I'm planning to install a CarPC on my car. Currently I have a 2-DIN in-dash headunit with TV tuner (Kenwood DDX-7025). I'm happy with it, but I'm thinking that a car CarPC will be a better solution.
Anyway, let me explain first what I'm using my current headunit for, and what I'd like my CarPC to be capable of. Listening to music of course, mostly radio, but also my own playlists would be preferable if it was easier to do with my current unit (I mean, now I have to burn CD/DVDs, which is a process I hate). I'd also like to have GPS capabilities, which I don't right now, as the Garmin add-on module of Kenwood is terrible for my country (Greece) regarding its navigation maps etc... Like I said before, I also have the TV tuner module for my headunit, which I have lightly used, mainly because of problems with its reception. I mean, any time I've used it was during long trips, but channel frequencies change from place to place, so it's difficult to change frequencies while driving. Anyway, it'd still be nice to have TV capabilities in my CarPC too. Finally, Bluetooth connection with my HTC HD2 phone to directly dial or answer calls would be definitely a great feature.
So, to sum up, my requirements are: 1. Music (radio and custom playlists), 2. GPS, 3. TV, 4. OBD-II monitoring (didn't mention it before, as I already have the appropriate VAG-COM USB interface for that), 5. Bluetooth connectivity with phone devices.
From what I've researched so far, I've ended up to the following partial hardware.
1. M350 Universal Mini-ITX enclosure by Mini-Box
2. Intel® Desktop Board DH57JG
3. M2-ATX 160W Intelligent DC-DC PSU
-or, if the 160W will not be able to power my system-
M4-ATX 250W Intelligent DC-DC PSU
So what's remaining to choose is a Bluetooth module, GPS receiver, and of course a TV/radio tuner. For the TV-tuner specifically, here in Greece the TV signal is changing to MPEG-4 so I'd probably need a DVB-T tuner with MPEG-4 decoding capabilities.
For a software that will tie all the above up, I like the Centrafuse platform, which I'll have to research further regarding its customizations, like the features (shortcuts) I'll be able to add on its main screen (shortcut for the VAG-COM software, Bluetooth connection, etc)
PS. Regarding radio, I've already read in here about a guy who used a stand-alone radio tuner (I can't recall its name right now, but it's in my bookmarks), which used a custom made cable to integrate completely with Centrafuse.
PS2: I totally forgot to mention the LCD. My car, like I said before, has already the necessary space to accommodate a 2-DIN display, which is great for an OEM look of it. The problem is that I'll need a frame and a housing for the LCD. So after some research I've found this, which according to its vendor matches the texture of my dashboard, and generally the stock looks of the system.
Connects 2: CT23ST04A - Seat Ibiza/Cordoba/Alhambra/Arosa Double Din Facia
An image of my current display is this. See how the whole system matches my dashboards OEM look
So people, I'd really love to get your feedback/recommendations on my post. I know it's tiring for you to answer similar questions all the time, but honestly I'm reading your forum for three days already, and I'm loosing my mind by some "sick" (lovely) modifications I've seen in here, that in the same time however make me feel lost... :P
As far as your power supply is concerned, you'll want to add up everything you need to power off the power supply (Screen, hard drive, motherboard, processor, USB ports, etc...) and then you can figure out what you're going to need. I've heard good things about the M2, but be sure it's enough to power what you need.
Are you sure you need to do Core i3/i5? A lot of people run systems off Atom powered setups, mine is going to be a Celeron based setup.
If you're pulling the headunit you'll need to put an AMP in to power the speakers. You'll want to take the PSU & the AMP power requirements into consideration and figure out what gauge of wire you'll need to pull to the trunk.
I'd recommend the BU-353 GPS based off the reviews I've read. MP3Car sells it, and I plan on using it in my build.
I'd really recommend Centrafuse based off my 2.0 use, and will be purchasing CF3.0 soon. The Centrafuse forums have a lot of good information on getting radio on the CarPC.
From what I read TV Tuners don't work so well when the car is in motion - hard for them to keep the signal lock.
I sent my bezel for the LCD out to a fabricator (Nexson) and he did the work for my screen's bezel. I think it turned out pretty good, and am excited to put it in the car (lots of pics in my worklog - link in signature). I don't know how confident you are with doing your own fabrication but there is a fabrication section on the forums here. Though I don't know what to tell ya as you're on the other side of that big blue pond
There's also a link to the FAQ in my signature. It's not your ordinary FAQ, it has a lot of good information and would be good to add to your reading material.
Take lots of pictures and let us know how it goes when you start building!
Thanks a lot for your reply.
I have one quick question before I finalize my decision on the power supply. I was talking with a friend who has the M3, while I want the M4.
Well, he was arguing that the M3 has fully configurable times through dipswitches for the power on/shut down etc of the car pc, while for the M4 it is harder to do so through a serial cable.
Is that correct? I've seen that at least the latest M4 power supplies use a USB interface in order to be programmed. So, what serial cable was he talking about? Did a previous design use a serial interface for the same purpose?
The M4 has a set of dip switches for these settings - Page 3 of the manual.
IMPORTANT: Always use the “Hibernate” feature, never use “Standby” as it can severely discharge your battery over extended periods of time. NEVER use “hard-off = NEVER” settings unless you understand the risks of battery depletion. Even with safety limits in place, your battery might be not be able to start your engine. “Hard-off=NEVER keeps your 5VSB rail on at all times”
*AutoLatch is active during the fist 60s of PC operation (and only during the first 60 seconds). For example, If Ignition is turned ON and then OFF right away, M4-ATX will latch Ignition in ON position for the next 60 seconds, allowing your operating system to fully come up. This will prevent disk drive corruption or systems that remain hung in the ON position. After the first 60 seconds of system operation, the AutoLatch feature will be removed and system will shut down at as governed by the “Off-delay” setting.
P0: In this mode, the M4-ATX behaves like a regular ATX power supply. If J6 is connected to the motherboard, M4-ATX will also send a gratuitous “ON pulse” to the motherboard right after power is first applied.
P1 (recommended): Sends ON pulse to motherboard when ignition is ON for more than 5seconds, sends OFF pulse to motherboard 5 seconds after ignition is turned off. Waits another 60 seconds and then shuts down 5VSB to conserve battery. In this mode, the M4-ATX consumes less than 0.5mA. This is our recommended setting.
NOTE: Should you need to reset to factory defaults (in case changes were made via the USB uplink), simply power off the unit, connect a jumper to JP1 and then apply power back up for more than 2 seconds.
The LED light will start to flash rapidly indicating that the factory defaults were loaded. Don’t forget to remove jumper! Disconnect M4-ATX from battery for at least few seconds. You are done!
just wanted to add to the processor debate-- i started with a atom and it worked great for all normal computer tasks. the problem i ran into is that i use some audio processing in my car that can be very processor heavy-- and the atom couldn't handle that. i have since changed the car computer to a pentium dual core, but still use the atom as a home computer with almost no problems(problems being that my family likes to play internet games that are not virus-free).
overall, i would highly recommend a atom setup for audio/gps/video systems. the only reason that i see to go above the atom would be for tasks that are very cpu intensive-- and the toughest thing to remember is that a car computer rarely does everything your home computer needs to do.
I don't mean to hijack the thread, but I'm also considering this motherboard for my car PC upgrade. I'm currently using an Intel D945GCLF2 and it's a great board. I've had it for more than 1.5 years now and while it's still got some value in it, I figured I'll still be able to sell it now to someone who needs it (for car PC, HTPC, or whatever) and then I'll upgrade the motherboard to something like the DH57JG. But then again, how often does a car PC motherboard really need to be upgraded? And do I really need anything better than an Atom-based system? I plan on running a multi-zone setup in future so that might be worth considering, but it's not an immediate priority.
PrinceofAbyss, think of what you'll be using the car PC for. If it's just music, videos, GPS and web surfing, you won't need anything more than an Atom, as soundman98 has said. If you plan on doing statistical analysis of large volumes of data, or audio/video processing, or dual-zone, you might need something more beefy.