Chris Bergeron's Blog

My projects, rants and general info

Archive for the ‘carputer’ Category

My carputer: The Dashboard PC

Monday, August 17th, 2009

About 10 years ago, I had the crazy idea of putting a personal computer into my car. After much though and some serious planning, I decided to do it. I started the project in 1999 and it’s been evolving ever since. A lot of people may wonder why I wanted to put a personal computer into my car. Well, back when I started the project, there were no iPods or portable music players. Navigation systems for cars only existed in specialty markets (military, super luxury, etc) and nothing provided useful information like traffic conditions. So, I set about installing the computer and customizing it for my needs / desires. The project became wildly popular on the internet and it catalyzed the carputer craze. I blogged about it as I built it and it developed quite a following on-line. It was featured on a popular technology website and later in two books:
Geek My Ride (forworded by Apple co-founder Steve “Woz” Wozniak) and Car PC Hacks. As I built the carputer, I had to develop my own electronic circuit to control power issues in the car. After an overwhelming number of requests to purchase this circuit, I began selling it (the DSSC startup and shutdown controller) via my company Dashwerks, Inc.

I created a website dedicated to the project, dubbed “The DashPC” where you can find more detailed information. DashPC is an amalgam for Dashboard Personal Computer.

Here are some pictures:

I was interviewed in Release 2.0 magazine

Monday, January 21st, 2008

Release 2.0 Magazine interviewed me about my company (Dashwerks, Inc)’s role in the proliferation of open-source technology and how we were able to develop a profitable business model using a hybrid open-source / proprietary business model. My interview is in the Winter 2007 issue.

You can read the current issue here. You can purchase this issue of the magazine for $129.00, or get a 6 month subscription for $495.00.

Release 2.0 Magazine - December 2007

Release 2.0 Magazine - December 2007

Hacking the BMW iBus

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

Our BMW 330Ci uses an on-board bus (called the iBus) for intra-device communication. Hacking into this is relatively simple with an iBus to serial adapter. I recently assembled this unit which I purchased from: I’ll post more after I install it in the Bimmer and start playing with it.

How high gas prices paid for my car

Friday, July 20th, 2007

The stage is set:

I drive my VW Jetta exactly 50 miles a day to and from work. When gas prices started going up in the Summer of 2006, I decided to figure out exactly how much fuel was costing me each workday. So, one morning on the way to work, I stopped at the gas station nearest my home. I filled my tank and reset my trip counter to zero. I recorded the price per gallon ($3 something a gallon!). Then, I drove directly to work, worked, and drove back to the same gas station. I pulled up to the same pump I filled up at that morning. I took note of how many miles I had driven, and sure enough it read almost exactly 50 miles. Next, I refilled my gas tank. It cost me $7. I had burned $7 dollars worth of fuel just going to work and back! That came as quite a shock. I knew gas prices were high, but I never thought that I was spending that much each day. $3 a Gallon?!? Somethings gotta give! After doing some homework on the web (, et al., I decided to buy a much more fuel efficient car (and a soon to be FREE CAR).

Enter the $1,000 commuter car: The 1995 Ford Aspire

Ford Aspire

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My product featured in Car PC Hacks

Monday, November 7th, 2005

Car PC Hacks

The Dashwerks DSSC Startup and Shutdown Controller appears in a great new carputer book by O’Reilly Publishing: “Car PC Hacks: Tips and Tools for Geeking Your Ride” by Damien Stolarz; (paperback – 382 pages; ISBN: 0-5960-0871-0; July 2005).

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My project featured in Geek My Ride

Thursday, April 7th, 2005

Geek My Ride

The Dashwerks Demo Vehicle (the DashPC LinuxCar) appears in a great new carputer book by Wiley Publishers: “Geek My Ride: Build the Ultimate Tech Rod” by Auri Rahimzadeh; (paperback – 500 pages; ISBN: 0-7645-7876-6) in April 2005.

About the Book

The first book of its kind, Extreme Tech’s Geek My Ride is perfect for hardware hackers and fans of shows like “Monster Garage” who are ready to take the plunge and build their own techno-mobile!
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DSSC carputer shutdown controller

Thursday, March 7th, 2002

Carputer shutdown controller

Carputer shutdown controller

The Dashwerks Startup and Shutdown Controller (DSSC™) helps you coordinate the startup and shutdown of your Carputer with your vehicle’s normal start and stop activity. A long asked question in the hobbyist carputer/telematics industry has been one of how to control startup and shutdown of the PC. Fortunately, the DSSC™ is now available to make car computer integration much easier.


  • 5 user adjustable timing controls – designed for vehicle controlled activation of computers, LCD display(s), peripherals, and amplifiers.
  • A “master power” relay (included) – using a powerful external 40A relay provides power to your carputer board, and all of the underlying peripherals (assuming their respective power requirements are met). This primary relay prevents dead car batteries by helping you intelligently manage your power distribution and device initialisation.

  • ACPI switch header – The ACPI header is a 2 pin connector that is designed to connect to the power connector on a computer [motherboard]. We designed this device to be flexible, and as such this header can easily be connected to other motherboard connectors – such as Wake-On-Lan (WOL) and Ring Indicator (RI). The vast majority of motherboards manufactured after 2001 support ACPI. As your vehicle is started this connector will toggle startup and shutdown on your car computer / DashPC™.

  • 5 Indicator LEDs – Designed for status and power indication (and timing adjustment), these leds help you tune the activation and de-activation of on-board devices. In addition, each of the 5 leds features a remote location header. These headers allow you to place the LED’s in locations that are suitable for your installation. Simply install (or have your installer) place a few led’s in your Dash, and connect them to the DSSC™ controller. From your dashboard you’ll instantly know what state your computer / amps / peripherals / etc. are in.
  • “Shutdown” Function – The shutdown function provides 2 methods of properly halting a car computer: the text “SHUTDOWN” will be sent to a serial port when the key is removed from the vehicle (ACCessory line goes low). In addition, an ACPI 1.0 and up compliant signal can be used to power down a computer. Virtually all computers manufactured in the past 5 years are compatible with ACPI. If your computer can “hibernate” or “suspend”, the DSSC™ can be used to safely shutdown your Car PC.

  • Serial port connector – this serial port connector provides an alternate method of shutting down a car computer / DashPC™ unit. By connecting this port of the DSSC™ to an industry standard computer serial port your computer can be halted safely (driver software may be required). Halting your carputer / DashPC™ properly prevents data loss, drive corruption and hardware failure.
  • Reverse Polarity Protection – The DSSC has reverse polarity protection built-in. If someone accidentally reverses the wiring of the DSSC, it won’t destroy the board.

  • Tuning mode – By enabling a jumper on the board, you can put the board into a ‘tuning’ mode. Using the tuning mode you can adjust the timing of the devices without actually toggling them on and off. The tuning mode is a great way to make sure that your devices are turning on in the fastest possible time without actually toggling them on and off.


The DSSC™ is compatible with Windows XP, 2000, ME, 98 and Linux and MacOS X. Any operating system that supports hibernate, suspend and/or sleep can be used with the DSSC. Software drivers for the Serial Port shutdown function are provided for Linux, Windows XP, and Windows 2000. A computer does not need to be ACPI compliant to work with the DSSC. If the computer can be configured to boot on powerup (typically this is set in the BIOS), it will work with the DSSC.

Product Comparison

The DSSC is the only Startup/Shutdown Controller that was developed by Carputer enthusiasts for Carputer enthusiasts. Over 2,400 users helped us design the DSSC with the features that are most important to them. How does the DSSC™ compare to other Startup/Shutdown Controllers? Click here to see how suitable the DSSC is in our product comparison chart.

Installation Diagrams

Application Note #1: Installation with Inverter and ACPI Compatible computer (ATX, ITX, Via Epia, etc)
Application Note #2: Installation with Inverter and computer using Serial Port for shutdown (notebooks, etc)
Application Note #3: Installation with DC/DC Power Supply and ACPI Compatible computer (Carnetix, Opus, etc)
Application Note #4: Installation with DC/DC Power Supply, recent motherboard and Multiple Car Batteries (ATX Motherboard, Via Epias, etc)

Purchasing Information

$49 USD 

Customer Support

To view the online user’s manual (156k PDF) – ( Click Here ).

Software Drivers

Click here to download the DSSC Service for Windows 98, 2000, XP (Thanks to Kevin Lincecum (aka Frodo) for this).
Click here to download the DSSC daemon for Linux (written in Perl by Chris Bergeron).


Shipping to the continental United States is $5.95. We also ship internationally! ( additional shipping fees apply ).

Sales / Customer Support

For questions or customer support, please call 404-647-4966. We can also be reached via