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Can a car-computer replace a stereo head unit?

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  • Can a car-computer replace a stereo head unit?

    Hey, I dont know so much about car stereo's and hope some of the masters here might help me out w/ some info.

    I have a seperate amp, and plan to use an ITX motherboard (has 1 pci slot) I was thinking I could get a sound card that would have all the same functions as my stereo head unit, and toss my current infinity head unit.

    There has to be a sound card that can:
    -have an output to the amp,
    -work with all my speakers
    -FM tuner
    Anyone know if this is possible?


    I have a 3000GT, and I love the car, but there aint much room inside it... So, I decided to go with a in-dash LCD (10.4 datalux).
    (VS having it mounted some place where it might get smacked, or get in the way)

    So, if the LCD goes in the dash... where does the 4" high Infinity head unit go?... perhaps I can get rid of it and power my speakers off the computer? If I can get rid of the head unit, I can put the ITX computer where the head unit used to be, behind the LCD.

    Am I going to loose audio quality this way?

    1995 SL stock
    Working On: GMAT
    Given Up On: Custom motorized lcd

  • #2
    You can hook your computer up to your amps right from your soundcard if you'd like and use the WinAmp volume as your main volume ( just make sure you turn it down low when you shutdown or else you'll get a loud surprise when it starts playing again on reboot).
    I decided to go with a in-dash LCD (10.4 datalux).
    i don't think you can get a in-dash 10.4", maybe your refering to custom installs here on this board but they are not "in-dash" systems so to speak.
    GTI - Palm IIIe controlled with Radio faceplate hack for keyboard control of WinAmp w/ Vocal Genre playlist loading.
    VW Bus - 10.4" vga lcd. Loaded with same software as above.


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply!

      Yeah, its a custom install. the datalux is an lcd that was part of a police computer... I bought it off ebay. Its just a 10.4" VGA. Once I remove the radio, Im gonna remove the plastic section around the radio, and bolt a padded case for the lcd there (came with the lcd). then some cutout piece of plastic or felt to clear the space between the edeges of the lcd and the dash, then a piece of plexiglass goes over it.

      So, now I know it can be done I have new questions

      1. Do I lose any sound quality by doing this? I know computers... but not audio.. so whats the sound quality difference between a Infinity head unit and a sound card.... which sound card should I buy?

      2. The ITX board has built in sound... how good is that? is that good enough? perhaps I dont even need an extra card? has anyone done this?

      3. Anyone want to sell me some ITX stuff? (mobo, case, etc)

      4. Anyone tried mounting an ITX mobo in the shaft in which the radio used to be housed?

      1995 SL stock
      Working On: GMAT
      Given Up On: Custom motorized lcd


      • #4
        I believe you will find that it is not quite as simple as all that. You cannot just plug your computer into your amp. The problem is that your head unit turns the amp on, so without it installed you will need to simulate its presence in that respect. The easiest way would be to wire the power on line (should be a 12v input) directly to your accessory line. This presumes your computer will always be on when the car is on of course... Anyway, you'll need to keep your eye out for little gotchas like that.


        • #5
          I think if you take time to read more around the forums you will find many answers to your questions.

          I have designed a case to use a double din slot for my computer, but I decided to scrap it and do an under the seat case. Perhaps if I find some more free time in the future I might go at it again.

          Take a look at the car project forum (be sure to go to the bottom and change the date range so you can see all of the projects) You'll see many of your questions answered in peoples project threads.
          aka Kumaneko
          "Don't make me moderate your ***!"
          Maxima of Doom - project thread - photo gallery
          mp3car system is currently FUBAR and finances do not allow for a correction of that situation
          Real computer hackers use a rotary cutting tool on their motherboard.


          • #6
            Another possibility is to run the remote power wire directly to the battery (or other always hot lead), get a 5v relay (w/ 12v in/out, 5v switch) and wire your parallel port for 5v output into the relay. That might be a bit more work thatn you're lookin to do tho.

            I'd recommend using some sort of intermediary audio connection platform as well. I.e. take the line out from the puter into a unit that splits it up into 4 outs... right/left/front/rear. Luxma sells such a beast that also has a TV-Tuner built into it.

            Just some thoughts.

            If you guys are lookin' for lightweight car puters or toys to go with it (LCDs, etc) feel free to stop by our website/online forums.
            Scott Byers, President 5 Speed PC


            • #7
              take a look at media-engine.
              supports radio as well.
              Hope to find out in a week when i get my dlink usb radio card.

              As for the amps:
              get a relay
              place it with the coil between the 12V powerline from your powersupply
              And conact the switch site, one end to the carbatt. and the other to the amp con. that turns the amp on.

              Or if you don't want that use a normal switch and do it manualy
              sproggy 2.8,epia c3-800,20Gb 2.5", 5.6"lcd,touchscreen.


              • #8
                i am not using any head unit for my project. i have the amp remote triggered by the 12v (yellow) wire from the ps through a relay. i have a delay circuit that delays the amp turn-on so that it won't get the computer turn-on thump.

                and as far as the sound i believe that most have chose not to use the on board sound because of the lower output voltage.
                99.9% complete.



                • #9
                  That delay Circuit is slick... Nice clean install man, very well thought out.
                  Scott Byers, President 5 Speed PC


                  • #10
                    Hmmmm, this idea is very tempting to me... mainly because of space constraints (the radio area is the only good place to mount the lcd..)

                    So... The computer is likely to be on most of the time, but it wont always be playing music... so... wont it cause some trouble to have the amp on all the time? Wont I be getting little bits of static as Im driving around w/ the music off?

                    Shouldnt the amp only be on when music is actually playing?

                    Even if I use a time delayed relay, the amp will still always be on when the computer is on, right?
                    1995 SL stock
                    Working On: GMAT
                    Given Up On: Custom motorized lcd


                    • #11
                      1995 SL stock
                      Working On: GMAT
                      Given Up On: Custom motorized lcd


                      • #12
                        Here is the info about how i done it:

                        -The soud from computer goes to a cd player with AUX-in, so I got 3 AUX kables to my amps (F/R/SUb) the soud is great even withoud the amps as.
                        The cd player got inbuild apm at 4x35 RMS so I got inuff power for the soud without apm, but it is really cool to use sub in the car when you are playin matrix and so on.... Good luck with your project.. I will be posting my picture here as soon I get my new Shuttle xpc SN41G2.
                        Project done in: [####################] - 85%
                        - Custom center console
                        - Custom trunk
                        Se my project here


                        • #13
                          I'm not sure how possible it is, but since I have an old head unit that I have already made pull-out (full unit, not just face-off) I wanted to just link it up using Aux in. Then I remembered it didnt have an aux-in so I'm going to have to hack straight into my amp circuits. Then I did the stupid thing and dropped the unit on its face. I smashed the LCD screen and disabled all of the front buttons, but it still plays tapes OK. So now my plan is to pull out the full front of the system as best I can, compress the electronics into the rear of the case and work in my 4x20 LCD and a mini keypad. Then I'll add another socket for removable connections at the back - et voila, full in car system integrated into the head unit.



                          • #14
                            just wire a realy onto the 5 voutput on the molex connecter (hard drive power conecter) then the other side of realy to battery and other side to the amp if not u might have to wire it to the acc to get a live to the amp


                            • #15
                              they is another way to do this they is a thing called a sound switch this would work buy insted of a mic u would jump the spekear out on the sound card it would detect they is sound turn the realy on and amp come on but this might be a pain as when they is no sound ur amp would turn off so if u were listerning to directions ur amp would be on and off al the time