No announcement yet.

Desktop carPC died :((((( Looking to switch to laptop, but I need testimonials!!!

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Desktop carPC died :((((( Looking to switch to laptop, but I need testimonials!!!

    All laptop/notebook carpc users, I need your testimonials and reviews here, specifically on DURABILITY (to me the most important thing in carPC's).
    I know that powering the laptop is a big hurdle when using a laptop as a carPC, i haven't done MUCH looking around yet but it looks like you can find a DC/DC solution, either the easy way or the hard way (opening up laptop and soldering wires, etc).

    But what I really need is for the laptop users to give me your experience with the durability/reliability of your laptops, also, where do you keep your laptop? Under you seat, in the trunk, etc? Also, what kind of cushioning/mounting system do you use, is there anything you do to reduce shock/vibration from affecting the hard drive? That was my main problem with my carPC was the shock/vibrations, causing booting issues, and finally yesterday i think my motherboard died due to my frustration My carPC receives power, the fans spin, hard drive spins, but i get no video out. Maybe it is the VGA port that f-cked up, i'll try using HDMI to see if the motherboard is still functioning and the computer is still booting, but I think i am done with desktops in the car, laptops "SEEM" like the way to go since they were built to be MOBILE.

    Thinking about buying a used laptop, anybody know any rugged laptops that would be ideal for vehicles? I remember IBM making a durable line of laptops, problem is i don't think rugged laptops are affordable haha, who knows, i'll have to look around.

    Now tell me about your experiences everybody!!!! PLEASE!!!

  • #2


    • #3
      A Panasonic Toughbook can handle some pretty rough conditions as well as extreme boot temps. You can purchase a dc-dc (12-16v) power pack but not sure where you can get them but should not be hard to find. Ive never seen one fail in the 3 years of installing them in vehicles. Just not cheap unless you can get a decent secondhand one


      • #4
        Yeah, tough books are nice but they are kinda weak on specs and frankly huge. I would only recommend them if they were something you were going to be touching or pulling in and out like a cop might.

        Many people run laptops and netbooks just fine. I had a laptop for several years in a previous car. It was fine. I have a netbook as my current setup and it also works fine.

        There are several methods for controlling power on/off for the lappy. I personally feel the only really good method is to solder to the power button. The other methods although quite possibly very reliable, seem iffy to me. I will differ to others that have actually tried those methods though.

        Most laptops will have a DC to DC power supply available via ebay or whatnot. Mine was $25 I think and is excellent.

        Mine is installed under the passenger seat. I have an MX-5 so space is tight but being so small, it is velcroed to the floor and can be accessed by sliding the seat forward.


        • #5
          Hey guys thanks for your comments, they are helping! Yeah I'm just going to use a nice emachines laptop that i gave to my cousin, but he broke the screen, so it's a perfect use for it haha. Yeah i was doing some searching and the DC-DC adapter is perfect. I do have one question, however. My cigarette lighter port is currently occupied by my monitor's power adaptor, any suggestions on how i could go about powering that directly off of a power wire from the battery or ignition, so that I can run the laptop DC-DC adapter from the cig lighter? I guess some searching will be needed for that.


          • #6
            It's easy. If your cigarette lighter is powered only with ignition, just cut the end off the dc to dc adapter and solder the positive wire to your positive (center "pin" of lighter plug) and negative to the ground wire or ring of lighter plug. Typically they are red for positive and black for negative but might be black and white.

            If your lighter is on all the time, you will have to switch it with a relay off of the ignition or else you will drain your car battery. There is lots of info on this stuff in the wiki and around. Just search, everybody on here with a working system has done this to some capacity.


            • #7
              Hey dmcdlrn, does your dc-dc power adaptor survive crank and whatnot?


              • #8
                I think so. Not 100% sure. I know my system survives crank but the netbook has a battery.

                In bench testing, I remember I was feeding too low power to the thing due to a mosfet issue and it was working but not charging the battery. I think it was around 10v.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by dmcdlrn View Post
                  I think so. Not 100% sure. I know my system survives crank but the netbook has a battery.

                  In bench testing, I remember I was feeding too low power to the thing due to a mosfet issue and it was working but not charging the battery. I think it was around 10v.
                  Oh okay so if your laptop still contains it's battery, then it should be okay when using it in the car? I don't plan on running the laptop in the car without it's battery.

                  Also an update on the switch to the laptop: I obtained the laptop w/ the broken screen, came home and used my monitor to check to see if there were no system problems, the only other hardware problem is the optical drive, which is okay, i may even think about removing it. I removed the laptop screen, and i'm thinking about replacing it. It's just 1 ribbon cable to be attached, this way i can use/work on the laptop outside of the car w/o having to have a computer monitor or TV to plug the laptop to via VGA. Installed all of my Garmin Mobile PC stuff and Centrafuse 3.1 (still not going to make the jump to 3.5, lol).

                  So now the only thing i need to figure out is where to put the laptop. Right now it seems like it will have to go under the driver's seat, i may strap the laptop upside down, and on a pillow or 2 in order to dampen the effects of vibration and prevent the vents/fans from being blocked since they are all on the bottom/sides. Let me know what you think!


                  • #10
                    Mine is upside down. I don't think the pillow is necessary but you can if you like. The carpet will keep down a lot of the vibration.

                    The laptop battery won't hold the in-dash screen and other accessories such as a powered hub or equipment attached to said powered hub but it will keep the computer from dropping during crank. I would think a powered hub would be able to hold depending on what you have to regulate its power as they only need 5 volt which is below where the car battery will drop during cranking.

                    Certainly is more convenient having a functioning screen outside of the car but you could always use a standalone monitor inside too if you need to.


                    • #11
                      Gotcha, thanks for your input. I'll be purchasing a cigarette lighter 1-to-2 (most likely) splitter pretty soon, for both the touchscreen and the dc-dc car adapter for the laptop, which i will also be purchasing soon.

                      Another update: I actually took my pre-existing carputer build, took the troubled HDD out of it, connected it to my home-desktop computer, and formatted it, installed windows in it, and it seems to be working somewhat fine, i was able to boot and reboot multiple times, successfully. I should have maybe ran a diskcheck, but oh well. I'll be replacing my dad's crappy old dell desktop with this one (although it's too good for him, haha), he'll probably just find a way to destroy it. But a 250GB HDD is too much space for him to be using, so i think i will get an external enclosure for this hdd and use it for personal use, buy a cheap sata 40GB for him.


                      • #12

                        Please don't run your laptop off your cig lighter. Run a dedicated line to the battery, that way you know the line can handle the power you need. There are a great many discussions on these forums about why not to use the cig lighter for any real power, it basically boils down to wires being under-sized for the stock fuses, and shoddy connections generating heat.
                        "stop with the REINSTALLS, what do you think we got some lame-o installer!!!" - mitchjs
                        My Shop


                        • #13
                          Oh Malcolm, you beat me to it...
                          I was going to use the same "2kToaster" pic on the 12volt last week but the thread got locked.

                          IMO any cig socket current above a few Amps is risky unless you know its quality.
                          Even then, contacts corrode etc.
                          And disconnections can occur. (Why subject a laptop to unnecessary power and battery-charge/discharge cycles?)
                          Also cig-socket usually power off during cranking.

                          Much better to run PC & audio etc direct from the battery - with a fuse obviously, and usually a relay that can be controlled from any combination of ACC, IGN, manual switch, timer, low-voltage or other signals.


                          • #14
                            Hey azngujuonfire, check out my build log below specifically page 1, post #8 for more detail on the PS. I am coming up on two years with no hardware failures. I would suggest the Carnetix 1900 or 2100 for a power supply. I does it all for a laptop: 18/19/20V, 12V, 5V, delay on for amps, engine crank protected etc. As stated above, the cig lighter does not have the wirign etc designed to offer the amount of current you will need safely.
                            Last edited by PhilG; 05-15-2012, 06:45 AM.
                            My 2007 Ford F350 Work Log located HERE


                            • #15
                              Yeah I was first looking at the carnetix PSU, but unfortunately I don't have the money for it (summer classes at college start up today and tuition is $1400 out of my own pocket, since scholarship doesn't cover summers). I was thinking recently, however. What if I wired a separate cigarette lighter socket directly from the battery, with a switch so that I have it off when the car is off (so battery doesn't drain), use a proper fuse and gauge wire. Having the switch would allow me to turn the power to the dc-dc power brick on AFTER the car has started so that I don't have to deal with crank.

                              PhilG what is your experience with video noise from your carnetix PSU?