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Thread: Rebuilding the system using LAPTOP... Opinions

  1. #1
    Variable Bitrate BMVEE's Avatar
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    Rebuilding the system using LAPTOP... Opinions

    Ok everyone...

    I'm really thinking of redoing the system using a laptop. I have a boat so it would be really nice to remove the laptop from the car and move it into the boat for movies....

    I'm using Lilliput display and serial I-Bus adapter mainly (planning on using a PCCARD com port adapter)... I'm going to buy a radioshark and keep thinking about what else I want in the system. I don't have too many needs (GPS is a no brainer and already installed).

    I just want opinions on the laptop Idea. I plan to make a startup/shutdown controller using an inverter for a powersource. All thoughts are welcome and needed. I'm going to get going on the system starting next week. I was actually going to buy an OEM NAV system, but by the time I'm done, I can buy a new laptop and goodies plus brand new wheels & tires for the car with the same amount of money.... seems a bit more practical.

    OK.... let me have it

    TIA!
    T

  2. #2
    Variable Bitrate BMVEE's Avatar
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    OK.... Someone's gotta have something to say on this.

  3. #3
    Fusion Brain Creator 2k1Toaster's Avatar
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    I am partial towards desktops, but it is ultimately up to you. Since you obviously have a large budget with the wheels and everything why not spring the extra few buck for a carnetix?
    Fusion Brain Version 6 Released!
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  4. #4
    Neither darque nor pervert DarquePervert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMVEE View Post
    OK.... Someone's gotta have something to say on this.
    Remember that not everyone is going to be on these forums to answer your question and lend their opinions between the hours of 8:30pm and 12:00am....
    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?



    Under normal circumstances, a signature would go here.

  5. #5
    Variable Bitrate
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    What about two docking stations? I think it is quite simple to dock/undock.
    I do not know which size is the boat you have, but generally there is more space in a boat.

    Warning! Watch the topic titled 'Worst idea: laptop in the ship/boat' or so.
    He was complain about the corrosion/shortcut effect of the salt water fog/moisture that ruined his laptop.

  6. #6
    Variable Bitrate BMVEE's Avatar
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    Primary function for the laptop is Carputer.... Laptop in the boat is going to be strictly as a laptop... no boat functionality... further... this is a freshwater lake.

    Thought about a docking station (this will answer to posts), but adds too much to the price (I may look like I have expensive toys... I guess I do... but I got them by buying wisely). Most of the connections to the laptop are USB, so I'll use a HUB which makes it easier to disconnect the laptop.... and this will only be about once per week.

    I'm more concerned about the aspects/benefits of a laptop in the car. I really want to keep startup times as low as possible (like all of us) as well as other things like space & such.

    Keep those comments comin!

  7. #7
    The Last Good Gremlin GizmoQ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMVEE View Post
    I'm really thinking of redoing the system using a laptop. I have a boat so it would be really nice to remove the laptop from the car and move it into the boat for movies....

    I'm using Lilliput display and serial I-Bus adapter mainly (planning on using a PCCARD com port adapter)... I'm going to buy a radioshark and keep thinking about what else I want in the system. I don't have too many needs (GPS is a no brainer and already installed).

    I just want opinions on the laptop Idea. I plan to make a startup/shutdown controller using an inverter for a powersource. All thoughts are welcome and needed.

    OK.... let me have it
    Several things to consider here.

    First, if you plan to keep this system for more than a couple years, you might give serious consideration to finding a laptop that has a docking station. I've done it both ways and having docks has many advantages. I have mini docks in each of my three cars and two full docks in the house. No more plugging and unplugging to move from one to the other, much easier to create a sturdy mount, no wear and tear on internal plugs (I had to replace my mic and line out sockets twice before the docks), some docks have separate power switch so you don't have to mod laptop for SUSD controller, etc.

    Most laptops have auto adapters, so an inverter can be avoided. Inverters are notoriously noisy, whereas, an auto adapter can be cleaned up easily if noise is present. Auto adapters also generate less heat, take up far less space, and if your shutdown controller hangs may not drain your battery overnite.

    Most peripheral nowadays are USB so adding more can be done with external hubs. Be careful not to get an old laptop with 1.1 USB - it'll work , but requires more tweaking and attention to what peripherals are grouped together (1.1 supplies less current). If you want SQ sound quality an external sound card will probably be required which means a bit more horsepower from the CPU and additional power requirements.

    Lastly, I don't know how you feel about a development testbed (or how deep into this hobby you plan to delve), but I have at least two of everything. One on my development machine and one in the cars. I test everything on the dev box first (hardware and software) and then move it to the vehicles once stable. So, yes, I have 3 WinTv/FM, 2 XM commanders, 3 Aircards, etc. I'm probably anal about it but, it always seems that I'm out of the country or on a long distance roadtrip when some new mod is released and if I load it onto the operational system something goes bad. New hardware is always purchased for the dev box first and when I'm satisfied that its worth putting into the vehicles, I buy more. This has saved me more headaches than I can exclaim. I can hook it up, test it, and return it if it doesn't work without the hassle of running wires, worrying about how it looks, where to put things, dealing with power, connectivity, or interference in the car, etc. My dev machine is also backed up to my network whenever a change is stable and serves as a backup operational system so I don't go into withdrawals if the primary breaks down.

    Laptops can be effectively used with some foresight, planning, and understanding of its limitations. I'm sure that Breaker021 would agree with me that a system that you can take with you outside the vehicle has additional benefits as well.
    HARDWARE: Fujitsu Stylistic ST5111w/WiFi and dock, internal Hitachi 500G HD, external 1TB HD, Sierra Wireless Aircard 550, DVD-RW, BoomzBox HD radio, XM Commander, Delorme GPS, Saitek X-52 Pro joystick, BluSoleil Bluetooth, TPMS, FB, Elm327

  8. #8
    Variable Bitrate BMVEE's Avatar
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    I've been carputering for a couple of years now.... I'm redoing the system as I'm frustrated with the existing hardware I have now. I'm considering the laptop only because it will eliminate dragging my primary laptop with me to the lake for the weekends. I was going to rip everything out and go BMW OEM NAV... but I'm back and forth on that (read... reeeeeeeeally expensive ).

    I'm a systems engineer, so experimenting with this stuff as a hobby is not that big a deal for me (especially since my girlfriend hates the thing ). I'm just going to set things up and use it. The only thing I'm going to change down the road is the display as my Lilliput is is pretty hard to read when the top is down.

    Mostly what I'm after is Sirius, FM Tuner, I-BUS integration and easy SUSD. I agree with your docking station comments, but I want to keep the price down, though when I consider your comments... It may be cheaper in the long run to go with a docking station. I hadn't thought of the Auto Power Adapter... Great Idea... thanks for that!

    As far as the hardware... I'm using a new laptop so current technology won't be a problem. I was just thinking SUSD with a laptop might be better than with a dedicated PC. I can get my hands on a MINI allinone PC (I think the acer one that's been mentioned in the forums) for very cheap, but that won't help me for portability. I guess I could buy an LCD panel with a DVI connector and move the PC from the car to the boat, but this is less appealing.

    I'm pretty much going to set it up and use it. I just want to get input from others (like yourself) about ups and downs of laptops.

    Thanks so much for your very informative & considered post!

    BTW... how are your SUSD times???? Are you letting the laptop power off after 10 minutes on it's own for things like fuelling or quick stops???



    Quote Originally Posted by GizmoQ View Post
    Several things to consider here.

    First, if you plan to keep this system for more than a couple years, you might give serious consideration to finding a laptop that has a docking station. I've done it both ways and having docks has many advantages. I have mini docks in each of my three cars and two full docks in the house. No more plugging and unplugging to move from one to the other, much easier to create a sturdy mount, no wear and tear on internal plugs (I had to replace my mic and line out sockets twice before the docks), some docks have separate power switch so you don't have to mod laptop for SUSD controller, etc.

    Most laptops have auto adapters, so an inverter can be avoided. Inverters are notoriously noisy, whereas, an auto adapter can be cleaned up easily if noise is present. Auto adapters also generate less heat, take up far less space, and if your shutdown controller hangs may not drain your battery overnite.

    Most peripheral nowadays are USB so adding more can be done with external hubs. Be careful not to get an old laptop with 1.1 USB - it'll work , but requires more tweaking and attention to what peripherals are grouped together (1.1 supplies less current). If you want SQ sound quality an external sound card will probably be required which means a bit more horsepower from the CPU and additional power requirements.

    Lastly, I don't know how you feel about a development testbed (or how deep into this hobby you plan to delve), but I have at least two of everything. One on my development machine and one in the cars. I test everything on the dev box first (hardware and software) and then move it to the vehicles once stable. So, yes, I have 3 WinTv/FM, 2 XM commanders, 3 Aircards, etc. I'm probably anal about it but, it always seems that I'm out of the country or on a long distance roadtrip when some new mod is released and if I load it onto the operational system something goes bad. New hardware is always purchased for the dev box first and when I'm satisfied that its worth putting into the vehicles, I buy more. This has saved me more headaches than I can exclaim. I can hook it up, test it, and return it if it doesn't work without the hassle of running wires, worrying about how it looks, where to put things, dealing with power, connectivity, or interference in the car, etc. My dev machine is also backed up to my network whenever a change is stable and serves as a backup operational system so I don't go into withdrawals if the primary breaks down.

    Laptops can be effectively used with some foresight, planning, and understanding of its limitations. I'm sure that Breaker021 would agree with me that a system that you can take with you outside the vehicle has additional benefits as well.

  9. #9
    The Last Good Gremlin GizmoQ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMVEE View Post
    I'm just going to set things up and use it. The only thing I'm going to change down the road is the display as my Lilliput is is pretty hard to read when the top is down.
    I have the same problem with my sons Mustang and my SL as far as topdown is concerned and with my tablet, Transflexive is out of the question (although, MotorCity has offered his services to try to find me brighter bulbs). For you, till you get a transflexive, a shroud is probably the best you can do. Brighter bulbs might help, but if you're going to upgrade the screen anyway it might be a waste. I haven't heard anything lately on the transflexive mod, but if I remember correctly, it wasn't much cheaper than buying new. Some of the users here have tried various films, filters, coatings, etc., with mixed results.

    Quote Originally Posted by BMVEE View Post
    Mostly what I'm after is Sirius, FM Tuner, I-BUS integration and easy SUSD.
    O.K., you want to set it up once and be done, docking may not be an option, and you want to be able to remove it and take it on the boat. This can probably be accomplished easily with one external USB Hub and W3bMa5t3r's laptop auto Power-On Module(it is the only one with a quick-disconnect). Don't know anything about I-Bus but believe there's a USB option for that, too (someone here is working on a HD Radio using I-Bus that also might interest you).

    So if you use the internal sound card, you end up with 5 cables to disconnect: power, SUSD, audio in and out, and USB. A USB soundcard may eliminate two more, so with the best possible scenario, three connectors. I remember years ago someone fabbed a ruler with holes to glue all his connectors into, so he could connect and disconnect them quickly all at once.



    Quote Originally Posted by BMVEE View Post
    BTW... how are your SUSD times???? Are you letting the laptop power off after 10 minutes on it's own for things like fuelling or quick stops???
    I set my bios and XP Power module to a) shut the screen off in 1 minute when on battery power, i.e., when I turn off the ignition; b) switch to standby 1 hour after ignition shutoff; and c) hibernate when the battery level falls below 50%. This allows instant-on for up to 1 hour, 12 second bootup from 1-~6 hours, and 40 second boot when left overnight (which I rarely do since I usually remove it whenever I get out for extended periods - even so, the docking system I use is so well integrated that it almost always resumes with full connectivity and 10-20 seconds for 3-D GPS lock)
    HARDWARE: Fujitsu Stylistic ST5111w/WiFi and dock, internal Hitachi 500G HD, external 1TB HD, Sierra Wireless Aircard 550, DVD-RW, BoomzBox HD radio, XM Commander, Delorme GPS, Saitek X-52 Pro joystick, BluSoleil Bluetooth, TPMS, FB, Elm327

  10. #10
    Variable Bitrate BMVEE's Avatar
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    GizmoQ... thanks for the reply...

    Quote Originally Posted by GizmoQ View Post
    I have the same problem with my sons Mustang and my SL as far as topdown is concerned and with my tablet, Transflexive is out of the question (although, MotorCity has offered his services to try to find me brighter bulbs). For you, till you get a transflexive, a shroud is probably the best you can do. Brighter bulbs might help, but if you're going to upgrade the screen anyway it might be a waste. I haven't heard anything lately on the transflexive mod, but if I remember correctly, it wasn't much cheaper than buying new. Some of the users here have tried various films, filters, coatings, etc., with mixed results.
    Yea.... I've been living with it since I installed the Lilliput in the car in the first place. I hadn't thought of brighter bulbs or a different coating, but I'm not exactly thrilled with the Lilli I have right now, so I don't mind replacing it for something different down the road. I'm playing around with the Idea of adapting a BMW OEM display with the carputer... but that will be a challenge and by the time I'm done, I could have purchased a transflective display & bezel.


    Quote Originally Posted by GizmoQ
    O.K., you want to set it up once and be done, docking may not be an option, and you want to be able to remove it and take it on the boat. This can probably be accomplished easily with one external USB Hub and W3bMa5t3r's laptop auto Power-On Module(it is the only one with a quick-disconnect). Don't know anything about I-Bus but believe there's a USB option for that, too (someone here is working on a HD Radio using I-Bus that also might interest you).
    I'd already decided to use a USB hub and I've been into electronics for years not to mention PC hardware, so ripping a laptop apart is not a big deal to me. I'm going to look into the W3bMa5t3r MOD. It looks like he uses a radio shack solderable breadboard for the build which is pretty simple. I already have a serial version of the I-BUS (BMW internal control network for all intents and purposes) adapter and was wondering if there was a USB version out there. If I can find one at the right price, I'll likely go that route. I've been reading about HQCT or HD of late... vas ist das????

    Quote Originally Posted by GizmoQ
    So if you use the internal sound card, you end up with 5 cables to disconnect: power, SUSD, audio in and out, and USB. A USB soundcard may eliminate two more, so with the best possible scenario, three connectors. I remember years ago someone fabbed a ruler with holes to glue all his connectors into, so he could connect and disconnect them quickly all at once.
    For the amount that I'll be removing the system from my car... I'm not too worried about the number of connections... I'd figured on between 4-6 using a hub (audio/video/USB/POWER etc).


    Quote Originally Posted by GizmoQ
    I set my bios and XP Power module to a) shut the screen off in 1 minute when on battery power, i.e., when I turn off the ignition; b) switch to standby 1 hour after ignition shutoff; and c) hibernate when the battery level falls below 50%. This allows instant-on for up to 1 hour, 12 second bootup from 1-~6 hours, and 40 second boot when left overnight (which I rarely do since I usually remove it whenever I get out for extended periods - even so, the docking system I use is so well integrated that it almost always resumes with full connectivity and 10-20 seconds for 3-D GPS lock)
    This is exactly what I'm hoping for and why I want to use a laptop. It is very irritating to have to turn your car off for fuel and then have to wait for startup. I had my first system starting in about 24 seconds... which I felt was pretty good, but still a pain to wait for. I will probably change to VISTA when it's been more widely used but for now.... XP will do nicely.


    EDIT: BTW.... what did you do with your XP OS??? is it a lightened version of XP or did you use a full XP pro SP2 install with optimized startup?


    Thanks for taking the time to post your results. I'll let you know how I make out.

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