Car Media Centre Built and working like a dream!

I have completed building my Car Media Centre. It works well so far! Just got to install it in my car without killing either my Media Centre, my car or myself. Click for more info and pictures.

All my pieces arrived on Thursday, and I got to work putting it all together. The specs of my machine are as follows:

Gigabyte GA-7VT600 Mainboard, with onboard LAN and Audio


AMD Sempron 2400+ Processor
512MB RAM with a Copper Cooler
Gigabyte 3D Rocket CPU Cooler




350W PSU
Vortex Hard Disk Cooler
PowerCOM 600AP UPS
Leadtek Geforce FX5200 Graphics Card
40GB IDE Hard Drive (which I will upgrade as I need to)
CD ROM Drive (to become a DVD drive soon!)

I was planning on building the machine in a box I was going to build myself, but I found that my old full tower case I had worked better, and would be more stable, although it probably is a bit heavier than I was planning. I can fit the UPS inside it as well, making the unit almost self contained.

I covered it in carpet to make it look like a speaker box. I haven’t quite finished yet, but here is what it looks like to far.

Case Closed

I will neaten up the wires poking out the front shortly. Inside, it looks like this:

Case Open

The UPS is mounted in the top section. The reason for the UPS is that I am going to wire my inverter to the ignition, so it will power off when the car is off, thereby saving my battery. I have set the UPS to shut the Windows down gracefully 10 minutes after it looses power. This gives me enough time to start the car up again and resume power if I am just running into the shop, or stopping for gas without the machine shutting down. Currently I have it set to power up again as soon as power returns, but I may change this and put a switch on the dash for powering up. All this has been tested and is working well, except the inverter installation. That I am going to get some help from an auto electrician for, because as I see it, it I get something wrong with it, 4 things could happen:

1) I could cook my car battery.
2) I could cook my inverter.
3) I could cause a fire, and burn my car out.
4) I could send 240V through myself and anyone and anything else in the car.

None of these options are good. (Especially not the last two!).

I have it all wired up in my spare room right now, with my car screen, so I have included some pictures of it in action.

Screen Shot 1

Screen Shot 2

Screen Shot 3

Playback of video is also very good. I have set my resolution to 960×600, which causes XP Media Centre to play widescreen video properly.

Screen Shot 4

SO far I’m very happy with the way things are progressing.

10 thoughts on “Car Media Centre Built and working like a dream!

  1. Kenneth

    Wow! I‘ve been looking into building my own car entertainment system for a while and this has definitely inspired me a lot.

    Is your screen a touch screen? If so – how does work? Do you see the cursor all the time when pushing the screen?

    Kind regards,

  2. LeviathanSA

    No, it isn‘t a touch screen. I got a touch kit for it, but it looked rubbish, so I elected not to use it. I‘m going to use a Media Center remote for now. The 2005 spec remote lights up, so it will work in the car in the dark

  3. midosm

    That is way cool! I have been looking at a way to do something like this.

    Do you synch with your MCE in the home (or is this your only MCE)?

    Are you running WiFi?

    Are you running a TV tuner card?

    I am looking for a small form factor (low profile) to do something like this in a Tahoe with a KVH (DirecTV) system integrated.

  4. Mark F.

    Very cool!!!
    One thing I’m curious about is cell phone integration via bluetooth. Sadly I have no experience with it but do you know if it would be possible to use XP SP2’s bluetooth features to basically use the car audio as a wireless speakerphone.
    Basically what I would be interested in achieving would be that without taking the cellphone out of my pocket, the computer automatically pairs with it and allows me to answer incoming calls via the MCE or XP directly. Obviously this would require a microphone mounted in the dash as-well but do you know anything about bluetooth/cellphone integration within MCE and/or XP?

    ps. I’ve read that you’re looking for speech recognition solutions and as far as I can tell you won’t have to once Vista gets released.
    I played around with Windows Vista CTPs and am almost positive that the final build will allow MCE based speech control, including “play yellow submarine” kind of direct song access.
    I say this because in Beta 1, you could already do “play the beatles” from the desktop without MCE or media player open, direct trackname did not work. In the December CTP this no longer works and when trying it within MCE or media player, the speech console say’s “command not available now” (or something like that), it does however indicate that it’s recognized as a command, otherwise it would just say “What was that?”. I believe they intentionally disabled media related voice features, so they can show them off at CES next month.

  5. LeviathanSA Post author

    Mark F,

    I have thought a lot about a Bluetooth car-kit type of solution for it. I will soon have a mic set up for voice control, and would like to use this for my cell phone too. The issue is getting the PC to appear as a bluetooth headset, and not a PC in order for the phone to use it as such. I’m afraid I don’t know nearly enough about this sort of thing to do it yet. I’m keeping my eyes open for any type of solution for this.

    I have just finished downloading the December CTP, and will play with it during next week.



  6. Bruno

    What you want to do with the bluetooth is fairly simple. You will not however be able to do it with Windows’ built in bluetooth support as they do not have an audio stack. A simple google search for the newest widcomm drivers should give you version 5 and with the necessary crack for it to work with almost any usb bluetooth adapter.

    After you have that setup it’s just a matter of opening up the bluetooth control panel, starting the audio gateway service and pairing the phone and computer. The computer will show up as a headset to the phone as well as still being available for all the data stuff.

    Sounds pretty cool hearing a caller come through your computer speakers in 5.1 surround, the only problem I can imagine you’d encounter is audio feedback. But what you could is pick up a cheap USB soundcard and use that strictly for phone calls, Putting a small speaker in the B pillar right by your ear and mic in the headliner or in the headrest on the opposite side of the speaker.

    Hope that helps

  7. Jerome F

    Hi, i like what you have done. I am currently in the process of building a media center for my car. Although, i have taken the route of using a Mini-ITX system, which i think would be a much more ideal choice.
    These systems can run off a 12v power supply, they are very small, can be built with laptop hard drives and are fairly inexpensive in my opinon.
    I would recommend checking out Mini-ITX solutions if you ever decide to upgrade or change you current system.

    Jerome F 🙂


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