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Thread: Aussie Offroad Carputers

  1. #11
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    Rod,

    How do you find the reception with the Silabs? I have an ADS Intant FM, basically the same as the Silabs.. Uses a Silabs receiver chip in it..

    I find while driving the reception is a little noisey... I am in brisbane also.

    I am using new firmware and dll for it, from a thread over on digital-car.co.uk

  2. #12
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    Barty,

    I soldered on a piece of coax to the Silab over the weekend and plugged it into the TV antenna, was hearing C Fm in Toowoomba and SeaFM at the Gold Coast Clear as day with no static. I'd check your car radio antenna.

    I had a TV coax splitter (Y-piece) at home, so went up to Dick Smith and bought a couple of fittings, and installed the splitter in behind the dash so I can have the Silab and the head unit sharing the car antenna while I work out how to build my carputer. A couple of us went for a drive up to Mt Mee via Woodford yesterday and I had clear reception all of the way until recepton dropped out for the others as well. I will be looking for some solder on fittings if I can find them.

    Mine was the other way round, I had noise in the MP3's and a clear radio.

    I could not get Silabs going under RR so have been using ICERADIO. Today, I downloaded FreeIce from Digital-car today which is what Millsy is using and I go to tell you I think I am going to ditch Roadunner in favour of it. Everything just worked out of the box incluing the radio.. and the interface is so much easier to use than anything else.

    Anyway, got excited enough to drop in to JB today and found they had a 20% off sale, so bought an amp and some good splits, so ready to rock and roll with this seriously now (once I install it all). As my rig is a ute, I have not got room for a sub. I have only gone with a 2 channel amp as that's all my my laptop sound card supports. We decided that we probably wouldn't hear the rear speakers over the splits... Decided not to buy the $650 Focal splits, but got JB's which were $379 list price less discount.

    Rod

  3. #13
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    Rod,

    Well, I am running my car computer in an 04 TL Magna... I have custom fabricated a 7" touch screen into the dash..

    I am running a new Jetway NC62K motherboard and an AMD X2 4850e 2.5G CPU.. I have tiny XP beast edition booting off a 2G CF card with EWF to protect the card. I am using a 250Gb 2.5" USB HDD for FreeICE/iGo8/Music and Videos..

    I also have coax soldered to my Silabs with a socket for the standard car antenna.. I guess I need to play with it a bit more.. I think my car antenna is a powered antenna (internal amp). Only thing I can think about is that I have the tuner mounted inside my computer case with the antenna socket mounted to the back of the case so that the car antenna just plugs straight into the back of the computer, and I think the coax shield is effectively shorted to the computer case which is probably grounded to the motherboard and power supply. It might be picking up some noise there, might try it out of the case.

    Yeah, I like FreeICE.. I played with RR and several others... Only thing with FreeICE and stuff that CdRSkull does, it is based off flash and shockwave so it is processor intensive. I just upgraded from a VIA SP13000 board.

  4. #14
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    I bit the bullet today, ordered a Xenarc 7" 702TSV-SB, 1000 NIT Sunlight Readable Touchscreen LCD/TFT, an M4-ATX power supply, mini keyboard and a USB DVD enclosure rom here http://www.customcarputers.com . Hopefully, I'll be able to relocate the DVD drive from the laptop to the enclosure, Tested that the lappy boots OK without a DVD drive.

    Based on Bugger's advice, I decided to use a decent power supply with a shutdown/startup controller to my laptop and MTX-4 has a wire to turn the amp on remotely which is usually done by an output on the head unit.

    At 11 volts the MTX-4 will deliver 12 amps (144 watts), or 96 watts at 6 volt input supply. I got an auxillary 80 amp hour battery to drive this which will be isolated when starting anyway, so voltage should never drop below about 10.8 volts if I remember to turn off the PC when winching! Actually as I think of it, I have a battery link swithc in th efront, If I used a 2 pole switch, I might be bale force a shut down when the batteries are linked. That would be a good 4wd feature.

    This baby will easilly have enough grunt to run the screen (8 watts), laptop power brick (65 watts), and a 5 volt rail to power a USB hub or two. (it's rated for 20 amps on the 5 volt rail). Hopefully, it will also provide a future upgrade path from the laptop.

    So all I need to find now is a reversing camera...

    barty, CPU utilisation does not seem to be an issue on my PC, It is a 1.8gHz Pentium M which I read somewhere are very good for car PC's due to low power.. does not go over 20%.



    Rod

  5. #15
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    Sounds like your well on your way to a good system.. The M*-ATX supplies are good, I am running an M2-ATX which is more than enough for the AMD X2 especially since I got the 45W version. I also run my 7" touchscreen of the M2-ATX.

    You will also be pleased that you bit the bullet for the sunlight readable screen.. I bought a cheap eby-701 screen, and it suffers a bit in direct sunlight but I think I can live with it for now.

    I am also waiting for my USB DVD enclosure to arrive this week so I can relocate my drive from the mini-ITX case.. Since I upgraded to the AMD CPU the drive wont fit in the case, CPU heatsink and fan is just too big.

    I see your active on digital-car now, good work on embedding oziexplorer. Just have to wait for CdR to stop playing with his kit cars and release FI 2.0...

  6. #16
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    At this stage, FI won't be finding its way into my car until I can resolve what seems to be a software bug. I can't add music folders to play lists ATM, but the exact same setup works on my Toshiba laptop.

    If I am game to cut up a $55k car, I might mount the DVD and a USB port into the console armrest lid which would be handy for an underseat PC install. I would prefer the PC behind the rear seat but it has to mount to the firewall so HDD heads might bang into the platter with that orientation. Need a CF to boot from before I do this I'd say.

  7. #17
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    I don't seem to have that FreeICE bug you mention.. Must be something strange with it on you car laptop.

    Yeah, CF is the way to go.. Just be aware that not all CF adapters are equal and if you plan to use a fast CF card then you need to get one that truely supports DMA. If I was to use just a HDD in the car I would only use a 2.5" laptop one. They have a better shock rating than normal desktop drives..

    As for cutting up your car, maybe you could buy a spare armrest lid and modify it. That's what I did with my radio surround in the magna.. So I can remove the computer and return it to original when I decide to sell the car.

  8. #18
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    OK you talked me into it Barty, I ordered a DMA capable CF adapter from Mintoni. Just watch the connectors. You also need to get a 4 cm male to male adapter cable as the connector on the card is the reverse as on a HDD.

    I also ordered a PCMCIA wireless network card and external antenna from techtopia.

    I hope to have a Boot CF, a PCMCIA CF for maps and a HDD for music and non vital stuff.

    I have a couple of spare 2.5" Laptop drives here. I have had very patchy performance from USB drives (they keep dropping out), I can use Firewire if I can find an enclosure. Would it be more robust than USB, does anybody know?

    I an see this PC eventually ending up behind the seat minus the screen, keyboard, HDD and DVD.

    So what CF card should I get for a boot drive and how big?

    Rod

  9. #19
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    Rod,

    CF card size depends on what you are going to install.. Are you going to run the frontend off it or on a separate hdd... I run just XP and that is it off the CF... FreeICE / GPS and everything else is on my USB 2.5" HDD... FreeICE saves temp stuff like song playing etc to a file fitemp.ini so that it can resume where it left off..

    If you are going to use hibernation (or even HORM) then you need to make sure you have enough free disk space as you do RAM..

    I am using a Kingston Ultimate 2Gb 266X card, and I have about 1Gb free after installing XP / drivers and Windows Media Player 11.

    As for USB HDD, I have not had any flakey issues with it... However, I was playing with hibernation before I bought the AMD based board and the HDD wouldn't come up after resuming from hibernation.. I have just scrapped hibernation, as the new board boots in about 30 secs.

    Just be wary with even the PCMCIA CF card, without some form of write protection it will wear out. Make sure with the boot CF card, that you setup EWF... Basically I installed everything to a normal HDD and got all the drivers and apps sorted out. Then copy it over to a prepped (bootprep) CF card, then I setup EWF last. Also, you need to make sure the CF card is set as a "fixed" drive if you plan to use hibernate, XP won't like it otherwise. I think the Kingston Ultimate will automatically show as a fixed drive when connected via a IDE-CF adapter.

    Anyway, if you have any problems setting it up and getting it running let me know.. I have been through it all a couple of times now and I think I have encountered most problems. There is a guy on mp3car who sort of pioneered the use of EWF / minlogon and CF cards (SFiorito). If you PM him, he is very helpful.

    Peter.

  10. #20
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    Thanks mate, you have been very helpful. I have tracked down a firewire enclosure here in Brissy so I might grab one tomorrow. I found firewire is 30% faster than USB as it is a peer to peer architecture, not master-slave, so I'll go that way. It'll be interesting to see if performance is better than USB. What I've found with USB drives that if you do a large transfer, say back up a HDD, the USB one goes to sleep part way through which I think is linked to the hibernate problem you had.

    I have installed minlogon as a test, but not EWF or HORM. Do you use minlogon? It might speed up your boot time if you are not resuming.

    I may drop my RAM back to 512mb, seems like that will be enough and help reduce hibernate demands.

    The second CF will be read only data. The base Map I use with Ozie Explorer is 2.0 Gb. However, my main concern is that the Street Nav licence is locked to the hardware, so if a HDD goes down it'll cost an extra licensing fee. CF cards now have firmware to move data around to wear the drive out evenly, so maybe the wearing out issue might be more of a preceived than an actual issue today.

    I did a test and FI does not respect the current working directory you set in a shortcut when saving playlists, so you can redirect it elsewhere, "basedirectory=" would be a useful ini file switch for FI V2!

    Thanks again

    Rod

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