Raspberry Pi car computer

Raspbian running in the dash of a Ford Focus

Last century I spent weeks researching car computers. I wanted mp3s, videos and access to Notepad on the road. I wanted my car to respect and love me, just like KITT loved David. I wanted it to shout, “Right on tiger!” when I achieved an optimum MPG and to flash up encouraging messages like, “Hello Clive, might I say that you are driving very handsomely today” on a heads-up display.

Sadly it was never to happen. The reality was that you needed a PC the size of a coypu in the boot; an industrial 12/240v inverter; a 15″ CRT monitor strapped to your dash; and hawseholes in your bulkheads. And after a week of constant rebooting halfway through Captain Sensible’s Happy Talk, your hard drive failed because of the vibration and your battery discharged for good.  (I gave up and bought a 32Mb Diamond Rio and a hi-tech cassette adapter instead.)

Back in the 21st century, Derek Knaggs at Flamelily I.T has made the thing of my dreams: a low cost, low maintenance, general purpose car computer. There are other Pi-based car computers about but we especially liked this one because it’s simple, cheap and it looks like a factory fit. Very smart.

A quick swap of SDs and Raspbmc meets all of your multimedia needs

The Raspberry Pi is stored in the centre console and all wires routed underneath. Audio is fed through the aux socket of the car’s radio so no additional hardware is needed for this. A wifi dongle provides internet connectivity on the move via a mobile phone hotspot.

Neatly tucked away in the console — note the wifi dongle for internet on the move.

Full details including a shopping list are on Derek’s blog. I’m off to make one.