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  • Build vs Buy...

    Hey All,

    I'm new to the Car PC world, but have been doing significant research into completly replacing my current stereo system....downloaded FP and some skins last night...VERY cool. I'm looking at all the different options and I keep getting back to the eternal question: should I build a system from scratch or buy a prebuilt system, namely the "carputers" from Xenarc. I really like one of the following systems:

    http://www.xenarcdirect.com/search_r...n=ALL&iLevel=1

    I'm thinking of a 2 GHz Celeron, 512MB RAM, 80GB internal HDD, DVD/CDRW, WinXP and plenty of available ports (couple USB 2.0 or Firewire, PCI slots for wireless, etc). I'm thinking of a couple of external HDDs of 160GB to store MP3, DIVX and misc files....being external will allow my to pull them and sync with my home server. A 7" Lilliput or Xenarc touchscreen in the dash would provide the interface.

    I've got a 350Z with a double din Bose that I'm planning on replacing with this system, using the existing speakers and amps. I've got a couple of "mail slots" behind the seat as well as the double din stereo space that I want to use to house the physical PC.

    I'd like some thoughts on the following:

    1). Build vs Buy?
    2). touchscreen manufacturers and suggestions
    3). configuration "pros and cons"
    4). FM Radio card for car PC...suggestions

    Thanks in advance.

    plan_Z

  • #2
    DOH! Forgot something....

    Can someone provide some suggestions as to the audio setup with car amps? I don't plan on using a head unit, I need some ideas on how a PC would integrate with a car amp. If I needed to pre-amp it with an audio processor, that would work too.

    Budget isn't really an issue, so don't be afraid to be creative!

    plan_Z

    Comment


    • #3
      Here are some answers

      Hey Buddy!
      I remember when i was in your shoes...young...and didnt know much at all about carputers...but hopefully i can enlighten you

      Ok well to answer your questions:
      1. Both of your choices suck! eh...being blaint dont be offended.
      (motherboard)....You need something that everyone likes here... a VIA motherboard..(i have epia-m10000 model) its compact and eats so little power(around 30watts with a harddrive and a keyboard and a mouse)
      (cpu)C3 Nehemiah is good...1 gh but that enough
      (HD/DVD player/etc)..you can customize yourself.
      (computer case) mini-itx is the name and its in many stores and all over the internet for as low as 60$ at fries electronics

      (IF YOU ARE LAZY) If you dont want to be like us and just get a ready made computer, then you are welcome to go here: http://cgi6.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dl...sort=3&rows=50
      **Warning**MANY HERE WILL CONSIDER YOU A CHEAT!AND BUILDING ONE IS CHEAPER TOO

      (Screen) Since you have a double din, you can buy the so popular liliput for 300 bucks(usually with shipping<try ebay>) and then mold it into your double din making the screen look factory with 'Body Filler' most popular made by Bondo. (MORE INFORMATION can be found if you put some effort and search on how to mold it in, here at mp3car.com)

      (configurations)
      In order to run your computer you need POWER! and here is somehting these computer sellers do not tell you. You should get an OPUS, i have it and it does everything! When you start the car, the voltage drops to around 10volts...and the computer will not survive. opus will make sure the computer gets a constant dose of 12 volts while the opus get anywhere from 7v to 18v. also it turns your computer off(or puts it in hibernate) when you take the key out of the car and turns it on when the key is in.

      SOUND: since VIA has a 5/6 channel out you can get two amps(one for subs and second for speakers)...have no time to explain...so i will someone else do that for now. But it can work.
      (I kept my 400$ receiver and plugged the computer into the AUX input and didnt needthe radio card)
      For radio card just search around.
      you can find all the answers here if you search long enough!

      ciao...good luck and have fun
      DICE Los Angeles
      ]

      Comment


      • #4
        Well, if you've got a lot of money to throw out on your car - go ahead and buy a pre-built system. Those look all nice and shiny and great, but they are no fun.
        I for example built my own system, from a stinking old laptop, and it cost me $160 all-in-all. Works fine and I like it. The best part - if it's fried I know how to fix it. If that thing of yours get damaged - you're screwed.
        00 Saturn SL2, boosted @ 8 psi - CarDomain
        Newest install - my quickest ever
        My 2nd carputer - b4 I broke the touchscreen
        My very first carputer - voted the most ghetto

        Comment


        • #5
          "I remember when i was in your shoes...young...and didnt know much at all about carputers...but hopefully i can enlighten you"

          .....ahhh, the blissful days of youth...means alot coming from a 19 year old SoCal guy in a Honda! Thanks for the info.

          While I respect those who would build a system for the sake of the challenge and satisfaction of a job well done, I'm looking for a setup that's a little more functioning and a little less continual maintenance. Having worked in IT for the past 15 years, I'm all about calling 1-800-hey my stuff isn't working!

          Keep the suggestions coming and I'll keep you posted on progress.

          plan_Z

          Comment


          • #6
            So i'm embarassed to admit it, but over the weekend i caught an episode of Pimp My Ride on MTV and they put a really nice looking computer sys in the car. I don't recall what the system was called i think it was something-soft. Maybe autosoft or somethink like that. Maybe MTV's website has info. They put it in an scion xB.

            (edit) It was drivesoft. here's the link
            http://www.drivesoft.net/
            there is also a thread about it here on the board.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by StationRocket
              So i'm embarassed to admit it, but over the weekend i caught an episode of Pimp My Ride on MTV and they put a really nice looking computer sys in the car. I don't recall what the system was called i think it was something-soft. Maybe autosoft or somethink like that. Maybe MTV's website has info. They put it in an scion xB.

              (edit) It was drivesoft. here's the link
              http://www.drivesoft.net/
              there is also a thread about it here on the board.

              Meh, I wasn't all that impressed with the install, there's free software that looks better, and they made no mention of what hardware goes along with it, as well as the fact that in another one of the two dozen threads that talk about that episode and drivesoft, the price of the "system" was stupidexpensive, like 3+ grand.

              and as far a build or buy, its up to you, if you can build a system that would better meet your needs for less, ie space, components, building it into a cubby, build it, otherwise, i dont see anything wrong with just buying a system, whether its a that or a capucino or a shuttle or a c134a based system (all small systems).
              -Nick

              _____________________________
              Since when is insanity a bad thing?
              www.mp3vw.com

              Comment


              • #8
                Well, it appears that you have made up your mind already, so why ask?
                00 Saturn SL2, boosted @ 8 psi - CarDomain
                Newest install - my quickest ever
                My 2nd carputer - b4 I broke the touchscreen
                My very first carputer - voted the most ghetto

                Comment


                • #9
                  well, I wouldn't say I've made up my mind just yet. I'm looking for more than "they both suck"...I'd rather see, "they both suck because...."...pros and cons based on experience.

                  I didn't intend to upset the die hard builders by any means....it's more fun to have an ongoing project rather than plug and play something, but I'm looking more for standardization and reliability. I'm new to car PCs, so I thought I would ask the experts.

                  "Oh please, don't you rock my boat...'cause I don't want my boat to be rockin'" - Bob Marley


                  plan_Z

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by plan_Z
                    well, I wouldn't say I've made up my mind just yet. I'm looking for more than "they both suck"...I'd rather see, "they both suck because...."...pros and cons based on experience.

                    I didn't intend to upset the die hard builders by any means....it's more fun to have an ongoing project rather than plug and play something, but I'm looking more for standardization and reliability. I'm new to car PCs, so I thought I would ask the experts.

                    "Oh please, don't you rock my boat...'cause I don't want my boat to be rockin'" - Bob Marley


                    plan_Z
                    I understand, sorry

                    Well, let's see..


                    Pre-built System:
                    pros: easy installation, good looking.
                    cons: hard and expensive to fix if it breaks, not as "fun" (I guess that depends), might get stolen more easilly, expensive, less customizable.

                    Custom-built System:
                    pros: easy to maintan/upgrade and add features/hardware, more customizable (you can place buttons/switches/circuits that will make your car function like an airplane, no need to worry about voiding the warranty, cheap and fun to build.
                    cons: may be hard to install for a person with little experience, may take time and may at first break down several times before all buggies are fixed.

                    You decide

                    I assume that you are asking because you are either lazy or don't have a lot of experience and have a lot of cash to spend. If that's the case then it would make sense to buy a pre-built one. However, if it was me with all that cash of yours I'd build my own system to suit my needs better.
                    00 Saturn SL2, boosted @ 8 psi - CarDomain
                    Newest install - my quickest ever
                    My 2nd carputer - b4 I broke the touchscreen
                    My very first carputer - voted the most ghetto

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Sorry PLan Z if I upset you, I was just sarcastic a bit and was thinking of the time when i just had the idea in my head wiht no plans. hope all goes well for you, and this 19 year old wishes you best of luck
                      DICE Los Angeles
                      ]

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A little help from the peanut gallery

                        Originally posted by plan_Z
                        "I remember when i was in your shoes...young...and didnt know much at all about carputers...but hopefully i can enlighten you"

                        .....ahhh, the blissful days of youth...means alot coming from a 19 year old SoCal guy in a Honda! Thanks for the info.

                        While I respect those who would build a system for the sake of the challenge and satisfaction of a job well done, I'm looking for a setup that's a little more functioning and a little less continual maintenance. Having worked in IT for the past 15 years, I'm all about calling 1-800-hey my stuff isn't working!

                        Keep the suggestions coming and I'll keep you posted on progress.

                        plan_Z
                        Peanut gallery here.....

                        Hear goes, I too just did my car computer and I am pretty mechanically sound when it comes to electronics.

                        I had a great experience with Roland at logic supply. He gave me some great input into my system and in no way was he pushy.

                        I took apart my car myself and planned out the project over 4 weeks. Running cabling, finding good ground points, and reducing audio THD and signal noise was important to me since I also am an audio buff.

                        http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=27955

                        Your dilligence early in the process and attention to detail will pay off. Don't rush the job.... and hopefully you have another daily driver so you can have the car down for awhile so you can work out the project to your level of detail.

                        Places not to cut corners.... Cable shielding, Gauge of power cable(s), Ground points, Shutdown controller, proven motherboard, good DC-DC powersupply, audio interface into existing audio system.

                        Mine is completely turn key and has an OEM quality feel and dependable performance which was important to me since my car is brand new.

                        Without this forum I would be nowhere with the project. So listen keenly to the big hitters here they know there stuff. This forum is more for the DIY crowd and not the pre-packaged end user. That however does not mean they too don't strive for a turn key approach like me.

                        Hope this helps, ChrisG

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          damn......flamed twice by teenagers...must be getting old!

                          Originally posted by Yuriy

                          I assume that you are asking because you are either lazy or don't have a lot of experience and have a lot of cash to spend. If that's the case then it would make sense to buy a pre-built one. However, if it was me with all that cash of yours I'd build my own system to suit my needs better.

                          Originally posted by Yunusyu
                          and this 19 year old wishes you best of luck
                          maybe I'll just wait on my Social Security check and read the paper....these young whippersnappers are wearing me out!

                          plan_Z

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            ChrisG,

                            I saw your pics during my research.......that's EXACTLY what I'm looking to do! I don't want to appear lazy or non-entreprenueral, but scouring the boards thread by thread is a great way to get the foundation, but I like to ask specific questions. By reading the posts here, I'm convinced that the user community here is one of sharpest groups around (you should read some of the stuff the clowns on the 350Z sites are putting out) and am in no way discounting their input.

                            I have a TON of questions, so maybe we should take it offline...or if you think everyone would be interested (hehehe, see how I sneaked that in!), we could do it here?

                            plan_Z

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by plan_Z
                              maybe I'll just wait on my Social Security check and read the paper....these young whippersnappers are wearing me out!

                              plan_Z

                              Most of them really know there stuff. Don't underestimate there knowledge cause they are a bit sarcastic. I too am a bit old here (35 yrs old).

                              Comment

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