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Thread: Need advice on new CarPC setup

  1. #1
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    Need advice on new CarPC setup

    Hi everyone. I'm a newbie to the CarPC community but am about to take the plunge into building my own car computer. I have done quite a bit of research and wanted to see if some of the experts here could offer suggestions on my proposed setup. First of all, here are some of the constraints I am working under:

    1) The car is a 2006 Jeep Liberty. As such, the radio is a single DIN unit. There also doesn't seem to me much room next to the existing stereo, but I haven't taken it all apart yet.

    2) I want to use the car's existing speakers (for the time being).

    Here is the hardware I'm looking at:

    1) First and foremost is the touchscreen. I don't have experience with the whole bondo / fiberglass thing for making a new bezel, so I think that the Xenarc MDT-X7000 would be a good choice for me. I have read all the complaints, but I haven't found anything else that even comes close to matching it in a single DIN unit. If there are other options out there, it would give me some options. This would also have the side benefit of having a built-in amplifier, so I wouldn't have to install a separate amp.

    2) Second is the computer itself. I already have a Jetway 9F2-KHDE mini-ITX with a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo. This is already up and running just fine. I also already have a 60GB 2.5" SATA HD.

    3) Next is the case and power supply. There are many conflicting opinions on power supplies, but it seems that the Opus 70 gets good reviews and would take care of the case and power supply all in one. It's not clear exactly how this hooks into the car battery, but I'm planning to connect a fused distribution block to the existing car stereo power and then connect that to both the Xenarc unit and the Opus 70. This should work, right?

    4) Software. Looks like streetdeck is the one with all the features I'm looking for. Which is basically mp3/radio/video/navigation. Unfortunately you can't buy it right now, but hopefully that is changing soon.

    5) I would also need a GPS unit and AM/FM tuner for the PC. I have not researched these, but suggestions are welcome.

    I have looked for a single DIN "all-in-one" computer with a retractable touchscreen like the MDT-X7000, but the ones I've found appear to be very poor quality. Is there any such beast out there (single DIN, decent computer, touchscreen)?

    There are things that I don't yet understand. I am not sure how the PC will know that the ignition has been turned off. I know there is an ignition wire to the stock stereo and that this somehow gets connected to the Opus 70 which then sends the signals to the motherboard, but the exact mechanism is unclear. Also, when the car is turned off, the PC will hibernate for a while and then shut down? How does this happen?

    That's it for right now. If anyone can help clear things up for me, that would be greatly appreciated. Thanks and I will post updates as things move along.

    Nick

  2. #2
    Maximum Bitrate bratnetwork's Avatar
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    I'm not an expert in all of your questions, but I will respond to the ones that I do know about.


    Quote Originally Posted by nfasano View Post
    3) Next is the case and power supply. There are many conflicting opinions on power supplies, but it seems that the Opus 70 gets good reviews and would take care of the case and power supply all in one. It's not clear exactly how this hooks into the car battery, but I'm planning to connect a fused distribution block to the existing car stereo power and then connect that to both the Xenarc unit and the Opus 70. This should work, right?

    There are things that I don't yet understand. I am not sure how the PC will know that the ignition has been turned off. I know there is an ignition wire to the stock stereo and that this somehow gets connected to the Opus 70 which then sends the signals to the motherboard, but the exact mechanism is unclear. Also, when the car is turned off, the PC will hibernate for a while and then shut down? How does this happen?
    I don't think that the Opus 70 is enough power for your setup... depending on the exact core2duo processor you... Most commonly they are rated at 65watts... there goes all you power right there and that doesn't include the basic features of your MB, HD or USB devices.

    When you get the PSU or you can look up the manual on Opus's website it shows you how to wire it. 1 wires goes to ground, 1 wire could go to your distribution block with constant power, then there will a third wire that you can hook up to your accessory line that would also activate you radio, or if you have power that comes out of your radio when its on like for an antenna or cd changer you can use that too and the computer ill turn on and off with the radio. You can also just use a manual switch also.

    For the hibernate one - there will be small 2 pin header on the opus that you will connect to your motherboard where the power switch would normally go and when there is a loss off power on the ACC line going into the Opus (ie. when you turn the key off) it will send a shutdown pulse to the motherboard starting the shutdown sequence then after its off it will cut power. You will have to set in window to hibernate if the power button is pressed.

    4) Software. Looks like streetdeck is the one with all the features I'm looking for. Which is basically mp3/radio/video/navigation. Unfortunately you can't buy it right now, but hopefully that is changing soon.
    Software is really a matter of opinion... If you like the layout of the program and it does what you want then that good.

    My personal opinion of frontend software is RoadRunner. It will do what you want, plus its FREE! Plus everything is customizable and if your not capable of customizing it there are TONS of different skins to choose from. Plus everyone is willing to help you out with questions.

    5) I would also need a GPS unit and AM/FM tuner for the PC. I have not researched these, but suggestions are welcome.
    GPS - GlobalSat BU-353 USB GPS Reciever - Easy to install, locks on to Satellites quick, holds a strong signal - even got a signal in my house during testing, and not right next to the window either...

    AM/FM Tuner - Visteon HDZ300 HD Radio Tuner w/ MJS Gadget’s HDR-RS232 cable - great reception, easy setup, works natively in RoadRunner and i think Centrafuse also, since its designed for automotive use its very simple to install in the car. Plus you get all the HD features too

    2) I want to use the car's existing speakers (for the time being).
    By this do you mean you want to just use the speakers over, or the whole stock stereo system???

    http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/advf...iew&advfaqid=7

    if you want to use the whole stereo you will either need to find and AUX in for your factory stereo or use an FM Modulator - but sound quality with a modulator will be reduced,


    Hope that helps a little bit!

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the quick reply - your answers are very helpful. A couple of comments/replies:
    Quote Originally Posted by bratnetwork View Post
    I don't think that the Opus 70 is enough power for your setup... depending on the exact core2duo processor you... Most commonly they are rated at 65watts... there goes all you power right there and that doesn't include the basic features of your MB, HD or USB devices.
    I neglected to mention that the processor is a core2duo mobile (T7200) which only draws 34 watts. Plus, according to their website, the opus 70 actually has a "Built-in 120W Intelligent DC-DC vehicle power supply". This should be enough for my setup, right?

    Software is really a matter of opinion... If you like the layout of the program and it does what you want then that good.

    My personal opinion of frontend software is RoadRunner. It will do what you want, plus its FREE! Plus everything is customizable and if your not capable of customizing it there are TONS of different skins to choose from. Plus everyone is willing to help you out with questions.



    GPS - GlobalSat BU-353 USB GPS Reciever - Easy to install, locks on to Satellites quick, holds a strong signal - even got a signal in my house during testing, and not right next to the window either...

    AM/FM Tuner - Visteon HDZ300 HD Radio Tuner w/ MJS Gadget’s HDR-RS232 cable - great reception, easy setup, works natively in RoadRunner and i think Centrafuse also, since its designed for automotive use its very simple to install in the car. Plus you get all the HD features too
    Awesome - thanks for these recommendations. This is the kind of first-hand experience that I need. I will check them out.

    By this do you mean you want to just use the speakers over, or the whole stock stereo system???

    http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/advf...iew&advfaqid=7

    if you want to use the whole stereo you will either need to find and AUX in for your factory stereo or use an FM Modulator - but sound quality with a modulator will be reduced,
    Nope, just want to use the speakers thru the Xenarc's built-in amp.

    Thanks again,
    Nick

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    Quote Originally Posted by bratnetwork View Post
    AM/FM Tuner - Visteon HDZ300 HD Radio Tuner w/ MJS Gadget’s HDR-RS232 cable - great reception, easy setup, works natively in RoadRunner and i think Centrafuse also, since its designed for automotive use its very simple to install in the car. Plus you get all the HD features too
    This is interesting, albeit a little pricey. This product seems to be a separate unit with its own screen, which I assume would not be used since it would be integrated into the CarPC. The audio then gets transmitted thru the HDR-RS232 cable to the computer/frontend software?

    Any other solutions for a cheaper, non HD radio solution (I live in a rural area without HD radio )?

  5. #5
    SD beats everything. So there. danielkh's Avatar
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    This is what you need.
    Pricey, but you don't need anything else. I've seen $2700-4500. Not sure what the final number will be.

    http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/index....;pid;6870;pt;1

    Key features of the Azentek CPC-1100 include:
    • Intel® Core Duo T2300 1.66GHz processor
    • 160GB hard drive
    • Microsoft Windows Vista
    • 1GB DIMM memory
    • HD radio and satellite ready
    • Bluetooth enabled
    • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950
    • Hands-free, voice-activated calling and navigation
    • 7-inch motorised LCD-TFT digital touch screen monitor
    • Internal WiFi 802.11 b/g wireless connectivity
    • Integrated FM and digital TV tuners.
    • Optional vehicle diagnostics package.
    My opinion is my own.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by danielkh View Post
    This is what you need.
    Pricey, but you don't need anything else. I've seen $2700-4500. Not sure what the final number will be.

    http://www.pcworld.idg.com.au/index....;pid;6870;pt;1
    Wow, that's impressive. I'd consider that in the $2700-low $3000 range. That article was written in march, though, and it doesn't appear that it's available 9 months later? Any ideas when/if this will be released?

  7. #7
    Maximum Bitrate bratnetwork's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nfasano View Post
    This is interesting, albeit a little pricey. This product seems to be a separate unit with its own screen, which I assume would not be used since it would be integrated into the CarPC. The audio then gets transmitted thru the HDR-RS232 cable to the computer/frontend software?

    Any other solutions for a cheaper, non HD radio solution (I live in a rural area without HD radio )?
    You can get the tuner on ebay new open box for $60 and the cable is $25 and he include the audio cable with it also plus software. $85 for HD Radio setup is cheap and the built in tuner even for non-hd is very high quality.

    Correct you dont use the screen - the controls go through the cable and the audio goes through the RCA jacks into you PC or through the integrated FM Modulator to you existing stereo. It is controlled by either Mitch's stand alone software that you can DL for free from his sight or through a compatible front end (ie. RoadRunner http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/rr-s...skin-bmv2.html )

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    Quote Originally Posted by bratnetwork View Post
    You can get the tuner on ebay new open box for $60 and the cable is $25 and he include the audio cable with it also plus software. $85 for HD Radio setup is cheap and the built in tuner even for non-hd is very high quality.

    Correct you dont use the screen - the controls go through the cable and the audio goes through the RCA jacks into you PC or through the integrated FM Modulator to you existing stereo. It is controlled by either Mitch's stand alone software that you can DL for free from his sight or through a compatible front end (ie. RoadRunner http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/rr-s...skin-bmv2.html )
    Thanks for the info. You're right, that's not a bad deal after all. I think I'll soon be able to give this project a shot.

    Stupid question - When the computer goes into hibernate mode, it still uses some power. It looks like the power supplies can be configured to supply this power, then shut off all power after a preconfigured amount of time. Won't that be the equivalent of pulling the plug, therefore potentially corrupting the hard drive? It seems that the system would need to hibernate for a set amount of time, then be woken up long enough to shut down properly, and then have the power cut off. This seems too complicated, or am I missing something?

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    I apologize that some of my replies haven't come through. Since I am a new member, my posts have to be approved, and that hasn't happened for a few of my posts.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bratnetwork View Post
    I don't think that the Opus 70 is enough power for your setup... depending on the exact core2duo processor you... Most commonly they are rated at 65watts... there goes all you power right there and that doesn't include the basic features of your MB, HD or USB devices.
    I neglected to mention that the processor is a Core2Duo Mobile, which says that it uses 35 watts. Also, the opus website says it has a "Built-in 120W Intelligent DC-DC vehicle power supply". So the name seems to be misleading. I'm hoping the 120W PSU can handle the 35W CPU, motherboard, 2.5" HDD, GPS, FM radio, & possible USB WiFi module.

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