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Potential future project involving a Google Cr-48 Chromebook

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  • Potential future project involving a Google Cr-48 Chromebook

    Hi guys. I guess this is half an introduction post and half a project brainstorming post. I've lurked the site for ages now and gleamed as much info as I could squeeze into these brain cells.

    With that said, I have been awaiting the day where the planets align and I can start with my own CarPC project. Likely after the holidays and the tax season hits I will probably have my first car. Not sure exactly what yet, will be a wait and see thing. So I plan to start here.

    Over the past week I have been contemplating build options and the one that keeps coming back to me is this Cr-48 Chromebook that I have had since Google beta'd the platform. Here's the relevant specs FWIW:

    1.66GHZ Single core, hyperthreaded Atom N455
    Intel GMA3150 graphics embedded in the Atom chip
    2GB RAM
    16GB mSATA SSD (Will likely have it upgraded to a 60GB if this comes to pass)
    802.11n, Bluetooth, integrated GSM/CDMA 3G modem (though this will be phased out and replaced with something else, more on that later)
    58.4Wh battery which provides around 6-7 hours of battery in Windows under light load with screen brightness max, Wifi and 3G active
    AC adapter reads output at 19.5V/2.05A which is roughly ~40W max consumption
    VGA port, SD card slot, 1x USB, combined 3.5mm TRRS headphone/mic port
    12.1" screen size, extremely thin just under an inch closed
    Lid switch has distinct power on/power off behaviors. Completely powered off, opening the lid will turn it on. And closing it behaves like any normal notebook (ie: responds to Windows power settings)
    I guess one of the primary reasons why I keep coming back to this particular machine for the project is the insane boot times. Even though the stock SSD is rated as a low grade model (considering these were given away, I wouldn't expect even Google to be spendy on SSDs. :P), with UEFI boot a clean windows install boots fast enough that the animated flag doesn't even have time to appear. I can't recall what hibernate speeds were like though. I should take some time to switch back over to Win7 from ChromeOS and do some more situational tests.

    Overall system performance is really amazing given the specs. Outside of gaming everything is pretty responsive and snappy. Multitasking is good.

    The other thing is the power consumption. With the battery life and the charging consumption, could very easily get away with the charger (likely going to look for a replacement that runs directly off 12V DC) running directly off an ACC powered line and a basic startup/shutdown controller. To add to it, I'd probably disconnect the LCD completely in favor of a proper in-dash touch. So battery life will probably gain another hour or so based on existing experience.

    A couple things I am pondering though as potential issues that I could use some input on:

    1) Usual Windows 7 issues in the CarPC environment. Returning from hibernate straight to a desktop rather than needing to manually log back in. Amongst other things if anyone can think of any!

    2) Peripherals: Lack of connections. Being there is only a single USB2 port, my current idea is to remove the 3G modem and get a breakout card which adds an extra USB and an extra SATA port to the system. Although both require an external source of 5V power so would have to jump on a regulator of some sort. The 3G modem is able to be sacrificed because in Windows it is pretty much bunk anyways without a lot of messing around. That and I already have a Mifi with service that I would like to fabricate a cradle for so jumping in the car I can just drop it in a slot in the dash and voila! Or a USB3.0 card which provides 2 USB 3.0 ports and no sata, but it is backwards compatible and should provide 5V power. Beyond that: Add a few powered hubs and go!

    Anything else I am possibly missing? Any bits of useful input? Main use is likely the usual: Music, nav, phone, mild web, little to no video, obd... I'll try and post some photos/video if possible if I get around to playing more with this idea!


  • #2

    I did up a short video with the cold boot/shutdown/hibernate/resume times. Granted this doesn't take into account extra software or connected devices, but likely to go with a standby+delayed hibernate option depending on other factors down the road.

    I know there was a few things I did not cover in my original post I forgot about:

    Audio: Probably stick with the onboard audio, though I'll need to get an adapter to separate the mic and output lines into separate 3.5mm jacks. If I ever have a device that needs a line in port, I'll pick up a USB sound card solely for that purpose and feed through one of the community built low wattage 4ch amps. Not really an overkill kinda person. Clean audio, moderate volume, and simple bass is fine. I've, unfortunately, never had much luck with USB cards especially under any form of CPU load. At the very least I'd like to leave the audio output to a stable source.

    Other connectivity: Going to start out with the basics where stuff can be added on easily later. ie: Just basic audio, nav, obd, internet connectivity. Down the road as I get the urge to upgrade and should I deem this setup still servicable. I would like to eventually head towards HVAC integration and maybe even web/phone based keyless entry/remote start/vehicle control via a low power ARM box separate from the PC.
    Last edited by cr08; 12-09-2011, 07:28 AM.