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Laptop with docking station?

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  • Laptop with docking station?

    Since I need to spend the money on computer components anyways, I've been thinking that it may be a great idea to use a laptop computer as my car pc. The idea is that I can use my laptop at work, home, vacation, beach, or where ever I go and then when I am in the car I can simply slide it into a docking station in my trunk. The docking station would be hard wired to the car itself so that when I plug in the laptop to the docking station all controls and input/output would then be transfered to external devices such as the touch screen panel, external usb drives likd dvdrom drives, all that stuff.

    So my question is .. who here as done something similiar? What model notebook did you use, what docking station?

    Dell has Inspirion 1000 notebooks for 699.00 after rebate right now and that would be worth it to me. However I can't find the type of docking station I want. Basically it is like a cradle that your palm pilot would fit into. You wouldn't have to manually plug wires in. I am trying to think of a better analogy but am coming up empty.

    Any ideas? help? pictures?

  • #2
    I have an old dell inspiron 7500. I know the docking station for it is exactly what you described -> you just slide in your laptop into the docking station and all the wires to your screen and usb and such come out of the docking station. So you could technically hardwire your docking station to your car, attach all the wires and just slide your laptop in and out. I'm sure that the newer dells probably have similar things, i'm not sure. Here is a pic of the docking station...


    Your plan sounds doable, but you will run into powering on problems. It will be cumbersome to turn your laptop on and off from the trunk, and I doubt you will want to open your brand new laptop up and start soldering wires to make an external switch. But it has been talked about a lot on this forum, so it is doable.
    My carputer


    • #3
      I have a Dell 8100 w/docking station. You open up and wire the switch on the docking station - you don't have to open up the laptop for anything. Use the Targus Mobile 70 for DC-DC power supply. just make certain the laptop get good fresh cool air to it and don't restrict the exhaust vents.
      1993 Mazda RX7
      Dell Inspiron 8100 (laptop w/docking station)


      • #4
        I am doing the same, except I am buliding my own docking station since eMachines don't sell them.


        • #5
          Have you tried the Targus docking station?
          1993 Mazda RX7
          Dell Inspiron 8100 (laptop w/docking station)


          • #6
            Hi, I've got exactly what you've described.

            I have my Sony GR314 mounted on the rear shelf on the docking station. I brought the laptop from my company for 400 and got the docking station from ebay for 35! The laptop is my main machine, I use for everything work/uni/fun and now I use it as my carputer.

            A laptop solution is probably the best for a caputer setup, it comes with it's own power supply management, infact it's better than a normal UPS. Power requirements are low, and in car power chargers are cheap and readily available down your local Maplin store. Oh and most laptops can hibernate and boot up very quickly, fantastic for caputer setups. .. Laptops are quick, usually using full blown Intel/AMD chips rather than mini-ITX processors, .. . umm, you can easily take them out with the aid of a docking station for security ... . WHat else.. Oh I don't have to worry about sync with my main network/desktop PC with music and stuff, as it is my main machine as it is; this means that I always have the latest music/films/files at hand without having to do any data transfer! .. .and obviously, laptops are very compact in the first place, and will easily sit anywhere in the car!

            A normal senario will go like this:
            Go to car with laptop.
            Slide laptop into docking station on rear shelf.
            Get into car.

            I can turn on the laptop by sending a low power signal via a telephone cable, I've got a button battery hooked up to the cable and the laptop is set to power-on a phone 'ring'. The docking station is hooked up to two fixed USB hubs which connects to the 8" lilliput touch screen, GPS mouse, mobile phone and a webcam. I've got a bluetooth USB dongle connected to the laptop as well, so I can use my mobile phone outside the car to control the audio and other programs from the laptop! .. I've got a few further things to develop as time goes by, I need money at the mo, but I'll eventually get a few more things automated in the car via the laptop... . Trust me! You won't regret using a laptop system, t'is a very good solution! Good luck!


            • #7
              Originally posted by David88vert
              I have a Dell 8100 w/docking station. You open up and wire the switch on the docking station - you don't have to open up the laptop for anything. Use the Targus Mobile 70 for DC-DC power supply. just make certain the laptop get good fresh cool air to it and don't restrict the exhaust vents.
              i am doing the same thing, but with a Dell Latitude CPx that runs at 700mhz. I've gone though two docks...the regular dock and the expansion dock. right now everthing is running off the regular dock, but it does not have enough USB ports and only runs USB1.0. I will be moving to a expansion dock which lets you place in two PCI cards, and a mulibay drive. bought a 4xUSB2.0 and 2xfirewire PCI card and placed it in the dock. works great with the tests in the house, but have not tested the expansion in the car. also using the Targus Mobile 70 for DC to DC power supply.

              my holdup now is my car head unit (won't play CD's anymore) and my LCD just started to turn green once those are fixed, have to buy wire to run from the battery to the back. been running everything off a splitter on the cig lighter for the past 3 months to fully test the equipment.

              I didn't think about the telephone wake on ring...i'll have to look if my model will do that.
              "If it works this good why F with it?" -KMFDM "Intro"

              Strive for ethical wardriving:

              My CarCPUs: v1 - 2000 | v2 - 2004
              Mp3Car Meets:


              • #8
                hm im going to use a lap with doc too youst bought one realy slim one and the best on that lap is that it has touchscreen ^^ so ill mount the lap in front and i dont need a liliput and either no keyboard
                Thats what i bought(german):
                Golf 3 CarPc Status
                GPS:BT GPS

                PC: Slim notebook with 10.4"touch, external DVD.
                Dock for car is in production.
                Audio: Stock speakers but looking for new ones. CD-HU with FM modulator (ordered)


                • #9
                  Awesome! Thanks for all the ideas and help. Now it is just time to start saving money. I just purchased and received my gps mouse and iguidance 2.0 software. I have it currently installed on an old dell inspirion 7000 laptop that I use here at work for obd-2 diagnostics on cars. So I'll be using that as a test. I'll look into those docking stations you guys mentioned.