Typical first-pic-last. Here's how the system looks in its present form, still with plenty of scope for extras and upgrades.
Here's how it starts. A tiny old VGA screen running a GPS system with maps a decade out of date, connected to a CD changer in the trunk and a bloody cassette deck. How retro. How useless.
This is what I'm starting with. It's an 8.9" Atom netbook with wifi and bluetooth, which I've upgraded to 2Gb RAM, a 64Gb SSD, and a USB 3.0 express card. Not bad for $15.
First thing to do is separate the screen from the netbook. Eventually they'll be 5 meters apart.
Let's rip the rest of the notebook apart and see what we've got. The hard drive uses a ribbon cable (ZIF) and required a PATA-to-mSATA adapter to work.
Soldering extra wires to the power switch means I can turn the netbook on and off from the other end of the car.
Solder on two wires to the netbook motherboard so that I can relocate the power LED
I added a touchpanel to the screen using an eBay kit ($15). Just stick the panel to the screen, plug in the USB controller board and run the calibration tool. Easy.
The touchscreen works! Here's the netbook running Android x86, which was one of the first test systems
Now I need to mount the screen to the car. Here's a basic double-din frame, which will be heavily modified to fit my needs
The screen frame is too deep and small, so that gets cut off to make room for the full 8.9" (oo-er).
Notch the mounts to hold the LCD
and slide the LCD panel into place
The back of the screen frame, with holes for power buttons and mounts for the control circuitry
Here's the home-made button board. This lets me power on the netbook and screen independently, plus power LEDs for netbook (green) and LCD (red).
Success! The screen fires up separate from the notepad, thanks to an aftermarket driver board and an optional VGA-to-HDMI adapter. I can now run an HDMI cable along the car, which futureproofs me for future netbook upgrades.
Lesser X-type models only had this clunky cassette deck and AC panel instead of the satnav unit. That's perfect for me; I can fit the AC controls with the double din frame underneath, held together with OEM Jaguar brackets.
There's a small plastic lip under the controls which blocks the LCD panel. So I took off the control panel and filed the plastic down.
Test-fitted and fired up with the netbook on the floor. The screen resolution is messed up, but at least the system works
Right, that fits in nicely and powers up. So lets look at getting the rest of the notebook installed.
This is the mad mix of control modules the Jag is equipped with. From top to bottom: amplifier, Navigation Module, CD player, Telephone module and voice activation module. I don't need any of those any more.
A 100 x 20cm sheet of 1mm aluminium. This will make a mount for all the new electronics that will live in the trunk.
First mount iteration next to the original Jag frame to compare datum points
Here's the final mount version, which makes the most use of the nooks and crannies in the Jag trunk. The shelf holds two Focal crossovers for the front door speakers
Here's the netbook mount with the crossovers and amplifiers nested underneath. The Amp is a 5-channel unit, connected to a generic 5.1 USB sound card. I made a custom loom to connect to all the existing Jag wiring, so there's no need to run new speaker or power wires along the car.
This is a USB GPS stick. It's a GPS receiver with an MMCX socket to connect an external antenna (which was included in the $10 purchase from a Chinese seller on eBay).
Here's the custom GPS cable that will link the USB GPS stick to the Jag's existing antenna. I've since learnt that you can buy these on eBay for $5. I'm an idiot.
And here's the netbook installed where all the old control modules used to live. It's held in place with velcro straps, so I can remove it fairly easily if needed. The whole area is hidden by a carpeted panel so that it's not permanently on view.
Sit back in the driver's seat, press the power button, and hey presto! A Windows netbook with HDMI touchscreen, running GPS through the original car antenna, playing music through the car's original 9-speaker system, with voice activation and steering wheel controls included too! Take note, Jaguar.