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Tatra Mac G4 - fastest Mac on the four wheels?

22. ledna 2004, 00.00 | Read about unique modification of Tatra 613 car and installation of a PowerMac G4 with LCD display into the car. The built-in Power Mac G4 supports GPS navigation, audio and video playback as well as processing of telematics data, internet access etc. The article contains very useful guides for authors of similar modifications. [Pouze anglicky]

[Note from editor: this is first and only English article on our server - it's translation of article published in June 2003 with some updates. Feel free to ask your questions in discussion on the end of article.]
Českou verzi článku můžete nalézt zde.

Few words about Tatra

Although not as known as many other car manufacturers, Tatra is actually the second oldest automobile company in the world (with only Daimler being older). It was established in 19th century and throughout the years came with many innovations, that helped to change many things in the industry. Just one example, probably quite surprising: the famous VW Beetle was "inspired" by certain streamline Tatra cars (V570, T97) so much, that Volkswagen had to pay few millions of D-Marks to Tatra as a compensation for patent violations. During 1930 and 1940, Tatra created several amazing cars, like T77, T87, T97 and trucks like T111. After the communist revolution in 1948, Tatra specialized mostly in truck production and the passenger cars were only manufactured in very limited numbers to be used by ruling elite. T603 was produced between 1958 and 1975 and the T613 (designed by Vignale) was produced between 1974 and 1996.

I must admit, I have loved Tatra's since I was a little boy. My father used to work as chaffeur for one of local bosses and I spent a lot of time on the rear seat of a T603 when I was three or four years old. Later, as a student I owned one of T603s myself. For few years I move to more practical cars for few years (Honda Civic and Volvo 480 to be exact), but what my Dutch friends call a Tatra-virus was still deep inside me. So when I stared to work in Holland and needed a comfortable car for almost-monthly trips to Czech republic, Tatra was very high on my list of choices. After two or three months I found one in good condition and I did not hesitate a minute.

Exterior picture of T613-4 Mi Long

My car is one of later T613s, produced in summer 1993 for Frankfurt auto show (and not actually used much after that). It is a T613-4Mi Long version (M=power steering, i=multi-point injection, long = wheelbase 3150mm instead of standard 3000mm). A sedan, larger than Mercedes Benz S-Klasse, with 3.5 litre V8 air cooled engine (200HP, 300 NM), mounted above the rear axle. It was originally an "Elektronik" version, which means all the controls were fully digital with several computers (including one for voice output) and parts communicating with each other using CAN-bus. (Hi, Volvo guys, your S80 was by far not the first one, would you correct your advertising materials please?) This equipment was later removed (by factory) and replaced by more traditional standard wiring, but at the moment I have decided to buy it, I was already sure that a computer must come back. And so it did - I started to work on my installation in summer 2002 and by Christmas, I had a working installation.


The basic two reasons that led me to the installation of the computer were the replacement of CD changer by an MP3 player and a navigation solution, based on Route 66 application. I am pretty sure anyone who needs to make 1000 km trips every month or has ever been lost in Copenhagen can understand these two reasons :-) During the installation, I also added some more functions (communication with engine controller, on-board micrcontroller for basic telemetric data). Of course I could simply buy a head unit that supports MP3 playback and a dedicated navigation hardware. However I was not very excited about the prospect of spending several thousands euro for a dedicated hardware and then wait for the manufacturer to release the maps I needed (Czech republic in particular). Use of standard computer gives me much more freedom in the configuration of the system and potential upgrades - both software and hardware.

First time in the Tatra - still in the original case (although without all the plastic)

The first idea was to use an LCD iMac, and built it into the original dashboard. The base unit was supposed to be placed within the dashboard and the display with its holder outside. This idea had two basic flaws: iMac's 15" screen is really a bit too big for dashboard and its parameters are not good enough for use in full daylight (not to mention direct sunlight).

The software running in the car for the first time

OK, so no iMac. The second alternative was a separate LCD display, built into the original dashboard and connected to a computer (either a PowerMac or a PowerBook), that could be placed under front seats or behind the dashboard. At this time, I also came with idea of another screen, that would allow rear seat passengers to watch movies or play games. This eliminated the PowerBook (since it cannot easily handle two external screens). So I purchased an old PowerMac G4/450MHz and a industrial 6.5" LCD screen, that has contrast and temperature range, which are both necessary for in-car use. The native resolution of this LCD is 640x480 pixels, but its controller can interpolate various other resolutions. I have chosen 800x600 pixels, which is the minimal resolution, required by Route 66.

Detail of dashboard LCD mount

The PowerMac is currently equipped with two graphic cards and waiting for the additional 12 or 15" screen for the rear seat passengers. The secondary display will be usable without interference with the primary LCD in the dashboards.

PowerMac (motherboard to be exact) being built into its case

At first, I used two separate IDE hard disks in the installation. The first one (6GB) was used for system and basic applications, the other one (60GB) for other applications (just Route66 alone needs some 4GB), movies, MP3 files etc. I also planned the installation of DVD drive into the middle console, but later, I have decided not to use it. The quality of DivX/MPEG movies seems to be sufficient and the prospect of DVDs lying all around the car did not really appeal to me.

Dashboard installation

Very soon I realized, that the original dashboard of my Tatra was not really good enough for fixed mount of the 6.5" LCD and a retractable screen would also bring quite a few problems. I have therefore decided to re-build the whole dashboard from scratch. This also allowed me to replace original gauges, which were not really hi-tech (almost unreadable at night for example). During the design phase, I was inspired mainly with the dashboard of newer Tatra - 700-I and in some aspects also dashboards of older Saab's.

The motherboard on its final place

The placement of the computer also had to be re-considered. Space below the front seats was not big enough for a PowerMac, so I had to abandon this idea and start thinking about how to install the computer into the trunk. Of course I wanted to take least possible trunk space for the computer. First option was to install the computer in front corner of the trunk, into a special case above one of the batteries (my Tatra uses two 6V/140Ah batteries connected into series). Such case would however not be very easy to manufacture and also cabling would have to be much more complicated. In the end, I decided to install the computer into a rectangular case, attached to rear wall of the trunk.

Cabling and case mount

The case construction was not without problems either. Two most important issues were the heat and condensing water, that could both affect the function of the computer. The main heat source in older PowerMac models are certainly hard disks. Parts that are most vulnerable to condensing humidity are the motherboard and the PCI cards. Based on this knowledge, I have decided to separate these two parts of the system. The motherboard is installed in a separate fiberglass case and the hard disks are on a console next to this case. First I wanted to completely seal the motherboard case, but later I found this was not really a good idea, particularly due to the changes in temperature and the air volume inside the case. To fix this, I have installed two Gore-Tex valves on the case. These valves are used in automotive industry to allow air circulation in the headlight units while keeping the water on the outside. I did not take any special measures for CPU cooling, although it is mounted in a closed space with minimal air circulation. The G4/450MHz processor is known for its low cooling requirements and I decided to wait and see before fixing something, that might not even need any fixing.

Final appearance of the motherboard case

This concept has later proved to be right. Even in 35° C days during last summer and the computer running for 15 hours, I never had problems with CPU temperature and the hard disks also did not suffer any damage (even on the roads in Czech republic and Slovakia, that are not always up to civilized standards).

Final result - a complete PowerMac G4 in the T613


To power the computer, I use a commercial ATX power supply, that works with input voltage between 9 and 16V. The maximum rated power is only 100W, which is much less than the 250W of the original 220V power supply. However, the original power supply was designed for a workstation, full of disks and PCI cards, which is certainly not my case. The only problem I have experienced so far is the 5V output of the power supply, that is not capable of providing enough current for all of my USB devices. This problem is very easy to address by using an USB hub powered by special 5V power source. Very wide range of the input voltages ensures the power source is able to power the computer even when cranking up the engine (in that situation the input voltage drops to about 10V).

PowerMac G4 running from battery for the first time

The power source is controlled by Power-On signal from the motherboard and its idle current is about 100mA. Accidental draining of the battery is therefore no issue, since this current is comparable to idle current of other devices in the car (alarm, engine controller).

Although the final solution is simple and reliable, the power supply was probably the biggest problem I encountered during the whole installation. The very first idea was to use an UPS without internal battery, connected to the car's installation. This idea has cost me two UPS units, whose transistors have burned ;-) Even 300W UPS was not able to handle the current surge that occurs when the computer starts up. The second idea was an inverter and the original 220V power supply. This almost worked. "Almost" because there was a 50Hz noise on the audio output of the computer, that I could not manage to eliminate. Fortunately the third idea - the 12V ATX power supply did work perfectly.

Original 220V and new 12V ATX power supply

With earlier versions of Mac OS X, I used to put the computer to sleep at the end of the day, instead of turning it off to reduce the start-up time. Unfortunately, system 10.2.4 has brought an end to that. As of this system version, older G4s cannot be put to sleep and therefore I have no choice but to turn the computer off and accept longer start-up time (about 1 minute 20 seconds from pushing the PowerMate to GUI on the screen).

Peripherals & controls

There are several basic concepts of how the computer can be controlled - most of them can be implemented using standard USB peripherals. Many people use touch screens in similar installations. Although I also considered this option in the beginning, I have rejected it pretty early, because having to watch the screen does in my opinion lead to loss of concentration whilst driving. Instead I have decided to use controls, whose position is fixed and which can be used without watching the screen.

Temperature sensors (below), RS485-RS232 (left) and RS232-USB (right) converters

The key control element is Griffin Technology's PowerMate rotating controller, which is not only used for controlling the software, but also for starting up the computer. Auxiliary functions can be controlled by several buttons in the dashboard. When not driving, all functions of the computer can be controlled using an infrared keyboard with built-in trackpoint, that emulates a mouse. Rear-seat passengers can control the movie player and some other functions with another infrared device - Keyspan's Digital Media Remote controller.

Two USB connectors are located on the middle console and allow ad-hoc connection of other USB devices if required (typically keyboard and a mouse).

Tests of the temperature reading software module (and fridge cooling element)

Except for above named control devices, the installation consist of Bluetooth module, five digital thermometers, GPS receiver and a on-board microcontroller, connected to car's engine and a distance counter on the gearbox. This controller has been built for me by my friend Tomáš Struziak and the schematics can be found here: http://aek4470.finalnet.cz/html/palpoc.htm

Middle part of the dashboard with PowerMate and LCD - temporary buttons below LCD

Garmin's GPS II+ receiver is an old veteran, that does not have many amazing features of its younger successors, but does have a very good receiving part and a serial port output, which is all I need. Basically any NMEA-compatible GPS receiver could be used in ist place. Currently the car software only works with NMEA protocol (which is ASCII based), although it could be modified for faster Garmin protocol. I have selected the simple NMEA protocol, because the higher speed of Garmin protocol was not worth the more complicated implementation for me. The main receiver of the GPS data is of course the Route66 application.

The sound output of the PowerMac is connected to Sony head unit, that is in turn connected to two amplifiers and total of 8 speakers and a subwoofer. There is also another sound output via an USB adapter, that provides rear seat passengers with headphone jacks, allowing them to choose different sound than played through main speakers.

An overall look into the interior

Tatra has it's own Ethernet network, with small 8 port switch under the rear seats and total of 4 outlets in the armrest and the middle console. If a passenger has a laptop computer, he/she can connect to the network to access data on car's hard disk or share the PowerMac's internet connection. The PowerMac is also equipped with an AirPort card, that can be used for connection to Wi-Fi networks wherever available. This possibility is mainly used for smaller updates and software/data download from my home network or for internet connection at places with public hot-spots (such as selected Shell fuel stations).

Software upload via ethernet plug in the rear armrest

On places without Wi-Fi coverage, the computer uses a GPRS telephone over Bluetooth interface for internet connection. Of course the speed is significantly lower, but still sufficient for traffic situation and weather data update or e-mail check. Last summer this feature saved me and my company quite a lot of trouble (and money) when I was able to solve a potentially very serious problem from a parking place on a highway in the middle of Germany.


Computer uses both standard and custom applications. Basically I tried to use standard applications whenever possible. The custom applications mostly only provide simplified user interface to standard applications and some car-specific functions (like display of the vehicle data - speed, consumption etc.).

The main application itself, called simply Tatra.app does not actually do anything related to the car functions. Instead it is a host application, that provides services for plug-ins/bundles. Each of these bundles can then implement one or several functions. The main applications loads the bundles, runs their code and handles the i/o operations for them.

All the custom software is written in Cocoa. The main application was designed and written by Ondra Čada, I have used this opportunity to learn Objective C from him and later written most of the plug-ins.

The main application runs in full screen mode and hides the standard menu bar, as well as the dock.

The screen is divided into several parts. On the top of the screen, there is a space for what we call a "compass module". The middle and biggest part contains 8 slots, each of which can be used by modules to display information and user interface elements. The bottom bar provides space, in which modules can display icons.

When the applications starts, it loads all installed modules. All loaded modules become active at once. There are several basic types of modules:
1. GUI-less modules. These are mostly used to receive information from external devices (GPS receiver, on-board microcontroller). This information is then processed and broadcasted to other modules (thru Cocoa notification system, for which the application provides several services). Although these modules have no GUI and cannot be displayed in the slots, they can still display pop-up alert windows and icons.

2. "Normal" modules. They are always active, have GUI, that can be displayed in one of slots. Typically these modules are subscribed to notifications sent by "source" modules, process and display the broadcasted data. Typical examples of these modules are current speed, current consumption or fuel status module.

3. "multi-instance" modules are very similar to "normal" modules, except for the fact, that more copies of each can exist. A typical examples of such modules are stop watches, distance counters, average speed modules etc. For example if two distance counters exist, one can be used to count total trip distance, the other one can be used to count distance between fill-up stops.

One of the night software development sessions

User can select which modules will be installed in eight slots of the main window. Even a module, that is not currently displayed or has no user interface in any slot can display urgent messages or status information, using either icons or pop-up windows. The main application also provides the modules with ability to speak messages (thru Apple's text to speech technology). Spoken feedback allows user to work with the computer even without looking at the screen.

Some modules can be "activated" - this means made responsive to the user's commands. Following picture shows an MP3 player module. In the normal state, the module displays information about track currently being played. In the "active" state, the module displays a dialog box, which allows user to pause the playback and select the track and playlist to be played. All these functions are controllable by the PowerMate rotating controller.

A module can optionally have a special "setup" part, which is available thru main application in its "setup" mode. Unlike the main window and activated modules, it cannot be controlled by PowerMate, but requuires standard keyboard and mouse input. Since this mode is not supposed to be used whilst driving, the need of mouse and keyboard is not considered a problem. Next picture shows the setup mode for a temperature module.

The application uses OS X's defaults system to store information about current configuration (ie. which module is placed in each slot, what track is currently being played etc.). This allows the applicaton to "remember" the setup and restore the recent state after it has started up.

List of the modules I currently use:
- current speed
- current consumption
- fuel status (consumed from last fill-up, remaining, range)
- fuel counter (resettable, multi-instance)
- distance counter (total)
- distance counter (resettable, multi-instance)
- stop watch (resettable, multi-instance)
- countdown (multi-instance)
- vehicle data input (GUI-less, reads data from on-board systems)
- temperature module (internal CPU temperature and sensors in car)
- MP3 player (controls iTunes using AppleScript)
- System (switching between apps, turning power off, night display mode)

Block scheme - click for large view


Navigation is handled by Route 66 (currently Route 66 Europe 2004 Professional to be exact). Although this application was certainly written to be planning rather than navigation software, it does the job well. The database of Europe is really good, there is support for NMEA GPS devices and last, but not least can receive information about current traffic situation over internet TMC servers (available for UK, Benelux, Germany and Italy). On the other hand, Route 66 is not easy to control with simplified controllers (does not use hotkeys, that are easy to emulate), the displayed map is also less clear to read than map in specialized navigation hardware and the worst problem is that Route 66 only displays the map "north up", while most navigation systems work with "track up" display, which is more logical and gives the driver much better overview of current situation ahead. With "north up" map display, driver must constantly pay attention to the direction, indicated by little arrow and make necessary mental calculations (when driving south, right turns are left on the screen and vice versa).

Movie player

To allow video playback on the rear monitor, I have decided to develop another application just for this purpose, since for several reasons, implementing a movie player as a module in the main application would cause some problems. For example I would not be easily able to re-route the audio output to a separate speakers or headphones.

Like the main application, my movie player is also written in Cocoa, also runs in full screen mode and uses simple user interface, controllable either by PowerMate controller or infrared remote controller. It can display the main window on any connected screen, so it can be used on the primary screen in the dashboard as well as on the secondary rear screen.

Since it uses the standard NSMovieView user interface element, the application can play movies in all formats, supported by QuickTime. It only provides basic playback functions. Choose a movie, play it, pause it.

Future plans

At this time (winter 2003/2004) I am working on integration of GPS/GSM hardware module, that also has several I/O lines and an one-wire bus. This device can extend functionality of car alarm, allow me to control the independent gas heating remotely with an SMS message, report the position of the car in case of problems etc. By the way - anyone knows how to replace standard loginwindow application in OS X with my own one?

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Autor: kmotr Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 13:20
Odpovědí: 0

Can't wait 'till this article gets slashdoted :-D

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RE: /.ed

Autor: Nasi Peretz Muž

Založeno: 14.03.2009, 04:23

Great installation. I did my installation as well and completed it a couple of days ago, it's on a Porsche Cayman S 2007... here are the pics:












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Autor: NOG-K Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 15:15
Odpovědí: 0

Noo je to vazne super.. hlavne pro lidi co moc neumi anglicky..!.

To se vam neco povedlo..!..

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Autor: Paja Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 15:25

Je tam odkaz na ceskou verzi, takze bych se zdrzel teto kritiky. Pro me je naopak to ze je clanek v anglictine vyborna prilezitost pokecat s Finama v saune o tom na co vsechno se da Mac vyuzit a nemusim jim pracne vysvetlovat nektere detaily :-) protoze to JJ udelal za me :-)

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Its just cool ...

Autor: Paja Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 15:21
Odpovědí: 0

My first reakction was wow :-) i think that anyone said it when G5 was coming.

Now Iam in Finland and I like will show to my Finnish coleagues, what is possible to make with Macintosh and Czech car.

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it's not just cool...

Autor: Bela Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 16:38
Odpovědí: 0

You have some serious expertise there.

As far as I can tell, you have vision, engineering abilities for both electronics/interfacing and handycraft, you have a sense of coherence (very rare these days), your GUI designs appear professional and your programming skills seem well developped.

Plus... the project makes absolute sense and one should imagine that if Apple were to build cars, this is the kind of integration they would strive for.

Congratulations and thanks for the excellent entertainment!

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Autor: Woody Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 17:23
Odpovědí: 0

This is spectacular. I had wondered what "home brew" electronics guys would do in the digital age, and now I know. The demise of Heathkit was not the end of the world! Keep it up!

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Have you thought of further possibilities?

Autor: Eduo Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 17:54
Odpovědí: 0

Hey! This is a great project. Congratulations on it!

Have you thought of future plans for it? Going beyond the original scope?

I say this because just a few days ago I was about to post some comments in Macslash with this exact idea (although as I have recently moved to Spain I don't have a car yet).

The greatest idea was to make a host application that can take modules. This is harder at the beginning but much better than trying to make iTunes and other programs fit into a small LCD screen.

I think you could try considering making a little API of your host application and open it to the public (the API, not the program), so other people can develop modules. If you don't want to release it for free you could charge a shareware fee for it and give free serial numbers to people that create modules that are "allowed" in the repository.

If the API is flexible enough you might find a lot of the functionality you currently want being developed by third parties.

Also, you may want to consider a keyboard mapping application (or the one included in Panther) for controlling Route66 and assigning keyboard shortcuts where there aren't.

Finally, you may want to look into Mplayer and/or VLC which allow for their classes to be called and can recognize a lot more video codecs than Quicktime (you could use it to view WMV or DivX Video when needed and let Quicktime handle the other codecs).

I'd bet the first module that comes up is a wardriving module (based on KisMac, for example) that finds and records wireless networks with their GPS coordinates for emergencies..:)

ing that would pop pretty quickly are modules for listening and controlling satellite radio like the ones available in the US and Mexico (XM Radio, for example, which has a USB receiver).

Lastly: Which keyboard are you using? I have tried finding a small keyboard with embedded trackball without luck. I currently have a Gyration RF one with gyroscopic mouse (can be used in the air, instead of over a surface, while also being optical) but although I love the keyboard the mouse is cumbersome.

tions again on your great project.


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RE: Have you thought of further possibilities?

Autor: JJ Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 20:02

Thanks for the feedback and the praise. I did not expect that to be honest...

The software will go OpenSource shortly. The only limiting factor is my time. There is very rich API already so it should not be a big problem for others to write the modules.

Regarding the keyboard: I am using Macally's i Web Key infrared keyboard (I am not sure it is still available), that also has built-in trackpoint. I am currently looking for a small Bluetooth or RF keyboard, but so far I have not been able to find one.

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RE: RE: Have you thought of further possibilities?

Autor: Eduo Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 20:10

Have you tried looking into Gyration? They're RF and come with varying ranges.

I have one and it has worked great. I got a set of keyboard and mouse but that was some time ago. They may have a better solution now. The keyboards are tiny but very usable and very lightweight. The mouse I have is optical and gyroscopic (can work in the air by moving the hand around while pressing a trigger-button).


If you do release this make it very public.

Also, I can tell you right now, one of the first things people will ask for is skinning, theming, so you may want to put some infrastructure for that to avoid people meddling with NIB files. I've been in the car-mod scene for a while (mostly Unix and Windows) and this is one of the first things that come up..:)


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RE: RE: RE: Have you thought of further possibilities?

Autor: JJ Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 20:40

Thanks for the Gyration tip. The hardware looks good to me, however I am a bit worried because Mac is not mentioned at all on their site. I would not like to spend some 180 USD to get Windows-only stuff...

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RE^4: Have you thought of further possibilities?

Autor: eduo Muž

Založeno: 23.01.2004, 01:56

I can vouch for the keyboard and mouse. If you use the microsoft drivers for keyboards you can even map the multimedia keys. I have the keyboard here and I can try it, if you want. I know it worked once and those keys can also be mapped for other functions.

I have taken a picture of the keyboard on top of my 12" powerbook, if you want to check dimensions:


I'm not sure, but I think the Microsoft keyboard drivers can be used with this keyboard to make the keys work. I'll try it now and let you know. If this is the case it would be useful for such a project.

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RE: RE: RE: RE: Have you thought of further possibilities?

Autor: Phoenix Muž

Založeno: 23.01.2004, 08:40

System compatibility by the Ultra GT Compact Keyboard Suite on gyration.com says:
"Macintosh system running OS 8.0 or later (right mouse button and keyboard hotkeys not functional on Mac. GyroTools software is Windows only)."

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RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Have you thought of further possibilities?

Autor: Eduo Muž

Založeno: 23.01.2004, 15:57

I am using it. Right now. THe mouse works perfectly in gyroscopic mode or optical mode. The keyboard works perfectly as a keyboard. You don't get access to the multimedia keys as you would in a microsoft keyboard as the drivers don't work with it (I checked) but the keyboard and mouse work as they should.

The mouse works completely, right button and scrollwheel as well.

Try always to notice when a manufacturer puts "unsupported" or "does not work with mac" or "for Windows only" for what it most of the time actually means: "We didn't get a mac to try it out, we don't know how to program for mac, we paid good money for a Windows certification but it excludes us from accepting it can run in other OSes" and several other marketing and legal phrases...:)

I bought it without even looking twice. It's a keyboard. It's a mouse. They WILL work in my mac. At least at the basic level (again, mltimedia and internet keys don't work, and if the mouse had 4th and 5th buttons they wouldn't work either without USB Overdrive). Maybe we casn convince Levi Montalcini to support multimedia and internet keyboards in USB Overdrive..:)


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RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: Have you thought of further possibilities?

Autor: Daniel Muž

Založeno: 01.05.2004, 21:22

Interlink Electronics has a RF wireless keyboard with integrated pointing device. They list Mac OS 8 and above support although don't know if it specifically support Mac OS X.

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RE: Have you thought of further possibilities?

Autor: Jan Mikes Muž

Založeno: 26.01.2004, 19:03

By the way, MPlayer is another czech piece of work... You can contact autor (Jan Devera) of that ported app. I think that he could help you iculde MPlayer in.
Pánové, tak tohle se vám povedlo. Chválím a doufám, ze si o vás poctu v Macworldu ;)
Good work :)

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Autor: Michael Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 18:01
Odpovědí: 0

This is an amazing piece of work; I wish I had the skill to perform a similar modification on my car.

In the US we have a televison network called TechTV that deals with all things high-tech. One of last nights shows had a short story about someone in Minnesota trying to do a mod. like this using Linux. He ran into that same problems with power that you did, but he has yet to solve them.

You should contact the show and see if they might do a story about your work.

Thanks for a great article...

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Check also czech version for more pict. / schemes !

Autor: archaon Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 18:12
Odpovědí: 0

Amazing… Don't forget to check out the older czech version of thi article on http://www.mujmac.cz/art/
for more pistures!

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Autor: Dontspeak Czech Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 18:23
Odpovědí: 0

This is one of the most fantastic things I have ever seen on the Internet. And it seems genuinely useful! Car manufacturers struggled with 'telematics' and have largely either botched it or given up ... and now a do-it-yourselfer comes along and actually makes it work, and in a Tatra, yet!

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Autor: Hmmm Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 19:48
Odpovědí: 0

This is good stuff - looks great and works great!

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Wonderful indeed

Autor: Thomas Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 20:02
Odpovědí: 0

Can't wait to see what other things you build into your car :-)

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Nice Integration

Autor: Terry Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 20:47
Odpovědí: 0

I am very impressed by the concept, design, craftsmanship and depth of knowledge required to make this concept a reality. I also admire the excellent job of translating this article into english. I take my hat off to you, sir!

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Autor: mathue Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 22:20
Odpovědí: 0

That is ones impressive installation. Looks OEM and it's just plain cool. Excellent job!

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Autor: Antonio Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 22:37
Odpovědí: 0

...donde esta version para espanoles ?

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RE: Hola

Autor: kabron Muž

Založeno: 14.04.2004, 14:02

jilipollas español de mierda, inculto, ignorante

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Fantastisch - Fantastic!

Autor: VanDerDekken Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 23:34
Odpovědí: 0

Many Congratulations for the Super engeneering feat and for the excellent article!

VanDerDekken, AMS, NL

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RE: Fantastisch - Fantastic!

Autor: krusty Muž

Založeno: 04.02.2004, 13:32

Absolutely brilliant engineering and execution!
Sometimes I have a mad dream of owning a Tatra, but it's a little hard to do where I live in South Korea!

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Fantastisch - Fantastic!

Autor: VanDerDekken Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 23:35
Odpovědí: 0

Many Congratulations for the Super engeneering feat and for the excellent article!

VanDerDekken, AMS, NL

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RE: Fantastisch - Fantastic!

Autor: JJ Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 23:51


Jirka Jirout, Hillegom/Amsterdam, NL :-)

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Absolutely Awesome!

Autor: ssci Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 23:40
Odpovědí: 0

As a Canadian auto enthusiast and someone who has long been fascinated by Eastern European cars of the Communist era, I am blown away by this project. The breadth of abilities and depth of expertise needed to make the Tatra-Mac a reality is astonishing. It really makes me wonder what the heck your day job is!

I note in the photos also that the Mac is only one of several obvious major upgrades you have performed to this most unique Tatra. The dashboard and seats -- heck even the trim and finish inside the front "trunk" reflect an extremely high level of craftsmanship.

This project would have been impressive in a modern day luxury car; the fact that you accomplished it all on such an unusual platform (the Tatra) makes the result extraordinary indeed.


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RE: Absolutely Awesome!

Autor: JJ Muž

Založeno: 22.01.2004, 23:59

Thanks. As mentioned in the article, I did create a new dashboard from scratch, however, the Recaro seats were original in my T613. My car probably got them as first, as it was made specificly for Frankfurt show in 1993. Later these seats (Recaro Ergomed D) were used in few more T613s and T700s - I personally know 4 Tatras with Recar seats. According to Tatra price list, Recaro seats were available as option for about 200.000 CZK (about 8.000 USD today, or two average annual salaries in Czech republic at that time).

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RE: RE: Absolutely Awesome!

Autor: Dave Muž

Založeno: 23.01.2004, 07:26

Sorry about English, but I only speak that and French, and as such, will use the former.

All I can say is that my jaw dropped further down, the more I read in to your article. For all of the work involved, I am glad the reward was as sweet as it turned out for you, and I wish you many years of great service from the auto. By the way, thinking of going into production with it? I am quite sure there is a market for it, judging in part from the responses on the thread. True craftsmanship, in such a great application. Do see if you can get Apple to make some sort of note of this, as one would think they would even be able to mount an advertising campaign regarding what users were able to do with a macintosh (or a few for that matter.) Have fun with the driving, not sure I would have an apartement if I owned such a car!

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Autor: Bob Hentges Muž

Založeno: 23.01.2004, 07:38
Odpovědí: 0

That is truly amazing. Where can I get one of these ;-)
Just kidding. No really that s probably the most impressive work I have ever seen to have been done on a car.
wow and congratulations.

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replace loginwindow

Autor: jerome Muž

Založeno: 23.01.2004, 11:00
Odpovědí: 0

The best option is not to replace login window, but to automatically log in with your own user and add your application in the startup items.

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RE: replace loginwindow

Autor: MrFX Muž

Založeno: 23.01.2004, 11:10


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RE: replace loginwindow

Autor: Edgar Muž

Založeno: 24.01.2004, 13:25


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Autor: Greg Muž

Založeno: 23.01.2004, 11:12
Odpovědí: 0

Can you please email me at ghulands@framedphotograph
ics.com, I have written some software, although unfinished, you maybe interested in it.


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dobra prace, dobra reklama

Autor: brw Muž

Založeno: 23.01.2004, 13:35
Odpovědí: 0

jsem moc moc hrdej.. diky jj :)

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Behold the iCar!

Autor: Peyton Muž

Založeno: 23.01.2004, 16:25
Odpovědí: 0

This thing is so cool! Wow!

I have to give a compliment to the guy who customized this car. I'll never be satisfied with my car again after reading this. Wish I had the technical skills to pull off half of what he did. (Then again, I've never heard of a Tatra before)

gton, DC USA

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Brilliant!!! :)

Autor: Sverrir Muž

Založeno: 24.01.2004, 00:05
Odpovědí: 0

Great job.
Whish I had the time and miles(of land) to justify that kind of a change to my car :)

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How can I contact the author? (From MacWorld magazine)

Autor: Cyrus J. Farivar Muž

Založeno: 24.01.2004, 00:24
Odpovědí: 0

I'm from MacWorld magazine in California and I'd like to contact the author of this piece. Does he speak English? If not, I can try to find some people I know here who speak Czech. We're all REALLY impressed with it.

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RE: How can I contact the author? (From MacWorld magazine)

Autor: LSDiesel Muž

Založeno: 24.01.2004, 02:18

Jiří Jirout
e-mail: jj@metro.st

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Autor: d d bette Muž

Založeno: 24.01.2004, 01:39
Odpovědí: 0

Why did you not use a real computer?

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RE: Howcome

Autor: LoneStar Muž

Založeno: 24.01.2004, 07:38

Probably because he didn't want to have to reboot everytime he changed 'drivers' or reinstall everything every 3 months.

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RE: Howcome

Autor: Pipps Guarnera Muž

Založeno: 28.01.2004, 11:55

You got to be kiddin' , are you really serious ?
Gosh . . .

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RE: Howcome

Autor: Roman Kanala Muž

Založeno: 02.02.2004, 23:56

Real computers run Unix. Mac OS X is Unix. MS-DOS is not Unix.

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Move to the States, get a job doing this

Autor: Piotr Pienkowski Muž

Založeno: 24.01.2004, 04:31
Odpovědí: 0

Since you obviously like this stuff, you could easily getting a job doing this type of work and developing this stuff in the States. Your design is clear and organized, and altogether much better put together then the BMW iDrive or the Mercedes-Benz system, both of which I have extensive experience with and are difficult to use. This could be a new thing for you.

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RE: Move to the States, get a job doing this

Autor: Chuck Humbertson Muž

Založeno: 24.01.2004, 11:26

Heck, the designers and installers can get their own reality TV show here in the States. Don't let someone else steal your idea!

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Price details?

Autor: Socki Muž

Založeno: 24.01.2004, 08:57
Odpovědí: 0

Everything is great, but it would be awesome to outline some of the different costs for the parts, custom parts, etc. I'd like to know how much the whole thing together set you back! ;)

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Mad Max meet Mad Mac...

Autor: Matt Muž

Založeno: 24.01.2004, 17:03
Odpovědí: 0

You've found a way to combine a PowerMac and a Tatra???


Virgina, U.S.A

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Excellent Job well done and Mac at it's best!

Autor: cigarman Muž

Založeno: 24.01.2004, 20:14
Odpovědí: 0

Let me first of all congratulate you with your iCar ;)
simple in the Apple tradition, fourthcommig and groundbreaking this effort of you by buliding in such in a car.
Keep us simple mac-devotees informed on your future habits regaring the Mac.
You are really a "Think Different" mac-fan!

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power supply?

Autor: Daniel Muž

Založeno: 24.01.2004, 22:49
Odpovědí: 0

what brand is that 12v power supply? Were can I find it?

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RE: power supply?

Autor: JJ Muž

Založeno: 25.01.2004, 16:44


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Great article! Why is it optimized for 1600x1200 though??

Autor: NakiBest Muž

Založeno: 25.01.2004, 20:01
Odpovědí: 0

It's quite awkward scrolling left & right all the time...

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Nice, very tight

Autor: arfurvirus Muž

Založeno: 25.01.2004, 21:38
Odpovědí: 0

Good work. There must be a demand for this in the private sector. Great business idea.

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Great Business Idea

Autor: lkstrlls Muž

Založeno: 25.01.2004, 21:41
Odpovědí: 0

'Mericans would eat this up.

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Tatra/Mac an obvious symbiosis

Autor: colin Muž

Založeno: 25.01.2004, 22:07
Odpovědí: 0

I had heard about your efforts some time ago but this is the first time I have found the website. Owning A Tatra 2-603 for 15 years now and Macs for slightly less time I similarly share your interests although NOT your skill when it comes to the Amazing things you have done with the Mac architecture. From my visits to Czech Republic I get the idea that Mac has a low penetration in all sectors. Am I wrong?

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software available?

Autor: Scott Muž

Založeno: 26.01.2004, 02:30
Odpovědí: 0

First let me say what an amazing job you did. That is awesome i have been wondering about doing the same type of thing to my new car when i get it. Although i must say i never imagined somehting so advanced would be possible. i was wondering if you had made any custom progrmas available for download

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RE: software available?

Autor: JJ Muž

Založeno: 26.01.2004, 17:24

Not yet, but give me few days. I will make the software OpenSource and post it somewhere on the web within a week.

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RE: RE: software available?

Autor: Scott Muž

Založeno: 26.01.2004, 20:18

Good stuff. Thats awesome. I release a lot of stuff that i work on open source also and i think its awesome that you are willing to contribute.

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Autor: Dave Muž

Založeno: 26.01.2004, 07:48
Odpovědí: 0

Very interesting article on the mac installation and the car! I didn't know an air cooled V8 existed. I'm a big fan of VW beetles (I have a 1999 made in mexico). Porsche started working on the Beetle in 1930, but the similarities between the Tatra 570 and the early beetles is obvious.

Great to see a mac used for fun stuff like this. My spare time project is a mac run telescope controller. I added Applescript support to it and can now control my telescope with my phone via Salling Clicker- see the URL above. Maybe you could do the same with your car ;)

Cheers, and enjoy!

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Richtig Geil

Autor: Dissuser@Tonik Muž

Založeno: 27.01.2004, 22:39
Odpovědí: 0

Das Auto ist wohl sau fett, echt Respekt!

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complimenti dall'Italia

Autor: Pipps Guarnera Muž

Založeno: 28.01.2004, 11:48
Odpovědí: 0

Simply amazing outstanding job !

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V zahranici

Autor: Barnabas Muž

Založeno: 28.01.2004, 12:16
Odpovědí: 0

V zahranici z toho bylo docela veselo. Uz dlouho se tak nepobavili nad nafoukanosti a nevkusem cechu.

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RE: V zahranici

Autor: Martin Ler Muž

Založeno: 28.01.2004, 12:37

Muzete specifikovat o cem mluvite? diskuse na MacSlash, /. a i ostatne prispevky tady jsou z 95% o jednom - ze to je uzasne. Takze opravdu netusim co vas vedet k tomu ze shazujete snahu autora. Napada me jedna typicky ceska vlastnost.

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Autor: benny lootens Muž

Založeno: 28.01.2004, 13:40
Odpovědí: 0

just beautiful ! you could earn a lot of money by commercialising this. go for it !

benny lootens

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hodnoceni :)

Autor: J.P. Muž

Založeno: 28.01.2004, 15:49
Odpovědí: 0

Skoda ze tu neni vysvetleno take zpusob hodnoceni clanku. Jinak by jiste dopadlo lepe :)

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RE: hodnoceni :)

Autor: JaS Muž

Založeno: 29.01.2004, 09:48

Ano, ano. Anglosaský způsob je bodovat ne známkovat, alespoň u většiny případů.

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Autor: Ernesto Muž

Založeno: 28.01.2004, 23:54
Odpovědí: 0

I fell in love with old Tatras while visiting Praha this winter, so beautiful and crazy shapes. And I'm a Macaddict myself, so I'm amazed by this crazy and beautiful idea of mixing these two outstanding machines... Mentioned you in my photoblog today!
Cheers from Paris,

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USB server

Autor: Steve Schaffran Muž

Založeno: 30.01.2004, 16:21
Odpovědí: 0

You've done a very nice job with that car. Thought you'd be interested in a new device that Keyspan will ship in April. It is a USB server that connects as a node on an ethernet network. Info here http://www.keyspan.com/ne

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Autor: David Muž

Založeno: 08.02.2004, 19:07
Odpovědí: 0

Hey nice job...cool stuff. Did you happen to release that software yet... If so can you please post the link...

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RE: software

Autor: JJ Muž

Založeno: 09.02.2004, 00:05

I have made the very first release, the files can be downloaded here: http://sourceforge.net/pr
ojects/dash-mac/ This release is just to give an idea about how the software is built. More civilized release (fully XCode, separated projects for particular modules etc.) will be posted at the end of February.

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RE: RE: software

Autor: Menno Muž

Založeno: 17.03.2004, 09:17

Is your software allready available? I am no programmer, so wil it have an GUI?

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Autor: Matthew McGraw Muž

Založeno: 12.02.2004, 22:00
Odpovědí: 0

i am blown away by your work on this car. the style and engineering are impecable. Thanks so much for posting this article in english to share your passion with the rest of the world.

With much respect,

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open source.... when? where?

Autor: kerrin Muž

Založeno: 13.02.2004, 05:56
Odpovědí: 0


great work! i am inspired to do a similar project in my truck.

when do you forsee making avalible the code as opensource?
and where do you plan on hosting the opensource project?



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RE: open source.... when? where?

Autor: J.P.Lab Muž

Založeno: 15.02.2004, 15:05

try this link... maybe help You for your project.

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Why not use a Powerbook with 2 external monitors?

Autor: David Muž

Založeno: 26.02.2004, 23:39
Odpovědí: 0

This is certainly one of the coolest hacks I have seen. But a PowerBook would certainly be a better choice than a PowerMac for your needs: just the PB's ability to really go to sleep and wake up in a few seconds is well worth it. Also the size, and the power consumption are far more convenient.

You say that you decided not to use a PB because "it cannot easily handle two external screens". Well, I beg to disagree. I think that using a CardBus (PC Card) interface to drive the front display is perfectly viable and easy. The back display is a little more demanding (because of the movies, etc), so I recommend you use the built in port for it.

You can connect such a card to any PB with a CardBus slot, including your Ti PB, or the 15" and 17" Al PBs. Both the internal screen and the external screen port will still be available, so you will end up with three screens instead of two.

One such card can be found here:


It costs US $245 in the USA, and they have a distributor in the Czech Republic (although I'm not sure if their prices are acceptable for you). I hope this helps!

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what brand of LCD monitor did you use?

Autor: kris Muž

Založeno: 07.04.2004, 05:52
Odpovědí: 0

was just wondering what type of LCD screen you used and where you purchased it?

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Update your homepage please

Autor: defender90 Muž

Založeno: 24.05.2004, 22:25
Odpovědí: 0

How are you doing on your project? Sometimes I look at your page, but there are no changes.

Check out the CarMac pages: http://carmac.acmelab.org

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Sensors info

Autor: Dalen Muž

Založeno: 04.08.2004, 06:14
Odpovědí: 0

I am hoping to get more information about some of the hardware sensors used on this project. What kind are they and where can they be purchased? I also saw the site for the microcontroller, but I don't understand Czech. What exactly does the microcontroller do and how is it interfaced to the rest of the system?

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Autor: E. Rackovsky Muž

Založeno: 26.08.2004, 01:07
Odpovědí: 0

Your setup is incredible! You set it up in such a way that there is much room for expansion and improvement (although I think none is necessary).
It occured to me that you could add a few thing to make your carputer more functional: You could add USB and FireWire ports to the cabin. Therefore, you could hook up an iPod or another device from within. With some changes in the front end application, or possibly a link to iTunes, you could use your entire music library while driving!
The same principle could appy to a digital camera on a trip. And when you are sitting parked, you could just have the screen disply pictures from your library!

E. Rackovsky

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Autor: philip lohues Muž

Založeno: 28.09.2004, 19:00
Odpovědí: 0

great gadget!!!
nice job!!!!

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New interface app...

Autor: Martim Muž

Založeno: 14.03.2005, 15:41
Odpovědí: 0


Give it a try! Not near as complete as this Tatra, but hopefully, step by step and with everybody's input we can try and reach something like it.

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wow, tak SG je všude... :-)

Autor: Samia Muž

Založeno: 08.05.2005, 17:50
Odpovědí: 0

fakt zírám...dokonalý, kdyby to bylo rovnou i s tou sedmou řadou jakou bonusem :-)...

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Autor: Garrett Muž

Založeno: 05.10.2005, 08:00
Odpovědí: 0

Hey as a fellow NERD here, well that what my wife calls me anyways, I have a few questions for you. I installed my mac in my truck and I also have a reverse camera. I was told that it wont work when I want to put it into reverse, that is the reverse camera wont come on automatically. I have the Xenarc 1020 YV 10.2\\\" TFT Monitor w/ VGA & AV Inputs. So is this true. I have an Alpine CDA -9855 as my stereo pre amp.

Second question for ya is; have you had problems with the Mac Mini HD failing or messing up because of driving and bouncing of the HD. Mine just died and I was told thats why, although it could just be bad luck lol. Anyways any advice would be GREATLY appreciated.



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Autor: Martin Muž

Založeno: 25.11.2005, 02:08
Odpovědí: 0

toto je sila, som sice na Alfa Romeou, ale mozno by som vedel prezliect kabat. Vsetka cest autorovi, bolo to moc prace.


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You've found a way to combine a PowerMac and a Tatra???


Virgina, U.S.A









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