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Hello from Delaware! And, my carputer ideas....

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  • Hello from Delaware! And, my carputer ideas....

    Greetings from northern New Castle County, Delaware! I found this informative forum through my search for a mobile computing solution in my future RV.

    I'm currently researching and designing my Class B (van conversion), which will be a Sportsmobile with a custom layout and many bells & whistles. I plan on using this RV as my daily driver, weekend camper, vacationing base, and mobile office.

    Overall, the van will be a Ford E-350 Super Duty, EB (Extended Body), V-10 gasoline engine, and 4x4. I do plan on one or two Kyocera 130W solar panels and having two main house batteries.

    This whole concept of a car computer intrigues me a great deal. I've done some research online so far, and that makes this idea much more feasible to me, knowing that there are components out there to do it in the first place, and people (like the members here) who have done it successfully. And even though I have read some of the threads here, I'm not sure which route I want to go:

    A. actual carputer, w/ separate CPU, monitor and touchscreen, wireless keyboard, etc.
    B. laptop that can be used in various positions, with an additional touchscreen.

    I guess the main question is what I want my carputer to do? Well, I want something that has enough "future expandability" and flexibility in case I change my mind in the future and want to add/delete components. I also want it to:

    1. handle GPS/navigation (probably through a touchscreen)
    2. handle playing my mp3 arsenal (and route the sound through the van speakers)
    3. handle playing my DVD's and saved movies (probably routed to a screen in the back of the van)
    4. handle my CADD/GIS computing needs for work (including file transfer via Internet, email, PhotoShop, etc)
    5. handle my "relaxation" time playing online games
    6. handle my vehicle's info (ODB-II?? is that what it's called?)
    7. handle doubling as my TV (USB TV receiver?)
    8. anything else I may add later (back-up camera, etc)

    As far as importance, I'd say #4 is primary, since it's how I make a living. I'm assuming that I'd want/need a more poweful processor since CADD/GIS and graphics are pretty CPU-needy.... Secondarily, I'd say #3, #5, and #7 are important as well, since I may have my kids along and we'd want to watch movies, or I'd want to play my favorite shoot-em-up game (it's my therapy). #2 would be nice as well. Not as important, but would be nice to have, would be the remaining tasks (#1 and #8).

    My initial idea was to have a touchscreen at the driver's seat, which would handle GPS/navigation, play mp3's, give me vehicle info, etc. BUT, I'd like to be able to also have a movie playing on a monitor in the rear for the kids, too. Is that possible to have different screens viewing/doing different things?

    Right now, I'm not even sure what type of system I should get. Would a carputer be the best solution for this (hidden CPU and probably two different monitors, wireless keyboard, etc), or would an actual laptop (w/ an additional touchscreen) be better?

    Does anytone have any suggestions, or know of someone who has similar needs in their vehicle?

    Thanks for any advice! I appreciate your input!

    Currently designing my Class B RV: a Sportsmobile!!

  • #2

    I think your best bet is actually 2 computers. 1 would be a little via system or cheap little one that ran media and gps and the other "driver" wants. Then a second beefy system for the back.

    I would suggest an intel little valley or a board with a C7 1.5Ghz to 2.0Ghz for the entertainment side. If you have space, then you can go with a uATX version of these which would be cheaper.

    For the other one, might as well use a laptop. That way you arent tethered to 1 spot within the RV. You can get one with a good independant video card to run ACAD '07 or whatnot, and they make some really fast ones now for good prices.

    Then I would put a wifi router in the RV, and have it connected to the 2 systems. probably hardwired to the media one with a dedicated address. Then you can share files to the laptop or stream videos from either one back and forth that way, as well as any other laptops that come by can connect and join in. Maybe even get a mobile broadband card for always on.

    If you are doing just 1 computer, you can do multiple screens on the same PC, but remember if you are using Windows, there is only 1 cursor. You press the screen upfront to change songs, and whoever is playing a game in the back just lost there mouse and ability to defend themselves from incoming fire.

    So I think for the media PC will probably be between $500 and $800 including the touchscreen and power supply and a little amp for the speakers. The laptop can be anything, so you can find a good deal I am sure. Juse make sure to get an auto/air adapter so you can charge the laptop without needed the AC-DC power brick. If you dont then you will need to put an inverter in the RV, which will reak havoc on your audio.
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