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Thread: Building My First CarPC

  1. #1
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    Building My First CarPC

    Is it possible to build a carpc using an old desktop computer with a dc power supply.

  2. #2
    Raw Wave Rob Withey's Avatar
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    yes
    Old Systems retired due to new car
    New system at design/prototype stage on BeagleBoard.

  3. #3
    FLAC muldrick's Avatar
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    This is from when I first started this, so it's out dated but,
    Step 1: I had old desktop Gateway lying around, a PIII, 1.2 Gig machine, so I just threw it (not literaly) in the back of my Honda Passport, (when I still had the Passport). I bought an inverter from Walmart, I think it was like a 700W inverter, and ran the positive wire straight from the battery to the positive side for the inverter, run the negative side to a solid ground on the truck.
    Inverters do work ok, but might not survive engine crank, which means there might not be enough juice to keep the PC running when you start the car. I personally added a (new) lawn mower battery in the back to avoid this problem. (More on inverters later)

    Next I bought a 7" Lilliput monitor (Lilli's suck) and put it on my rear view mirror (don't try this at home folks, not legal)
    To avoid issues with the Lilliput monitor (screen flicker) I just used the included AC adapter and plugged it straight into the inverter.
    Obviously I plugged in the VGA cable too. I added a wired keyboard and mouse, and Voila! I got a "carputer" allbit a little primitive.
    Before I got the Lilliput, I even used a desktop monitor, sitting in the passenger seat.

    The setup above is generally the same as setting up a home pc, just add the inverter. However....story don't end here....

    Inverters suck! They are power hawgs and are only 20-30% efficient. They usually don't survive engine crank (meaning the pc shuts off, if it is on) and there is no start-up/shut-down controller, meaning you have to manually turn on and shut down the PC.

    Soooo......(step2)
    I took apart the desktop, disassembled it completely. Trashed the inverter. I found an old plastic box, a tool box from work, (been through 3 boxes since) and put the motherboard, the hard drive and (my newly purchased) Opus 90W power supply in the plastic case. Wow!!!! instead of a 2 foot by 2 foot box, I now had a box a foot wide, 11 inches deep and 3 inches tall....Nice!

    I also trashed (sold) the Lilliput and bought a Xenarc. Man! what a difference!
    The rest was easy too, hooked up the Opus to the pc and then the truck battery, and powered the monitor straight from the battery. (Xenarc has auto start) using the included cig adapter.
    The Opus has a startup and shutdown controller built in, so when I started the truck the pc would automatically come on, when I shut off the truck, the pc will do a proper Windows shutdown, after 6-10 minutes. (which is change-able with jumpers on the Opus)

    Now I'm cool
    Added iGuidance Navigation and the antenna/receiver, then a rear view camera, and since (got another car) added XM Radio, and can access the internet through WiFi (when a hub is available in range) or use my bluetooth phone (Verizon)
    I don't use a keyboard (have the on-screen KB if I need it), but use a wireless (trackball) mouse.

    All this stuff was quite easy too me, if you guys want to do this, save some time...get the 12DC-DC power supply (don't use an inverter) go to my "step 2". The inverter caused alot of noise also, so avoid it , if you can (and use a Xenarc monitor...skip the Lilli too)

    Running sound is easy, just run from the PC's 1/8' plug (output) to the radio Aux-in, (RCA jacks) if it's got it. Radio Shack sells these cables.
    If you don't have "aux-in" on the radio, you must use an amp instead. (or buy another HU)

    Cost??? I guess that "step 1" cost about 500 bucks, for the inverter, the wiring, the Lillicrap monitor, and other odds and ends.

    Oh yeah, read the FAQ's too.
    AtmosUSA.biz, E-Cig Mods
    "A great smoking alternative"

  4. #4
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    How do exactly find the power requirements for a 1Ghz desktop PC with 3.5" drive. Also I saw some videos on the net where people are showing off their Carputer's. Where do I get the software other than windows for the carputer
    The free stuff I should know about
    The Payware I should know about
    and the benefits or drawbacks of both

    This is my first post so bear with me

    If I were to use a desktop PC as my carputer. Apart from the usual desktop what would I need
    I intend use voice commands(would wanna know how good this is)
    GPS
    Bluetooth with calling facility
    MP3/Video Audio and FM


    thanks

  5. #5
    Who am I? HiJackZX1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrsash View Post
    How do exactly find the power requirements for a 1Ghz desktop PC with 3.5" drive. Also I saw some videos on the net where people are showing off their Carputer's. Where do I get the software other than windows for the carputer
    The free stuff I should know about
    The Payware I should know about
    and the benefits or drawbacks of both

    This is my first post so bear with me

    If I were to use a desktop PC as my carputer. Apart from the usual desktop what would I need
    I intend use voice commands(would wanna know how good this is)
    GPS
    Bluetooth with calling facility
    MP3/Video Audio and FM


    thanks
    The voice recognition I think depends on the front end you use, if your going to. I know on Centrafuse, they reccomend a bluetooth based Microphone.... I have seen videos on youtube were this guy used a regular one (mic) and simply pushed a button and said what he wanted to do since he had no screen. I dont recall what the program he said he used... i think it was WinAmp.

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