Mercedes SLK Carputer

This is a project from before the time I started to document my builds.

When you see through the pictures, remember that most of these features were unheard of at the time, even though today these are common in modern cars!

This was a very long project which required a lot of planning. At the time I was driving a Mercedes SLK, a pretty cool two seat convertible. I didn’t drive it during the winters as it was litterally the worst winter car in the known universe. I parked it in my father’s heated garage in Finland, and then for summers I drove it 1000km to Denmark where I was working.

I decided that I can make a kick ass, fully custom, entertainment system which covers all of my needs. It would be able to control the car’s systems, and also have connectivity to the 4th floor apartment where I lived. This is from before the time of smartphones and cellural internet! I planned the project over the winter months, and then traveled to Finland for a week so I could install it. I took the whole interior of the car out to be able to wire everything I needed.

The control center. The screen is a touchscreen which is connected to a laptop mounted on the firewall of the car.
Nowadays is weird if you don’t have a touchscreen in your car. At this time though it was very special.
The brain was a laptop mounted on a custom bracket behind the driver’s seat. The bracket was bent from plexiglas and covered with similar fabric as the rest of the inside of the car was. The straps were my father’s old suspenders which had gotten a new life. The laptop was modified to be able to connect to an external wifi antenna.
Between the seats was the control unit for the car’s systems and an omnidirectional wifi antenna. The control unit consisted of relays which I could control from the PC. These relays were wired to all different kinds of “soft” controls of the car, such as the roof mechanism, custom brake light module, additional cameras at the rear and front of the car and so on. The wifi antenna was used for downloading music wirelessly from the computer which was in my apartment. This way I didn’t have to worry about USB sticks etc.
The control box gave a cool “back to the future” vibe in the car. I had of course wired lighting into it which was controllable by the PC.
The screen was ran by custom software on the PC. I made a quick release for it so it was not permanently mounted. I didn’t want to think about connecting cables, so the connectivity was done over USB which was actually ran on an ethernet cable embedded to the quick release. I remember that I had to do some very special shielding with aluminium foil to get the noise levels down so it would actually work.
The car had both reverse camera …
… and also a curb camera on the front.
The car was like a transformer, and I had added a brain for it.
I took these pictures when I sold the car, so the system had been functional for 3 years at this time.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.