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Thread: Can a car-computer replace a stereo head unit?

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate CA 3000GT's Avatar
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    Can a car-computer replace a stereo head unit?

    Hey, I dont know so much about car stereo's and hope some of the masters here might help me out w/ some info.

    I have a seperate amp, and plan to use an ITX motherboard (has 1 pci slot) I was thinking I could get a sound card that would have all the same functions as my stereo head unit, and toss my current infinity head unit.

    There has to be a sound card that can:
    -have an output to the amp,
    -work with all my speakers
    -FM tuner
    -etc..
    Anyone know if this is possible?

    Background:

    I have a 3000GT, and I love the car, but there aint much room inside it... So, I decided to go with a in-dash LCD (10.4 datalux).
    (VS having it mounted some place where it might get smacked, or get in the way)

    So, if the LCD goes in the dash... where does the 4" high Infinity head unit go?... perhaps I can get rid of it and power my speakers off the computer? If I can get rid of the head unit, I can put the ITX computer where the head unit used to be, behind the LCD.

    Am I going to loose audio quality this way?

    Thanks!
    Dan

  2. #2
    Constant Bitrate
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    You can hook your computer up to your amps right from your soundcard if you'd like and use the WinAmp volume as your main volume ( just make sure you turn it down low when you shutdown or else you'll get a loud surprise when it starts playing again on reboot).
    I decided to go with a in-dash LCD (10.4 datalux).
    i don't think you can get a in-dash 10.4", maybe your refering to custom installs here on this board but they are not "in-dash" systems so to speak.
    GTI - Palm IIIe controlled with Radio faceplate hack for keyboard control of WinAmp w/ Vocal Genre playlist loading.
    VW Bus - 10.4" vga lcd. Loaded with same software as above.

  3. #3
    Constant Bitrate CA 3000GT's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply!

    Yeah, its a custom install. the datalux is an lcd that was part of a police computer... I bought it off ebay. Its just a 10.4" VGA. Once I remove the radio, Im gonna remove the plastic section around the radio, and bolt a padded case for the lcd there (came with the lcd). then some cutout piece of plastic or felt to clear the space between the edeges of the lcd and the dash, then a piece of plexiglass goes over it.

    So, now I know it can be done I have new questions

    1. Do I lose any sound quality by doing this? I know computers... but not audio.. so whats the sound quality difference between a Infinity head unit and a sound card.... which sound card should I buy?

    2. The ITX board has built in sound... how good is that? is that good enough? perhaps I dont even need an extra card? has anyone done this?

    3. Anyone want to sell me some ITX stuff? (mobo, case, etc)

    4. Anyone tried mounting an ITX mobo in the shaft in which the radio used to be housed?


    Thanks,
    Dan

  4. #4
    Constant Bitrate
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    I believe you will find that it is not quite as simple as all that. You cannot just plug your computer into your amp. The problem is that your head unit turns the amp on, so without it installed you will need to simulate its presence in that respect. The easiest way would be to wire the power on line (should be a 12v input) directly to your accessory line. This presumes your computer will always be on when the car is on of course... Anyway, you'll need to keep your eye out for little gotchas like that.

  5. #5
    FLAC
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    I think if you take time to read more around the forums you will find many answers to your questions.

    I have designed a case to use a double din slot for my computer, but I decided to scrap it and do an under the seat case. Perhaps if I find some more free time in the future I might go at it again.

    Take a look at the car project forum (be sure to go to the bottom and change the date range so you can see all of the projects) You'll see many of your questions answered in peoples project threads.
    aka Kumaneko
    "Don't make me moderate your ***!"
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    mp3car system is currently FUBAR and finances do not allow for a correction of that situation
    Real computer hackers use a rotary cutting tool on their motherboard.

  6. #6
    Low Bitrate w|tch's Avatar
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    Another possibility is to run the remote power wire directly to the battery (or other always hot lead), get a 5v relay (w/ 12v in/out, 5v switch) and wire your parallel port for 5v output into the relay. That might be a bit more work thatn you're lookin to do tho.

    I'd recommend using some sort of intermediary audio connection platform as well. I.e. take the line out from the puter into a unit that splits it up into 4 outs... right/left/front/rear. Luxma sells such a beast that also has a TV-Tuner built into it.

    Just some thoughts.

    If you guys are lookin' for lightweight car puters or toys to go with it (LCDs, etc) feel free to stop by our website/online forums.
    Scott Byers, President 5 Speed PC
    www.5speedpc.com

  7. #7
    Variable Bitrate peter3's Avatar
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    take a look at media-engine.
    supports radio as well.
    Hope to find out in a week when i get my dlink usb radio card.


    As for the amps:
    get a relay
    place it with the coil between the 12V powerline from your powersupply
    And conact the switch site, one end to the carbatt. and the other to the amp con. that turns the amp on.

    Or if you don't want that use a normal switch and do it manualy

  8. #8
    Maximum Bitrate albysure's Avatar
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    i am not using any head unit for my project. i have the amp remote triggered by the 12v (yellow) wire from the ps through a relay. i have a delay circuit that delays the amp turn-on so that it won't get the computer turn-on thump.

    and as far as the sound i believe that most have chose not to use the on board sound because of the lower output voltage.

  9. #9
    Low Bitrate w|tch's Avatar
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    That delay Circuit is slick... Nice clean install man, very well thought out.
    Scott Byers, President 5 Speed PC
    www.5speedpc.com

  10. #10
    Constant Bitrate CA 3000GT's Avatar
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    Hmmmm, this idea is very tempting to me... mainly because of space constraints (the radio area is the only good place to mount the lcd..)

    So... The computer is likely to be on most of the time, but it wont always be playing music... so... wont it cause some trouble to have the amp on all the time? Wont I be getting little bits of static as Im driving around w/ the music off?

    Shouldnt the amp only be on when music is actually playing?

    Even if I use a time delayed relay, the amp will still always be on when the computer is on, right?

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