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Thread: Laptop remote on/off issue -- SOLVED: s2000 carputer

  1. #1
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    Laptop remote on/off issue -- SOLVED: s2000 carputer

    Whew -- there were a few technical hurdles to get over to get this carputer up and running, but it was worth it. This is in an S2000 - with a Xenarc 7" touchscreen monitor mounted in-dash.



    For starters, I wanted to have a laptop-based system, which gives you a few key advantages. For starters, it's flexible. I can drive all day on a trip, and when I get to a strange city and find a hotel, all I have to do is jettison the computer "core", and I've got my laptop for the trip. I can use the map software to scout out the next day's trip, and I don't have to worry about copying anything to the car, I just have to pop the laptop back in! Best of all, zero custom work. (OK, lots of custom work, but not on the laptop itself.). Easy to upgrade!

    But -- as you know, there are some drawbacks to a laptop. OK -- just one: No laptop that I've seen has a 'wake on power' function. Worse, you can't hack apart a laptop to remote the power switch up near the driver. No power switch means any system hang means a trip to the trunk to reset it. Bad idea.

    I tried fasioning a Wake on LAN cable, tried unsoldering the docking station switch -- that didn't work, as the signal attenuation on the far side of Cat-5 cable was so bad, the switch just wouldn't work. I thought of using a relay, a servo, but then my pal Brent (who gets credit - so I call it the BrentDonkeyMaster1000) thought of a brilliant idea: How about a bike hand-brake? Cheap ($14 in parts), easy (I had a prototype working that night), and totally retro-cool lo-tech. Plus I get a *****in' brake handle to mount by the driver's seat.



    The design is pretty simple -- attach the bike brake to the docking station. Squeeze the handle and the brake closes, pressing the power button. Hold down the power button for 4 seconds, and if you have any kind of modern laptop, it forces a reset, which is great for that odd system hang.



    Next, I had to locate the handle up near the driver. It's not permanently mounted yet (none of it is permenantly in place yet -- mounting comes later). I ran the cable through the vents behind the seats and into the trunk. (Again, this is not permanent, so the tangle of cables you see there won't be in the final version).



    I had to take the spare-tire tools out of the bottom of the trunk (I'll store them inside the spare tire itself), which made a pretty good storage nook for the laptop. it's a curved space, so I had to make a small brace out of particle board, otherwise the laptop and docking station tended to separate.



    It's very easy to pop in and out, and all my USB devices are connected directly to the docking station - making removing it for access very simple.

    Now all I have to do is permanently mount it, extend some USB cables up to the car stereo, and fix the audio (so that I get PC audio out of the stereo.). I do have additional audio inputs, so adding an xbox to the trunk should be super-easy. Plus, all the loose parts come right out for days at the track.

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    Maximum Bitrate sfay93's Avatar
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    That is hysterical. Almost split my side laughing when I read this. That has to get an award for the lowest tech solution to a carpc problem ever. I love it.
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    does the laptop have a serial port?

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    Quote Originally Posted by turbochris
    does the laptop have a serial port?
    No serial port, just USB. I think this is going to be more of a trend in the future. Why? Is there some power on/off switch that runs over RS-232?

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    Quote Originally Posted by skybolt
    No serial port, just USB. I think this is going to be more of a trend in the future. Why? Is there some power on/off switch that runs over RS-232?
    Yeah in little UPS systems... That is what I am using. Got one from EBAY for $20
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    Constant Bitrate Needstorage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skybolt
    How about a bike hand-brake? Cheap ($14 in parts), easy (I had a prototype working that night), and totally retro-cool lo-tech. Plus I get a *****in' brake handle to mount by the driver's seat.
    OMG, this is just f##king creative! Well done, allthough I don't like the idea of having a brake handle attached to my stearing wheel.
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    Very creative... I cracked open my laptop, and soldered a small cable with an RJ45 female jack on the end to create a tail out of my laptop. Then I just plug in a phone cable with a mo-switch on the other end and voila.

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    Quote Originally Posted by trancified
    Very creative... I cracked open my laptop, and soldered a small cable with an RJ45 female jack on the end to create a tail out of my laptop. Then I just plug in a phone cable with a mo-switch on the other end and voila.
    Not a bad idea at all Trance. I did try that, but the signal attenuation at the other end of the cat-5 was too low to activate the switch. I think with the modern 5-pole switches, that have state information (how long have I been pressed down) the microvoltages used are just too tiny to go over much distance. More complex than simply closing a gate and letting electrons flow. I may have fried the switch when I soldered it, but it just didn't work for me.

    How did you unsodler the switch from the laptop without frying components on the motherboard?

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