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Using a laptop for a carpc...

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  • Using a laptop for a carpc...

    Hello Everyone,
    I am currently redoing the interior of my 1951 Ford. I am looking to put a carputer in. In the new build I have installed power windows in my project and would like to control them with the PC?

    First order of business is to buy the car PC. Could someone steer me in the correct direction to do some research on what to buy.
    Any recommendations on what to buy or what everyone thinks is the best would be great as well.

    Also I know there are people out there controlling there power windows with there PC. Anyone have any good articles or advice to do this?
    I also have AirRide Technology AirBags on my car and would like to get rid of the current display panel and buttons and control this with the Car PC as well. Anyone heard of anyone doing this?

    As you figured out I am new to this and just learning. Any info would be great. I will include some pictures of my interior. I hope to put the touch screen right in the middle of the dash where I have a open space. Let me know what everyone thinks
    Attached Files

  • #2
    First up, welcome to the group!

    Thats looking to be a very nice setup, retro meets technology, looking forward to seeing it progress.

    If you want to control things like power windows, it might be worth looking into a fusion brain for that, as you could probably also interface it into the airbag suspension, I believe someone else on the forums was having a go on airbag control at one stage?

    For the computer, I think this is the kind of situation that is calling for a fairly beefy system, rather than the lean atom computer setups. I would recommend a mini-itx board with a lower power draw i5 processor (Not sure if the second gen Core i series is available in a mini-itx package, as they use a new socket type over the first gen).

    But you would want to have speedy startup, but also have a system that is responsive, you dont want to be waiting if all you want to do is put a window down to yell at some git who cut you off in traffic

    Add in an SSD for the primary hard drive, which will speed up boot times, and you should be all good.

    I'm not sure on the dimensions of your dash, but can you fit a 10 inch or larger screen into that dash area? I think a minimal, retro dash would look awesome with a nice BIG lcd panel in the middle


    • #3
      Yes, I think when I am finished the old school 51 Ford Dash meet 2011 tech will look pretty cool. I go to a lot of 50s, 60s, car shows and there is no one doing this type of stuff so that will be awsome too.

      I would agree and like your suggestion for the more beefy setup. I appreciate the recommendations I will look into them and start reading up.

      Even though the car only has 6" windows all the way around with the chop top I Most definatley do not want to be waiting on my windows to roll down when it comes to giving someone a piece of my mind when they cut me off... Ha ha ha.

      I have been looking at SSD and think this is a neccessity because the bags will need to be responsive almost immediatly upon ignition on. How much faster are the boot times in a SSD.

      The Dash is old school and one thing about those old school 50's cars is there is a lot of room. I have room for 10". The way I smoothed out the dash and removed all the older 50's items the bigger the screen I can fit the better.

      Are there any good articles out there about how to make this window project work? Connecting relays etc....

      How about software? Are people running anything specific for software / OS

      What kind of info or advice can you give me about powering this project?

      I will make sure I add more pics as they come. I have 4 weeks to to make it to the interior shop for the leather work. I have a lot of body work and painting to do ha ha.....


      • #4
        Why does he need a system more powerful than a "lean atom" ?? I'd actually recommend one of the new Zacate amd fusion mini itx boards. Plenty of power, graphics, etc, with a great price. OP, Since you are building a complete dash, stuff as much screen as possible in there!
        Old School member!


        • #5
          ^i don't know about going all the way up to a i5, but i am really curious on seeing a comparison between the zacate and atom from a carpc point of view-- like how they handle centrafuse+graphics...

          i believe that most of the programming for a fusion brain requires very little cpu usage, so assuming i'm right, a atom would be fine.

          for what the OP says that he wants to do, i really don't see a need for any more then a i3/pentium, though a atom should work ok, maybe just a little slower..

          for controlling the airbags/windows, i think that they would be setup almost exactly the same-- use the fusionbrain to activate relays/solenoids which activate the function..

          while it might seem at first that the OP wants to do a lot of things with the pc, they really need to be broken down to the basics-- all he needs to do is activate a relay/solenoid with the pc. either the relay is '1'-on, or '0'-off. even with 7 solenoids(4 corners, front, rear, all-- though i don't think they work this way), plus a couple of window relays, there would be very little traffic for the processor to need to manage... at the very most, you could setup the pc to 'poll' the fb for the output positions, which would contribute to having more data, but not much..

          (wow, i really sound like i know about the fb-- i don't-- i have never used one in my life!)

          and after my own little computer glitches, i think it is important to remember to have some sort of fail-safe in place so if you happen to have a issue with the pc, your not stuck scraping-frame the whole way home..(and if your truck won't go that low whats the point of the bags?!?)
          My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
          "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"

          next project? subaru brz
          carpc undecided


          • #6
            Welcome to the forum, Love the old Fords and looking forward to progress pictures.

            Since you asked for some input here is my 1c worth. PC requirements are pretty basic when it comes to controlling IO devices. However IMHO that is not why a certain processor or MB should be chosen.

            Select one to allow for future expansion and to eliminate any lag in graphic intensive frontends and loading times for the OS. The quality and stability of the mother board and PSU should be paramount, especially if vehicle systems are controlled.

            An i3 at around 3GHz is a fast system and will draw 35 to 48 watts running everything. Unless you need lower power draw or have other limitations then I can see no reason for going to something less powerful in a standard installation.

            Give some thought as to how you want to control the system and how critical some of these vehicle systems are. IMHO you should never allow or rely on the PC to run and control the operation of important vehicle systems “DIRECTLY” from PC application software.

            Either use physical hardware overrides OR these systems should be controlled via a microprocessor that can run “standalone” until the PC comes on line OR for the times when it simply won’t.

            This is not the same as having a microcontroller interfacing to the vehicle hardware that relies on a PC program to make it work; the micro interface must be capable of being programmed to operate standalone without the PC running AND have no issues with vehicle glitches.

            The PC will still control all these systems via a graphical interface and USB link to the microcontroller. If you want a robust and “almost” fail safe system – don’t rely on the PC alone.

            Good luck with the build that will never end
            Palm sized ainol MiniPC, 8" Transreflective PRO, Win10, Reverse camera, Dual 10HZ GPS RX's for Speed Display & Sat Nav, FM-DAB & Phone Modules, iDrive interface. T-Screen HVAC control, custom microcontrollers, microcode and FE.


            • #7
              I am planning on putting a zacate board into my dash.
              This is my favourite comparison (e350 vs slow i5):
              I think they are a great choice as they consume similar power to an atom but a bit more get up and go if you need it. I have never used an atom computer but I think they would struggle if you started doing too many things on them.
              This is the one I was looking at:
              Alternatively if power consumption is no issue you can go a new i5:
              But then of course you have to cool it wherever you put it.


              • #8
                Yes, This project never ends.... I bet I have built this car 3 or 4 times total. Good thing I have an understanding wife!!!!!

                Would you dock the laptop and send the signal to the in-dash monitor?

                My plan is to get the computer mounted and installed because I have to be to the interior shop in 3 weeks then work out the kinks of figuring out the windows, air bag suspension etc....

                Cooling is going to be an issue since this is strickly a summer car and it is usually hot everytime the car is out. What are the best solutions here?

                Going to do my homework this week on systems and will have more questions before I order something.
                Thank you everyone for the input....