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Thread: Semi-permanent laptop install... what to do about power supply?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2009

    Semi-permanent laptop install... what to do about power supply?

    hey guys. i know this may sound like a "n00b" question here, but i'll give it a shot anyway. i've scanned through recent topics but haven't found a very in-depth answer. here's the deal~

    i just bought a Lenovo S10 10.2" laptop for one reason only: tuning. the laptop will be in the car 90% of the time, mounted on a semi-permanent "table" that is bolted to the floor/trans tunnel in convenient reach of the passenger who will be doing in-car tweaks and fine tuning.

    My brother has the same laptop and reports +/- 2.5 hours of actual run time on a full battery charge. That will probably be fine, but I don't want to have to remove the computer from the car all the time to charge it.

    My question is this: Does anyone have very specific advice regarding a permanent DC-AC install in a 12v vehicle? i'll continue to search, but help from you 'gurus' will speed the process. are there any potential problems that may arise from fluctuating alternator voltage outputs? any solutions? i'll be able to monitor bat. voltage very very accurately with the tuning software, but i'm thinking more along the lines of protecting the laptop itself.

    i would like to be able to plug the regular DC power supply into an outlet mounted under the dash and just leave it plugged in, but still have the ability to easily unplug it for connection to a dyno, other peoples' cars or wherever else. What i'm kind of scared of doing is using one of those off-the-shelf converters for the cig lighter. from experience those get REALLY hot. could the solution to this problem as simple as chopping off the cig lighter adapter and wiring it straight to a 12v source? will the adapter be able to safely stand up to constant use and not burn itself (and my car) to the ground?

    any insight would be GREAT.

    for those who may be interested: the car is an '89 240SX with a '97 R33 Skyline RB25DET swap. all the bolt on goodies. tuning will be done with an APEXi Power FC and Datalogit FC Edit software and converter box. the Power FC and supporting mods are in preparation for an equal length topmount mani, 750cc injectors, and an externally gated GT3076R (.82 A/R). i'm expecting a safe, daily drivable, very responsive 425-450 hp to the wheels

  2. #2
    ioo is offline
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Get a car/travel adapter for your laptop that is purpose built to plug into a cig lighter.

  3. #3
    Constant Bitrate thewizard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    I just picked up a cigarette lighter adapter for my Acer Aspire One from It ups the voltage from 12VDC to 19VDC as that is what my system requires. It does not even get warm let alone hot, keeps my battery charged, and no inverter is needed or used. I could hard it if I wanted to lose the lighter plug.

  4. #4
    Neither darque nor pervert DarquePervert's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    DC-AC means inverter.
    Inverters and battery chargers don't play nice together, unless you want to spend the extra coin on a pure sine wave inverter.

    As suggested, search for a car adapter for your make/model of laptop. Wire it up to an ignition-switched fuse and enjoy. Whenever the engine is running, the laptop battery will charge. When the engine is off, the laptop is on battery power.
    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?

    Under normal circumstances, a signature would go here.

  5. #5
    Variable Bitrate
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    I've been running my CarPC laptop off a $40 inverter for over a year.
    It gets warm, but it's never been a problem.

    That said, I got a 12v power supply from which I will be installing when the weather gets better.

    My main motivator was tuning too, I'm planning on putting a 3076 in my Subaru this summer. I'll be very lucky to get 400whp out of it though. I envy the reduced drivetrain loss that you get with 2WD.

  6. #6
    Variable Bitrate
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Brisbane, Australia
    The other way would be to use a Carnetix or Opus Power supply that can be configured to output different voltages. I Have an Opus at 19 volts and removed my power brick because my monitor is quite happy running on the 19 volts that my HP laptop wants and this gives me regulated 5 volts for USB hubs etc.

    There are some caveats using the Opus so discuss with Opus sales and support before orderng your power supply from them.

    See my build up thread fo some more info
    2007 Toyota Hilux with a CarPC..

    OziExplorer GPS Embedded in RR:

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