Car Computer Basics...
I'm new to this incar computer thing, and was wondering what the basics of putting together a decent car computer system were. I am interesting in using the future computer for DVD playback, data storage and the running of my GPS car-tracking system.
Thanks in advance for your advice, and if someone could recommend a good site with basic know-how for this stuff I'd appreciate it...
I felt just like you when I first came here a little while back. What you need to do is read read read everything in this forum. Use the search button to find specific posts...
Basically, you have a computer (located in the trunk or under a seat or behind the LCD if it's an in-dash type) that runs to an LCD panel or screen (the panel goes inside the dash, a customized job, or the screen sits in front or on the dash on a bracket). The LCD can be touchscreen or not, whichever you can have a keyboard & mouse if you like (wireless is nice).
The basic how-to site that you're looking for is right here ;) .. just read it all.. takes a while but you learn so much. Most people really don't like to answer questions that have already been asked on here.. search for it before asking. I think all newcomers do this tho? I know I did! :D But feel free to post any questions that you can't find here. After all, that's how the questions got answered in the first place ;) ..
building a computer is simple, the tricky part is knowing what you want. there are many options as Ive found out, many go with low wattage integrated motherboards that included everything you need except power supply, hard drive, and ram. these are called VIA motherboards, they even include the processor, but top out at 1ghz, and they are not anything thats gonna run UT2003.
others go with a full computer, either a mini ATX form or full ATX. this is your typical desktop motherboard, it may or may not include integrated features, its up to you and which you select. this option is larger, and requires more power, so you need to properly choose where you want the computer to go, then decide what you can fit, and also how much power you can supply, atx at minumum are looking at 2-250, sometimes 300+ watts, while the VIA computers can run uner 100 with the right setup.
be sure to cool it properly, and when choosing hard drives use a 2.5" laptop drive, they handle bumps much better. same goes for dvd, use a slim drive.
lastly you come to how to power it, you have DC and you need dc, the obvious choice would be a DC-DC powersupply, these for some reason are expensive, particularly for high powered ones. the other is DC-AC-DC use an inverter(~40$) to convert to AC, then use your typical power supply(~40$) like a household computer to go back to DC and plug into the computer. this is the cheaper method. but creates heat, takes space, and is generally inefficient, but can be done just the same.
good luck and have fun.
ACtually, the low powered motherboards are called EPIA's, and most of them are made by VIA VSPD (which also manufacturers P4 motherboards). They also run VIA C3 processors :). But as was said, just browse the board, and you'll see all different combinations of parts used. The Show Off Your Project forum would be a great start I'd think, as you can see what hardware people used, as well as what the install looks like.