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Which is the best method, or is there another option out there

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  • Which is the best method, or is there another option out there

    Hi All, I'm just a newbie to this site and if possible would like to pick a brain or two about a project.

    Currently I have a standard car with a built in AV system for the back seats. The unit has cordless head phones. To which we find great (kids can watch a movie while we listen to the radio/CD.)

    Now for some time i have had the idea of replacing both units ( DVD player and standard radio cd unit) as both units have been playing up. And I would like to replace it with a carputer type system.
    But am unsure if i require one carputer or two to continue the existing functions that i have. (play movie for kids, and for us to listen to radio/music)

    Also I would like to have the Carputer setup up on a WIFI network so that i can download movies/music from the home base computer.

    I am looking at using the mini itx units as they can be fitted within a single din slot.
    I have a double din slot in the front of the car for the normal radio/cd. And a single din slot for the A/V unit in the back.

    Now the question is : which option is better suited
    1. do i run two complete systems one carputer only for MP3/GPS/OBDII/sat Radio. And the other unit for just playing movies. This would mean a touch screen for the front unit & a keyboard/track ball unit for the back. So I would have one HDD for music an another for movies

    2 Or do i run two systems, but jointly. Using a network cable between both units. ( this is so that i can run a movie on one and MP3/GPS/OBDII/sat Radio on other. So that the main control can be from one unit. The use of one touch screen to operate both units.
    This would give me a greater flexibility for the storage of movies and music. And the need for one WIFI connection.

    Or Can I use one unit for both? unsure on this as Im not sure if I could run two separate sound channels and a video output at the same time. If it could be done, would there a risk of running the unit flat chat all the time. ?

    Any help in this would be very much appreciated.


  • #2
    The simpler, cheaper, and IMO more elegant solution is to run what is know as "thin client" software. It essentially allows you to turn 1 computer's hardware into multiple computers.

    Now, in a CarPC environment, this does run into problems with multiple audio sources/signals and only 1 sound system (though I guess you could go for multi-zone audio if you felt like making it complicated). The only solution I've come up with is to get yourself a cheap set of RF wireless headphones for each user.

    ThinSoft makes thin client software, and also a combined software/hardware solution that I believe is probably the perfect thing for what you are looking to do. It's called the Buddy B-680 Premium.

    It includes a USB/audio hub with a separate audio output for the thin client and a 4 port USB hub for devices that will be associated with the client (The thin client can still access the USB devices on the main PC) and a PCI VGA video card to output the thin client's video.

    The thin client acts as it's own fully independent computer, capable of doing everything the main PC can do.

    I was brainstorming the other day on how I would do a multi-user CarPC setup if I were to attempt it (still deciding on it in my next truck, it'd be really cool but I have no use for it, being single and not really caring about my friends' ability to enjoy MY CarPC ) and this is what I would come up with.

    I would order 2 7" touchscreens, install them in the headrests, get 2 of those Buddy Premium kits, and if I wanted to get really crazy, wire each of them up with a Space Navigator in their cupholder and a slot-load DVD in the back of the center console. Then I would buy a cheap 3-channel RF audio wireless headphone setup, enabling each user to listen to either their audio, the other backseat passenger's audio or the main PC's audio simply by flipping a switch on their headphones.

    Then, each passenger could enjoy their own independent front-end software, audio, movies, games, internet, whatever, without nagging me about not liking my music.

    Though I did the math and I realized the cool functionality probably wouldn't be worth the extra $1200 to make it happen In your case, where you are looking at adding whole separate PC's for the kids and with you having to purchase the touchscreens anyways, the cost savings of the Buddy system are significant.

    However, depending on what you kids are doing with their thin clients, it can probably be a drain on your main PC's resources, so you might want to take some of the savings and invest in some more RAM and processing power.
    2007 F-250 Crew Cab Harley Davidson - optioned out

    Completely blacked out exterior
    Second Skin dampening
    3-way active front stage
    Full PC processing
    2 JL 13TW5 subs behind rear seat
    Completely stealth install


    • #3
      Thanks for that DRK. But I have finally worked out what I’m after, thanks to another person (other site).

      Here is a bit more back ground info on what I currently have, from another post:

      The current A/V display unit that I have is already roof mounted and in good condition. (And I would like to retain this with the new system) It is mounted just behind the front seats so that only viewable from the rear seats of the car (And the car behind sometimes at traffic lights). Both the boss and I don’t really watch movies while we drive as she gets vertigo and I don’t trust her driving (I’ll die slowly if she reads that)

      The reasons for choosing a carpc to replace the (single din)DVD player is because of the amount of driving that we do, which is mainly 4wding, we have found that DVD's (and CD's) don’t last to long before they are scratched (We have tried soft & Hard body cases for storage but seem to have had no luck)
      My thinking was if I was able to go to HDD (PC DRIVEN) that could store at least 30 to 40 DVD's and have the ability to change them from the home PC without much fussing around.

      But you have raised an interesting question from your reply. Is there a DVD unit out there (single din) that would accept a plug in HDD storage unit (USB). That would enable me to transfer the movies onto (HDD) and play from the (HDD).

      And the following reply to another helpful suggestion:

      But after a bit more searching about a media player I found a USB MINI 2.5 AIVX DIVX/MPEG-4/MP3/WMA Portable Player Drive, to which would suit my needs.

      So what I plan to do for the rear display unit is use the 80GB MINI 2.5 AIVX DIVX/MPEG-4/MP3/WMA Portable Player Drive. This can be hooked up to any pc and used as an external drive. I.e. upload movies. Then use the carpc via a WIFI connection to upload movies. This will allow me to install the unit well into the dash, as access shouldn’t be needed. The only thing that I will have to mount on the dash is a USB switch, so that the unit can be switched from player to storage device. Or look at a switch device that can be activated from the serial/com port.

      By doing this it will free up the single din slot (upper glove box) for a CD/DVD ROM. So I can mount the 7" touch screen behind the double din slot. (Going for that OEM look). Hopefully with all the other attachments (GPS, Reverse Cam and distance to object, music player, OBD II reader, Sat radio maybe, TV for news) I have been looking at getting a mini-itx with a power supply that will enable standby for 30/60 min then shutdown.(have read about a manufacturer that has something like that for $150)

      But thanks again for that DRK, I really didn’t think of using a thin client. Which in my prior experience of using Thin Clients, they seem to be pretty good. (As long as you have a decent server and not to many terminals routed to one).