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SubZero hardware

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  • SubZero hardware

    So I am slowly working through my systems seemingly cold weather caused problems pieces at a time, and I've gotten as far as I can get without dropping a good bit of change, so I'm asking for a bit of help. Those of you that leave your mp3computer in your car overnight in places that it gets colder than 0C (-15C ideally) and are able to boot up in the morning with out a hickup, could you please post your hardware setup? Hard drives, motherboards, psu's, cards, etc. I've tried 5 different inverters (some couldn't cope with the cold themselves), two ac power supplies (blamed the problem on too little power), and have removed the hard drive from the equation (mobile hd rack, -5C is about 15C out of their specifiec operating range). So I'm now under the impression that my early suspicions about the problems stemming from the cheap open box motherboard are true (amtron, and yes, motherboards do have environmental operating temperatures, the few companies (intel) that list them seem to be around 0C as the operating low). And no, I haven't rulled out doing dc>ac>dc out completely as a source of problems, but at this point any problems cause by it seems minor, as everything behaves at warmer (~10C+). Any and all help is appreciated.

    EDIT: and im really interest in those that have sucessful subzero setups with matx/fatx/mitx setups (eg drop in replacements for my current motherboard).

    Since when is insanity a bad thing?

  • #2
    OK. This system has survived 3 horrid Canadian winters, so here goes:

    PCChips 598 (or was that 589?) LMR motherboard
    Intel P166 MMX CPU
    32MB generic PC100 RAM
    Fujitsu 10.2Gig laptop HD
    Arise 865 DC-DC
    Coolermaster CPU Fan
    1 AT PS style case fan
    Generic 17 key laptop keypad

    Win95 kernel, custom player, etc.

    No cold related problems yet, but one my CMOS was erased by a very cold (-40) night.
    Player: Pentium 166MMX, Amptron 598LMR MB w/onboard Sound, Video, LAN, 10.2 Gig Fujitsu Laptop HD, Arise 865 DC-DC Converter, Lexan Case, Custom Software w/Voice Interface, MS Access Based Playlists
    Car: 1986 Mazda RX-7 Turbo (highly modded), 1978 RX-7 Beater (Dead, parting out), 2001 Honda Insight
    "If one more body-kitted, cut-spring-lowered, farty-exhausted Civic revs on me at an intersection, I swear I'm going to get out of my car and cram their ridiculous double-decker aluminium wing firmly up their rump."


    • #3
      Originally posted by Aaron Cake
      PCChips 598 (or was that 589?) LMR motherboard
      M598LMR is correct. I don't believe PC Chips ever made a 589.


      • #4
        For real low temp operation


        Do you work in the IT industry??

        If you do, you should be able to get hold of a PICMG form factor industrial SBC (Single Board Computer). There are lots manufacturers out there Teknor, Komtron etc who will trip over themselves to loan you a demo board.

        These usually have a rated low operating temp of around -30C and storage at -40C.

        Even better than PICMG go for PC104 or a Biscuit PC they will nomally accept +12VDC and do all of the other power managment stuff (+12 regulated for a 2.5" HDD + laptop DVD, supply +5 and -5 dor serial ports) with similar characteristics to PICMG cards.

        The other thing you may want to do to improve you existing machine performance is the do some home brew Conformal Coating. You should be able to get some aerosol laquer to spray on your board (once you are happy with the setup) from your local electronics components store. This will help fight the dreaded condensation.

        Hope this helps

        BTW. I have travelled accross Europe this winter to our offices in Finnland this winter with no undesirable effects on the player apart from a very slow TFT(the driver got pretty cold). It was -34C one morning.

        Edit: sorry for the long post!!
        <b> Player </b> 500Mhz PIII on "biscuit" M/B 6GB 2.5" HDD Rand McNally GPS on MS Autoroute software:-( Winamp 6.4"TFT with LVDS input


        • #5
          I do work in the IT Industry, so I might have to look into that, as well as the conformal coating. I snagged some old at hardware from work, and I have some old atx machines sitting around my house, so I think I'm going to play with alternative hardware that I have at the moment.

          So no one else out there has hardware that can withstand the northern winters (especially matx/fatx setups? ).

          Since when is insanity a bad thing?


          • #6
            I used to have an I-Opener in my car, with 3.5" 5400 RPM quantum drive, here were my experiences in Fort Collins, Colorado (similar climate in winter to Chicago, but probably less snow).

            We had some pretty cold nights and days here last winter, sub-zero (F) temperatures were common. However, the IOpener never hiccuped. I had an AMD K6-III 333 in there, and one day I got in, booted it up, and the cpu thermometer said 17F! That's *after* 45 seconds of booting, too.

            The only problem I ever had in the cold was the crappy DSTN screen. It would work, but until it was warmed up, it was very faint and the pixels weren't too snappy.
            First Player: Obscured
            Second Try: No Web Page Yet, using MSI-6215


            • #7
              I actually have a setup that I used in my car for sale on ebay right now., It's an industrial case, power supply, isa backplane and a sbc with cpu and ram. Check it out at:
              I live in Edmonton so it gets pretty cold, after letting the car warm up a little bit it's fine.


              • #8
                Granted, I dont have my stuff setup yet (needed a 2" lift and 30" tires first, hehehe) My techs at work say that anything is pretty much fine in bitterly cold conditions as long as you give it time to adjust to "room temperature" before powering up. What I would recomend is getting a remote start so it can warm before you get in and also some sort of case with fans that you can turn on before you power up the pc. I will also have a website soon so you can all look at the crazy $hit that my grand can go through now.