Raspberry Pi project – the Camputer (Part 1)

raspberry Pi kit for my camper van in-vehicle computer

I’m building an in-vehicle computer for my camper van. I wasn’t sure whether to blog about this here or on my Camper van blog, but as the project will initially be about software, i’ll start here, then move over to the campervan blog when I get to the point of installing it.

Why does a campervan need an on-board computer?

Well obviously it doesn’t need a computer, but here are a few things i’d like to do with it:-

Media system

I don’t have many CD’s these days, so I currently use my phone or an ipod to provide music to the stereo system, but it is a bit of a faff, fiddling around with cables and chargers and stuff. I’m also pretty disorganised with my music collection and have several small collections spread out over different iTunes libraries etc. It’s also a pain (not to mention dangerous) to operate a touchscreen while driving. The main requirements for my ideal music system therefore are:-

  1. All my music in one library
  2. Physical buttons to play/stop and skip tracks (a bit like an iPod shuffle)

I have in mind a set of switches and buttons on the dash that I can operate by feel. Aswell as the basic functions listed above, there might be toggle switches for different playlists or genres.

The media system could have a small monitor or LCD display, but should be able to be operated using only the buttons. Other operations (such as creating playlists etc.) I would envisage a web interface, VNC or maybe plugging in a monitor and keyboard.

I haven’t decided what media player software i’ll use, but hopefully there is something with a decent api that I can hook my custom controls to.

I’m thinking mainly music, but with a ceiling mounted pull-down monitor it could also drive a (motor)home cinema system in the future,

Engine diagnostics

I have a bluetooth OBII adapter that I use with the Torque Android app. From a quick google around, people are using them with a Pi, so i’d like to set up some logging.

Security/ Tracking

It would be great to have the Pi send location updates to my server, to tie in with my travel blogging. It could also potentially be useful if the vehicle gets stolen, or I lose it in an unfamiliar town!

Remote switching of the heater

My camper has an on-board propex-heater, so the Pi could potentially be used as a thermostat or to switch the heater on from a web/ phone app.


So far I have:-

So the first phase will be to decide on an OS and media player and work out how to control it using physical switches – watch this space!

Follow-up posts:

Part 2: RaspBMC installation

Part 3: The Camputer Part 3 – API hacking