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Thread: Help with building my first CarPC

  1. #1
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    Help with building my first CarPC

    OK, Im gonna do it! I wanna build myself a Car PC cuz it sounds badass and looks badass.I can do this!!! LOL

    Anyway, I'm planning on making one for my '95 Cherokee Country
    Here's the current parts list I'm planning on. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to speak, especially if it's a cost saving solution. Basically, I wanna have a Car PC that can surf the internet and play mp3's (already have a FM modulator in the car), and download some stuff, all on a Windows XP or Windows 2000 OS.

    Parts:
    VIA EPIA M10000 w/TV-out $155.00
    20GB 5400RPM Quantam Fireball LM Free, already have
    Sony PsOne LCD screen (planning on using tv-out) $varies, going 2 target
    NETGEAR 54Mbps (802.11g) USB Adapter $60.00
    Keyboard and Mouse Free, already have
    Windows XP or Windows 2000 already have
    Custom case Free


    The power supply is where I'm having trouble. I need some help with that. I plan on using the CD-ROM drive only to install the OS, then I'm removing it and it wont even make it to the car. So, what kinda power supply do I want? I need it to work with my cigarette lighter adapter. Any suggestions on some good cheap DC-power PSU's?

    Also, how does the system look currently? Am I missing anything? This is my first time, so I'd appreciate any suggestions you guys have.

    Thanks,
    Nick

  2. #2
    Constant Bitrate spectrrr's Avatar
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    First off, when you start puttin that thing together, we need to exchange some pics. I've been trying for over a year now to figure out a good way to install one in my 2000 Cherokee. I "think" i've finally hit upon the best solution for me at least. if your having any trouble figuring out a good way to install it, by all means lemmy know and we'll exchange ideas (outa curosity, what state/country you from?).

    now, on to my (limited) thoughts on your setup so far. I'm sure some much more experienced people will have more to add.

    skip the PSone screen, it wont work for what you want to do. first reason being that its too small. second reason being that its composite video. surf the net? not a chance, you wont be able to read anything. same goes for 7" lcd monitors with composite video...they're bigger, but they still wont get you the detail you need.

    hate to say it, but one of the few options you got in that realm (and sadly the cheapest) is a 7" VGA touchscreen from Lilliput. you can get em off ebay for $280. you can go with a little better quality Xenarc display for $400 also.

    now that you eliminated the TV-out need, you may be able to get by without getting it on the motherboard (unless you plan on giving your passengers an lcd monitor to watch movies on, in which case a composite video tft [like the PSone] will work fine).

    I dont have a good link handy to a PSU for you, but there are some good DC/DC PSU's that work with the VIA mb, someone is sure to have it handy.

    Is the keyboard/mouse wireless? I you go with wires, i'm guessing it wont be long before you spring for the wireless =)

    on the topic of control, make sure you think thorugh exactly what you are doing, and how you want it controlled. alot of people use premade frontend programs like MediaCar and others. these offer a number of advantages. they're skinned, and look nice in your car. they also are designed for use with the touchscreens, and work quite well.

    I completly understand the limited funds problem (I've having a good amount of trouble in that area myself), however, her are a couple "extra" options for you to consider in the future.

    GPS - $100 will get you a GPS reciever and software.....never get lost again! I've been using one with my laptop-on-the-seat arrangment for a years now, and love it.

    DVD drive - maybe its just me, but I plan on putting a slimline DVD drive (still havnt decided if I want to spring for the DVD/CDRW combo yet) in the front dash. this gives me alot of options, such as letting the passenger watch a movie or burning a cd for a friend right there.

    The great thing about these computers is each one IS different. everyones got a slightly different idea of what they want to get out of their car-puter, and builds it to meet those needs.

    well, I think i've rambled on for more than long enough, just a little something to hopefully get you thinking thorugh some of the ideas I didnt think to think about untill later.

  3. #3
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    The funds part is where I'm extremely limited. It's gonna present all kinds of problems. First off, I have about 400 bucks to spend here on the WHOLE SYSTEM, and that doesn't leave me much in the way of a screen. That's why I'm desperately searching for one.

    If I can somehow make a VGA connection for the PsOne screen, then it'll all be good. I don't plan on heavy web surfing really, just some basic stuff.

    If a VGA adapter thingamujig will look good enough, I'll go with it. Otherwise, I'm screwed. Maybe I should wait till summer when I get a job and then get the stuff I want. But then I'll be going off to college, where everything gets stolen, so the CarPC will probly be sitting in the dorm most of the time, doing nothing.

    BTW, my Cherokee has a terrible dash setup, so I'm looking on having some sort of screw-in attachment that sticks out from it, and holds the LCD in place.

    I'm gonna swing by Target and get a PsOne LCD and test out the quality with my TV-out video card, just to see what I'd be working with. I hope you're wrong about it, but I bet you're right on target. Also, 5.6 inches isn't that big a deal for me, I don't mind having to scroll over a bit.

  4. #4
    Constant Bitrate spectrrr's Avatar
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    for your sake, I hope the PSone screen will work for ya.....but I doubt it (god i wish it were that simple!).

    funding (and time) issues have put this project off a full year now for me. I think I'll finally have the parts assembled by summer.

    I'm not too worried about my car on campus next year, I'll have a (semi) quick dissconnect setup for the screen, so i can pull it out if i want to.

    I tried and tried and tried to figure out a way to stuff the lcd screen IN the dash alongside the headunit. but your exactly right, Jeep cherokee's have TERIBLE dashes for doing what we want to do. I figure I'll have to mount the LCD on the outside on an extenstion arm like you are planning on doing. here's and quick excerpt from one of my posts earlier (too lazy to retype), this should give you a little bit of an idea of what i'm doing in my dash.


    first off, in addition to the touchscreen, I wanted a set of actual buttons I could use for faster navigation / less time spent looking at the screen. I didnt want the crappy non-manufactured look of radioshack buttons poking thorugh a peice of plastic, so I decided i would mount the buttons behind a faceplate for some kind of old/broken DIN sized cd player. then I got to thinking, if I got a cd player faceplate off a cheaper cd player, with a slot for loading the cd, I might as well cram a slot loading dvd drive right behind it.

    Only hitch to that opperation is my dash size. I've got a standard GM/Chrysler 1.5 DIN opening. top 2/3 is taken up by the real headunit, so that leaves me 1/2 a DIN of unused, fullsize space. with a little trimming on my molding, I can make room for the fullsized faceplate, but space gets narrower and shallower in that bottom half. I'm hoping a slim drive will fit.



    Also planning on putting some USB ports up front down by the cig. outlet / rear wiper switch.

    dont worry about the funding, my advice would be to wait till the summer and do it then, when you have a tad more money. (but hey, i'm a perfectionist, and cant stand to do something part-way, so thats just me!)

    Good Luck!

  5. #5
    cdm
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickmv
    The funds part is where I'm extremely limited. It's gonna present all kinds of problems. First off, I have about 400 bucks to spend here on the WHOLE SYSTEM, and that doesn't leave me much in the way of a screen. That's why I'm desperately searching for one.

    If I can somehow make a VGA connection for the PsOne screen, then it'll all be good. I don't plan on heavy web surfing really, just some basic stuff.

    If a VGA adapter thingamujig will look good enough, I'll go with it. Otherwise, I'm screwed. Maybe I should wait till summer when I get a job and then get the stuff I want. But then I'll be going off to college, where everything gets stolen, so the CarPC will probly be sitting in the dorm most of the time, doing nothing.

    BTW, my Cherokee has a terrible dash setup, so I'm looking on having some sort of screw-in attachment that sticks out from it, and holds the LCD in place.

    I'm gonna swing by Target and get a PsOne LCD and test out the quality with my TV-out video card, just to see what I'd be working with. I hope you're wrong about it, but I bet you're right on target. Also, 5.6 inches isn't that big a deal for me, I don't mind having to scroll over a bit.
    Get the 230$ vga from digitalww, don't get much better than that for the price. Power supply and misc items won't go over another 200, fitting your 400 budget easy.

    PSone screen was mostly a novelty project to see if it can be done, i dont think it even makes sense to use as a main screen. It is a pita to get it working... btw, the ps one will not work with a TV out. it only works via the output generated by the console, so you cannot test it.

    You can mount the screen between the shifter and vents, in the area where the system information console goes.

    and lastly, if you go to a college where you know people steal.. then why even bring a car. frustration and desperation are the first two steps with tackling this project. cheers

  6. #6
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    Every college has its thieves. So it's not just specific colleges. But when I build this thing, I'm gonna have some way to disconnect the whole thing easily and carry it off. I'm not taking any chances.

    BTW, I saw that $230 LCD from DigitalWW. I think I'm gonna end up getting that. I'm probly gonna build myself a custom case, unless you guys can make any suggestions on some really compact cases? I'm aiming to get this under the seat of my car.

    Now it's just time to find the best possible price on these components.

  7. #7
    Maximum Bitrate owenjh's Avatar
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    I was aiming to get mine under the seat when I first began, but then I realised that it wasn't going to happen, so I decided to mount it somewhere else.
    CarComputer Status: New Car & Broken (Motherboard Fried)
    Owen JH | My Linux Blog | The Tech Fellows

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