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  • Cold weather and computers

    I know this has been spoke of here and there but I have never really seen a good solid solution to this issue or a good description of the issue.

    Anyway here is my ordeal. I live in Erie, PA with our avg winter temp of 20F. I have a 200gb 7200 rpm 3.5" drive running the pc and it does exactly this:

    40+F boots perfectly

    15-40F boots to BIOS or windows load screen then keeps rebooting about 1-7 times before 70% of the times getting to a completed booted windows and 30% of the time power supply stays on but never boots up just seems to give up on booting and powers down video but fans and usb continue running.

    below 15F Does not show BIOs drive makes quite a racket first time thought drive was totally dead but still worked fine once it warmed.

    Anyway I know the hard drive has a spec of 41F and I have noticed the motherboard also has a spec of 0 and am wondering if maybe the motherboard could even have a issue below 32F. Because I notice most of the solutions seem to be flash drives with a spec of -40C but now my main thought is if I got a 2gb flash drive and used that for windows would my hard drive even work once it was booted to paly my mp3s and run the gps and whatnot as well could the motherboard even continue to be a issue

    Anywho just want to hear from all the peoepl who have a cold weather car pc, how it works, how they got around this issue.

    Thanks,
    Dustan
    Current Temp 16F
    Toyota Prius w/ NAV system and a 30gb Ipod :)it never crashes and always boots up.

  • #2
    .

    Hey dustin, i've been really racking my brain over this issue for quite sometime. It's even kept my new system out of the car for most of the winter months.

    I live in New Hampshire, just above you and I feel your winter pains. Here is what I'm working on.

    Creating an ultra Lite version of windows xp, that still has the functionality that my front end will need for me to be satisfied and this include the norm of DVD play back, voice recognition, MP3 and all other support compressed audio e-mail and wireless internet. (more but this is the gist nothing really new)

    I'm going to store this OS (that loads my front end) on an Extreme III 1gb san disk CF card.

    I will then have to take my 2.5" laptop harddrive out and put it into a USB enclosure, which would make it easily removeable. My OS will have Minlogon and EWF (among other XPe components)

    My media, will come from the removeable harddrive. Here's the current issue I'm working on. My front end runs off a database, typically you would install your app with the OS. But with EWF enabled, the front end would never remember changes to the database and this can be somewhat of a hassle. ALso, if you install the app on the removeable drive I can forsee me forgetting to put it in somedays and the system would boot but with no shell and that can also be painful !!!


    I'm ironing out a smart front end that will be installed with the OS but have it's database located on the removeable drive, if the removeable drive is not present then the front end will run but in a "no database" mode. Because my audio files will be located on the removeable drive it probably wouldn't be able to play mp3's but still be able to recieve weather updates, go online watch DVD's and play regular CD's or even mp3's stored on a CD.
    Progress [I will seriously never be done!]
    Via EPIA MII
    512MB RAM
    OEM GPS (embedded)
    nLite WinXP pro on
    1GB Extreme III CF card
    Carnetix 1260 startup/ DC-DC regulator
    Software: Still, re-Writing my existing front end in .Net

    Comment


    • #3
      15-40F boots to BIOS or windows load screen then keeps rebooting about 1-7 times
      OMG! I'm not the only one! I get this on the really cold days too. What the hell could it be!

      I have the setup IntellaWorks is talking about. My OS is on a Sandisk ExtremeII and all my media is on the removable drive. I still get this looping reboot problem. So it can't be the hard drive, unless the CF card can't handle that cold either.
      That doesn't really make sense to me though, because it did start the boot process, meaning the CF is being read.

      IntellaWorks. The Extreme3 card cannot be set as a fixed disk and therefore windows cannot see a 2nd partition on it.
      If you use an Extreme2 card you will sacrifice a little speed but be able to partition it. I currently have the OS with EWF on drive C and a second 150meg partition on on the same CF card with all my apps on them.
      The amount of writting to this partition is still very minimal. I would say comparable if not less than the amount a camera would write to the CF card. Config changes here and there, the odd software update and once everytime you shutdown to save what song you were playing last.
      I have had this setup running since Christmas and I think it's great. The current frontends don't really take advantage of this scenario, but that will come one day.
      So I suggest buy an Extreme 2 card, not a 3. My boot up times are still very quick. I'm hearing music from centrafuse in under 30 seconds after post. This will only improve with a shell other than explorer.

      Comment


      • #4
        WeatherBoy. Looking at both our sigs, the components we have in common are:

        Eden board
        ram
        usb wifi
        usb gps

        I think that narrows the problem down to one of these components.
        What are you using for a power regulator/supply? I have a fear my carnetix isn't supplying enough power during the bootup process.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by knubile
          OMG! I'm not the only one! I get this on the really cold days too. What the hell could it be!

          I have the setup IntellaWorks is talking about. My OS is on a Sandisk ExtremeII and all my media is on the removable drive. I still get this looping reboot problem. So it can't be the hard drive, unless the CF card can't handle that cold either.
          That doesn't really make sense to me though, because it did start the boot process, meaning the CF is being read.

          IntellaWorks. The Extreme3 card cannot be set as a fixed disk and therefore windows cannot see a 2nd partition on it.
          If you use an Extreme2 card you will sacrifice a little speed but be able to partition it. I currently have the OS with EWF on drive C and a second 150meg partition on on the same CF card with all my apps on them.
          The amount of writting to this partition is still very minimal. I would say comparable if not less than the amount a camera would write to the CF card. Config changes here and there, the odd software update and once everytime you shutdown to save what song you were playing last.
          I have had this setup running since Christmas and I think it's great. The current frontends don't really take advantage of this scenario, but that will come one day.
          So I suggest buy an Extreme 2 card, not a 3. My boot up times are still very quick. I'm hearing music from centrafuse in under 30 seconds after post. This will only improve with a shell other than explorer.


          knubile, thanks for the info I'm really thinking about that as a change of plans.. I was going to just design my front end to look for a DB on another drive (that can write/read) it would probably be a removeable USB laptop drive. I knew that you couldnt partition the Extreme III but didn't know you COULD parttiton the ExtremeII...

          I wonder what the temp ratings are for the extreme II, I know that the extreme III is -40(f)-180(f)
          Progress [I will seriously never be done!]
          Via EPIA MII
          512MB RAM
          OEM GPS (embedded)
          nLite WinXP pro on
          1GB Extreme III CF card
          Carnetix 1260 startup/ DC-DC regulator
          Software: Still, re-Writing my existing front end in .Net

          Comment


          • #6
            Your problems must be in the drives or the power supply. I have done some extreme overclocking experiments, where the entire motherboard is immersed in supercooled (-40 F or lower) mineral oil, and believe me, the colder they are, the better they run. Mechanical things like drives, however don't like cold, especially if the temperature swings fast. I have seen condensation from temperature changes literally rust a hard drive head to the platter. So it is a good idea to have the drive removable, and take it out of the car when temps are going to drop below freezing, or if it will be sitting in the sun baking.
            Save XMLM! Sign the Petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/liqmetal/

            Comment


            • #7
              i dont know about during the winter, but in the summer with all the heat, maybe a temp/ghetto solution would be to get a decent sized case fan and power it with 1 or 2 9V batteries. should be able to run it for a while if your lucky. or if its possible without draining the battery, just run it off the car's power system (always on of course).

              becuase im sure that many people here (well, some maybe) have their comp's hidden away (like behind the dash?) and it would be a PITA to have to take the drive out every day.
              Your everyday carpc geek and tech guru at your service. *bow*

              Comment


              • #8
                I live in Saskatchewan and it gets to 40 below quite often during the winter and extremely hot during the summer.. My solution to this is to make the computer and display (when I get one) removable and just bring them in at night and use them in the house to update playlists and add new stuff... I'd leave all the wiring and connectors in the car for easy reconnection. That's also the reason I've decided to go with the inverter to power the computer, then it's a simple matter to bring it inside and plug it into standard power... So when I bring it inside I just plug it in and connect it to my network and use remote desktop from my main rig to do everything that I need to do..

                Comment


                • #9
                  i'd like to propose another solution.

                  First let me point out that most electronics have a pair of environmental specs. They have one set for the range over which you can opperate the device and another over which you can store it.

                  Now concider that the HVAC in your car is really powerfull and can make it comfortable in just a few min.

                  If you install a switch somewhere that will disable the startup of you computer with the ignition you can hold it off on really cold mornings or really hot afternoons until the car's internal temp is a little more reasonable.

                  I have found that my setup has boot up trouble when it is very cold <20F (yea i know, but it's cold for MD) but if i wait 5 min and then start it after the heat is pumping it's no problem.

                  If you wanted to get real slick you could get a couple of thermal switches that would interupt the turn on switch if temp was out or range. This would be pretty simple, just a matter of finding the right switch.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Likely this is related to a specific component of your set up. Maybe a combination.
                    I have not had these types of issues and the Temp here in colorado drops in the winter.

                    I had one morning the drive did not reach boot RPMs, after it warmed up (a few munites) it booted fine. The drive is the most likely due to it's moving parts. Check the operating temps and see if it uses fluid dynamic bearings. Try an older drive that does not use FDBs....
                    TruckinMP3
                    D201GLY2, DC-DC power, 3.5 inch SATA

                    Yes, you should search... and Yes, It has been covered before!

                    Read the FAQ!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      15-40F boots to BIOS or windows load screen then keeps rebooting about 1-7 times before 70% of the times getting to a completed booted windows and 30% of the time power supply stays on but never boots up just seems to give up on booting and powers down video but fans and usb continue running.

                      below 15F Does not show BIOs drive makes quite a racket first time thought drive was totally dead but still worked fine once it warmed.
                      This pretty much makes me put 3 components at possible blame: fans, hard drive, power supply. I myself have not had any problem in NY during the really cold week I was starting it in the morning at like 9 Deg F. Anycase, you don't say what psu your using or I'm just blind. I'm just going to assume opus or another dc-dc sol'n.

                      see, what I think is happening is as the weather is getting colder, the mechanical parts, particularly the hard drive is causing more current usage trying to spin up to speed due to the extra friction. This additional usage may be something your psu is incapable of supply causing the no boot issue.

                      other possibility is the psu just is no good in the cold. Check out the power supply forum, i know theres a couple of posts there about opus and under voltage in cold weather. 14 deg seems to be right around that troubule point. that can be why the computer is no booting up or is having a real hard time.

                      and of course, the hard drive can just be one of those units that don't like the cold around here. its sorta like a lottery draw when it comes to hard drives and cold weather performance.
                      Mark

                      Website: http://www.greenpowerenthusiast.com/

                      Car'Puter Project
                      - Xenarc 700TSV
                      - MSI RS482M-IL Mobo + AMD Turion MT-32 (25W)
                      - 1x 256MB Corsair XMMS DDR400
                      - M2-ATX
                      - Belkin 802.11G W-Nic
                      - Garmin 15H GPS
                      - WinXP SP2 (NLited)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My Hd = Ruined

                        I believe I just ruined my harddrive. Last night i finished my install and went out for a ride playing super troopers everything was working fine. So i ended up going to sleep and waking up in the morning going outside to start the car up and i figured start the pc up as well cuz it takes about 1 minute to get to the desktop, so i turned it on walked inside then like 5 minutes went back outside and a black screen was talking about not being able to read or write i/o at blah blah or something, so i restarted and it got into windows then froze so i restarted the pc and then i recieved the same black screen so i figured ill restart to see if that would work and it didnt. So i left it alone for a while, came back a couple hours later and the same problem was there. Then i thought about it and the cold weather affecting the harddrive. So i brought the pc into the house and tested it out, and the same **** happens... so im trying to reformat it now and when it got to 50% it died out. Im waiting for the pc to heat up a little before i attempt to format again. but im sure i ****ed it up trying to load it up this morning or formating it while the disc was still cold. ill keep ya updated.
                        1992 BMW 318IS - CARPUTER PROJECT
                        My Carputer Progress Page

                        INTEL CELERON 1.0 GHZ - 256MB SD PC 133 RAM - 20GB 7200 RPM HD - WIN2KPRO - 50X CD DRIVE - 4 USB - 32 MB ONBOARD INTEL VIDEO - BEAMIT 400FM

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                        • #13
                          Take it inside to fix it....
                          TruckinMP3
                          D201GLY2, DC-DC power, 3.5 inch SATA

                          Yes, you should search... and Yes, It has been covered before!

                          Read the FAQ!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I live in minnesota and we get to -30 or -40 every now and again.. and I only had issues with my hard drive not spinning up .. I would get a POST and everything.. now my LCD would wig out on me sometimes..

                            but like others have said.. give it a few mminutes and let things warm up.. and all is well..

                            or do like they did while building the alaskian highway.. never turn your vehicle off .. :-)
                            Shawn



                            Check out my web company Minneapolis Web Designer | MODx Web Design - Himmelberger Design

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by StationRocket
                              If you install a switch somewhere that will disable the startup of you computer with the ignition you can hold it off on really cold mornings or really hot afternoons until the car's internal temp is a little more reasonable.
                              word... do that and invest the 2-300 for a remote starter!

                              hit the switch after you get out your car at night, flip it on your way down the road!
                              [4Runna]

                              next - wifi

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