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Thread: Back to doing a CarPC project after 5 years

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2011

    Back to doing a CarPC project after 5 years

    Hi all,

    An brief intro... about 5-6 years ago I was quite a regular on the boards here while building a CarPC for my E39 BMW 5-series. I started using RoadRunner (is it now rebranded RideRunner?), and moved to Centrafuse which was brand new at the time. Steering wheel buttons worked through building a small circuit to take the I-Bus signals into an RS232 serial port. The project was a success but with some annoying left-overs, namely Windows XP taking too long to boot/general hibernation flakiness, getting through 3.5" media HDDs every month or so (2.5" drives were too expensive!), and lack of nice dashboard facia for the Lilliput 7" monitor.

    In the end I was going to sell the car, so I brought it back to OEM stock, but then for reasons I won't go into I didn't sell it for another 4 years, doh!!!

    I'm back now, with an E36 3-series I'd like to fit a CarPC to, so I'm building a shopping list (woohoo!) and aiming for a total budget of $500-$600 (all new parts). It seems a ton of things have changed/advanced in the time I've been absent from the scene, so please help me out!

    So, my needs:-
    Music (MP3s)
    GPS (used to use iGuidance - anything better these days?)
    HD quality movies (I get stuck in stationary traffic periodically, and besides, sometimes I just like to listen to the audio of a movie anyway - crazy I know)
    Latest traffic and weather (I used to download to the CarPC from my driveway for the trip ahead - no wardriving)
    Rear/front camera (possibly)

    1) I'm keen on the AMD Fusion motherboards - are they sufficient for the above needs, esp. HD movie playback and can they run Windows 7 adequately? I have an Atom N270 netbook and it's too slow IMHO for anything - I've given it to my offspring to use. Other options?
    2) Is 2GB RAM the max you would typically need?
    3) The car is a convertible - what 7" screen is best for my low-ish budget, knowing I need to have it at least semi-readable in daylight? Ignore the $600 daylight-readable screens - way over my budget!

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Maximum Bitrate kegobeer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Panama City Beach
    1. The Fusion is more than adequate for any HD movie watching and runs Windows 7 with ease. I have the E350M1, along with an Intel SSD and 4GB of ram, and it works like a champ. The D510MO Atom board is also great for a carpc, if you want to stick with Intel. Just remember that you can't legally watch videos in the front seat of your car unless it is in park.

    2. 2GB is fine. Windows 7 32 bit can only use up to 3GB, and Windows 7 will run just fine with 2GB. I only have 4GB because it was cheap at the time I bought it.

    3. If you want to stick to your budget, then you'll need something with at least 400nits, like the 669GL high brightness version. If you can somehow recess it a bit, that will help block some of the direct sunlight.
    1999 Mercury Grand Marquis GS with: ASRock E350M1 w/4GB RAM, 80GB Intel SSD, Opus DCX3.120, Visteon HD Radio + HDR-USB, PL-18N wifi, OBDLink Scan Tool, BTA6210 BT, BU-353, Win 7 Ultimate, CF 4.0, Alpine MRP-F240 + MRP-T220, RF Punch 1572s, Kicker 8" Comp.

  3. #3
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    on the border of northern IL/IN
    ^ +1

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Thanks for the response. Good to hear both the AMD Fusion and E-350 work well. I'm currently deliberating between getting the new VIA Nano X2 or AMD E-350. Any preference you all have? The E-350 comes with the great Radeon onboard graphics, so might do better on graphics-intensive operations, but the VIA X2 seems to compute faster in general, despite the slower clock speed (1.2 GHz compared to the E-350's 1.6 GHz).

    The info you said about the screen is really interesting - I believe I had a Lilliput 669 in my last build, although connected via VGA - I'll be looking at doing an HDMI in this one, for better clarity/less noise.

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