Wednesday, October 5, 2005

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:

  • Idea:

    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.

  • Connectivity:

    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.

  • Resources: