I was looking for a tuning laptop and after reading this
thread I got more interested in Asus's Eee PC. Then the more I looked at the specs and searched the net the more it became clear to me that the EeePC might be an ideal, cheap in-car computer(as Joe suggested in the other topic).
The idea wasn't as novel as I thought since the relatively low price(for the specs)and the 7" screen made it a good gps/navigator choice so there were already EeePC users having successfully use it as an in-car PC.
There is an interesting article about it working as a GPS, containing some info about choosing the correct power source, the EeePC uses around 2500 milliamperes at 9,5V, here:
Also looking at the msextra.com boards there was already some people using it with Megasquirt.
I bought a Asus EeePC 701 4G Surf that was the cheapest model I could find in Greece. It has a 4G solid state disk drive with Linux(Xandros) preinstalled and no webcam. (Unfortunately buying the cheapest meant buying it in...Pink color but that's easily fixed with a case or a laptop skin)
The 7" screen is high quality and looks perfect for monitoring the things I was interested. For just monitoring what Megasquirt reads the Megatunix(the Linux/Unix software for MS)is perfect since it has a customizable gauges that can help get the best from the limited space. Here is a pic of the default Autometer-Style setup...
However Megatune is probably the best tool for tuning the MS(it is without a doubt the one with the bigger support/user base) and since I have zero experience with Linux the move to Windows XP was...mandatory.
The preinstalled Linux is great(boot times approx. 25 seconds)and especially for someone wanting simple tasks(surfing, emails e.t.c.)the simple(easy) interface is very user friendly.
The move to XP meant slower loading times, possibility of hindered performance and lot's of Microsoft crap but I found a great guide in the EeePC forum to use Nlite in order to make a customized/lite installation of Windows XP. Superbly written with lot's of pics:
Here you can see the difference of the a normal Windows XP SP2 install and the lite XP SP2 version I made using the above guide...
Not only there was an amazing difference in size(1.85 GB vs 395 MB) but boot times were approx. 20 sec. More size to the SSD and faster operation is a win win situation!
In car mounting:
First of all some pics to see the physical size of the laptop inside the miata interior...
The most simple and cheap choice is to mount it just like Joe's Tablet PC(with a custom mount in the position you see in the last pic). Power will be suplied with a car charger(like this one
)modified to fit connector that powered the car stereo(already removed it).
The other plan was to butcher the EeePC and incorporate the LCD screen to the 2DIN free slot in my center console adding a 40$ ebay touchscreen conversion kit.
But...I keep thinking that there is a cleaner way to do it(but not cheap). I could buy a 7" LCD touch screen(100-170$) and permanently mount it the dash then make a mount in the glove box space for the EeePC so I can easily remove it when I'm not in the car. That way for the price of 2-3 regular gauges I can have a great display unit that looks cleaner and also let me make on the fly adjustments. I also keep the EeePC intact and can also use it outside the car. The GPS option and mp3 playback for the long drives are just added bonus. The power demand on the EeePC with the LCD closed is reduced and since the car has no stereo or other power consuming extras I believe that the setup will run well on a regular battery and all the above will weight approx. 2 kg.
Space in the dash bezel is tight but a 7" screen isn't that big:
The screen I'm looking is this Lilliput unit(not cheap but I read that the quality is good):
And I'm visualizing something like this:
Even if I go the more expensive route(buying brand new parts) for about 470-500$ you get an ultraportable laptop that doubles as in-car PC, a great LSD dash unit and except tuning/monitoring the engine you have media/audio playback and GPS.