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  • Total Beginner, please help me out!

    I am very interested in learning about carputers for the purpose of installing on in my truck and for making money in the future! I know how to install most electrical things on a car... but I no nothing about computers. When I look at a motherboard I have no idea what all the numbers mean! Is that book thats in the MP3car store a good place to start?

  • #2
    First off, welcome to the forums. I'm a n00b too, I just started seriously looking at this a few months ago and I'm already in the process of an install. So don't worry with a bit of patience and reading you'll pick things up fast.

    Start at the FAQ Emporium. Read everything you can. Read the newbie forum, and all the answers given. Finally look at the worklogs and "show off your project forums" for ideas.

    A typical car PC project looks like this:

    - CPU/Motherboard. Some sort of lower powered PC. Some people use mobile Intel or Athlon chips, some people use VIA EPIA motherboard/chip combos (these are really small and low power).

    - Location and case. There are several cases depending on the motherboard you choose, many people make their own. You may not need one depending on your location. Most people like to hide their install in the trunk, hatch, glovebox, under a seat.

    - Power, some people use DC->AC inverters and regular computer power supplies (which do AC->DC). Others uses DC->DC power supplies made for this hobby. These take the noise power that your car's electrical system provides and makes a pretty stable 12V/5V/3V source.

    - Screen. Most people use 7"-10" VGA touchscreens. The screen connects to the regular 15-pin output of your normal video card (or on-board video), the touchscreen connects to the PC via USB and becomes your "mouse".

    - FrontEnd software. Check out the software forums. Download, install, and run as many of the front ends as you can. This will be your interface at the touchscreen. You'll probably like one more than the others, use it. It doesn't matter if others hate it and you love it. It's your carPC.

    - Harddrive and CD/DVD drive. We use either regular 3.5" hard drive (these take more power) or smaller 2.5" laptop hard drive (more expensive, less likely to have a spare one lying aorund). For CD/DVD drives many people use extern al USB drives so they can be in the dash far away from the PC (IDE cables only go about 36").

    - Sound output/Headunit replacement. This is to generalize. It totally depends on what your setup is now and what you want to do in the end. Many people get rid of their stock radio to make room for a screen. The carPC becomes their sole source of audio and connects to an amp which drives the car's speakers. Other people keep the head unit and connect the carPC as an auxillary input to their headunit, like an XM radio or CD changer and let the headunit drive the speakers. There's really no good AM radio solution for carPCs so keeping the headunit is a must have for some people, the FM solutions exist, but aren't great.

    - GPS/Wireless Internet, backup cameras, etc. I haven't put much thought or research into these, but they are all just PC accessories. If you can buy a USB GPS reciever for a laptop you can use it in a carPC.
    My worklog.
    Status: VM GTI sold, got out of the CarPC tinkering hobby, but I still think about getting back in.

    Comment


    • #3
      ^ Very well put together. That helps me out a lot, thanks!
      Learn first, then Build.
      http://www.newcelica.org/photopost/d...741New_sig.jpg

      Comment


      • #4
        kbryd, this is a very good start. Is there any need to have a sticky that is this post? I have been kicking around a few ideas for quite some time. I have come up with a game plan, and have started purchasing items...

        1. A 12v 3a power supply converter. I figure this should be among the first items to purchase because if my power requirements exceed what this power converter can supply, I'm going to screw up my battery.

        2. A case. I managed to obtain a case from work that seems to be about a mini-atx or mini-itx mobo size.

        3. A DC psu. This seems to be the best solution. Going from DC (car) to AC then back to DC (PC) again seems like it would add not only a lot of noise, but introduce heat and other problems as well. The pc mobo needs DC anyway, so that leaves me with either a M1-ATX or Opus, right?

        4. Motherboard/CPU/RAM. All tied together IMO, so as long as it fits in the case, the minimum would be either Athlon 1800 or Intel M processor. Low heat and low power consumption (like kbyrd said) are what I'm shooting for.

        5. Hard drive. laptop or compact flash. CF is attractive for me, because I'd rather have the OS and the media on totally separate physical devices. Seems easier to expand/upgrade/backup in my mind to do it this way.

        6. Everything else. Screens, remote, keyboard, mouse, external systems (gps, fm, etc.). No idea about this. I just want to get my flac and video collection into my car.

        Thanks for the guidance...off to purchase!
        My Worklog

        Comment


        • #5
          awesome post kbyrd.

          my $.02...

          don't try to skimp, just because you find a motherboard that is a good deal doesn't mean that it'll be cheaper in the long run. I would search the forums and copy someone elses set up that you find attractive (performance wise). the via epia/m1-atx combo has been proven on the streets by many of us and it would be a wise first choice.

          one thing that isn't explained that often (which will be helpful when shoping for parts) is what mini-itx, micro-atx, atx, etc. mean. basically it's just a form factor... how big the mobo's are and how the mounting holes are arranged.


          also... dont ever be limited from what you can buy... don't be afraid of using things meant for other purposes in your car (many people use an ikea key box for the computer case... a few of us use empty amp shrouds)
          New System in progress:
          M10k
          Phaze TD1500 ~> Dynaudio MD130
          Phaze TD1500 ~> Seas g18rnx/p
          Zapco Ref 500.1 ~ 12" tc-9
          Behringer DCX2496 ~ Envision Electronics psu
          Transflective Xenarc

          My Car Pc Install
          My Boat Pc worklog

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by peecee
            kbryd, this is a very good start. Is there any need to have a sticky that is this post? I have been kicking around a few ideas for quite some time. I have come up with a game plan, and have started purchasing items...

            1. A 12v 3a power supply converter. I figure this should be among the first items to purchase because if my power requirements exceed what this power converter can supply, I'm going to screw up my battery.
            What's this? Seriously, I don't know what a power supply converter is. Also, 3amps at 12volts gets you 36watts probably isn't enough to power much of anything fun.

            Originally posted by peecee
            3. A DC psu. This seems to be the best solution. Going from DC (car) to AC then back to DC (PC) again seems like it would add not only a lot of noise, but introduce heat and other problems as well. The pc mobo needs DC anyway, so that leaves me with either a M1-ATX or Opus, right?
            Well, "best" is in the eye of the buyer. I like the design simplicity of an DC PSU, but using an inverter can mean one less thing to buy if you have an inverter and a whole computer to sacrifice to the project. Also, there are a few manufacturers of DC PSUs

            Originally posted by peecee
            4. Motherboard/CPU/RAM. All tied together IMO, so as long as it fits in the case, the minimum would be either Athlon 1800 or Intel M processor. Low heat and low power consumption (like kbyrd said) are what I'm shooting for.
            You could also look at the Via EPIA motherboards. It's their x86 compatible chip soldered on the motherboard. They do surprisingly well. If you throw out DVD watching as a requirement, you really don't need much computing horsepower.

            Originally posted by peecee
            5. Hard drive. laptop or compact flash. CF is attractive for me, because I'd rather have the OS and the media on totally separate physical devices. Seems easier to expand/upgrade/backup in my mind to do it this way.
            I bought a laptop drive, but they're more expensive, but (in theory) more shock resistant. Many, many people use regular 3.5" without problems. The advantage is they're cheaper and many of us have spares around, making them "free".

            Many people use CF while chasing faster boot times. To me, it's not clear that a CF drive helps here at all.
            My worklog.
            Status: VM GTI sold, got out of the CarPC tinkering hobby, but I still think about getting back in.

            Comment


            • #7
              i'm using a 3.5" drive mounted horizontally (due to case restrictions) and i have had no problems with it so far.
              New System in progress:
              M10k
              Phaze TD1500 ~> Dynaudio MD130
              Phaze TD1500 ~> Seas g18rnx/p
              Zapco Ref 500.1 ~ 12" tc-9
              Behringer DCX2496 ~ Envision Electronics psu
              Transflective Xenarc

              My Car Pc Install
              My Boat Pc worklog

              Comment


              • #8
                great post kbyrd.

                My first carPC involves an Epia M10K, M1-ATX and 7" Xenarc screen. I do not regret going with this setup at all. Screen is in the dash and pc is in the glovebox.
                CarPC #3: 99% Complete
                Pentium M 1.7Ghz, 1GB DDR2 RAM
                DVD/CD-RW installed in dash below monitor
                OEM LCD relocated for 7" Touchscreen
                Wi-Fi, GPS, PS2 controllers...
                500+ full albums
                4,000+ video games
                music videos, movies, & more!
                old carPC

                Comment


                • #9
                  1. A 12v 3a power supply converter. I figure this should be among the first items to purchase because if my power requirements exceed what this power converter can supply, I'm going to screw up my battery.
                  What's this? Seriously, I don't know what a power supply converter is. Also, 3amps at 12volts gets you 36watts probably isn't enough to power much of anything fun.
                  I was trying to say that I have a 12v 3a ac->dc power inverter. Unit is powered by house power, output is dc so I can bench build my entire setup in my house and then transfer it to my car. I read the Car PC Hacks book, and I ended up already having the exact item the author recommends (220-0504 I think) for setting this up. RS also carries a 12v 15a power inverter, but I owned one already, so I was hoping to not have to worry about buying another one.
                  Well, "best" is in the eye of the buyer. I like the design simplicity of an DC PSU, but using an inverter can mean one less thing to buy if you have an inverter and a whole computer to sacrifice to the project. Also, there are a few manufacturers of DC PSUs
                  True. Best to me is most efficient. I don't have a psu, so I know I'm going to be purchasing one anyway. I figure DC is the way to go since that is what the car supplies and what the computer requires. I thought home pc psu's inverted power from AC to DC, right? The opus 150w looks very attractive.
                  Originally Posted by peecee
                  4. Motherboard/CPU/RAM. All tied together IMO, so as long as it fits in the case, the minimum would be either Athlon 1800 or Intel M processor. Low heat and low power consumption (like kbyrd said) are what I'm shooting for.
                  You could also look at the Via EPIA motherboards. It's their x86 compatible chip soldered on the motherboard. They do surprisingly well. If you throw out DVD watching as a requirement, you really don't need much computing horsepower.
                  True. I had totally forgotten about those. I don't plan to watch DVDs. Mostly mpeg2 videos.
                  I bought a laptop drive, but they're more expensive, but (in theory) more shock resistant. Many, many people use regular 3.5" without problems. The advantage is they're cheaper and many of us have spares around, making them "free".

                  Many people use CF while chasing faster boot times. To me, it's not clear that a CF drive helps here at all.
                  I've got tons of 3.5" drives laying around. I was doing the CF from more of a stability and shock-proof perspective. Speed of booting isn't all that important, as long as it comes online within a few minutes. Maybe a 2.5" laptop drive would be a better way to go. O/S bloat seems to get worse all the time.
                  My Worklog

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kbyrd
                    You could also look at the Via EPIA motherboards. It's their x86 compatible chip soldered on the motherboard. They do surprisingly well. If you throw out DVD watching as a requirement, you really don't need much computing horsepower.
                    So are you saying that a Via mobo would not be ideal for watching DVD's on? Does it get the job done, or does the video get choppy, or something else? I was planning to go with an M10000 and an external USB external 8x DVD drive.
                    Learn first, then Build.
                    http://www.newcelica.org/photopost/d...741New_sig.jpg

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      evil eye,
                      I don't know for sure. I have an M10K, but I don't plan to watch video on my system. I believe the M series has on board acceleration for mpeg. I'm sure someone else on the forum can give a thumbs up/down.
                      My worklog.
                      Status: VM GTI sold, got out of the CarPC tinkering hobby, but I still think about getting back in.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        First of all forgive me for I am very new to the forum idea. I am very excited about the Carputer idea, I have a 1994 Toyota and would like GPS, Mp3, DVD, Writeable drive for DVD RW Etc.... I believe I have much room throughout the truck for the case and power (more questions on those to read up on). A few non-findable questions...

                        1.) I have a 2 amp and 1 cap. system in my truck, with 2 Kicker CompVR 12's. With the power I'd need for when the Amp's hit hard and the Computer, do I need an isolator with another battery?

                        2.) Has anyone had problems with excessive vibration from their stereo?

                        3.) The main reason is to have a GPS Nav system in my truck, I do a lot of (mild, trail finding) 4X4ing. What systems are out there? Is there a restriction on the GPS used? Do some get better signaling inside the truck? Do antennas work?

                        4.) I have looked at the Xenarc 7"TSV, though through reading I've found the screen and computer shuts down hard if the Ign. is turned off... But with modifications this can be fixed. What's the needed expertise to have them shut down softly(?) after say a 10 minute delay of the Ign. being turned off?

                        5.) I looked for a picture and info page on my account to load my work in progress, does this site not believe in showing a work in progress? I can only find finished car's and trucks. I would like to see what worked and didn't work.

                        Thank you for your help and expertise. If the answers to these questions are just blatantly obvious, please point me in the right direction

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          first as already said, that was a great post kbyrd. Very good summery of the issues involved with carpcs.

                          As an advocate for using mobile processor solutions, I just wanted mention to everyone looking to consider seriously a mobile processor as opposed to a via. Personally I feel that Via's should only be considered if size is of the utmost importance. Mobile Athlons (32 bit) run as little as 35 watts under full load. Some Celeron and Pentium m's run as little as 25 watt. The power difference between the via and either mobile processor is negligible, the difference in performance is almost immeasurable. Via M 10k and 12k run equivalent to about a 600-900 MHz P3.

                          As far as cost the Athlons mobile is by far the least expensive solution, and the Pentium m is the most expensive. The via falls in the middle.

                          If size is a big issue, Shuttle makes awesome setups that are smaller then a mini-ATX footprint.
                          My Install

                          Software:
                          CFiG v1
                          iGuidance Plugin for CF

                          CarShell
                          Working shell for a CarPC

                          StopWatch
                          StopWatch plugin remade for centrafuse RC1

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Resonant_Dream
                            First of all forgive me for I am very new to the forum idea. I am very excited about the Carputer idea, I have a 1994 Toyota and would like GPS, Mp3, DVD, Writeable drive for DVD RW Etc.... I believe I have much room throughout the truck for the case and power (more questions on those to read up on). A few non-findable questions...

                            1.) I have a 2 amp and 1 cap. system in my truck, with 2 Kicker CompVR 12's. With the power I'd need for when the Amp's hit hard and the Computer, do I need an isolator with another battery?

                            2.) Has anyone had problems with excessive vibration from their stereo?
                            Generally speaking I do not beleive this has been a problem. The first question I personally am not that sure on, I do not have a big audio system. check out the car audio forum.
                            http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=44

                            Originally posted by Resonant_Dream
                            3.) The main reason is to have a GPS Nav system in my truck, I do a lot of (mild, trail finding) 4X4ing. What systems are out there? Is there a restriction on the GPS used? Do some get better signaling inside the truck? Do antennas work?
                            There are differnt softwares availible, check out the GPS forum for more. Some softwares will not work with some receivers.
                            Originally posted by Resonant_Dream
                            4.) I have looked at the Xenarc 7"TSV, though through reading I've found the screen and computer shuts down hard if the Ign. is turned off... But with modifications this can be fixed. What's the needed expertise to have them shut down softly(?) after say a 10 minute delay of the Ign. being turned off?
                            I have never had a xenarc or a lilli, and i know that there are threads addressing this for them. But i know with my screen that i had a choice to run it one of two ways, I could regulate the power from the batt wire that used to feed my stock HU or the power wire that works in ACC or run. I have tried both, if I use the memory (batt) wire my screen will go into standby while the computer is off, if i use the power wire it works just like my HU used too (while the key is in ACC or run). Currently i have it setup to do the latter.
                            Originally posted by Resonant_Dream
                            5.) I looked for a picture and info page on my account to load my work in progress, does this site not believe in showing a work in progress? I can only find finished car's and trucks. I would like to see what worked and didn't work.
                            There is a subforum of Completed Projects called worklogs.

                            It is there that you will find what you are looking for.

                            http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=84
                            Originally posted by Resonant_Dream
                            Thank you for your help and expertise. If the answers to these questions are just blatantly obvious, please point me in the right direction
                            My Install

                            Software:
                            CFiG v1
                            iGuidance Plugin for CF

                            CarShell
                            Working shell for a CarPC

                            StopWatch
                            StopWatch plugin remade for centrafuse RC1

                            Comment

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