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Thread: Cold weather operators, how do you keep the 'puter warm?

  1. #1
    FLAC greatwhite's Avatar
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    Cold weather operators, how do you keep the 'puter warm?

    Well,

    Temp dipped below -17 c last night. Took 20 mins for the puter to warm up enough to boot.
    I don't mind the 60-odd second boot times, but 20 mins isn't going to cut it (puter is in the trunk and seperate from the passenger compartment).....

    So, has anyone implemented a "warming method" for cold weather operations? Just something to get it up and running as it's more than capable of keeping itself warm once started (as we all know!).

    I need to come up with a solution as teh temps stay low for extended periods of time here (as in months) and very often -17c can be the high.

    I've got a few "switchable" electric heating options running around my head, but would like to see if anyone has gone down this road before.

    Cheers
    For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.
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    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    maybe a fan to circulate cabin air to the trunk & a remote start... might still take a little while, but if you remote start like 15min beforehand, you should be able to boot when you get in the car at least...

  3. #3
    FLAC Machinehead's Avatar
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    There was another thread on this a month or so ago. One suggestion was to use multiple car batteries so the computer never has to be shut down and always stays warm.

    Edit: Link

  4. #4
    FLAC
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    It seems to me that adding heat externally to the system is merely a bandaid to the problem. Your carpc will still take time to warm up with a heater. Ideally, the best solution would be to build your carpc from components that will take the cold. I have been having a ton of cold related problems so I am rebuilding by using a M2-ATX and M10000 motherboard because I have read that combination will work ok (havent tested it yet though).

    Alot of people recommend the remote start thing, or to redirect heat from the heater system. I dont know about other cars, but my car takes a while for the engine temperature to actually rise enough such that the heater will start blowing hot air if the car is just idling. Engine temperature rises much faster when the car is being in use vs idling. So I dont know if 15 minutes of idling will be sufficient to create enough hot air to warm up the pc.

    Do you know what part of the system is having problems in the cold? To warm up the entire system would take alot of wattage and be inefficient. Maybe you can narrow it down to a specific component so that you can either choose to replace that component, or build a heating device out of ceramic resistors.

  5. #5
    Low Bitrate Salmizar's Avatar
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    I had my last unable to locate boot device error today (due to the cold). I just ordered a 16 gig Mtron SSD drive. Lightning fast and solid state, so no worries of it not starting. I can't wait.

  6. #6
    FLAC greatwhite's Avatar
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    I would suspect the HD as I just switched to a 320g drive (3.5) this summer from the 40g drive (3.5) I was using last winter (no issues). Although, it didn't even post which doesn't seem to jibe with the HD being the problem.

    My thoughts are a small electric heat and fan solution that can be switched on when the car starts and runs for a preset time. It would also be switched to disable it in warmer temps or to shut it off when the Mputer starts to boot. Or I may come up with a temperature controlled on off switch. Haven't quite nailed it down yet.............
    For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.
    Leonardo Da Vinci

  7. #7
    FLAC SnyperBob's Avatar
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    check today's www.woot.com

    Cheap solution, maybe hook it up to a timer or some means of being able to shut it off after a few mins...

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  8. #8
    FLAC
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    greatwhite: In one of your replies to one of my cold weather related posts, I somewhat recall you saying you had no problems in the cold Alaskan winters, so it must be your new upgrade. I once did consider a heater for my hard drive. Then after looking at manufacturer recommended specifications, most drives are listed as having a maximum recommended temperature gradient of 20 degrees celsius per hour. If you are trying to bring the drive from -20C to operating 0C in just a few minutes by a heater (exceeding specifications), I would think that this would probably kill your drive much sooner. People seem to say that it is the changes in temperature which kills hardware (causing contractions/expansions), which is why there is all that debate about leaving computer on/turn it off. If you are okay with that, then maybe you could build a heater. I have tried building a 100watt blower type heater which blows hot hair onto my hard drive. That was terribly inefficient and you are probably better off building some type of heater which transfers heat to the drive via convection (such as wrapping the drive with ceramic resistors). In the end, I scrapped the idea and ended up going with an automotive boot drive. For my music, I use a removable 80gb when it isnt winter, and a 2gb usb key during the cold.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    like others have said, the real solution is to use hardware that can handle the temps, either a solid state drive or an automotive drive. average laptop drives in general are more resistant than 3.5" drives from what I've seen, I use a laptop drive for the os & a 3.5 for media... there are times it's too cold for the media drive but I have yet to see it too cold for the laptop drives...

  10. #10
    Self proclaimed spoon feeder TruckinMP3's Avatar
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    -17 C is about 1 F

    I have had no issues down into the single digit F range. I suspect the HD as well. The bearings (when very cold) do not allow the platters to spin at the right speed for correct reading of data.

    In another thread I was asked how cold my system has booted. The coldest I recall seeing in the morning was an air temp of 9 F (about -13 C) no issues. Mostly i do not look at the temp though.

    I am in the process of finally joining the ranks of modern PCs for car use, I'll let you guys know about the changes and the temps as soon as it is in the truck.

    My short term suggestion is get a drive that does not use FDB (fluid dynamic bearings) they seem to be more prone to cold temp issues. That being said, i have no idea if my new drive uses FDBs.
    TruckinMP3
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