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Best way to power carputer? Please help a newbie!

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  • Best way to power carputer? Please help a newbie!

    Hello everyone

    I'm quite new to this carputer business so let's cut to the chase:

    After reading much about the new Lilliput VGA screens, I bought one...very happy with it (didn't get the Jurassic Park or Asian woman ghost image!).

    Now comes to the part of powering all this in a 4 door Civic without setting fire to anything. I've been readying various options that people use to power their devices...from inverters, to connecting it directly to the battery of the car and even putting a 2nd battery in the trunk that is connected to the car somehow!

    I'm thinking of putting a 90W laptop and the Lilliput VGA Touchscreen. Maybe one day a Shuttle PC (I think those don't each too much power).

    My first question is: What do YOU think is the best way of powering the two things I require in the car? I tried an 175w inverter with the laptop and screen, works fine...but man does the inverter get hot! Even with the built in fan it gets bloody hot!

    2nd question: Does using an inverter for long periods of time (say 3 hours) with the 90w laptop and screen cause any damage to the car? If so, what should be my alternative? Thanks!

  • #2
    The very best thing you could do would be to get an Opus, if you were using a standard ATX PC.

    The Opus is a pure DC-DC solution, with ignition sensing and shutdown controller. Do a for Opus and you'll find lots of solutions!

    However, as you're going to be using a laptop, then unless you can get a cigarette lighter adapter for it to run it on 12v, then you will have to go for the invertor route. However, that adds unnecessary conversions from 12vDC to 110/220vAC to 12vDC.

    If you have an Opus or similar, then you shouldn't need another battery, however some people also have lots of amps at stuff that they want to power seperately to the main car's battery.


    Garry
    Co-Developer of A.I.M.E.E
    www.aimee.cc

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Confused
      The very best thing you could do would be to get an Opus, if you were using a standard ATX PC.

      The Opus is a pure DC-DC solution, with ignition sensing and shutdown controller. Do a for Opus and you'll find lots of solutions!

      However, as you're going to be using a laptop, then unless you can get a cigarette lighter adapter for it to run it on 12v, then you will have to go for the invertor route. However, that adds unnecessary conversions from 12vDC to 110/220vAC to 12vDC.

      If you have an Opus or similar, then you shouldn't need another battery, however some people also have lots of amps at stuff that they want to power seperately to the main car's battery.


      Garry
      Thank you for the info, I've found many posts and other "newbie" questions about the Opus...I may go that route one day if I want to put a full computer in the car. Yes, it does seem silly to convert it twice for the laptop, but it looks like that is my only option since the laptop is only 90w...and I'm using the Lilliput vga touchscreen so it will use even less juice than laptop lcd.

      Anyone have any other ideas besides an Opus? Wire the inverter RIGHT to the battery? Anyone ever do that...should anyone do that (dangerous?)

      Comment


      • #4
        My laptop had an optional 12v charger specifically designed for use in a car or an airplane. You might want to look into seeing if your laptop has one as well.

        If you get an inverter, you want to run it right to the battery. If you try and run it through the cars electrical system you won't be able to get the full wattage out of it, and you might start blowing fuses, or even set your wiring harness on fire (Unlikely, but I know Accords have problems with wiring harness fires when ricers replace the stock headlights with after market bulbs).

        You can run an inverter as long as you like without hurting your car. If the engine is off you'll eventually kill your battery though.
        A digital mind lost in an analog world.

        Learn to ask smart questions!
        http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

        My car PC: The Lost Cause!

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks!

          Originally posted by fluffy2097
          My laptop had an optional 12v charger specifically designed for use in a car or an airplane. You might want to look into seeing if your laptop has one as well.

          If you get an inverter, you want to run it right to the battery. If you try and run it through the cars electrical system you won't be able to get the full wattage out of it, and you might start blowing fuses, or even set your wiring harness on fire (Unlikely, but I know Accords have problems with wiring harness fires when ricers replace the stock headlights with after market bulbs).

          You can run an inverter as long as you like without hurting your car. If the engine is off you'll eventually kill your battery though.
          Thanks the inverter I bought can be hooked up directly to the car battery...now to find out if my dealership will install that for me!

          Here's another crazy question...how about putting a fully charged car battery in the trunk...how much power can I pull out of a car battery say with an 90w laptop running off of it? Or should I just stick with hooking up my inverter directly to the car battery?

          Comment


          • #6
            hook up the inverter yourself. its not that hard
            '98 Explorer Sport
            http://mp3car.zcentric.com (down atm)
            AMD 800mhz 192megs RAM 60gig hard drive 9 inch widescreen VGA
            80% done

            Comment


            • #7
              Huh?

              Originally posted by hijinks21
              hook up the inverter yourself. its not that hard

              Wah? How in the world do I get the inverter cables from the car battery to the cockpit where all the devices are? Isn't there a firewall between the cockpit and the engine where the battery is?

              Comment


              • #8
                Yes, there's a firewall in between but there are some openings in the firewall. Check under your hood for any openings that leads to your car's interior.

                Its not hard, just run the power wire to the battery and the ground to a spot on the vehicle's chassis.

                Be sure to put a fuse in between the inverter and the battery with the power wire.
                EPIA 800, DWW-7VGA LCD w/Touchscreen, 256mb ram, dvd rom, ati radeon 7000 video card, 80 gb 3.5" hard drive.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks again!

                  Originally posted by bjm2020
                  Yes, there's a firewall in between but there are some openings in the firewall. Check under your hood for any openings that leads to your car's interior.
                  Ok, when I get home I'll have to check that out on my 4 door civic! WOOOOO, this is going to be sweet, watch the cables they gave me with the inverter are too short!

                  Hmm...what's this I read on a website:

                  For powering loads of over 150 watts, you should connect the inverter directly to your car battery. This requires a 4-gauge power cable and draws power directly from the positive battery terminal. An in-line fuse or circuit breaker (typically 80 amp) installed near the battery is a must. Without one, an accidental short circuit could pose a fire hazard and damage your inverter, not to mention your car itself.

                  An in-line fuse or circuit breaker...oh for the love of...... I might go back to my two stand alone batteries in the trunk idea! Does this inverter have a built in circuit breaker? it sounds like it from the description:

                  # Automatic safety monitoring circuitry to protect the inverter, and your battery, from inadvertent overload conditions
                  # Auto shutdown protects against overload, short-circuit, high temperature and low and high battery conditions

                  http://www.canadiantire.ca/assortmen...=1067979984108

                  Anyone know if how long batteries last if you were to use it constantly "stand alone" on a 90w device like a laptop?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If you put a battery in your trunk, you would have to run wires to the battery in the front of the car anyways. The inverter would run the batteries flat after a few hours unless they're tied to the car's alternator somehow and get charged while the car is running.

                    If you do decide to do this, hook the batteries up in parallel. NOT SERIES! You don't want to try running 24 or 36 volts (depending on how many batteries you add) through your cars electrical system. You would also need some sort of diode to keep the cars engine from drawing power off the battery, but still letting it charge.
                    A digital mind lost in an analog world.

                    Learn to ask smart questions!
                    http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

                    My car PC: The Lost Cause!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      and putting batteries in the trunk would be WAY harder than just doing the invertor correctly on the primary battery. AND you would still need to do the inline fuse thing...any time you are running an unregulated hot wire through the body of the car you need a fuse on it.
                      MP3 MR2 (click here for details)
                      Hardware: EPIA M10000, 512Meg Ram, 5.6"TFT, Opus 150watt DC-DC PSU
                      Software: Windows 2000, Media Engine 2.0

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                      • #12
                        Hmm!

                        Originally posted by telekineticfool
                        and putting batteries in the trunk would be WAY harder than just doing the invertor correctly on the primary battery. AND you would still need to do the inline fuse thing...any time you are running an unregulated hot wire through the body of the car you need a fuse on it.
                        And where would I purchase this circuit breaker to put in between my car battery and the inverter? Is this the one? It's hard to tell from the picture...where and how does this connect to the battery and the the inverter.

                        Here's the link to the fuse holder: http://www.radioshack.com/product.as...Fid=270%2D1237

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by yuprules
                          And where would I purchase this circuit breaker to put in between my car battery and the inverter? Is this the one? It's hard to tell from the picture...where and how does this connect to the battery and the the inverter.

                          Here's the link to the fuse holder: http://www.radioshack.com/product.as...Fid=270%2D1237
                          That would work fine...just buy a pair of large-gauge crimp connectors and cut you invertor wire near the red end and splice that in.

                          So it would go Invertor----[fuse]---battery

                          Also, does your invertor have jumper-cable style clamps on it, or post connectors? You'll want to cut the cable-clamp connectors off if that is what it has, and use space connectors (if your wire is 10-12 gauge) or copper lugs (if it's bigger than that). If you don't understand what I mean, I'll try to get some pictures posted soon.
                          MP3 MR2 (click here for details)
                          Hardware: EPIA M10000, 512Meg Ram, 5.6"TFT, Opus 150watt DC-DC PSU
                          Software: Windows 2000, Media Engine 2.0

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks!

                            Originally posted by telekineticfool
                            That would work fine...just buy a pair of large-gauge crimp connectors and cut you invertor wire near the red end and splice that in.

                            So it would go Invertor----[fuse]---battery

                            Also, does your invertor have jumper-cable style clamps on it, or post connectors? You'll want to cut the cable-clamp connectors off if that is what it has, and use space connectors (if your wire is 10-12 gauge) or copper lugs (if it's bigger than that). If you don't understand what I mean, I'll try to get some pictures posted soon.
                            Yup, it's those cable - clamp ones that came with the inverter...fun fun, I get to cut cables. I feel like I'm in shop class all over again.

                            Someone really should make an FAQ on connecting an inverter/fuse directly to a car battery as this is the most important step for a Carputer/mp3 car. I do hope you can post pictures of the space connectors (I think I know what that is) and copper lugs (wah?).

                            Don't worry, I know WHAT order to connect all these things...my inverter manual tells me to ensure that the inverter is wired up before connecting the + terminal and then last the -. I don't want any exploding car battery!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              lol I'm an idiot, I meant spade connectors...space...hehe...lemme pull up some pics really quick for ya...feel free to PM me if you have any more questions, i did a really major 22 hour straight wiring job on my car to get my carputer running so i feel pretty comfortable.

                              OK, before you do any wiring DISCONNECT THE NEGATIVE TERMINAL (black wire) when I was first learning to wire, I almost electrocuted myself when I absentmindedly touched an unfused large gauge wire to the body of the car while i was running it. Not fun...it was my first experience welding

                              is what you will want...you can buy them at WalMart or Lowe's Hardware or Home Depot or Autozone or wherever...you'll want to get yellow ones (largest common gauge). Look at your battery and make sure that the bolts attached to your lug nut clamps (not the lugs themselves) is small enough to go through the center hole, or, rather, you buy ring connectors large enough to go around that bolt. If you can find connectors that are close, you can always drill/file it a little bit to make it wider.

                              Also, you don't have to connect the black line to the battery...any decent-sized bolt in the body or engine of your car will do. I have mine back by the carputer behind the driver's seat, actually.

                              Also, while you're at it, buy an in-line fuse housing for your invertor. Crimp the ring connector to one fuse lead, and your red invertor wire to the other. Then check the amp rating on your invertor, or find out the watts and volts math to calculate it yourself, and put a fuse of at least that amperage in the holder. Safety First!
                              MP3 MR2 (click here for details)
                              Hardware: EPIA M10000, 512Meg Ram, 5.6"TFT, Opus 150watt DC-DC PSU
                              Software: Windows 2000, Media Engine 2.0

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