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Thread: Proposal for first CarPC - Opinions and suggestions wanted

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    Proposal for first CarPC - Opinions and suggestions wanted

    I've been lurking for a while now, and am in the process of designing my first CarPC. I have a list of parts, and would like opinions from other people on the system.

    I am looking to have the system do GPS navigation, AM/FM/XM radio, FLAC/MP3 playback, play DVDs and stored movies, and do some low to moderate-end gaming. For all those curious, I don't plan to play games while driving. I do a fair number of road trips, commonly with at least one other passenger, so that aspect would be more for their convenience rather than mine.

    In the future, I would like the system to interface with my car via OBD-II and process video from a dash-cam.

    With that, here are my proposed components:
    CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819115052
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-G31M-S2L http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813128078
    GPU: Jaton 8400GS http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814139018
    RAM: 2GB DDR2-800
    LCD: Lilliput 7" Touchscreen http://store.mp3car.com/2008_Lillipu..._p/mon-016.htm
    PSU: Opus 320W http://store.mp3car.com/OPUS_320W_In..._p/pwr-024.htm
    GPS: BU-353 http://store.mp3car.com/BU_353_Weath..._p/gps-002.htm
    DVD drive: something
    AM/FM radio: something
    XM radio: something

    OS will be Windows XP, front end most likely RR, GPS software IG4.

    Now I know this is an absurd amount of power to put in a car. Here are my thoughts on that:

    I want the system to be capable for future expansion and capabilities, and also want to be able to multi-task (i.e. GPS running in background while dash-cam is running and DVD is playing). Furthermore, all the components have been selected because of their low power aspects. Running it through a few power calculators, I've obtained estimates of 200-225 watts power consumption, which I think it reasonable to overkill. Nevertheless, I decided on the OPUS 320W to have extra headroom as well as for it's startup/shutdown capabilities.

    The micro-ATX motherboard is fairly large, but smaller than others at 9.6x7.6 inches. I plan to put the computer in my dash. The screen will replace the current radio, as that spot is low on the dash, hidden from the sun and very visible for the driver and passengers. The motherboard and power supply will be behind the screen. There is an opening of ~10.5x9 inches behind there, as I moved a few relays and harnesses out of the way.

    As for cooling, the area that I plan to put the motherboard and power supply have air ducts below, to the side, and above, as well as openings to the passenger compartment. For the time being I will just have fans, but if cooling proves to be a problem, some of those air ducts may be modified to produce more moving air.

    For power, there is an empty distribution block just to the left of the driver's feet, with openings already connected to the battery which I will be utilizing.

    FYI, the car is a 98 Chrysler Sebring LXI (coupe), similar to the second-generation Eclipse.

    Thoughts?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Maximum Bitrate ws6vert's Avatar
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    TTT, interested in opinions on this set-up as well.

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    I actually built it soon after posting it, and have been using it in my car for a few months now. So far I've really enjoyed it. For the most part, the system is wildly over-powered, but I knew that going into it. I don't know the exact power draw from the system, but I may hook my multimeter up and get a current draw soon to get an actual idea of how much power the system is pulling. I'm guessing total draw is around 150 watts.

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    Maximum Bitrate ws6vert's Avatar
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    That's awesome man, quck question: why did you go with the different video card? Does the intel GMA 3100 not work well with the 7" display? I keep reading all these issues with getting a native 800x480 display. I'm definitely a newbie to all this, so I've been reading as much as I can and any experienced information is definitely useful.

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    I went with the discrete graphics card for two reasons. First, I wanted to be able to do 3D rendering well (games, etc) mainly for passengers in the car, but also for times when I'm stopped waiting to pick someone up, etc, and not bog down the CPU. Second, I didn't want to have to mess with getting 800x480 to work.

    Unfortunately, I have even more problems now in regard to 800x480. I believe the GMA3100 can be made to work with 800x480. However, PowerStrip doesn't support 8-series Nvidia cards, and the custom resolution feature in the Nvidia drivers apparently has been broken for years, so I'm stuck at 800x600 until Nvidia finally gets its act together with their drivers.

    I was debating buying a 7-series card, or just using the onboard, but right now the 800x600 actually doesn't look that bad, and I'm banking on the idea that Nvidia will support custom resolutions in their drivers soon.

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    Maximum Bitrate ws6vert's Avatar
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    I see... well hopefully in the near future they will figure things out. As far as power, you said you feel it is only drawing around 150W? Is this with everything you listed above sucessfully running or less? How about the sound quality, and how fast is it on a cold start? Sorry about all the questions, i'm just excited I found someone with the same set-up I was looking to develop.

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    No worries about the questions, that's how I got my start too.

    Right now I'm powering the CPU, motherboard, GPU, 2GB RAM, 500GB HDD, LCD, GPS receiver, DVD drive, USB hub, USB mini-keyboard, and USB 802.11G wi-fi device.

    I don't have too much free time right now, but if you're ok with waiting a few days, I can get an actual current measurement from the system to have a concrete power draw number.

    The OPUS 320 watt PSU I'm using said to run a fan over it if pulling above 150 watts. I don't have a fan on it, and it's located away from the CPU and GPU fans, so there is no dedicated cooling for it. It obviously has run for the ~3 months I've had it in the car just fine, including two periods of 9+ hour continuous use when I was on a road trip of 700 miles each way. Also, during the summer months my car would get quite toasty, easily over 100 degrees F at times, and I never had a single lockup or thermal shutdown.

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    Maximum Bitrate ws6vert's Avatar
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    Yeah, Im in no hurry. I just stumbled across your post and it was very similar to the idea I had as well as the components I have at hand. Thanks for the help you already given me, I'll keep reading and asking questions around the forum to get a better jist of the whole carPC revolution. If you have a spare moment let me know the wattage the system is using.

    In retrospec if you would change one thing about your system, what would it be?

  9. #9
    Who am I? HiJackZX1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjon17469 View Post
    No worries about the questions, that's how I got my start too.

    Right now I'm powering the CPU, motherboard, GPU, 2GB RAM, 500GB HDD, LCD, GPS receiver, DVD drive, USB hub, USB mini-keyboard, and USB 802.11G wi-fi device.

    I don't have too much free time right now, but if you're ok with waiting a few days, I can get an actual current measurement from the system to have a concrete power draw number.

    The OPUS 320 watt PSU I'm using said to run a fan over it if pulling above 150 watts. I don't have a fan on it, and it's located away from the CPU and GPU fans, so there is no dedicated cooling for it. It obviously has run for the ~3 months I've had it in the car just fine, including two periods of 9+ hour continuous use when I was on a road trip of 700 miles each way. Also, during the summer months my car would get quite toasty, easily over 100 degrees F at times, and I never had a single lockup or thermal shutdown.
    My install is similar to yours if not even more over kill. i have 4 screens, a Kino-690S1 with AMD 1.8 ghz Turion X2 processor, 4 large fans and 2 small fans, XM, HD, and some other stuff, all being powered off a OPUS 320 and I never have to put a fan to it. What I would do is have a fan pull air away from it, but dont have it blow on it. Here is a pic of my setup without the case. Towards the back you can see the OPUS and 2 fans which pull air out. The OPUS doesnt even get warm.

    Nirwana Project, the Android/Win 7 hybrid system!

    1X Ainol Novo Flame Tab
    4X MK808b
    3x Perixx Touchpads
    3x 7 inch Screens
    1X 7 inch motorized Screen
    1x Win 7 PC

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    Wow! That's a big pc. I read that your reasoning was multitasking. How does that perform for you?

    I am concidering a similar system based on an AMD single core processor. I am mainly interested in quick boot and shutdowns. However, I do run RR and streets and trips 2008 at the same time.

    What is your boot time? And in your opinion, what factors are more inportant in respect to boot times:What would be the order of determining factors for boot speeds? processor speed/ # cores, RAM/ total amount or using multiple sticks to take advantage of dual channel support, HD speed, or OS/ OS optimization?

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