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A problem I see

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  • A problem I see

    Been piecing together my carputer for a while now and one of the problems I see is the lack of integrated components.

    It's great that there are lots of custom hardware solutions, but having separate boxes for all of them is really cumbersome.

    I have a MJS Sirius interface box. Works just fine. I have a USB hub. Works just fine. I have a Sirius SC-C1 receiver. Works fine. Some of us have an audio selector box. And for a lot of us the list goes on.

    While we can't re-engineer some things like the Sirius receiver, integrating these functions into one box would be a tremendous help.

    Take the MJS Sirius interface box - it's a little over 2 inches square. Nice tidy package. But then you have the USB cable coming out of one side - that adds at least an inch. And the SC-C1 interface cable comes out the other side. It's a bulky cable so that adds another inch to the other side. You've gone from having a nice tidy little box to one with bulky cables sprouting out all different sides.

    The same thing applies to most other devices.

    Because space in cars is quite limited, you have to find little spots to stick all this stuff then run wires all over the place to link them up. It's a mess, it's untidy, and it leads to problems down the road.

    Think OEM - as many functions as possible are integrated into as few boxes as possible. It saves weight, it saves cost and it eliminates a lot of complexity.

    Most of us use a USB hub. Many of us will use a Sirius or XM box. Some of us will use an AUX in switcher.

    Many of these products are from the same manufacturer. So why not integrate these devices? Looking inside of them most of the devices could reside on one PCB. If you have your USB hub, Sirius-USB adapter, Aux switcher all on one board in one box, you've eliminated lots of cables that would normally be needed to interconnect the devices. One USB cable from this box to the computer. One place to bring all your audio connections to. One place for many of these I/O connections to be made.

    I can tell you right now if the Sirius interface board, 6 port USB hub, AUX switcher was all integrated into one 6x2x1" box with the connections all on one side I would spend $200 on it right this second.

    We have the development resources in this community to pull this off at a technical level, and I can only hope that there's a willingness to integrate these devices.

    Last edited by sebberry; 07-23-2011, 02:54 PM.

  • #2
    You run into the age old problem, the more complicated and specific application your device is, the smaller your customer base will be. If you keep the items as individual devices with a wide variety of uses, then you can get more customers to purchase them. As an example: The audio switcher and 12v usb hub are useful to me, but the Sirius stuff is not. So the manufacturer, in order to continue to selling to those like me, would have to produce two lines of products: One all in one, and one individual components. This would cost extra, and drive up the prices of all the products.

    Don't get me wrong, I think it's a good idea, and I tend to redesign and build my own electronics components purely to solve this issue, but on a wide-scale it just doesn't make sense.
    "stop with the REINSTALLS, what do you think we got some lame-o installer!!!" - mitchjs
    My Shop


    • #3
      I would buy it even if it had a couple features that I don't need.

      Look inside the MJS SC-SC-USB box. There aren't $50 worth of components inside of it. But it's worth $50 because it solves a problem: how to get Sirius on the PC.

      Take your application for example: USB Hub, Aux switcher. Assuming it's an auto-grade USB hub, you already have $150 into those two components. Add the $15 the electronics cost in the Sirius box and it's hardly breaking the bank. Deduct the additional wiring mess because the components would be interneally wired to the USB hub at the PCB level and you have a device that solves a big problem for people: Space.

      It would be worth it for me to have features in the box that I might not currently want in exchange for 1) the tidyness of the install and 2) future capabilities.

      For example: Right now I don't want a USB relay box to turn on and off LED lights in my footwells. But if I have that feature already integrated into this "all in one super box" I might actually want to add footwell lights since it would be an easy, clean installation without adding more devices.

      The problem for me in my car is space. I simply don't have room to stick all these little boxes all over the place with wires coming out at all different directions.


      • #4
        DIY. And I don't mean that sarcastically. You've identifed what you want and what your preferred form factor is. Now find a local guy that's good with a soldering iron and have him take the pieces you have and put them together the way you want. I'll bet you could get your custom-built, usb/sirius/whatever box for about $200. Maybe cover it in purple velour for you, too!



        • #5
          Imagine if for all the carPC specific products that are now available someone said "Nah, no demand for that idea, just DIY".. we'd have next to no commercial products available.

          Come on, I know there are lots of installs where people have just stuffed an ATX mainboard in a glove box and made a total spaghetti mess out of all the wires, but that can't be the majority of us here, surely?


          • #6
            remember-- just because it fits your needs doesn't mean that it fits the majority.

            some might only have a need for one of those items-- and if that is the case, they get screwed, complaining that the single offering doesn't exist, and that one item that they desire isn't worth $200--i sure wouldn't pay that much just so i could use my sirius, or get a usb hub..

            the products exist because there is a demand for them. the best way to get them to the people is to in a single item-per-package form. it does end up costing a little more, but for the people that only want 1 option, they can have it.

            if the best method for you is to combine everything into 1 enclosure, diy really is your best option..

            now if one module absolutely required the other 2 modules to function, then it is a different story..
            My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
            "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"

            next project? subaru brz
            carpc undecided


            • #7
              I'm not saying eliminate the individual components, but combining the more common features into one box just makes sense.

              Sure, DIY might be a possibility but most people can't develop products at the IC and PCB level. There's no way I can lift the ICs off the PCB in the SC-C1/USB box, lift the ICs and components off the USB hub PCB, etc... and combine them all into one board. If we could all do that, there wouldn't be a need for the companies that make these devices.

              Here's my conundrum as an example:

              PC case sits under front passenger seat - no room for anything else under the seat
              LCD is in the dash where the factory display would go - Room for perhaps the USB hub behind the screen
              Power supply sits below the factory head unit with a few mm to spare. I might be able to squeese the SC-C1 beside it.
              I have the SC-C1/USB interface that needs to sit somewhere. I could stick it above the SC-C1 next to the power supply under the factory head unit, but because it has cables sticking out two sides it won't fit. Hopefully I can cram it somewhere else.

              My install has stalled because I am having trouble finding spots for the devices I need to make the computer work. A consolidated device would make things a lot easier to install.

              Of course if there was a way to make such an "all in one" device modular so users could simply swap out PCBs based on their specific needs, that would be even better.

              Most of us need a USB hub in the car, so build this device around that. If I could snap in a PCB with the SC-C1 interface, that would eliminate one additional box, two additional cables (power and USB) and overall consume less space.

              Perhaps you don't need the SC-C1 interface, but need the AUX-in switcher instead. Good - don't install the SC-C1 PCB but install the AUX switcher instead. It would snap in with the same PCB-PCB mating connector, and again eliminate cables since the USB and power connections would be made via the PCB mate, not additional cables running all over the place.

              Want a USB relay switching board? Fine, install that PCB into the AIO box, again making the power and host USB connection internally via the PCB mating interface.

              Clearly you won't save much space if you just use one device, but start adding them together and the space/cabling savings would be considerable.


              • #8
                Apologies for wanting a clean, space saving install.

                I just can't see why anyone would want to double the footprint of their install.

                I realize that the components are usually designed with ease of PCB design in mind. I just wish thta the designers would have the foresight to think about how it will be physically mounted in tight locations.
                Last edited by sebberry; 07-25-2011, 01:33 PM.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by sebberry View Post
                  Apologies for wanting a clean, space saving install.

                  I just can't see why anyone would want to double the footprint of their install.

                  I realize that the components are usually designed with ease of PCB design in mind. I just wish thta the designers would have the foresight to think about how it will be physically mounted in tight locations.
                  Your desires and goals are perfectly legitimate, and not unreasonable. There's simply no incentive for a "company" to do it. That's why there are no companies (per se) that make boards or devices like that.. it's all individuals who draw up the designs, make the prototypes, find a maker in China and build 10 or 50. Because that's how big the market is for these things....50, maybe a 100 if you're lucky. Ask Mitch how many UAS units he's sold, or the FusionBrain guys. You think any of these guys actually LIVE on the money they make from building these things (I hope not)? Once the 50 guys that need it have it, that's more sales. Which puts us right back to my original suggestion. Google it or advertise for a guy that does this kind of stuff, describe it just like you described it to us, and have him build it. You get EXACTLY what you want, and the price probably wouldn't be all that bad.



                  • #10
                    Trust me, if I could design circuits myself and code the software to make it function, program ICs, etc.. I would have done that a long time ago and sent the design to someone to build it.