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Thread: Should I remove my mini and install a tower?

  1. #1
    Newbie macalanche's Avatar
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    Should I remove my mini and install a tower?

    I’ve had a love/hate relationship with my mini install for over a year now. After fighting with the short comings of a computer install I revisited the reason I did the project to begin with, decided the Mini wasn’t going to fulfill my needs completely and bought an Avic Z1. I accepted that my Mini was going to be little more (to me) than a really cool iPod that could browse the web, read e-mails to me (which is awesome) and hack on in my free time.

    So I was in my home office last week and my old, first generation, G4 tower caught my eye and I thought “That would be cool to use as a carputer”. I don’t need the processing speed of the mini, I don’t need access any DVD/CD drives (my Avic handles those now) while I’m driving and I could add serious sound and video cards, which the mini is lacking. It would just be more flexible. I know how to work with Lexan / Plexiglas and could build a nice enclosure if I gutted the tower and even have a place to put it with plenty of ventilation. So, before my print server (tower) goes under the knife I have a few questions.

    1. will the P1900 work?
    2. if not, will the Opus250W work? http://www.digitalww.com/opus250.htm
    3. is there something I’m overlooking? Am I about to destroy a working computer just to discover that I overlooked the obvious?
    4. is this just a bad idea and should I just leave well enough alone?

  2. #2
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    Bugbyte's Avatar
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    1. No. Not enough power.
    2. I don't know. How many watts does the G4 tower require. Consider an inverter.
    3. Yes. The G4 will have the same shortcomings as the Mini. Your just exchanging one set of hardware for another. The underlying operating system and applications are the same.
    4. Considering that you thought the Mini was hacking in on your free time, this one ought to be a real sinkhole.

    You don't really state why you didn't like the Mini install, other than to say that the AVIC seems to have fit the bill. I'd say that it gives you good quality sound, GPS, video, and whatever else the AVIC does. How does adding a G4 tower to your car add any features that the Mini didn't?

    It sounds to me like you're covered. Leave the tower alone.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
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  3. #3
    Newbie macalanche's Avatar
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    You don't really state why you didn't like the Mini install,
    I must not have made myself clear, I'm using it almost exclusively for music at this point. I take advantage of its other capabilities but not regularly. The Mini has a mini jack for audio out and that won't ever sound as good as a pair of RCA cables. I have a lot of time and money invested in my sound system and the mini doesn't sound as good as I would like.

    4. Considering that you thought the Mini was hacking in on your free time, this one ought to be a real sinkhole.
    It sounds to me like you're implying that the mini is a plug and play system. This has not been my experience, I've had to find or write scripts to get it to behave as I've wanted. I don't believe you need to be a "hacker" to do this but I've been doing this long enough to know that you often have to either create solutions or wait for them. UI's are a great example of this, how many people have announced they are building their own interface? How many of them have never been heard from again?

    You don't really state why you didn't like the Mini install, other than to say that the AVIC seems to have fit the bill. I'd say that it gives you good quality sound, GPS, video, and whatever else the AVIC does. How does adding a G4 tower to your car add any features that the Mini didn't?
    I don't want to "add", I want to replace. As far as the mini's short comings, I should add these are simply shortcomings for me and my situation. The Mini is a fantastic carputer and others may have different expectations than I do.
    I've covered the audio except to say that XMPCR's suck. The interface is almost completely unreadable on my 700 TSV which makes it deadly at 65. Not to mention the fact it tends to lock up after the computer goes to sleep.
    There is no easy, or any, dual monitor solutions that don't mirror but true dual monitors.
    I believe saying that GPS is available is a little bit of an over statement. I own Rt.66(enough said) and have used RoadNav with very mixed results . I know RouetBuddy is out now, and I admit I haven't tried it but I've seen the screen shots and I'm not impressed. GPS was a major reason for taking a second look at what I really needed this for...tool or toy. After spending time with a dedicated GPS system I won't accept a 75% solution again.

    It sounds to me like you're covered. Leave the tower alone.
    I think you've overlooked the biggest reason for wanting to do this though. It's fun. I don't need a carputer, I enjoy it. The simple fact is my Mini install is done and I want another challenge/project. Why not do something different with materials at hand? My next project (after the tower) is probably going to be cutting my console up and fiberglassing in a 10"+ screen with USB, Firewire and power ports. Again, I don't need to, it would just be over the top to have two touch screens and a third screen (the AVIC) all tied into the Mac.

  4. #4
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    I think its a great idea. I plan on doing the same myself as the tower, can accept pro audio pci cards as I plan on using. Here's the only two that I am aware of:

    http://www.mac-mobile.com
    http://hacks.oreilly.com/pub/h/3657

    When you attach this project, post about it as I could use some help when I get around to starting

  5. #5
    Newbie macalanche's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loddie View Post
    I think its a great idea. I plan on doing the same myself as the tower, can accept pro audio pci cards as I plan on using. Here's the only two that I am aware of:

    http://www.mac-mobile.com
    http://hacks.oreilly.com/pub/h/3657

    When you attach this project, post about it as I could use some help when I get around to starting
    You got it.
    Thanks for the links, very cool.
    Are you running Tools?

  6. #6
    CarFrontEnd Creator iamgnat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macalanche View Post
    I must not have made myself clear, I'm using it almost exclusively for music at this point. I take advantage of its other capabilities but not regularly. The Mini has a mini jack for audio out and that won't ever sound as good as a pair of RCA cables. I have a lot of time and money invested in my sound system and the mini doesn't sound as good as I would like.
    USB/Firewire sound cards are available that should improve/fix this issue for you. You may also need/want to look into line drivers or EQs to improve the signal strength to your AMPs.

    It sounds to me like you're implying that the mini is a plug and play system.
    For most of us it actually is.

    As far as frontends go, Mac are closest to Linux PCs in this regard. We don't have the following of the Windows group which by definition means that there are less resources available to solve various issues.

    I've covered the audio except to say that XMPCR's suck. The interface is almost completely unreadable on my 700 TSV which makes it deadly at 65. Not to mention the fact it tends to lock up after the computer goes to sleep.
    I don't know anything about the XMPCR (though I think there may be a couple of people here using it), but i'm not sure you will have better luck with a Mac tower over the Mini.

    There is no easy, or any, dual monitor solutions that don't mirror but true dual monitors.
    This is the only true limitation of a Mini vs a tower system. Everything else (to the best of my knowledge) is available as a USB/Firewire solution.

    I believe saying that GPS is available is a little bit of an over statement.
    I would agree with this. Again, though, a tower is not going to improve this.

    If you are just looking for a new challenge, then have at it. Just don't think the tower is going to solve most of the issues mention. To use a Mac in a car means that you accept areas that they are behind Windows CarPCs.

    -dave
    My pathetic worklog.
    CarFrontEnd (now it's own sub-forum!!!!)

  7. #7
    Newbie macalanche's Avatar
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    I think I should make it clear that I'm not trying to fix these problems anymore. There are patches and partial solutions for everything but the monitor issue (as iamgnat noted) but I'm happy with playing music, browsing the web and e-mailing.

    Most of these problems have been resolved simpy by replacing my stock head unit with the AVIC. At least the GPS and XM which were my two big hot buttons. Plus, just as a bonus I now have NavTraffic another 10gigs of mp3s and good hands free bluetooth.

    Let me try this again.

    So I've been thinking about installing an old G4 tower that I have sitting at my house. Does anyone have any helpful ideas? I'm planning on using it mostly for music on a multi monitor system. I'm hoping to find a way to put it to sleep when I'm out of the truck like the P1900. Possibly the Linksys wireless mobile broadband router http://www.linksys.com/servlet/Satel...VisitorWrapper just for the fun of it.

  8. #8
    Constant Bitrate
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    I am considdering a similar option if and when I do an install. I am much more familiar with g4 towers and imacs and have both laying around readily available for hacking. I think if you can get the psu to give enough wattage (probably around 300 i can check later though) you should be good to go. Jirka Jirout had the first carputer i had ever seen with an old B&W G4 so I know it's possible but I'm not sure how he powered it.
    Good luck!
    -Ben

  9. #9
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    No, not using Tools. The software I need is not available yet which explains why I am in not hurry. I have a 733Mhz G4 but I am sure I'll need to pick up a 1.42 or a dual processor to have the processing requirements I'll need. What processor are you planning to run and how many watts do you expect to need?

    To be honest, i am not interested in carputers. The only reason I plan on installing one is for processing the SQ sound system and so I can have all my music library in the car. I don't need GPS as I like old skool maps I was even going to run with no monitor, but I think tuning will be a pain without one.

  10. #10
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    Check with Jirka he did that in the past, ask him why he went on with a mini ?

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