Sunday, January 20, 2008

Everything Else ...

With the Mac Mini in hand it was time to get everything else needed. My friend had linked me to a few years ago to check out a project he was thinking of. I pulled up the site and it was nice to see it was still around (still in business after a 1 or 2 years is always a good thing). Time to order some parts.

Required Parts

Also during the week was the process of upgrading the Mac Mini. What makes a computer better/faster? More RAM! my roomie had conveniently ordered some 2GB sticks for his laptop and had some extra 1GB sticks laying around. If you've never opened a Mac Mini good luck. There are no screws. Only 15 push pin connectors. After about 45 minutes, 2 razor blades, and a spatula later, we had the case open. Pulling out the guts and installing the new RAM took another 5 minutes. There we go!

The common idea behind the Mac Mini carputer is to use it as is, and use the "AMP" front end. I, however wanted GPS to be part of my carputer. This is why I chose StreetDeck (requires Windows). There are other options out there for front ends, but StreetDeck is nicely integrated and looks great. That brings us to installing Windows on the Mac Mini. Using Boot Camp is incredibly simple and worked first try (the first time). I got everything up and running in under an hour.

Boot Camp - Attempt 2
I had to reformat, starting from scratch for a Leopard install. This went through without a hitch. Next came boot camp. This time things went wrong. Every time I got to the windows installer it would go through the partition fine, but then after rebooting and trying to load the Graphical Installer, i would get an error message "Failed to Boot". After three days and countless hours I finally solved the problem. What happens is that during the install a boot.ini file for windows is written. During the partitioning process OS X gets assigned 1st, and Windows 2nd. In reality the partition are OS X [1], OS X 200MB Swap Partition [2], Windows [3]. One way to fix is to manually edit the boot.ini file in OS X on the windows partition. With my windows install, I couldn't see the windows partition on OS X. To solve this I deleted the 200MB swap drive, and viola! It Worked!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Carputer

I asked my roomie to help me build a carputer. I'm not really a hardware guy, but still wanted to make something myself. After a few days of scouring the web for prebuilt small form factor computers my roomie came up with the idea of using a Mac Mini. The benefits of the mac mini include pre-built in wireless, decently fast processors, bluetooth, and the fact other had used Mac Mini's as well. Thus began the search. The first place I started was and the 500$ price tag wasn't bad, but I could do better. found me a seller around the corner, full warranty still in affect, and saving a little money.

The Specs:
Mac Mini
Intel 1.66 Ghz
512MB of Ram
Wireless b/g
DVD Slot

With the key component in hand, there was no going back.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Adventure begins

For Christmas I came into some money and decided to embark on a project I'd been thinking of for a while. The idea was pretty simple and I'd seen it done on the internet, and in some of my friends cars (slightly more generic, all in one). This blog is intended to be a walk through of my reasons, plans, trials, over comings, and shortfalls. I have to give a huge thanks to my friend J.Z. for helping with all the installation. I could not have done this without him.