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Thread: About to purchase a new setup - after advice

  1. #1
    Newbie
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    11

    Unhappy About to purchase a new setup - after advice

    G'day,

    This is my first post here and I'm afraid it's going to be a long one. My name's sckeLL and I'm from Victoria, Australia. I don't currently have a car pc but have been reading about them here and at other places for the last few months. I'm a PC enthusiast and a geek. I have no car/engine knowledge and very limited electronics knowledge. I'm also a hobbiest C# developer, and have been looking at Centrafuse and will hopefully be able to contribute something to the community once I get up and running.

    The reason I want a car PC is for storing and playing a lot of music; storing data and a portable internet connection (I work on the field in IT, and don't currently have a laptop); development; GPS (I get lost a lot).

    So what I'm hoping is to have as many sensors in the thing as I can for playing around with and logging data, including thermometers, accelerometer, ODBII, etc.

    My car is a 2000 Mitsubishi Magna (nothing special).
    http://users.cyberone.com.au/twistie/car09001.jpg.
    I like it because it's black.

    A couple of months ago, in preparation for this, I upgraded the stock CD player to a 5 channel amp in the boot (F/R/Sub). Currently there's just a MP3/CD head unit plugged in to the Cadence FXA-5100.

    At the moment there's a fat wire running from the battery to the amp. The 'remote on' (or acc) cable is running to both the amp in the boot and the head unit.

    So here's what I've picked out:
    PC
    Boot:

    • M4-ATX 250W Intelligent DC-DC PSU
    • Intel BLKD945GCLF2D Mini-ITX Motherboard with Integrated Atom™ Processor
    • Major Brand 320GB 2.5" SATA Hard Drive
    • 2GB DDR2 DIMM 800MHz, PC2-6400 RAM
    • Fusion Brain Version 4.0

    Front:
    • Slot load DVDR USB
    • Unknown monitor.. see below.

    Sensors, Etc
    - In/on Parcel rack:

    • BU-353 Weather-proof GPS Receiver
    • Fusion Photosensor
    • Fusion Accelerometer (see if i can pull 0.1Gs!)
    • Fusion Thermometer
    • WiFi 802.11b/g USB Mini-Adapter
    • Bluetooth receiver
    • Wireless broadband dongle
    • Some USB hubs

    - Exterior:
    • Fusion Thermometer
    • Ultrasonic Distance Sensor (Front and Rear)

    - Front:
    • ElmScan 5 Bluetooth OBD-II Scan Tool 422000
    • USB Hub(s).


    As far as software goes, I'll be using Windows 7 (probably 32 bit due to the 2gb ram limitation on the MB) and Centrafuse (most likely with custom plugins).

    I'm planning to mount a panel in to the parcel shelf to plug in all the USB dongles.

    I'm not too sure where I'm going to mount the PC at this stage, but I don't think I'll have too much trouble there (The boot is already useless due to a gas tank and the amp/sub anyway).

    Now as this is quite an ambitious (and excessive ) project, I have a few questions that I was hoping you guys could help me with.

    1. Power.
    a) Would I be able to use the same cable from the battery as the one for the amp? The amp's cable has a 60amp fuse at both ends, and I think is 4 Guage. The amp is never used at full volume (all of the gains on the amp are always set under 1/2).
    b) If I can't use the same cable, how would I go about wiring this? Another cable running up the same side of the car as the amp's power cable from the battery?
    c) Is this power supply sufficient to power all of the USB devices I listed (and probably more)? Is there a better one I should look at for powering this many devices? and..
    d) From what I read, it sounds like I need to power the screen from the power supply.
    e) Would I be better off just getting something like this and getting a "real" power supply + have the ability to plug in normal devices like powered USB hubs? Or will this break something?

    2. GPS and other receivers.
    a) This BU-353 device seems so much cheaper than most devices. Does anyone know if it work properly in Australia?
    b) Does the window interfere with Wireless (3g) internet, 802.11b/g and bluetooth, or can all of these be mounted on the parcel rack?

    3. Screen/mounting.
    I haven't really decided on the screen. Ideally I'd like a single DIN one which is my only option where I won't have to cut up the plastic around the head unit. The forum seems to be littered with problems with the only one on the store here (the Zenarc), and since I live in Australia I don't really want to have to ship anything back to the US. My budget for the screen would max out at $400-500 usd.
    So does anyone have any suggestions? Ebay seems to have some on sale cheap, which says it's model is HF0701A (ebay is pretty much the only google result for that). Anyone have any info on this, or any other in dash (preferably single DIN) VGA touch screens?
    Short of this, I guess I'll try to cut my headunit panel thing to fit double DIN and get one of the brackets for Lilliput displays off eBay. I'd much prefer not to do this.

    4. Am I doing anything stupid/wrong? Any suggestions for my list are welcome, as well as any cables I'm likely to forget. Standard USB cables etc are no problem, but I don't want to have to reorder cables over the net while my car's in pieces and would prefer not to pull it apart twice (it's still not fully assembled from putting the stereo in).

    Thanks in advance for any input.

    sckeLL.

  2. #2
    North of the land of Hey Huns
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    Westminster, MD
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    First, welcome to the forums It looks like you've done a good amount of research before posting which is excellent. To answer your questions:

    1A) Yes, you should get a distribution block, fuse the 4GA wire for 100A, use 8GA wire to go between the amp and the distribution block fused at 60A, and 12GA fused at something like 20A (check the rating for the m4) to go to the carpc psu.
    1B)N/A
    1C) You may have to get a 12v powered USB hub or two.
    1D) If your screen does not have a built in regulator, you should power it off the PSU. That's as easy as running a 12v wire from the carpc to the screen.
    1E) Inverters are never better to power a carpc, but if you buy one so you can plug in other stuff, sure. Just do NOT run the carpc off of it. If you need USB hubs get a 12v powered one.

    2A) It should work around the world
    2B)All of those should be fine as long as they have clear view of the sky (or source of the 802.11/bluetooth)

    3) Personally I've had the Xenarc 700IDT for two years now, it works wonderfully. I've only had to send it back once, and that was because I broke it taking it apart (which they fixed under warantee). It's not the brightest screen, but it works great.

    4) As I said, it sounds like you've done your research. For your USB hubs you may need to look into a 5v regulator like the Carnetix(sp). For OBD2, I suggest the obdpros.com adapter. I've seen problems on the forum with people getting the ElmScan to work with your standard ELM compatible software.


    Some people here may disagree with me, and i could be wrong on some of these points, so of course do more research before taking anything I say at face value. These are just things I've learned as I've done this stuff over the past 5 years.
    "stop with the REINSTALLS, what do you think we got some lame-o installer!!!" - mitchjs
    RevFE
    My Shop

  3. #3
    Constant Bitrate
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Western Australia
    Posts
    169
    I have the BU-353 over here in WA and it works fine.

  4. #4
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    on the border of northern IL/IN
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    malcom answered most of the questions, i just have a one of thing to add:

    m4 problems: (look specifically at the thread about the looks of the m4--by zpinkerton)

    while it appears that mp3 car has weeded through their stock of m4's and anything that you recieve should be in good working order, in the past, there has been alot of problems with any of the 'm' series power supplies, and IMO (remember it is my opinion) none of the 'm' series are worth buying until minibox can work out their quality control issues. although there have been many people that have used m series dc-dc power supplies with no problem.

    both the dsatx, and any of the opus dc-dc ps seem to be very reliable(according to forum posts).

  5. #5
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    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    Thanks for all your input guys, I'll update my original post with revisions later (I'm at work at the moment). I had only chosen that m4 because it looked like a high watt one at a brief glance at the store here.

    Any more input on single DIN screens? It's a pitty the Zenarc MDT thing with the built in dvd rom was a failure, the specs on that are great . Are there any other good brands for in dash screens? (even cheap chinese ones).

    I'd love to use a double din one (probably a Lilliput).. but the second hole is not currently cut out and I'm not sure if there's suitable brackets in the car. Plus I'm a horrible craftsman and I'm pretty sure it would come out looking very home made.

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