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Thread: First time considering this.

  1. #1
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    First time considering this.

    I have read here that it is a bad idea overall to use a desktop cpu for a CarPC project. I was wondering if having these items ready to play with would it still be a bad idea?

    CPU: AMD Sempron 3100+
    RAM: Corsair XMS DDR400
    PSU: 500W (can't remember brand right now, but lasted strong with comp for a few years)
    HDD: WD 160gb

    All I would need from here would be the motherboard and case to put it all in. I understand that inverters are considered bad here but how much noise is introduced? Also I could get ahold of some schematics to make a noise filter circuit to take care of that inline.

    I appreciate upfront honesty in all things and welcome experienced advice since I have no clue what I'm getting into right now I love challenges though with electronics

    Oh, looking at these motherboards: http://computers.pricegrabber.com/mo...5B%5D=16813697

    I don't know about cases at this point or screens so a little more elaboration on these two points would be appreciated. Plan on putting this under the seat in my Civic.

  2. #2
    Neither darque nor pervert DarquePervert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by omga14 View Post
    I have read here that it is a bad idea overall to use a desktop cpu for a CarPC project. I was wondering if having these items ready to play with would it still be a bad idea?
    Where did you read that?
    Most of us use desktop hardware (albeit low-power hardware), as it's easier to configure and replace parts if needed than laptop hardware...

    CPU: AMD Sempron 3100+
    RAM: Corsair XMS DDR400
    PSU: 500W (can't remember brand right now, but lasted strong with comp for a few years)
    HDD: WD 160gb

    All I would need from here would be the motherboard and case to put it all in. I understand that inverters are considered bad here but how much noise is introduced? Also I could get ahold of some schematics to make a noise filter circuit to take care of that inline.

    I appreciate upfront honesty in all things and welcome experienced advice since I have no clue what I'm getting into right now I love challenges though with electronics
    Upfront honesty? OK. You asked for it...

    1 - Read as much as you can. Read all the FAQs here: http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/advfaq.php
    Read everything that is of interest or that you think might apply to you here: http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/the-faq-emporium/
    You can't have too much knowledge. Yes, it will spurn more questions, but that's OK. It means you're learning.

    2 - Don't purchase anything until you have a plan of attack. Some will say that you should make a wiring diagram and have parts lists on paper, but that depends on your organizational skills, really. The main point is that you need to have an idea what you're getting into. That includes measuring areas where you're installing, checking out under the hood for a grommet to run wires through and where you plan to mount a fuse holder.

    3 - If you have a question, don't hesitate to ask. But please don't ask a question unless you have looked for the answer. 90% of your questions have been answered on these forums many, many times. Yeah, you'll search a lot. Yeah, you'll wind up weeding out a lot of crap in the process. Perseverence will prevail here.

    4 - If you can't troubleshoot a PC and aren't willing to rip apart your dash and get into the electrical system of your ride, find another hobby NOW, before you've sunk a lot of money into a project, only to find out that your spouse is going to have a hissy-fit because you have the car torn apart with a half-assed installation while you wait for that cable your ordered from eBay to arrive...


    Oh, looking at these motherboards: http://computers.pricegrabber.com/mo...5B%5D=16813697

    I don't know about cases at this point or screens so a little more elaboration on these two points would be appreciated. Plan on putting this under the seat in my Civic.
    Befgore looking at a motherboard, I'd look at your CPU.
    I know what the max draw of your CPU is, which is an important figure. That figure will give you a rough idea of what DC-DC PSU would work best for your proposed setup.

    Now, you're probably asking, "But I was just going to get an inverter!"

    Good thinking, compadre. You're applying the old grey matter, which is good.
    However, as you do some reading, you're going to understand that a DC-DC PSU is far superior to an inverter for a number of reasons (including space, heat, RFI and inefficiency). An inverter will work, mind you. It's just an inferior solution in many ways.

    My point is that the CPU is more of a determining factor than the motherboard you choose. Once you have the rest sorted out, the motherboard is pretty much a place to plug in your CPU, drives & PSU.



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  3. #3
    Variable Bitrate brucedog's Avatar
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    Hey omga14,


    I would say that you have some decent components and apparently have been doing some reading. Keep up on the reading, it has served me well - although I went down the "other" path... Here's some of my experience as it may compare with what you're thinking on.

    You can check my carpc specs, but I am using desktop pc w/inverter in the (roomy) cargo cmpt of my Saturn Wagon. Electrical efficiency is the focus for many; I don't have the time or energy to build up my own micro power/size carpc, so I just bought a Compaq at Best Buy, an inverter from http://invertersrus.com

    Nothing too original here, but I have got an clean install;
    INVERTER - Vector modified sine 1000 watt
    >inverter mounted on pass side firewall, just above pass foot area
    >inverter +12 volt and gnd 4ga pwr cables thru firewall diectly to batt and chasis gnd
    >inverter 120 vac out thru hole in floor, routed along frame, then thru spare tire well; 2-outlet box mounted on cargo deck
    >verrrry slight inverter buzz, unheard when music is playing, but for the purist, it IS there...
    Space: fits well where I said
    Heat: never gets THAT hot - only powering a pc
    Efficiency: don't care, has low batt shutdown in case I play too long w/ engine off
    RFI: Yep, it's there, but manageable. A pure sine inverter would be nice.

    CARPC - per specs
    >in cargo cmpt, wedged in place by 2x10' subwoof cabinet
    >case has fold-down handle for easy carry/remove
    >VGA and USB cabling run mostly thru mouldings to front of car
    >audio out to amps located right by pc

    That's about it, except that my 7" touchscreen is mounted on a gooseneck mount to floor bolt next to hump by pass side. Easy vew angle, can be tilted (which helps as sun glare in car can be challenging). Also had ground loop problem from PCI sound card to one of my amps; Radio Shack loop eliminator solved instantly with no sound degradation. I gotta take some da-n photos! Maybe these experiences might guide you.

    I looked at mp3car store for cases; don't have any real experience on this, but under yr seat is considered a very poor mout loc:
    >dusty, dirty, greasy...
    >crowded, no easy access for work
    >your poor cdrom drive and fan could get full of dirt, and probably wll.
    >carpc's don't deserve to be farted on

    It's all up to you. I did a lot of planning and sketching; even took photos and printed/marked 'em up, visioning install appearance... It's expensive enuf, so good to try to do right first time, so as to not get sour on the idea...

    Is it fun? Yep. Are the possibilities unlimited? Yep. Go for it.

    Happy carpc'ing.

  4. #4
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    For DarquePervert:
    I already have the components listed in the original post so finding a CPU was not really in the cards. The Sempron is the 62w version so yes higher than some of the high efficiency 25w jammies out there but also twice as fast.

    I will look into these DC-DC PSU's and see if I want to go that route now or stick with my 500w PSU and go with an inverter if the price difference is significant enough to make me wait on the dedicated CarPC PSU.

    I will read more, alot more, but I think I'm going to be doing this project either way I am the type to at least try to lay things out before I get into them when it involves ripping the car apart, haha.

    Oh, and I've been building my own desktop computers for a few years now with overclocking as a hobby i've found is costing way to much these days so time for a new more usable and longer lasting project.


    For Brucedog:
    I will look into the way you've layed out your setup with the inverter in mind. I don't want to spend way to much on my first outing getting components I already have but just how much interference do you get? I'm not a purist but small backround interference sounds can annoy me greatly.

    For both:
    Thanks for the replies and information. I will get back to reading those FAQ's and make my decision either way. I was thinking of installing it as a secondary unit and seeing how I liked the system before dedicating to it. There are ways to switch speakers between reciever units as I'm sure you know. My main concerns are cost of Touchscreens and getting a housing for them to fit in my dash. I'll read up on that though also. Thanks again.

  5. #5
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    Well, IF you already have an inverter and the hardware, no harm in trying it out, of course.

    Using an inverter isn't a 'BAD' idea. It isn't as elegant as a DC-DC PSU intended for in car use, but that's not necessarily a BAD thing. Some people don't mind a manual startup/shutdown process. Some do. If you've got the stuff lying around, I'd say go for it with what you have!
    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.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the encouragement Bugbyte. I don't have an inverter yet just the parts listed in the original post. I will get an inverter to get me started in this new hobby. I do have a question though about what wattage rating I should purchase though? I have a computer desktop 500watt power supply as one of the extra parts so what should I get as far as an inverter? Twice the power supplies rating or three times as much?

    I have no clue but and looking through the forums at alot of information at once. Yeah, I know I should focus on one aspect first and move on to others but thats how I gain information best.

    Also are there any particularly recommended motherboards for a socket 754 AMD cpu? I can find a case from there or build my own if I feel like it so that's not a worry. After that I just have to read some more and layout the schematic of how I'm gonna put this thing into my Civic.

    Btw, I've seen some 2002ish Civics here and am excited to see that a 7" widescreen fits d*mn near perfect in the console. Gonna need that anti glare or whatever touchscreen though.

  7. #7
    Variable Bitrate brucedog's Avatar
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    Here's some experience and suggestions:

    I have 1000 watt Vector modified sine inverter from
    http://invertersrus.com
    (they have a nice explanation of what modified sine and pure sine is all about)

    PSU in desktop installed in my car is rated at 500 watts; that doesn't mean that it draws 500 watts. If you look at the nameplate on PSU, it gives the output voltages, and the max ampere draw avail. from each...

    Anyway, the inverter has a 0-100% power output meter; when the pc is running, the meter barely indicates 100 watts. Even on startup, it only rises to 200 watts.

    I only bought the 1000 watt unit 'cause it was only $104, and I may want to run power tools, incandescent lighting, a blender, electric blanket....

    Inverter barely even gets warm.

    You asked about the inverter "whine." It is faintly heard when amps are all on and turned up full; when music is on, even the quietist passages cover the whine. I am also fairly picky and get crazy over clicks, pops, rattles in car. I'm not bothered by inverter, but it did take some re-routing of power, VGA, usb, and audio cables to reach this harmonious state. And I also could not fully eliminate a hiss coming from only my main amp, so I bought a Radio Shack ground loop isolator, with NO reduction in audio quality.

    Maybe I should say 'I heard no reduction in audio quality." I suppose that more than one of our more effite audio purists would inform you that ground loop isolators remove or interfere with transient or sensitive audio qualities that lower the standard. I accept this possibility, and still have a tolerably nice sounding audio experience...

    Keep up the reading and absorbing info like a sponge. Tedious tho it be, the light will go on...

    happy carpc'ing!


  8. #8
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    Thanks, this is more fuel for me to get this thing on track. I have most of the major components. Inverter is ~$100 as you mentioned so now all I need is the motherboard that supports a s754 AMD cpu and a Touchscreen.

    The Touchscreen i'm going to have to save up for since it seems like the average is around $600 for something decent without major glare effect in direct sunlight. I have a 2002 Civic and it is all about sunlight during the day, lol.

    I'll keep reading as suggested and try and absorb more before asking more questions. Just kinda got excited at the prospect of this project. I like challenges and things that take careful planning.

    Never messed with fiberglass though so I'm worried about when it comes down to making a faceplate for the screen if I can't find a pre-fab unit. I'll worry about that though when that comes down the line.

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