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Thread: Powering my laptop without a docking station.

  1. #1
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    Powering my laptop without a docking station.

    I currently have a Compaq nx6125 Laptop with 1 Gig of Ram and a 1.6 Ghz AMD Turion64.

    My question is "How could I power the laptop without "hacking" a docking station? I have seen threads that mention its possible but so far haven't found out exactly how. The power button for my laptop is located above the keyboard so its not horribly unaccessible, I just don't really know how to wire it to anything.

    I am thinking the easiest setup would be to have it wired to a switch panel that I was already going to buy for my center console. Does anyone think this is a bad idea? If not, how exactly would i do it, lol?

    Thanks guys,

    -Will

  2. #2
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    docking station

    The benefit to hacking the docking station as opposed to the laptop is that number 1, if you mess it up it only cost you $16 (in my case, ibm port replicator II).

    Secondly, with the docking station being hard wired to a switch that is mounted inside your car, you can remove the laptop from the docking station and work on it wherever you need to. I'm constantly removing the laptop from the car and working on it inside my house to get all the functions of RR working. Its very difficult to do this inside the car on a 7" screen with no keyboard and mouse.

  3. #3
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    Well, if I messed up my laptop (rather than buying a docking station) would it cost me more than 200 dollars? If not than I'd still be ahead by not buying the docking station. They're too expensive lol.

    Also, does anyone know where a tutorial is on how to wire the switch? I'm not really good with soldering but I have taken apart the laptop a few times. Anything would be helpful--thanks!

    Oh, and hardcoreracing, that would be much more convenient; what do you mean by the "functions of RR"??

    Thanks,

    -Will

  4. #4
    FLAC greatwhite's Avatar
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    Can you?

    Sure.

    How to?

    Open it up, soldier a wire on each sife of the switch, connect a new switch. You even leave the old switch in. Done.

    If you fry the MOBO, you're looking at around 200 bucks, depending on the model. And that's if you can even still get one.

    All the functions of RR just refers to all the tweaking of the OS and Program before you get it to where you want it.

    An let's not forget:

    It's still windows. It'll crash, bugger up, and genrally just require a little work form time to time.

    He's just saying it's a real PITA to have to sit in the driveway and do it on a 7 inch screen with the car running, as opposed to sitting on the couch and working on a laptop sized screen.

    Cheers
    For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.
    Leonardo Da Vinci

  5. #5
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    Ok, yeah I definitely understand about the portability issues... i'll keep that in mind.

    I was wondering, could you just power your laptop through a 12V adapter and then wire that to the power that goes to your Cd player, that way it would only be powered up when the car was started, right?

  6. #6
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    laptop

    Every switch is different. The best thing to do is search for remote switch and try to find someone that did the same thing on the same type of laptop. If you can't find anything, use a multimeter and locate the pins that need to be soldered. IBM thinkpads have five pins, three on the left and two on the right. After trial and error and butchering one port replicator, I was finally able to find someone who did it and provide good pics.

    Have you searched ebay for a used port replicator or docking station? That's where I got mine, or look on craigslist.org.

    RR or road runner requires a lot of things to be set up manually, plug ins to be downloaded, and bugs to be fixed and it takes a lot of searching and reading to find the information you need. Once it's done though, it's great, nothing like having a fully functional carputer in your car.

  7. #7
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    power

    Sorry, didn't answer your question. In my setup, I have an inverter connected to the cigarette lighter socket. My docking station is connected to the inverter. Works great, no problems. Make sure you use an inverter with a power on and off switch though. Carputers don't like the cranking of the starter when you start your car. My normal procedure is to start the car, start up the screen, turn on the inverter, then turn on the laptop. If I turn on the computer first, turn on the inverter, then crank the car, I'll get a black or blue screen then have to do a hard shut down to restart the computer. You just need to remember to have the inverter off when you crank the car.

  8. #8
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    Oh i see, so hardcore, your setup doesn't power itself up when you crank the motor? Does that get annoying?

  9. #9
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    Not many laptops will power up on their own..

    You need to look into the various solutions for powering on a laptop. Soldering another button onto the switch is only one way and not necessarily the best or easiest. Even if your inverter powers on, the laptop generally won't.

    You can rig a switch, look into power on with USB device (mouse, keyboard, etc), power on with LAN connection, power on with modem, etc. There are posts for all of these options. You can generally set your laptop to run for a certain amount of time or battery life before it turns off, so you won't have to worry about that: except -->

    When you windows crashes, and it will crash, only a hardwired switch can cut the power. Either one on the laptop switch or perhaps the inverter, but it may still run on batteries even with the inverter off. I wired a switch to the docking station that runs to the front of my car and gives me complete control. My start-up system goes like this - start computer by pressing button, start car (laptop batteries allow the pc to survive engine cranking), start monitor, listen to music.

    Also, an inverter is generally a poor solution. I tried one and it introduced terrible alternator/engine whine into my sound system. A DC-DC laptop power supply is much better. I've wired a Kensington 120W power supply directly to my battery, with a relay that cuts power to the DC supply with the ignition switch. Car off, power to laptop off, laptop can run on batteries if desired, can start car and not lose a beat. I also spliced into the wires from the Kensington unit and found a 5V line that I use to power my USB hub.

    Don't skimp on the power supply or you will regret it later. Read some more on the best way to do it, as it is likely the most important component of your setip. Most inverters, if left on, will eventullay drain your battery and then you be even more ****ed than the noise it may (will probably) cause. They are also very inefficient - DC to AC back to DC = lots of heat and power loss.

    Just my two cents...

  10. #10
    Maximum Bitrate FusionFanatic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by will_95gt View Post
    I was wondering, could you just power your laptop through a 12V adapter and then wire that to the power that goes to your Cd player, that way it would only be powered up when the car was started, right?
    you can't power the laptop from the head unit's power wires. those wires are only big enough to power the head unit. you should run a power wire directly from the battery (fused at the battery of course) to your laptop's PSU.

    you can however, wire a relay to the head unit's ACC wire (the relay coil pulls very little power). the relay can then switch on/off power to the laptop's PSU. this will not turn your laptop on or off, but it will ensure that it doesn't kill your car battery. I made this diagram to help another member, but it applies here too.



    don't use an inverter. buy a DC-DC regulator to power your laptop. you can buy nice carnetix models, these are the best option but they are expensive. to save some $$$ you can use a cheap auto/air adapter off eBay (that's what I use).

    there is no good reason for using an inverter to power a laptop. it's very inefficient to invert your car's low voltage DC power to higher voltage AC power, only to have the laptop's PSU convert that back down to low voltage DC power again. bottom line is; running an inverter to power a DC device is never a good option. the only reason anybody should ever consider it is if the computer they will be using draws too much power for a DC-DC regulator. generally, this would only be an issue in power-hungry desktop computers, it should never be an issue with a laptop.


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