NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet Powered In-Car Infotainment System DIY Project Guide
Mounting The Hardware And Tweaking The Software
Mounting The SHIELD TabletThere are many ways to mount a tablet for easy access from the driver seat. You can use a suction cup, cup holder mount, vent clip or go completely custom. I wanted a factory look and went completely custom, which involved part of a Shield case, dremel, JB Weld, Bondo, Bondo-Glass, and lots of sanding and spray paint.
It's not for the faint of heart and took me about a week to complete, but the end result was worthwhile. I started with a Poetic Revolution case for the NVIDIA Shield Tablet and discarded everything but the front bezel. I cut the factory radio bezel to fit the case's bezel, JB Welded the corners to keep it in place, applied Bondo-Glass for rear reinforcement, Bondo to fill in the front, and did lots of sanding to clean up the appearance. There was a lot of patience and cursing involved, because car projects rarely go smoothly.
Configuring Android On The SHIELD TabletThe easiest part of installing an Android tablet in your car is the software configuration. Since NVIDIA hasn't updated the Shield Tablet LTE with Nougat yet, I force flashed the regular Wi-Fi firmware onto it via fastboot, which breaks the LTE functionality. In exchange, NVIDIA's latest update to the Shield Tablet software added support for a power-related fastboot command. NVIDIA actually added this support per my request - "fastboot oem off-mode-charge 0."
That simple command forces the NVIDIA Shield Tablet to power on automatically when it receives power. Otherwise the Shield Tablet would simply recharge and require a press of the power button to turn on. The importance of the tablet powering on when receiving power is a convenience feature for fixed installations where there access to the physical power button may not be possible.
It also lets you set the tablet to turn off automatically after a set amount of time when not in use and not worry about turning it back on when you get in the car. I have my Shield Tablet set to shut down completely after 6 hours to conserve power because the Jeep is not driven every day.
That simple command requires the Shield Tablet to be in fastboot mode and connected to your PC with the proper ADB drivers installed. It does not require rooting, an unlocked bootloader, or custom recovery, however, and is otherwise unaffected by it.
I still rooted the NVIDIA Shield Tablet to install a power menu app that lets me reboot the tablet when I need to, though (more on that later).
The Infotainment SoftwareGoogle's standalone Android Auto is not officially supported on the NVIDIA Shield Tablet, but BitSpice's Automate is an excellent alternative. Automate lets you replace the default NVIDIA launcher with a full-screen interface.
It also lets you configure task-based actions to execute commands when the tablet receives or loses power. I have mine configured to turn the screen on and enable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when it receives power. I configured the opposite to happen when it loses power, so it can function like a regular car stereo that turns on and off with the car.
Other than Automate, I use Google Maps for navigation with downloaded offline maps, Tidal and PowerAmp for music, and Torque Pro to keep an eye on the car. NVIDIA's addition of multi-window support in Nougat makes it easy to keep Automate and Torque Pro open side-by-side.