrinking. So what better place to put a computer than in your Jeep? Why? The possibilities are endless. The car computer or "carputer" offers way more features than any traditional car stereo/DVD/nav system and is fully customizable and scalable. Some benefits of carputers include but are not limited to:

    * Play Digital Audio & Video
    * DVD Video Playback
    * GPS Navigation
    * Cell phone integration
    * Wireless Internet & E-Mail Capabilities
    * Video recording
    * Rock Cams (cameras behind the front wheels to see where to place tires when rock crawling)
    * Run Any Windows XP Application
    * OBD2 Vehicle Diagnostics Support

I recently finished the second spiral of my carputer project for my Jeep. I say spiral because I’ll never be finished, but I’m getting closer. Below are some pictures and details.

This installation write-up addresses some of the unique design challenges specific to a Jeep Wrangler. First of all, a Jeep with a soft top is only about as secure as our nation's borders, and you know how porous that is. If I ever lock my keys in my Jeep, no worries, I can unzip the window and reach in to unlock the door. With that level of lack of security, most people would think I’m insane to put an expensive computer system in my Jeep. I thought the same thing, but it just meant another design challenge that needed to be addressed.

Second, the inside of my Jeep gets extremely dirty when going out to the desert and mountains. Imagine throwing a bucket of dirt at the interior of your car. That’s what my Jeep is like after a run. Justifying a conventional fan cooled computer was difficult in those conditions. Luckily, the people over at Xenarc had a solution in the form of a fanless computer. The specs are:

    Xenarc CP-FL9D
    Mobile Celeron Fanless Car PC
        * Intel Mobile Celeron 1.5GHz CPU (Socket 479)
        * 512MB PC3200 DDR Memory (0.8" Low-Profile)
        * 80G Hard Disk Drive (2.5" Slim HDD)
        * DVD ROM
        * Built-in Startup / Shutdown Controller
        * Windows XP Pro

Some might say that this is overkill for playing mp3s, but the navigation software I have requires a lot of memory and processor power.



This is the monitor mounted before I got the sport bar. The location is perfect because it's easy to see, does not obstruct the view of the trail, and doesn't interfere with the rear view mirror or HVAC controls.



I just installed a sport bar and it presented a new problem. The bar is in the way. I'll have to lower the monitor mount by about an inch.



In my opinion, the jog wheel is far superior to a touchscreen for browsing through music. The inner wheel scrolls through music, hit button 1 and you've got a new song playing. Turn the outer ring and it skips to the next track. That's much easier than trying to find the skip button on a touchscreen with your finger. Not to mention safer when you're driving. Button 5 toggles between the playlist and music library. Plus you have 3 other buttons that you can configure for whatever.

In OziExplorer, the inner wheel scrolls the map up and down and the outer ring scrolls left and right. Buttons 1 and 5 zoom in and out.

The other big advantage of the jog wheel is that I don't need to have the monitor on to browse through music. In fact, when I put the top down, I take out the monitor for security reasons and I can still listen to all of my music.

I have a mouse instead of a touchscreen because the touchscreen reduces the brightness of the screen. It may be fine for a car, but with an open top Jeep you need as much brightness as you can get.


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