So I recently bought a Parrot Asteroid Smart (http://www.parrot.com/usa/products/asteroid-range/parrot-asteroid-smart). It's a car stereo; specifically, a double-din head unit that runs Android. Yes, I'm that big a nerd.
In my first MR2, I had a CarPC - an EPIA mini-itx board, running Windows XP, connected to a 7" touchscreen monitor. This was cool but it was a ton of work just to get all the hardware behaving. I finally got things working after many weekends and dead battery close calls. Then I started writing some C# (.net 1.1!) code to play music and drive the navigation software I was using.
Sadly, that MR2 and I parted ways when I moved out to NYC 5 years ago. But now I'm back in Los Angeles, and with a new MR2! So it's time for CarPC v2.0.
I wasn't really looking forward to building a full PC again, though. That was fun the first time because... it was the first time. So,
I was delighted to see that in the 5 years of me not having a car, a French company - Parrot (the same guys who make the AR Drone!) - had created a head unit that's a dream come true for us car PC guys. I was on the fence about it, but after a couple weeks now of having it in the car and working, I have no regrets. Sure, it's not exactly the latest version of Android, but - it's rootable, the UI is fast and responsive, and the hardware just works: a GPS, a couple USB ports, BlueTooth connectivity, and a mic for voice control. I can't wait to start writing code for it.
Install was super easy. If you want it down in front, where a radio normally goes in the MR2, it's easy - grab a harness and you're done. It's very shallow and would fit there with no problem at all.
But, I wanted it up top - my original CarPC's touchscreen was up on top of the dash, and it was great because navigation was easily readable. Fortunately, I had kept my navhood from my first MR2, so I had all the parts.
And even more fortunately - the ASTEROID fits up there! It's really shallow, so it easily fits under the navhood, and no portion of the screen is obscured. The navhood frame fits it perfectly.
This was a huge relief, and wasn't even that difficult to install! I had to extend all the wires of the harness, by roughly 3 feet, but that's not a difficult job, it's just a bunch of soldering and heat-shrink wrapping everything. Then it's just a matter of drilling a hole in the back-left corner of the "pocket" on top of the dash. The hole has to be pretty big so you can wedge the connectors through, but there's nothing remotely near there you have to worry about drilling into.
So... it lives! Photos and more details about the software side coming soon!