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Just how cheaply can it be done?

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  • Just how cheaply can it be done?

    Okay I am planning on replacing the stock hu its just driving me nuts with sub-par FM (like I listen to FM anymore!), weak AM, no compressed media playback via CD, some strange 3.5 jack coming out of the glove box (I would assume that's for an Ipod).

    I narrowed it down to two Double DIN hu -

    Clarion CX-609

    Pros: The least expensive of the Double DIN's on the market with Bluetooth Built-In, Plays WMA, MP3 and ACC, had USB input (Rear) and BBE for compressed audio, 728+ possible color display, matching the stock red Mazda display should be easy.

    Con: Only 4 channels of pre-amp outputs, kinda of plain-jane display (which I like because its stockish looking, not really a con for me but for some people it is) 2.5 volt outputs

    Pioneer FH-P8000BT

    Pros: 4.5v outputs, 6 channel pre-amp, sexier than the Clarion, typical Pioneer goodness

    Con: Price! Usually $299 or more, non-authorized dealers have it as cheap as $250 not that I have ever had a Pioneer deck fail on me, not really a concern. But the biggest con, OEL Blue display that super bright and unchangeable. Shiny/Gloss finish attracts attention, maybe unwarranted...

    Anyway with a Sirius tuner ($69) and Interface ($49), the Clarion would come in around $350 and the Pioneer around $400.

    Then I found in the classified section a 7" LCD with a Byte Frame for $135! I wish I could scoop it up now, but I'm broke.

    Anyway so I got to thinking, is it possible to do this for under $500??

    I have an amp already (A/D/S PH-15) all I really need is the DIN-DIN cable which I found on Ebay for $15. I can run the PC's audio output right into the 642si Crossover.

    I toyed with the idea of a false floor and use this MTX Thunder 3000 10" sub I have just sitting here collecting dust.

    If use Window 7 which is free at the moment, Ride Runner cost would be zero
    • Main Drive For The OS
    • Type of Drive (SDD, CF or Laptop)
    • Car specific Case And Power Supply
    • Sirius Tuner and one of Mitch's Interfaces
    • Motherboard and DIMM

    A IDE to CF adaptor is about $20, a 4GB CF is about $25

    I have read its not worth the trouble to install an image of Windows 9x/2000/XP onto a CF card, has anybody tried W7??

    Case and Supply are a non-brainer, I found a Vroom2 case with 160W M2 power supply on Ebay for $149. I have previously seen the case for about $78 and the supply about $70 so I find this reasonable.

    Current Cost Total - $334

    So that leaves $166 for embedded motherboard, single DIMM, Mitch's Interface and Sirius tuner, possible????

    Well for $149 more I found the same company offers Vroom case with Intel board, 160GB HD and 2GB DIMM for $299 total. Cheapest I have seen the Intel board for (Dual Core) is $89. I have a slower DIMM from my P4 Dell but its two 2GB total on two sticks, so I can use one stick for 1GB of RAM (533hz, I think).

    I don't know, I wouldn't have enough for the Sirius unless I increased the budget to about $650 as Mitch's interface is $60 and the tuner is $70 and I currently have an account that I am unable to use since I reformatted my main drive on the Media Center PC and haven't re-installed Replay A/V yet and get home too late to really enjoy any of the shows I like to listen too. My other car is waiting to get fixed so I am not using Sirius in a car. I can dig up my GT PNP but I rather not and I don't wanna mount anything else in my P5.

    So I guess the question is, should I go through with the whole thing or wait until I can get a trans reflective screen and an ION based board for HDTV playback and general HD playback, along with some more car-specific related hardware and just do it all at once???

  • #2
    Even if the CarPC costs you twice as much it will be more powerful and more flexible. If done right you will be happier in the end.

    If you are thinking of doing a CarPC because it is cheaper, then dont do it. If you are thinking of doing a CarPC because you want to and it just may work out to be cheaper may not, then do it.

    If you use old parts, or recycle a PC you can do it for pittance.
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    • #3
      ^ what he said,
      A cheap setup will cause you more headache. Save up for a decent setup, or go with something else.


      • #4
        Don't do a PC expecting it to be cheaper. It won't be cheaper for a reliable system. Extras will eat you up. GPS or Powermate or just wires and distro block.

        However, you can do it for nearly $500. Laptop with busted screen plus used VGA screen will get you close.
        Originally posted by ghettocruzer
        I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
        Want to:
        -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
        -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video


        • #5
          You certainly can go "too cheap" with it.

          I went with a pre-built system from AOpen (case and motherboard) to save money and ugh...I chased down all kinds of glitchy USB demons for a year! Finally came to the conclusion that it was the USB on the motherboard (it wasn't "broken", it just sucked). Replacing the motherboard meant replacing the case...which meant replacing the power supply...and I needed a new processor and memory. Cost me close to $500.00 MORE to get the USB demons gone from the car.

          If I'd done it right the first time I'd have saved a bunch of money...and endless amounts of headache.

          If you have to wait a little bit to save up some more money...wait a little bit. Do it once, do it right.

          Plus, the longer you wait, the more time you have to continue reading on here...seeing all of the problems that other folks have...and you can avoid their mistakes too!
          2003 Lexus SC430 - Black with Ecru. VaisTech & NavTool with Centrafuse integrated into factory nav screen (hands-free Bluetooth, Voice Command, mp3's, videos, HD Radio, Sirius Sat. radio, DVD, Internet, & digital gauges (via OBD-II)), & LuxLink module.


          • #6
            Well the screen was "cheap" everything else was nominally priced. The extra cost of having an amp, crossover and subwoofer would be the savings built-into the system at the start.

            The basic hard parts still come out to about $650 with Sirius Radio, I don't think that's cheap, its using proven parts.

            I tried the "cheap" route and found a Surplus Dell thin client (about the size of a yellow pages) for $69 with no memory module. Using some old Kingston RAM would makes if affordable. Where the cost comes in is in the screen ($270 new with frame) and I would for sure be upgrading from there. I don't know if glare is an issue with the regular 7" LCD's yet, still looking for information.

            I think I'll just go with the audio only upgrade and recoup some of the CarPC cost by selling those parts later. Its going to be really basic, but a step up from the standard circa 2002 sound system in the car.