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I’ve done lots of research on how to best install a “carputer” in my Subaru Forester, and decided to use my old Kindle Fire, that I seldom use. It has a touchscreen display, and enough power to run music/OBDII/browser/videos. The Kindle Fire is pretty much an Android tablet that’s been stripped of Google apps, so this can all be done easier/better with a full Android tablet like a Nexus 7. But since I already had this laying around, I’m going to use it. A few pros for using a Kindle is that the Home/Back buttons are on-screen. Since I want to install it flushed into the dash, its easier that I won’t have to worry about covering up touch buttons like the Nexus 7 has (although there are work arounds like Button Savior).
First off, I had to Root the Kindle and install Google Play, so we can install apps that the Kindle Store doesn’t have. Then looked for all the apps so the Kindle/Tablet will work like a factory installed headunit. What I want for it to turn on when I start the car and play music. Then stop music and turn off when I stop the car. I’ve listed all the software stuff I did to get those functions.
INSTALL GOOGLE PLAY:
-This is only neccessary since I started with a Kindle Fire. An Android tablet will already have Google Play.
-Turns the tablet on/off when you turn the ignition on/off. This app will sense when it is plugged in to turn on, when power is unplugged, it will automatically turn off. *Power will need to be wired to ignition 12v.
Button Savior: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.smart.swkey
-Because the physical buttons are not accessible with the tablet installed in the dash, this app will display onscreen soft buttons for power/back/volume/home.
Music Players of choice: Pandora, Spotify, Google Play Music, MX Player…
No Lock Screen: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.futonredemption.nokeyguard
-If you want the tablet to power on to the home screen instead of a lock screen, this app can be handy.
Torque Pro (OBD 2): https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.prowl.torque
-Paired witha bluetooth OBD2 adapter, this app can pull up fault codes and sensor data. *BT ODB2: http://www.amazon.com/BAFX-Products-Bluetooth-diagnostics-Android/dp/B005NLQAHS
Locale + plugins:https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.twofortyfouram.locale
-Locale is an automation app that will trigger settings/apps during certain situations. The app requires installing plug-ins for additional features. A built in feature that does not require a plug-in is turnin on/off Wifi Hotspot on your cellphone (explained below).
***Plugins for Locale***
–Can change screen brightness depending on sunrise/sunset
*Headphone Button Plugin: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.snarfed.android.headphonebuttons
–Will simulate pressing a headphone button, Play/Pause/Next. Can be used to trigger music Play/Pause button automatically, when the power is connected/disconnected. So getting into the car, turn ignition, music will Play. Turn off car, music will Pause. Only works with compatible apps like Pandora, Spotify, etc.
*Power Source Plugin: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=name.boyle.chris.powersource
–Used with the Headphone Button Plugin to detect power on/off.
*Wifi Hotspot with mobile phone: Default settings
–Locale will also run on your Android mobile phone. When you enter your car, a bluetooth car stereo headunit will automatically pair with your mobile phone. Locale can detect when your phone is paired with your headunit and turn on your phone’s wifi hotspot, so that the tablet/kindle can then use the wifi for data. That is how I use Pandora/Spotify… Sure you can just stream it from your phone as well, but this way you don’t have to pull out your phone, the music will play off of the tablet where you can see and control what’s playing.
Mission Complete!!! We made it all the way home and then some. 2000 miles, 115 gal of gas, 8 states, in 63 hours (there and back). I couldn’t envision a better long weekend. After getting within 200 miles of home, I felt a quite the relief, but with still hours left of driving, and haven driven all through the night before, I was not yet ready to relax. We did make the most out of the home stretch by taking the historic US-30 hwy. Looking down at the Columbia Mt. Hood over John Day Dam Historic US-30 Multnomah Falls A roadtrip isn’t complete without an “out of gas” scare. How many gallons is the tank? I’m sure it was pretty close to empty. And then finally in the driveway, while my RT4WD Civic wagon moves to the curb :-/
We made it to Denver, CO! Our route took us from US412 -> I-35 -> I-70.
It took much longer than I had planned. Kept her cruising at 3,500rpm, about 60mph. On a long, straight, flat highway, its like watching paint dry.
Thankfully, no real issues. Except the first couple gas stops only filled 3/4 the tank before stopping. I figured out I had to slowly top it off to get a full tank.
Another issue was with the driving light switch. We drove thru the night and when using the highbeams, twice the lights shut off then came back 10secs later. I realized the issue when we got to Denver and parked the van.. The light switch wouldn’t turn off. I’m guessing the long hours of light usage melted the relay. Ended up pulling the switch to get the lights off.
Even offered to take the wheel when I was getting tired. So this is Christine’s first time driving a stick! We went over how the clutch works while I was driving, then after she had a good a understanding, she took over. Empty road at night.
Oh this was crazy. See the spare wheels hanging on the side? The driver was behind us, unknowingly dragging the wheels, throwing up showers of sparks. I guess it was in his blind spot. I signaled him to stop, and he pulls over at the next rest area miles later. When I first saw the sparks I nearly freaked out. First thing I thought, “I’m on fire!” – ready to pull over and grab the fire extinguisher. Thank God it was just a guy dragging his spares.
Got delayed from taking off in Seattle, we had a 45 min window to catch our connection in Denver and we took off in SEA an hour late!
Forget about not being able to make the drive back home. We barely made our connection in DEN due to an hour delay from take off in SEA. Just arrived in Tulsa.
The PO picked us up from the airport and we went over the van, went over its quirks. I feel confident she will be good for the road. So we are off!
The van is stuffed with spare parts and extras.
Stopped by Wally’s to pick up some fluids, fire ext, food.
Christine’s the co-pilot is in good spirits still. We’re off to drive back to Denver!
One way tickets booked from Seattle ->Tulsa. So we drove up to Seattle from Portland to catch the first flight to Tulsa, we will be connecting in Denver.
We would have preferably flown out of PDX, but there was no early flights that would have gotten us to Tulsa with enough time to make the drive back. So the weekend of driving starts from PDX -> SEA.
Boarding our flight, next stop Denver, CO!
(Taken from where it was originally posted.)
Sat June 21, 2014
I bid and won an eBay auction for a 1986 VW Vanagon Syncro Westfalia thats in Tulsa, OK.
Thurs Jul 03, 2014
I originally arranged transport to have her shipped from Tulsa, OK —> Portland, OR. But two weeks after I booked the shipper, and one day before they were supposed to pick up the van, they told me that they couldn’t accommodate the transport anymore because their route changed.
Frustrated , I said to myself, “I’ll just go get it myself!” and booked a last minute, one-way flight to Tulsa – as it being a holiday weekend and I have the days off.
So the plan is to fly into Tulsa, OK on Friday morning, pick up the van and head back Portland, OR – hopefully by Sunday afternoon.