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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Starting to plan out a car pc install, looking for some tips specific to the 3 (I have an 08 speed 3).

1) Head unit or no head unit?

Being sort of a computer geek, I like the idea of having the car pc be the audio source, controlling everything, hooked up to the fm antenna, hooked up to the steering wheel controls, etc. I'd plan on losing the center portion of the lcd display, but hope to keep the climate control display and the clock wouldn't hurt either. I'd need to get a good sound card, of course. The pros of this are that I would be focusing on one thing, not worrying about the pc AND the "Regular" head unit, and could expand with software and adaptors. The downside is I am not sure if startup/shutdfown/etc of the pure carputer are practical, fast, and robust enough to really be happy without a simple "instant on" head unit designed for the car. Any thoughts?

2) Replacing the head unit, and dealing with the lcd display

I seem to have concluded after much searching that a non-oem head unit is fine on the 3, as the lcd doesn't need the head unit for the climate control and clock. Is that the final answer? Seems like there's still some differing opinions on how the clock is handled (like, if you can't set it without the factory head unit, that seems lame and I'd rather not have it at all).

Thanks for any thoughts!
 

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I have considered this as well as you would be able to add with software almost any feature you wanted. If you didn't like the software you could try something else.

Many here have spent hundreds on the rather pricey JL CleanSweep, which is basically proprietary software and DSP hardware. I doubt that it costs JL more than $50 to manufacture. This could be done in software with a good 5-channel sound card for $50 in hardware, though I haven't done this as I haven't been able to find the software or programming interfaces that would allow me to write my own.

Every time I've priced a car pc, it has started out at a rather affordable $350 or so, but by the time you get done adding GPS, a decent-sized hard drive, a touch screen, and software the price balloons to a budget busting $1000 or more.
 

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Regarding the LCD strip info display: 04-06 models relied on the OEM HU for setting the clock, but they fixed that issue in newer models. That's where most of the confusion probably comes from.

If I were to ever install a full-on carputer, I would probably replace the OEM HU with a nice LCD touchscreen for GPS, and some sort of snazzy hardware volume knob.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks again. Yeah there are some nice hardware volume knobs out there for PCs, would be cool to have just that. I know I can technically not use the head unit, just seems like it would be more convenient for the whole "instant on" FM Radio experience, for example.

In any case, if you don't use the factory HU, how the heck do you set the clock? I was under the impression that the LCD strip would get info just from the HVAC controller, but that the after market stereo would not be integrated with that LCD strip at all. Is that not the case if I get some kind of car-specific wiring harness? I was just planning on doing it old-skool and chopping up the harness to hook up my new headunit.

Thanks again for all teh thoughts guys.
 

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I just made a carpc for my old car...before I got the 3. its really pretty simple. just get a touch screen and control it all from that. with the size of the 3's glove box you can very easily hide a m-itx setup in there. theres a few stand alone touch screens coming out that go right in a double din opening. And that mp3car.com site is a really good place for info on this.

I have a few parts im selling from my carpc project.
 

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Here is what I did and I love it. I did run though the AUX port but decided this year to go with a Pioneer HU and keep my motorized screen. 2 Units in a double din. It works extremelly well.

These are the old pics. If you want to keep your stock HU you need that top part to mount the screen in. In fact I am selling that plastic piece if you would need it.

Anywho on to the pics. PM any questions you have Ill do what I can to help.

http://kry-net.com/Pics/speed3/cpu/
 

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I had a full carpc in my old Focus that ran completely without a head unit. I had a USB DAC (digital audio converter) from Silverstone, into a simple hardware volume knob, into an EQ, and out to my amp. No bullshit, with mid-grade alpine speakers and a 12in sub, it was the best sounding setup Ive ever had.
 
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