Frequently Asked Questions

Otherwise known as poor man's roadside assistance

Can I buy a Nomadic Pi already made?

For the meantime there is no pre built option as Anthony is still busy travelling around the country.

But look on the positive side, to get a Nomadic Pi to call your own you will only be paying for parts! Not labour!

That said if you stick with the Raspberry Pi Model 3, the official Raspberry Pi touchscreen and the Adafruit Ultimate GPS hat. Everything should just work from the software side of things. You just need to focus on the assembly of the unit and fitting the unit in your car.

I have an XYZ model car where can I mount the Nomadic Pi?

No idea! I don't own an XYZ model car :-( That said if your car maker was nice enough to stick to some standards, mount your Nomadic Pi in a Double Din housing and you should be able to mount it in your centre console.

For the meantime I just have attached my Nomadic Pi to the top of the "jesus bar" in front of the passenger seat. It's by no means the best looking set up. But what it lacks in aesthetics it makes up with being easily accessible for development. Out the way of gear changes while still having the speed visible from the driver's seat.

After our trip is finished the Nomadic Pi will find a proper home in the dash. But while development is still ongoing and the driver has a co pilot to help with music selection on that side of the car. It's just been much easier to leave it out for the time being.

What size SD Card do I need?

Unzipped the image file is 4.5GB in size. So you will need an SD at an absolute minimum big enough to accommodate that. But some spare space is going to be required for updated packages etc. So I would recommend using an 8GB SD card at an absolute minimum.

If you intend on keeping your music on the SD card instead of an external storage device (flash drive, hard drive etc). Do yourself a favour and just buy the biggest you can afford. It will help save you hassle later on.

I have a few changes that would really improve the Nomadic Pi?

The code is all freely available on GitHub. Feel free to submit a pull request for any improvements or bug fixes you make. Happy to get any extra help on the project where possible.

Do I need to copy your hardware setup exactly?

No feel free to use any hardware to hand. If you need to use the Raspberry Pi GPIO port on your car computer. It makes no sense to use the Adafruit Ultimate GPS hat better to use a USB GPS device instead.

Just remember if you are using different hardware to change the startup scripts to reflect the hardware address for your device. Otherwise you won't be able to get a GPS fix.

What is the underlying Operating System behind the Nomadic Pi?

The Nomadic Pi is built on top of the Raspbian OS. It's the officially supported by the Raspberry Pi foundation and is a Debian based distro. Making the installation of new packages and the upgrading of existing packages simple.

Will the Nomadic Pi make me a better driver?

Probably not, especially if you let the "in car wifi" distract you. But having a good selection of music to hand is going to make driving long distances a lot more enjoyable.

I have an unused Raspberry Pi 1 or 2 laying around home, can I use that?

Yes but the experience will be lacking. I originally started building my car computer with a Raspberry Pi 2, it worked and the performance was okay.

Once the Raspberry Pi 3 was released I upgraded my system mainly due to the addition of board WIFI. But the performance boost was dramatic especially when doing anything CPU intensive like listing a large playlist.

Given the price point of a new Raspberry Pi 3. I just don't think it's worth putting up with the lackluster performance of using an earlier model.

At just over 2GB the image file is pretty big can we get a smaller one?

I made an image rather than a installation script. Due to time constraints and if the hardware configuration used is the same as mine it should be work without change.

That said I did play around with the partition sizes to make the image as compact as possible. If anyone has any tips that could reduce the size further. Please feel free to get in contact.


Download the image file, write it to an SD card and get started building the perfect entertainment system for your vehicle.

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