Going to Build a “Carputer”

Over the past few weeks, I came into the possession of a Scion tC and like a true geek, I’m embarking on a project which would make my car even more adaptive to current technologies.

I’m planning on building a “carputer“. The interior of the Scion tC makes this easy as the head unit is a double din which will probably hopefully allow a 7″ touchscreen LCD along with computer parts behind it to fit:

Head Unit

Over the weekend I did some research into what building such a thing would require and I’ve already got most of it laid down. I want it to be running Linux rather than Windows as I’ve seen in some people’s setups as Windows is a little too bloaty for me. I’ve actually already settled on a “distro” if you will and that is LinuxICE (Linux In Car Entertainment). Although it’s still in its very early stages, I feel I can contribute to this project and hopefully inject some more life into it. The other distro I came across was Moblin, and although it’s backed by Intel, I didn’t see it as something I could easily jump into like LinuxICE.

Project Goals

My immediate goals for my carputer is that it should hopefully be able to perform the following:

  • Play music from hard drive, CD, and possibly iPod via proprietary iPod cable or aux cable
  • Play video from hard drive, possibly DVD
  • Share music folder on home network so songs could be transferred while car is in garage via wi-fi

I also have some other goals which are pretty ambitious and difficult — but if I were able to pull these off, I might as well paint my car black and get a vanity plate that says KITT.

  • Connect to my cellphone when in range via bluetooth and intercept calls so that I could enjoy handsfree calling while in the car
  • GPS
  • Car monitoring via Carman
  • Backup camera which will activate when transmission changes to reverse
  • Be able to utilize steering wheel controls for music selection


I’ve already jumped into skinning LinuxICE to better fit my car. Personally I wasn’t a big fan of the default skin:

So I tried borrowing design elements from the official Scion website and incorporate it into my skin:

Obviously I’m still early on in this project and I have plenty of elements left to skin and custom scripts/programs to develop. If you have done any similar projects or can input on stuff that’s already been developed to help my cause, please let me know by commenting