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Thread: Low operating temperature hardware (-20C, even -30C)

  1. #1
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    Low operating temperature hardware (-20C, even -30C)

    I'm looking to build a custom car stereo with a LCD display, touch screen, hard drive, wifi, high quality sound output, that supports lossy and lossless codecs (so most likely software decoding). I'd like to have a lot of control on the user interface (I want to build most or all of the software myself).

    The main restriction is operating temperature. I live in Quebec and during winter, temperature goes down to -20, -30 even -35. I need something that wont break. Also need to be resistant to condensation. Would a pico/nano-ITX board work eventho the specs say 0C? Are most LCD sealed and condensation resistant?

    I'm open to suggestions, I can build it entirely by myself (create the whole board), as I can buy something mostly built and modify it afterwards (as long as I have full control on the software).

    I'm a computer engineering student, so don't be afraid to suggest technically difficult solutions.


    My first thought was to buy a TS-7800 from embeddedarm.com with the VGA adapter and use the USB port for wifi and audio out. However, this would be costly (around 700-800$).

    If you have done or seen similar projects, please let me know!


    Thanks all!

  2. #2
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    Also, I'm a little bit concerned about vibration (from the road and the sub). Can that be an issue?

  3. #3
    FLAC
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    Vibration and shock are not of much concern because most hard drives should be able to sustain shocks that would normally kill/injure a man.

    The two main things to look out for are the LCD screen and hard drive. You should get an LCD screen that has LED backlight, not ccfl. I read a test where a ccfl tube rated for 45000 hrs life only lasted about 500 hrs in below freezing temperatures (-20c i think). The colder it gets, the more striking voltage it takes to light up the tube, and you even risk the ccfl not lighting up in the cold (only happens in very extreme cold). As for the harddrive, look for automotive grade drives such as the Hitachi Endurastar or Seagate EE25. You may also experience problems with other pieces of hardware, but there is not really anyway of knowing until you try it out.

  4. #4
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    Well, I was not concerned about the hard drive or LCD right now. Only the actual board (Single board computer, PC104 CPU board, Embedde PC, nano/pico ITX). I only found a few going below 0C, but they are rather expensive and slow.

    I was also concerned about condensation... Will I have to seal the board and LCD?

  5. #5
    FLAC
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    If it gets down to -35, then you will need to worry about your hard drive and lcd. Automotive grade drives cost more for less storage, but you will regret it when you buy a normal drive and find out that its a paperweight in the winter. Most motherboards might only be rated down to 0c, but in reality they should be able to work in your conditions because they are solid state devices. Of course there is always a possibility that even certain solid state components wont function in the cold.

    Condensation is not an issue because the lower the temperature, the less moisture air can hold so there is almost nothing to condense at -35c.

  6. #6
    Maximum Bitrate CarComp's Avatar
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    Just get a 2 gig flash card and an ide to flash adaptor. Use winxp and instead of ntldr, use the enhanced write filter so you don't kill the flash ram. Use a usb storage device to store your music. All inexpensive and robust solutions.
    Get MediaEngine !!!
    Media Engine Download

  7. #7
    Self proclaimed spoon feeder TruckinMP3's Avatar
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    The CMOS battery can show poor performance in extreem cold (need to reset any bios changes you made) I have not seen in in Denver Temps and have been installed many years, but others have described the issue.
    TruckinMP3
    D201GLY2, DC-DC power, 3.5 inch SATA

    Yes, you should search... and Yes, It has been covered before!

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  8. #8
    Low Bitrate
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    look at my car here's also -20 in winter, sometimes -30. carpc has been working since 2005

  9. #9
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    What you need is a heater for your components / computer. At least to warm them up initially until the unit starts producing enough of its own heat.
    Astronomy dew heaters work good for this, or you can make your own.
    Eastern Voltage Research Corp.
    http://www.easternvoltageresearch.com

  10. #10
    FLAC
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    I think the best way to go would be to design your carpc using components that you know will handle the cold. The problem with heaters is that they take time to warm up the components, and they also create "temperature shock" on the components by artificially creating heat. The more powerful the heater, the less time it will be to warm up the compoents, but the more "shock" they will get. Do you really want your drive platters going from -40C to 20C in just a few minutes?

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