I have started looking into using my laptop as the central control for navigation, music and all things geeky inside my car. I already have a GPS device for my computer. (I got it for $100 when I used to wardrive) and there is a wide variety of free software available for download too. My laptop also has an aux out so I can use the AuxIn accessory (will install myself) for piping sound to the car's sound system. Has anyone done something like this before and would like to share ideas/tips?
What I am planning on is this:
Instead of paying $1800 for an in Dash Nav, make something more useful but not as integrated using free software, a couple of gadgets, free software and ingenuity.
Navigation & GPS:
In 2003 I purchased a RoyalTek RGM-2000 GPS Device for $100. I will use this to chart my GPS location with GpsDrive.
Verizon offers $60 a month EVDO plans and the pcmcia card for that service is ~ $300. Also, I have a wireless card built into my laptop that I can use to connect to open/unecrypted 802.11b/g networks. I plan on finding open networks with kismet. Kismet can also use festival to announce results (see User Interface and Control). Heck, if connectivity is reliable enough I can look in to VoIP solutions.
Music & Media:
There are wide variety of softwares available and I will have to test a bunch out before I make a solid deciscion. Amarok looks promising. I also intend to use my network connectivity to stream my own server's stream as well as my favorite internet radio stations to my car. Who needs XM?
User Interface and Control:
I have not found a solution for voice control but I also have not looked into it at all. To minimize looking at the screen as much as possible (I'm a terrible driver already, I need no more distractions) I intend on using Festival to talk to me whenever I would normally need to look at the screen. Directions, status of network connectivity or even announcing what songs are playing/coming up on my playlist.
Perminance and Accessibility:
This is where I am facing the most trouble, I am far from mechanically inclined and am more or less at a loss as to how I would properly create a stand of some sort to sit my laptop while driving that would also be able to fold away when it wasn't in use. I would like it to be somewhat forgiving of a rough ride, I do have a hard drive spinning that I would like to keep in one piece.