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Carputer Pi 3

Sun Jan 15, 2017 11:22 pm

Planning a Raspberry pi computer, and I need some suggestions for things like hardware and software

Planned Features
-Media player
-backup camera
-GPS navigation

Planned Hardware
Raspberry Pi 3 $35 (have)
Raspberry Pi 7" Touchscreen Display $70 ... D0GRJLQLVS
Case for the Official Raspberry Pi 7" Touchscreen Display - Adjustable angle $28 ... D0MNU1XOFV

Hardware I am unsure about
Backup Camera ($17) ... SwUdlWci99
USB GPS ($30) ... _title_ce

I don’t have too many concerns about the GPS as I read many use Navit

The biggest thing concerns is how to tie the camera into the Pi and having the whole system easy to use (IE switching from music to backup cam).
For the camera I do have a Diamond VC500 Video capture (Bus 001 Device 006: ID 1f4d:0102 G-Tek Electronics Group) it was left over from a project I had a few years back which was used in a Windows setup and it performed flawlessly, and now I am thinking of re-purposing it to be the input device for the camera but I have had no luck getting to function with mplayer. so probably will have to buy something to resolve my input for the camera.

Next for the media center I see a lot of people say use Kodi and I use Kodi for my home media center Pi 1 and it works well. However I don’t know if I need to change a setting but switching in and out of kodi would seem hard to quickly switch to the backup camera or take a quick look at the GPS. Also I mostly will only use music as watching TV while driving is dangerous!

For internet the Pi will mostly be offline with sometimes be connected to home wireless or my phone being a hot spot
For mounting the whole systems it will be on the dashboard as my car and a battery pack to power the system with micro USB charging the battery (i will have to test this system for effectiveness later in the build)

Also please note i live in the US so keep that mind when recommending components

so in short what i am asking is,
What backup camera should i get?
and get the one i listed what is needed to tie the video into the Pi?
what Media player should i use?
Anything i am overlooking?

Thanks :D

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Re: Carputer Pi 3

Mon Jan 16, 2017 11:42 am


Great post. Exactly what I am looking at doing but so far have had no replies to any of my posts. I am guessing that no one is competent enough to advise or complete?

Have you seen the CarPC skin for Kodi? It looks like this would be the best OS for all your desires (and mine).

Take a look at this link. Also search "Kodi CarPC" and you should find a link to the engineering-diy forums that discusses this.

I will be eagerly watching to see if you get more replies :-)

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Re: Carputer Pi 3

Mon Jan 16, 2017 10:56 pm

Thanks! I saw that around the internet but couldn't find the guide! i am going to try and play with that skin, i am hoping it has a option to switch to a camera for backup options! I will let you know my progress and what OS and hardware i use as a progress

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Re: Carputer Pi 3

Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:21 pm

Reviving a dead thread.

How are you going to power the Pi3? The 3 requires 2.5 amps, but every USB port for cars that I'm finding is only 2.1 amps. Have you found any that can put out more power needed for the Pi3?

I'm working on integrating a Pi3 using Plex into my RV and trying to figure out how to power everything. I guess I could hack something together to get more amps out of it, but it would be so much easier if I could just buy a USB port and plug the Pi3 into that. I'm also trying to figure out how to power an external hard drive for it, as I don't think the Pi3 has enough power for the USB ports to power an external hard drive and I'd like as much powered off the DC batteries as possible.

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Re: Carputer Pi 3

Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:47 pm

Misconception. The Pi does not _need_ 2.5A (infact your micro USB connection isn't able to deliver more than 2.4A anyway)

For your purposes, 2.1A is ample (pun intended)

Just make sure you properly shutdown the Pi before turning off the ignition switch and don't plug it in while starting the vehicle - its a good way to corrupt the SD card.
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Re: Carputer Pi 3

Thu Feb 22, 2018 10:04 pm

There are several methods.

A DC to DC board buck converter. Example a LM2596 board. Or a BEC (Battery Eliminator Circuit) R/C hobbyist are familiar with these.

BEC: ... ywords=BEC

LM2596: ... +converter ... =12v+to+5v

Some more advanced options are;

Some of these have advanced features like protecting the computer during starts and allowing the computer to continue running when the ignition is off. They also provide "brownout" protection. That site also has some more powerful options than a Raspberry Pi. But none of them are cheaper!

I used one of their PicoPSU's in a very small Windows Home Server project.

You should be able to find one of these that will work for you! I would look into one of the mini-box solutions as they will protect you carputer even if you forget to unplug it!
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Re: Carputer Pi 3

Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:15 pm

I had actually looked into mini-box awhile ago and still may go with one. I would like to have something that has ethernet and can be powered by DC, and preferably run a Linux distro. I have a Plex server running on a Lenovo stick PC, and it sucks. No ethernet, one USB part, 2GB ram. I'd prefer something more powerful for that. I tried running Plex on a Raspberry Pi 3 and just had so many issues with it. I'm not sure what the problem was, but the first time I installed raspbian, it found all the media. I had added other services, but then figured out I didn't need all of them, so I reinstalled raspbian and Plex and nothing else and this time it found about 20 music albums instead of the 300 or so I have on the hard drive. Not sure what happened, but I gave up and went back to the stick PC and its been fine since. If I could build a better computer for the plex server, that would be ideal.

I'd also like to add some other functions, like I'm trying to figure out how to make a Pi3 that just backs up my OneDrive and shares it locally over the network so I can dump files or access them from my laptop, but its turning out to be a bigger PITA than I thought it would be. Also have to buy some more Pi3 boards, and with the 3B+ out now, might just get that and go with it.

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Re: Carputer Pi 3

Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:33 pm

Mini-box is expensive, but has some pretty well thought out PSU's for automotive use.

There comes a breakpoint of use for automotive. Entertainment/Navigation and more. Raspberry Pi 3 is capable. It will take more work to get it done. An Intel based board takes less work, mostly because it has a whole lot more resources and devices available and ready to install. But all that comes at a price. For the Intel based it is money, space and power usage! For a Raspberry Pi it is time!
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Re: Carputer Pi 3

Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:46 am

I remember that there were actual power units built by a company somewhere for implementing a raspberry pi in a car. I can't for the life of me find them now.

if anyone has more info on building a carputer with the pi, i'd be very interested.

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Re: Carputer Pi 3

Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:48 pm

Glad to find you guys talking about car computers. Most of what I'm finding on car computers is outdated and it seems most people are only interested in accessory gauges via OBDII and music servers. I'm working on making a computer for my 2005 Dodge Ram 3500. However, a music server is at the very bottom of my priority list (a car stereo with bluetooth does that just fine).

Here's what I'm working on:

- OBDII communication with the truck, including the ability to manage my truck's performance chip settings
- 4 cameras (1 backup on horse trailer, 1 backup on truck tailgate, 1 backup above pickup bed to see gooseneck hitch, 1 cam inside the horse trailer. Want to be able to monitor all four cams in one screen and touch one to make it full-screen.
- Tire pressure monitor system for truck and trailer (10 tires total)
- Handsfree cellular telephone (iphone) and phone mirroring if I can get carplay or rplay to work.
- Navigation (GPS)
- 4G Internet connection and wifi hotspot
- After all that, then comes the media server.

As you can see, this is an ambitious project, which I am currently unqualified to create from scratch. I have been quite disappointed to find that many of the functionalities I need have been developed, but they date back as far as 2009 and are now obsolete. I have tried a number of them and find they don't work on the Pi3B. So, I'm going to need "a little help from my friends."

Here's what I have so far:
- Pi3B and a PizeroW
- Pi 7" capacitive touchscreen (once I get things working I'll move to a 10.1" screen for the truck)
- Adafruit GPS breakout board
- Navit (currently broken)
- 2 backup cameras (working on finding software to view the output) RAYOO cameras, available on eBay or Amazon
- RF tx/rc cards
- Powered USB2.0 hub
- 4CHUSBDVR 4-video input usb card (EasyCAP clone, got drivers loaded using wine, but can't seem to get the output to work)
- EasyCAP 1-input usb video card (this one works with VLC)
- 4G will be handled by a dongle as soon as I decide which cellular provider I will go with (likely Verizon)
- Rpi3B will handle bluetooth and wifi hotspot
- Rplay (VMlite) installed, but broken
- Autopi DIY card and Rpi3B adapter board

I have paid for an Autopi DIY board (, but it likely won't be delivered until next month, as it is still under development. That should handle the OBDII needs. The TPMS system is going to be expensive, as the transmitters alone run about $35-45 each. I have found a usb video card that accepts four camera inputs, but can't seem to get the software (Windows drivers) to work under Linux (Raspbian Stretch). I can see the cameras are live, but get gibrish, rather than images. My GPS is working, but Navit is broken. Trying to figure that out. Rplay, which is supposed to work like Apple Carplay, is installed but broken. Seems Vmlite has either abandoned it or has decided to market it as a pay app. Can't seem to find any current documentation on it.

As many of the accessories available to the rpi seem to use the same GPIO pins, I am trying to connect everything by USB.

Going to have to learn python.

Some things I have found so far (been working on it about a month).

- auto power with soft shutdown: ... y-switch-1 (currently unavailable, waiting for them to produce more, hoping for a little more amperage)
- The RAYOO cameras work well for my needs and they work fine via VLC using the EasyCAP video card, but I need four inputs and don't want to have four separate video cards. The Windows software that comes with the 4CHUSBDVR video card works well in Windows and there are some old How-to articles out there, by which I was able to get the drivers loaded in my Linux computer, but something is not right, as the cameras output looks like gibrish and I can't seem to get the software to work even using wine emulator. I expect it is the antique Windows drivers used by the Chinese manufacturer combined with the obsolete SAA7113H video chip.
- My GPS (Adafruit Ultimate GPS breakout board) is connected via usb and is working fine, however Navit is broken and it appears there is not enough interest in fixing it by the developers. It was documented months ago that the installation via raspbian is broken. I'm not enough of a programmer to be able to help there. None of the documentation is written with the average end-user in mind.
- I haven't started on the TPMS yet, but I plan to buy one transmitter (315mhz - US) and try to get it working before I jump all the way into it.
- I have found the cheap Chinese cables to be fine, but the usb hubs, video cards, etc are a 50/50 proposition. In other words, about half the time they need repair out of the box or simply don't work. Poor workmanship. I have had to troubleshoot and resolder several components.

- These blogs have been informative: ... 3-upgrade/ ... -computer/

I hope we can keep this thread alive and moving. I don't mean to hijack it. I think we can all help each other.

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Re: Carputer Pi 3

Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:34 pm

Hello guys,

I'm also building a carputer for my van. I've tried Android Auto, and although it is very functional, it lacks some features I'd like to have like FM Radio, Backup Camera and its own GPS instead of relying on the phone's GPS. Plus, I don't like the idea of having to plug my phone to a USB port every time I power on the computer.

What I have so far:
Raspberry pi 3 and 3B+
Waveshare 7in touchscreen display
UPSPiCO from Pimodules
USB to UART GPS module (L80-39 chip)
GPS Antenna
SI4703 FM Radio breakout board
Suptronics X400 Amplifier
Raspberry Pi fisheye night vision camera
Powered USB Hub
Some small chinese wireless keyboard and touchpad

Almost everything was bought off ebay.

Now, I've noticed both the Rpi 3 and 3B+ plus the touchscreen draw a lot of current (a 3Amp PSU can't deliver), so I'm using the powered USB Hub to help with that. As an advantage I'll have 3 extra USB ports I can use to connect other devices, since I'll have the touchscreen, keyboard dongle, GPS module and the Hub occupying all the ports on the Rpi side.

The UPSPiCO, although a little pricey, lets me run the raspberry for more than an hour without an energy source (I've replaced the original battery for one with higher capacity), so that I can watch a movie without draining the van battery. Plus, it provides me with 3 user configurable buttons and a FSSD button (File Safe ShutDown).

The X400 expansion board, besides being a high quality sound amplifier, can also provide power to the raspberry pi using the 12V of the car's battery directly (it has a 5V 3A DC/DC converter built in). The plan is to ditch the radio unit and connect the speakers directly into the X400, or alternatively, use the X400's headphone jack to connect it with the AUX port of the radio unit.

I'm still fiddling around with the GPS and FM Radio boards, haven't gotten around to make them work properly. Plus, Navit is a PITA to install properly.

Kodi seems the best way to go about it, but I guess one needs to configure it properly to work with navit, fm radio and backup camera.

Anyway, let's try to keep this thread alive.

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Re: Carputer Pi 3

Fri Jun 22, 2018 8:29 pm

Is there a Double DIIN that fits the Raspberry Pi 7" display? I want to put one in my car, but not sure of any cases.


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