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Thread: Cold weather and computers

  1. #1
    Low Bitrate Weatherboy's Avatar
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    Cold weather and computers

    I know this has been spoke of here and there but I have never really seen a good solid solution to this issue or a good description of the issue.

    Anyway here is my ordeal. I live in Erie, PA with our avg winter temp of 20F. I have a 200gb 7200 rpm 3.5" drive running the pc and it does exactly this:

    40+F boots perfectly

    15-40F boots to BIOS or windows load screen then keeps rebooting about 1-7 times before 70% of the times getting to a completed booted windows and 30% of the time power supply stays on but never boots up just seems to give up on booting and powers down video but fans and usb continue running.

    below 15F Does not show BIOs drive makes quite a racket first time thought drive was totally dead but still worked fine once it warmed.

    Anyway I know the hard drive has a spec of 41F and I have noticed the motherboard also has a spec of 0 and am wondering if maybe the motherboard could even have a issue below 32F. Because I notice most of the solutions seem to be flash drives with a spec of -40C but now my main thought is if I got a 2gb flash drive and used that for windows would my hard drive even work once it was booted to paly my mp3s and run the gps and whatnot as well could the motherboard even continue to be a issue

    Anywho just want to hear from all the peoepl who have a cold weather car pc, how it works, how they got around this issue.

    Thanks,
    Dustan
    Current Temp 16F
    Toyota Prius w/ NAV system and a 30gb Ipod :)it never crashes and always boots up.

  2. #2
    FLAC IntellaWorks's Avatar
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    .

    Hey dustin, i've been really racking my brain over this issue for quite sometime. It's even kept my new system out of the car for most of the winter months.

    I live in New Hampshire, just above you and I feel your winter pains. Here is what I'm working on.

    Creating an ultra Lite version of windows xp, that still has the functionality that my front end will need for me to be satisfied and this include the norm of DVD play back, voice recognition, MP3 and all other support compressed audio e-mail and wireless internet. (more but this is the gist nothing really new)

    I'm going to store this OS (that loads my front end) on an Extreme III 1gb san disk CF card.

    I will then have to take my 2.5" laptop harddrive out and put it into a USB enclosure, which would make it easily removeable. My OS will have Minlogon and EWF (among other XPe components)

    My media, will come from the removeable harddrive. Here's the current issue I'm working on. My front end runs off a database, typically you would install your app with the OS. But with EWF enabled, the front end would never remember changes to the database and this can be somewhat of a hassle. ALso, if you install the app on the removeable drive I can forsee me forgetting to put it in somedays and the system would boot but with no shell and that can also be painful !!!


    I'm ironing out a smart front end that will be installed with the OS but have it's database located on the removeable drive, if the removeable drive is not present then the front end will run but in a "no database" mode. Because my audio files will be located on the removeable drive it probably wouldn't be able to play mp3's but still be able to recieve weather updates, go online watch DVD's and play regular CD's or even mp3's stored on a CD.
    Progress [I will seriously never be done!]
    Via EPIA MII
    512MB RAM
    OEM GPS (embedded)
    nLite WinXP pro on
    1GB Extreme III CF card
    Carnetix 1260 startup/ DC-DC regulator
    Software: Still, re-Writing my existing front end in .Net

  3. #3
    Maximum Bitrate knubile's Avatar
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    15-40F boots to BIOS or windows load screen then keeps rebooting about 1-7 times
    OMG! I'm not the only one! I get this on the really cold days too. What the hell could it be!

    I have the setup IntellaWorks is talking about. My OS is on a Sandisk ExtremeII and all my media is on the removable drive. I still get this looping reboot problem. So it can't be the hard drive, unless the CF card can't handle that cold either.
    That doesn't really make sense to me though, because it did start the boot process, meaning the CF is being read.

    IntellaWorks. The Extreme3 card cannot be set as a fixed disk and therefore windows cannot see a 2nd partition on it.
    If you use an Extreme2 card you will sacrifice a little speed but be able to partition it. I currently have the OS with EWF on drive C and a second 150meg partition on on the same CF card with all my apps on them.
    The amount of writting to this partition is still very minimal. I would say comparable if not less than the amount a camera would write to the CF card. Config changes here and there, the odd software update and once everytime you shutdown to save what song you were playing last.
    I have had this setup running since Christmas and I think it's great. The current frontends don't really take advantage of this scenario, but that will come one day.
    So I suggest buy an Extreme 2 card, not a 3. My boot up times are still very quick. I'm hearing music from centrafuse in under 30 seconds after post. This will only improve with a shell other than explorer.

  4. #4
    Maximum Bitrate knubile's Avatar
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    WeatherBoy. Looking at both our sigs, the components we have in common are:

    Eden board
    ram
    usb wifi
    usb gps

    I think that narrows the problem down to one of these components.
    What are you using for a power regulator/supply? I have a fear my carnetix isn't supplying enough power during the bootup process.

  5. #5
    FLAC IntellaWorks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knubile
    OMG! I'm not the only one! I get this on the really cold days too. What the hell could it be!

    I have the setup IntellaWorks is talking about. My OS is on a Sandisk ExtremeII and all my media is on the removable drive. I still get this looping reboot problem. So it can't be the hard drive, unless the CF card can't handle that cold either.
    That doesn't really make sense to me though, because it did start the boot process, meaning the CF is being read.

    IntellaWorks. The Extreme3 card cannot be set as a fixed disk and therefore windows cannot see a 2nd partition on it.
    If you use an Extreme2 card you will sacrifice a little speed but be able to partition it. I currently have the OS with EWF on drive C and a second 150meg partition on on the same CF card with all my apps on them.
    The amount of writting to this partition is still very minimal. I would say comparable if not less than the amount a camera would write to the CF card. Config changes here and there, the odd software update and once everytime you shutdown to save what song you were playing last.
    I have had this setup running since Christmas and I think it's great. The current frontends don't really take advantage of this scenario, but that will come one day.
    So I suggest buy an Extreme 2 card, not a 3. My boot up times are still very quick. I'm hearing music from centrafuse in under 30 seconds after post. This will only improve with a shell other than explorer.


    knubile, thanks for the info I'm really thinking about that as a change of plans.. I was going to just design my front end to look for a DB on another drive (that can write/read) it would probably be a removeable USB laptop drive. I knew that you couldnt partition the Extreme III but didn't know you COULD parttiton the ExtremeII...

    I wonder what the temp ratings are for the extreme II, I know that the extreme III is -40(f)-180(f)
    Progress [I will seriously never be done!]
    Via EPIA MII
    512MB RAM
    OEM GPS (embedded)
    nLite WinXP pro on
    1GB Extreme III CF card
    Carnetix 1260 startup/ DC-DC regulator
    Software: Still, re-Writing my existing front end in .Net

  6. #6
    Newbie TaZMaNiaK's Avatar
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    Your problems must be in the drives or the power supply. I have done some extreme overclocking experiments, where the entire motherboard is immersed in supercooled (-40 F or lower) mineral oil, and believe me, the colder they are, the better they run. Mechanical things like drives, however don't like cold, especially if the temperature swings fast. I have seen condensation from temperature changes literally rust a hard drive head to the platter. So it is a good idea to have the drive removable, and take it out of the car when temps are going to drop below freezing, or if it will be sitting in the sun baking.

  7. #7
    Maximum Bitrate Vchat20's Avatar
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    i dont know about during the winter, but in the summer with all the heat, maybe a temp/ghetto solution would be to get a decent sized case fan and power it with 1 or 2 9V batteries. should be able to run it for a while if your lucky. or if its possible without draining the battery, just run it off the car's power system (always on of course).

    becuase im sure that many people here (well, some maybe) have their comp's hidden away (like behind the dash?) and it would be a PITA to have to take the drive out every day.

  8. #8
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    I live in Saskatchewan and it gets to 40 below quite often during the winter and extremely hot during the summer.. My solution to this is to make the computer and display (when I get one) removable and just bring them in at night and use them in the house to update playlists and add new stuff... I'd leave all the wiring and connectors in the car for easy reconnection. That's also the reason I've decided to go with the inverter to power the computer, then it's a simple matter to bring it inside and plug it into standard power... So when I bring it inside I just plug it in and connect it to my network and use remote desktop from my main rig to do everything that I need to do..

  9. #9
    Constant Bitrate StationRocket's Avatar
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    i'd like to propose another solution.

    First let me point out that most electronics have a pair of environmental specs. They have one set for the range over which you can opperate the device and another over which you can store it.

    Now concider that the HVAC in your car is really powerfull and can make it comfortable in just a few min.

    If you install a switch somewhere that will disable the startup of you computer with the ignition you can hold it off on really cold mornings or really hot afternoons until the car's internal temp is a little more reasonable.

    I have found that my setup has boot up trouble when it is very cold <20F (yea i know, but it's cold for MD) but if i wait 5 min and then start it after the heat is pumping it's no problem.

    If you wanted to get real slick you could get a couple of thermal switches that would interupt the turn on switch if temp was out or range. This would be pretty simple, just a matter of finding the right switch.

  10. #10
    Self proclaimed spoon feeder TruckinMP3's Avatar
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    Likely this is related to a specific component of your set up. Maybe a combination.
    I have not had these types of issues and the Temp here in colorado drops in the winter.

    I had one morning the drive did not reach boot RPMs, after it warmed up (a few munites) it booted fine. The drive is the most likely due to it's moving parts. Check the operating temps and see if it uses fluid dynamic bearings. Try an older drive that does not use FDBs....
    TruckinMP3
    D201GLY2, DC-DC power, 3.5 inch SATA

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