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Thread: Best way to power carputer? Please help a newbie!

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    Question Best way to power carputer? Please help a newbie!

    Hello everyone

    I'm quite new to this carputer business so let's cut to the chase:

    After reading much about the new Lilliput VGA screens, I bought one...very happy with it (didn't get the Jurassic Park or Asian woman ghost image!).

    Now comes to the part of powering all this in a 4 door Civic without setting fire to anything. I've been readying various options that people use to power their devices...from inverters, to connecting it directly to the battery of the car and even putting a 2nd battery in the trunk that is connected to the car somehow!

    I'm thinking of putting a 90W laptop and the Lilliput VGA Touchscreen. Maybe one day a Shuttle PC (I think those don't each too much power).

    My first question is: What do YOU think is the best way of powering the two things I require in the car? I tried an 175w inverter with the laptop and screen, works fine...but man does the inverter get hot! Even with the built in fan it gets bloody hot!

    2nd question: Does using an inverter for long periods of time (say 3 hours) with the 90w laptop and screen cause any damage to the car? If so, what should be my alternative? Thanks!

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    Raw Wave Confused's Avatar
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    The very best thing you could do would be to get an Opus, if you were using a standard ATX PC.

    The Opus is a pure DC-DC solution, with ignition sensing and shutdown controller. Do a for Opus and you'll find lots of solutions!

    However, as you're going to be using a laptop, then unless you can get a cigarette lighter adapter for it to run it on 12v, then you will have to go for the invertor route. However, that adds unnecessary conversions from 12vDC to 110/220vAC to 12vDC.

    If you have an Opus or similar, then you shouldn't need another battery, however some people also have lots of amps at stuff that they want to power seperately to the main car's battery.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Confused
    The very best thing you could do would be to get an Opus, if you were using a standard ATX PC.

    The Opus is a pure DC-DC solution, with ignition sensing and shutdown controller. Do a for Opus and you'll find lots of solutions!

    However, as you're going to be using a laptop, then unless you can get a cigarette lighter adapter for it to run it on 12v, then you will have to go for the invertor route. However, that adds unnecessary conversions from 12vDC to 110/220vAC to 12vDC.

    If you have an Opus or similar, then you shouldn't need another battery, however some people also have lots of amps at stuff that they want to power seperately to the main car's battery.


    Garry
    Thank you for the info, I've found many posts and other "newbie" questions about the Opus...I may go that route one day if I want to put a full computer in the car. Yes, it does seem silly to convert it twice for the laptop, but it looks like that is my only option since the laptop is only 90w...and I'm using the Lilliput vga touchscreen so it will use even less juice than laptop lcd.

    Anyone have any other ideas besides an Opus? Wire the inverter RIGHT to the battery? Anyone ever do that...should anyone do that (dangerous?)

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    Maximum Bitrate fluffy2097's Avatar
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    My laptop had an optional 12v charger specifically designed for use in a car or an airplane. You might want to look into seeing if your laptop has one as well.

    If you get an inverter, you want to run it right to the battery. If you try and run it through the cars electrical system you won't be able to get the full wattage out of it, and you might start blowing fuses, or even set your wiring harness on fire (Unlikely, but I know Accords have problems with wiring harness fires when ricers replace the stock headlights with after market bulbs).

    You can run an inverter as long as you like without hurting your car. If the engine is off you'll eventually kill your battery though.
    A digital mind lost in an analog world.

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    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by fluffy2097
    My laptop had an optional 12v charger specifically designed for use in a car or an airplane. You might want to look into seeing if your laptop has one as well.

    If you get an inverter, you want to run it right to the battery. If you try and run it through the cars electrical system you won't be able to get the full wattage out of it, and you might start blowing fuses, or even set your wiring harness on fire (Unlikely, but I know Accords have problems with wiring harness fires when ricers replace the stock headlights with after market bulbs).

    You can run an inverter as long as you like without hurting your car. If the engine is off you'll eventually kill your battery though.
    Thanks the inverter I bought can be hooked up directly to the car battery...now to find out if my dealership will install that for me!

    Here's another crazy question...how about putting a fully charged car battery in the trunk...how much power can I pull out of a car battery say with an 90w laptop running off of it? Or should I just stick with hooking up my inverter directly to the car battery?

  6. #6
    Raw Wave hijinks21's Avatar
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    hook up the inverter yourself. its not that hard
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    Huh?

    Quote Originally Posted by hijinks21
    hook up the inverter yourself. its not that hard

    Wah? How in the world do I get the inverter cables from the car battery to the cockpit where all the devices are? Isn't there a firewall between the cockpit and the engine where the battery is?

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    Variable Bitrate bjm2020's Avatar
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    Yes, there's a firewall in between but there are some openings in the firewall. Check under your hood for any openings that leads to your car's interior.

    Its not hard, just run the power wire to the battery and the ground to a spot on the vehicle's chassis.

    Be sure to put a fuse in between the inverter and the battery with the power wire.
    EPIA 800, DWW-7VGA LCD w/Touchscreen, 256mb ram, dvd rom, ati radeon 7000 video card, 80 gb 3.5" hard drive.

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    Thanks again!

    Quote Originally Posted by bjm2020
    Yes, there's a firewall in between but there are some openings in the firewall. Check under your hood for any openings that leads to your car's interior.
    Ok, when I get home I'll have to check that out on my 4 door civic! WOOOOO, this is going to be sweet, watch the cables they gave me with the inverter are too short!

    Hmm...what's this I read on a website:

    For powering loads of over 150 watts, you should connect the inverter directly to your car battery. This requires a 4-gauge power cable and draws power directly from the positive battery terminal. An in-line fuse or circuit breaker (typically 80 amp) installed near the battery is a must. Without one, an accidental short circuit could pose a fire hazard and damage your inverter, not to mention your car itself.

    An in-line fuse or circuit breaker...oh for the love of...... I might go back to my two stand alone batteries in the trunk idea! Does this inverter have a built in circuit breaker? it sounds like it from the description:

    # Automatic safety monitoring circuitry to protect the inverter, and your battery, from inadvertent overload conditions
    # Auto shutdown protects against overload, short-circuit, high temperature and low and high battery conditions

    http://www.canadiantire.ca/assortmen...=1067979984108

    Anyone know if how long batteries last if you were to use it constantly "stand alone" on a 90w device like a laptop?

  10. #10
    Maximum Bitrate fluffy2097's Avatar
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    If you put a battery in your trunk, you would have to run wires to the battery in the front of the car anyways. The inverter would run the batteries flat after a few hours unless they're tied to the car's alternator somehow and get charged while the car is running.

    If you do decide to do this, hook the batteries up in parallel. NOT SERIES! You don't want to try running 24 or 36 volts (depending on how many batteries you add) through your cars electrical system. You would also need some sort of diode to keep the cars engine from drawing power off the battery, but still letting it charge.
    A digital mind lost in an analog world.

    Learn to ask smart questions!
    http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

    My car PC: The Lost Cause!

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