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Power Supply for Basic Carputer

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  • Power Supply for Basic Carputer

    I'm trying a simple carputer set up using an old desktop computer of mine. I set it up with voice controlled music playback (very similar to Microsoft Sync). Anyways, that all works great.

    The problem I'm having is getting it power. I contacted eMachines and they told me that the computer has a power consumption of 300 Watts. I have an AC inverter which allows up to 400 Watts and can connect via the cigarette lighter or a direct connection to the battery.

    The inverter states that I shouldn't draw more than 200 Watts out of the cigarette lighters unless I want to blow a fuse. I'm assuming this is correct? (I have a 2001 Toyota Highlander)

    This leaves me to connecting the inverter to the battery. Would this be a practical solution? Or would the computer drain the battery too fast? (It'll only be running while the car is running).

    Thanks for all your help in advance,

    Sonsum

  • #2
    having first hand experience on the early model highlanders i can tell you you will NOT be able to power up a PC with the cigarette lighter. I've seen highlanders that would blow a fuse using a portable gps system. If you MUST go inverter i would definitely suggest you connecting it to the battery with a fused heavy gauge wire.

    Even if you do install it properly you will probably have battery issues a short while after installation with a system running at 300 watts. That is, unless you like the idea of having to shut down the pc AND the inverter each time you turn your vehicle off.
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    • #3
      300 Watts is 10 HID headlamps, or about 5 standard low beams, or 3 100W hi-beams.

      Do you really want to use that instead of a laptop or netbook that consumes almost 1/10th as much? (ie 30W-80W)

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      • #4
        @Oldspark:

        I had this old desktop computer laying around and my goal was to create a carputer with little or no cost to myself (It sounds like I'm going to have to buy some wire, so that constitutes the little cost for myself). The old laptops I have aren't as powerful as I'm looking for, being from the Windows 95 era. Also, their small 3 gig and 4 gig hard drives make them difficult to turn into a media server.

        Sonicxtacy02:

        Actually, I was planning to turn off the carputer and inverter every time I exit the car. I was going to mount the inverter under the glove box, so it would be easy and convenient to turn it on and off. The boot-up/shut down times for the computer are incredibly fast.

        And @both of you:

        What gauge wire would you recommend?



        And thanks again for all your help!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Sonsum View Post
          @Oldspark:

          I had this old desktop computer laying around and my goal was to create a carputer with little or no cost to myself (It sounds like I'm going to have to buy some wire, so that constitutes the little cost for myself). The old laptops I have aren't as powerful as I'm looking for, being from the Windows 95 era. Also, their small 3 gig and 4 gig hard drives make them difficult to turn into a media server.

          Sonicxtacy02:

          Actually, I was planning to turn off the carputer and inverter every time I exit the car. I was going to mount the inverter under the glove box, so it would be easy and convenient to turn it on and off. The boot-up/shut down times for the computer are incredibly fast.

          And @both of you:

          What gauge wire would you recommend?



          And thanks again for all your help!
          I planned to do that with my inverter setup bout 6 years back. I eventually ate through my yellowtop battery during the times i "forgot".

          the gauge of the cable depends on the length of the wire. Assuming you're only going from glove box to the battery i'd say nothing smaller than 8gauge, and as always, make sure its fused close to the battery.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Sonicxtacy02 View Post
            make sure its fused close to the battery.
            I'm sorry, I'm terribly new at this, what does that mean?

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            • #7
              Uh oh.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by colin View Post
                Uh oh.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sonsum View Post
                  I'm sorry, I'm terribly new at this, what does that mean?
                  it means the wire that you're connecting to the positive battery terminal needs to have a fuse to break the circuit in the event there's a short. Without a fuse, your electronics are exposed to the short.

                  You should place this fuse within 12 inches of where the wire touches the battery.


                  Google automotive In-Line Fuse or better yet just go to the Mp3car store and pick your wiring up there.
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                  • #10
                    Fuses are hugely important for accidents too. If that wire ever gets nicked or cut and touches the chasis of your car (which is VERY likely) then without a fuse you're looking at an explosion or a fire at the very least. The fuse kills the power after x number of amps. Without it, you would have your positive wire directly touching the chassis (negative wire) and a battery capable of hundreds of amps!

                    Long story short, without a fuse, if you get in an accident your positive wire will actually WELD itself to the frame of your car and catch fire or blow up.
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                    • #11
                      Okay guys, that sounds good. Thank you for all of your help!

                      Now I just have to decide what gauge wire I will use!

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                      • #12
                        Well how much are you powering off of it? If you're running 300 watts from your engine, you could go with 8-gauge and still have room for expansion. If you go farther than say 14 feet, you should upgrade to a 4-gauge.
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                        • #13
                          300 Watts. My grandpa thought I should get a 10-14 gauge wire, but I thought I should get an expert opinion. It's just going from the battery to the wire, so not a very great distance.

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                          • #14
                            Honestly, the inverter approach is never going to work well. You'd be far better off getting an actual CarPC Power Supply, that would handle the startup and shutdown of the PC for you. Worth the money, IMO.

                            And CarPC's aren't ever the 'cheap' way of doing something...
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Sonsum View Post
                              300 Watts. My grandpa thought I should get a 10-14 gauge wire, but I thought I should get an expert opinion. It's just going from the battery to the wire, so not a very great distance.
                              10-14 gauge would work dandy if the voltage was higher - like 120 volts. The lower voltage in the car means you need larger gauge wire.
                              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.
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