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  • Laptop for carputer project

    I am a complete newbie to this hobby. I have done some extensive searching and reading of old posts so please don't shoot me down in flames if I ask questions that have been answered before.

    As I said, I have NO experience with carputers apart from installing Federal Signal siren units into police vehicles and paramedic response cars. I wanted to float this idea to see if it is feasible:

    I have a fairly modern Dell laptop from a friend. The only fault is that it has a broken screen and is pretty much useless as a laptop. I was planning to get a dash mounted touchscreen connected to the laptop in the trunk via USB. The screen would be on a sperate power supply and the laptop comes with a cigarette plug adaptor. Basically the idea would be that when the car is switched on a relay would allow the laptop to run off the car battery (and charge the laptop battery) but when the vehicle is switched off the laptop would have to run off it's internal battery.

    Initially I will be using the computer for music and GPS but plan eventually to have complete touchscreen controls for my emergency siren unit.

    Would this work? If not why not? Be brutal.

  • #2
    Yes it'll work, I have an old laptop that I soldered wires onto the back of the power switch to do this but I have gone down the miniITX route now. Set the power management to shut down after being on battery for a while and never on mains (car adapter) power.

    It's just the switching on that you have to get round if it's in the trunk...
    Old setup
    Epia M10k, Cubid 2699R case, 512MB, 40GB 3.5" drive
    New setup
    Optiplex 260SX (2.8GHz P4, 512MB, 30GB, DVD)
    Xenarc 700IDT, USB hub, 802.11g, bluetooth, P2140, P5V

    Comment


    • #3
      Mark,

      What made you change to the mini ITX route? Is it that much more easier to upgrade than instaling a laptop in?
      Malaysia
      -Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1982 with 1992 Alfa 75 2.0 Twin Spark Engine-

      Comment


      • #4
        Well my laptop is a celeron 566 so not the fastest thing out there. Also the shutdown control functionality you can have with an opus/carnetix etc...

        I originally bought a touch screen that the laptop had trouble with as well, as it has limited resolutions and only one refresh rate for an external monitor....
        Old setup
        Epia M10k, Cubid 2699R case, 512MB, 40GB 3.5" drive
        New setup
        Optiplex 260SX (2.8GHz P4, 512MB, 30GB, DVD)
        Xenarc 700IDT, USB hub, 802.11g, bluetooth, P2140, P5V

        Comment


        • #5
          airborne_cookie im on the same track your on, ive got an extra laptop that im prolly gunna mount in my truck. good luck to you.

          Comment


          • #6
            ok. .I'm on my third carputer now.. and I went down the route of using a laptop, the main reason for this was because I found my M10k epia board was just to dam slow for what I wanted.. so I then looked into getting a faster board, but the epia range doesnt really cut it, so I looked into the others that are available and then I noticed the price creeping up. So when I found a Dell D600 with a cracked screen for £100.. bargin.. so this is what i've done so far..

            now the main problem you will come across how do I turn it on.. off.. and sort out the rest of the stuff ! Below is how i'm doing it.

            I first needed a 12 volt and 5 volt supply, this is needed to give a nice current for my xenarc screen, and also to power my usb 2.0 hub and the combo drive up front. I wanted to delay the amp in turning on, so it was after the laptop, this stops the popping sound and also to power on/off the laptop... so I looked at normal car ATX psu's. Finally deciding on the M1ATX 90w unit. This is what I found -

            The M1ATX psu needed to be modifyed alittle.. As I'm not using a ATX board I needed to join pins 14 and 15 (green & black) this then makes the M1 think its ready to be used and outputs on the rails. Sadly the pulse signal fails to turn the laptop on, but does turn it off.. so I needed to build a seperate circuit for this.. I also found that the M1 wasnt powerfull enough to power the 65watt DC Dell psu that I've used to power the laptop. So all i'm using the M1 for it to provide a steady 12v and 5v rails and also to delay my amp turn on.

            I have added two circuits ;

            1. 12v miniture relay,1kuf cap,10k res these are wired up to 'press my power button'
            2. 12v 30amp relay, wired direct to the battery for powering my psu.

            both the above relays are turned on via the 12v rail from the M1

            I have only just completed all these circuits and its been working for a day or so, but I would expect it to provide a faultless operation.

            I have set the laptop to go into hibernation 10 mins after it starts running on battary.. so far so good.

            As for the benefits from using this laptop.. well as its centrino it can go for 4 hours + just on battery alone, so when I'm parked up outside my house I can just remote into it via the wifi and do anything I want. It has a 32mb vga ATI card built in.. bluetooth built in .. etc.. etc.. very please with the speed of it so far. I'm also using a seperate usb soundcard.. at the moment this is only for input(mic) rather than output. I am just using the onboard soundcard for this. Only reason for this is to save running a mic wire down the side of the car.. only 3 wires running up the side.. 1 x usb2.0 into a 7 port hub, 1 x vga cable and the other is a 3 core cable which carrys 12+, 5+, neg upto the front to power the screen and hub. So upfront I've got the screen, usb2.0 hub, keyboard, wifi, compro actionmate tv, combo drive.. think thats it for the moment but I want to add a mem card reader. I will provide pics an dmore details once its finished.. its all hanging out of the glovebox atm :-)

            anyway hope some of this info helps

            cheers

            CdR
            Follow me on Twitter

            http://www.FreeICE.co.uk

            Comment


            • #7
              I've been planning on a car computer for some time. Finally it occured to me to use my old 433 celeron laptop.

              I picked up a docking station for 18 bucks on ebay and mounting it in the trunk with a vcr bracket to keep it off the floor. The dock gives me some pci slots too.

              There's more info at my blog

              Nice that when I want to work on it, I just yank it from the dock.
              GE Cache Builder | [email protected] |Coolstuff :autospeed.com | bit-tech.net | Nitemax Ultra Pinouts

              Comment


              • #8
                I removed my p4 shuttle to relace it with a centrino laptop......a carputer benifits alot with mobile technology in many ways, not the least of which are much lower power consuption....battery backup/tank that is supported/monitored/controlled by the motherboard/bios.....low heat generation....the list goes on & on......I would go out on a limb & say that I think the right laptop install can be superior to most desktop alternatives....maybe a bit more of a pain in the *** installation wise.....but definately at least as good if not better......
                MY NEWEST INSTALL:modded infiniti fx with big screen

                first windows carpc install........my liquid cooled LVDS screen :D

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by turbocad6
                  I removed my p4 shuttle to relace it with a centrino laptop......a carputer benifits alot with mobile technology in many ways, not the least of which are much lower power consuption....battery backup/tank that is supported/monitored/controlled by the motherboard/bios.....low heat generation....the list goes on & on......I would go out on a limb & say that I think the right laptop install can be superior to most desktop alternatives....maybe a bit more of a pain in the *** installation wise.....but definately at least as good if not better......
                  I dunno, I think it's less of a pain. All I had to figure out was how to click the power button automatically. Actually the hardest part I had so far was hanging the bracket for it in the trunk. Though a nice little mini-atx seems cleaner.
                  GE Cache Builder | [email protected] |Coolstuff :autospeed.com | bit-tech.net | Nitemax Ultra Pinouts

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CdRsKuLL
                    ok. .I'm on my third carputer now.. and I went down the route of using a laptop, the main reason for this was because I found my M10k epia board was just to dam slow for what I wanted.. so I then looked into getting a faster board, but the epia range doesnt really cut it, so I looked into the others that are available and then I noticed the price creeping up. So when I found a Dell D600 with a cracked screen for £100.. bargin.. so this is what i've done so far..

                    now the main problem you will come across how do I turn it on.. off.. and sort out the rest of the stuff ! Below is how i'm doing it.

                    I first needed a 12 volt and 5 volt supply, this is needed to give a nice current for my xenarc screen, and also to power my usb 2.0 hub and the combo drive up front. I wanted to delay the amp in turning on, so it was after the laptop, this stops the popping sound and also to power on/off the laptop... so I looked at normal car ATX psu's. Finally deciding on the M1ATX 90w unit. This is what I found -

                    The M1ATX psu needed to be modifyed alittle.. As I'm not using a ATX board I needed to join pins 14 and 15 (green & black) this then makes the M1 think its ready to be used and outputs on the rails. Sadly the pulse signal fails to turn the laptop on, but does turn it off.. so I needed to build a seperate circuit for this.. I also found that the M1 wasnt powerfull enough to power the 65watt DC Dell psu that I've used to power the laptop. So all i'm using the M1 for it to provide a steady 12v and 5v rails and also to delay my amp turn on.

                    I have added two circuits ;

                    1. 12v miniture relay,1kuf cap,10k res these are wired up to 'press my power button'
                    2. 12v 30amp relay, wired direct to the battery for powering my psu.

                    both the above relays are turned on via the 12v rail from the M1

                    I have only just completed all these circuits and its been working for a day or so, but I would expect it to provide a faultless operation.

                    I have set the laptop to go into hibernation 10 mins after it starts running on battary.. so far so good.

                    As for the benefits from using this laptop.. well as its centrino it can go for 4 hours + just on battery alone, so when I'm parked up outside my house I can just remote into it via the wifi and do anything I want. It has a 32mb vga ATI card built in.. bluetooth built in .. etc.. etc.. very please with the speed of it so far. I'm also using a seperate usb soundcard.. at the moment this is only for input(mic) rather than output. I am just using the onboard soundcard for this. Only reason for this is to save running a mic wire down the side of the car.. only 3 wires running up the side.. 1 x usb2.0 into a 7 port hub, 1 x vga cable and the other is a 3 core cable which carrys 12+, 5+, neg upto the front to power the screen and hub. So upfront I've got the screen, usb2.0 hub, keyboard, wifi, compro actionmate tv, combo drive.. think thats it for the moment but I want to add a mem card reader. I will provide pics an dmore details once its finished.. its all hanging out of the glovebox atm :-)

                    anyway hope some of this info helps

                    cheers

                    CdR
                    HOLY SH**..... I could never do this. i think ill just cram my laptop somewhere up front and push the pwr button... sounds nice though!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jon102034050
                      HOLY SH**..... I could never do this. i think ill just cram my laptop somewhere up front and push the pwr button... sounds nice though!
                      It's not that bad. I'm sure you'd be able to manage with a little more instruction, but at least you know you have limitations...
                      Da_Kooz

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        ............and also there is nothing wrong with just installing it up front & hitting the power button if that's what you want.......it's still better than nothing.......each person here does things on different levels....yeah your'e first one may not be all that sophisticated....but I'm sure most people you see here with elaborate systems started out simple & evolved from there....
                        MY NEWEST INSTALL:modded infiniti fx with big screen

                        first windows carpc install........my liquid cooled LVDS screen :D

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          good call turbocad!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by turbocad6
                            ............and also there is nothing wrong with just installing it up front & hitting the power button if that's what you want.......it's still better than nothing.......each person here does things on different levels....yeah your'e first one may not be all that sophisticated....but I'm sure most people you see here with elaborate systems started out simple & evolved from there....
                            yeah your right.. the more complicated your install is.. the greater chance of it not working at all.. and things have a way of going tits up just as you want to show it off to a m8.. I generally split my install up into sections.. so I can make sure everything is working as it should. I've completed the first phase now I think.. onto the next.. headrests / voice operated / live tracking .. should be fun !

                            CdR
                            Follow me on Twitter

                            http://www.FreeICE.co.uk

                            Comment

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