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Thread: Carputer in '03 Vette - plz suggest

  1. #1
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    Carputer in '03 Vette - plz suggest

    New to the forums here. Not new to computers.

    Lately I have had a wild hare up my a** to put a carputer into my brand new 2003 Corvette Z06. Yes this is my first (Vette and carputer), and no it is probably not a good idea to cut my teeth on my new 45k car but bear with me, I am pretty handy...

    So here is what I think I want so far. Please review and suggest. You'll notice I have far more questions than answers here...

    Display - Lilliput 7" Touch Screen or the new Pixelon being looked at in LCD/Display discussions (XGA) - I will most likely pick one or the other

    M/B - Via MII
    most likely, but open to suggestions (see problems below)

    Case - determined by M/B and possible slot problems mentioned below

    Wants:
    • Wireless 802.11g
    • FM/AM tuner card
    • TV card if it is possible to do this without the boomerang (or similarly large) antenna (anyone know?)
    • ODBII hook-in (to control computer and see instruments, etc.)
    • Large Hard Drive - I have seen threads here that say standard mechanical HD's wont survive vibration/G's (suggestion was use flash or similar instead), that they can survive if you use RC car shocks, use laptop HD as it is better suited for rough handling, and some that say a standard hard drive with nothing special works fine. All I know is that plain flash won't work it wont hold enough data. Any guidance?
    • keyboard - initially I thought I would only use an on-screen keyboard with the LCD touch pad. I have since reconsidered using IR, problem is that IR receiver is large (I want this carputer to look 'factory' so only visible component will be LCD). Suggestions?


    Problems I have found along the way:

    Other than those mentioned in 'Wants' I require am/fm card and wireless NIC. The MII has only 1 pci slot. I would also like to have, as mentioned above, possibly a TV tuner card... Is there any good suggestions? Possibly a combo card or a better M/B with more slots? or USB devices?

    Wireless NIC, btw, will allow me to hook up home network to car to download MP3's, movies, etc.

    Secondary problem: I am also wanting to integrate my car Heat A/C controls and remove that from the dash if possible... I know in the Vette it is all electronic (no vacuum) so it should be possible with a PLC. However there appears to be some processing relating to temperature (you set a thermostat on the A/C controller). I am not sure if this processing is done in the Heat A/C head unit, or if this data is passed back to the main computer and processed there... Any suggestions on that?

    Thanks to you all for your educational posting thus far. I would have never considered doing this until I came across this board.

  2. #2
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    First I don't know anything about how car electronics work. IE the electronic ac controls. Though I am sure that there is a way to move those functions to the computer you are going to be building. Just have to be creative and know some programming and or electronics.

    Second. Scrap the motherboard. You are going to need one with more PCI slots on it. You will need at the minimum of 2 slots. That if you can find a card that is a am/fm tuner and a tv tuner in one and one for the wireless network card. Thats unless you can find USB solutions to those components but I still don't like the processors that they come with. Plus after looking at the specs of the processors that via is comming out with I am not all that impressed with them. Go with AMD or Intel chips. I think you will be happier. And going with a MicroATX motherboard or larger allows you more upgrade options for new equipment as well as upgrading the processor depending on how good of a motherboard you get.

    Don't know about TV tuners antennaes so I can't help you there.

    I don't think you can find a large hard drive in a laptop form.

    There should be a number of solutions for you when it comes to your ODBII diagnostics. Thats as long as the Vettes are ODBII which they should be. Check the ODBII forum on this board for more info on that.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the input... Any suggestions on the M/B? Problems I see with those involve adequate cooling (the Via boards are more forgiving... of course thats prolly because they can't process as quickly .

    On HD I would actually prefer a full size drive. I don't know that laptop hard drives are any more resiliant than regular HD's even though I have heard that stated here. In fact my experience with using them to power PC's at home is they are not, at all. Most of them died within months (perhaps it was the 24/7 usage?).

    Thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by slushieken
    Thanks for the input... Any suggestions on the M/B? Problems I see with those involve adequate cooling (the Via boards are more forgiving... of course thats prolly because they can't process as quickly .

    On HD I would actually prefer a full size drive. I don't know that laptop hard drives are any more resiliant than regular HD's even though I have heard that stated here. In fact my experience with using them to power PC's at home is they are not, at all. Most of them died within months (perhaps it was the 24/7 usage?).

    Thanks!
    For the motherboard consider going an underclocked Athlon XP-M. How is the climate where you live? You may need to do a lot of cooling customization even underclocked.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by slushieken
    Thanks for the input... Any suggestions on the M/B? Problems I see with those involve adequate cooling (the Via boards are more forgiving... of course thats prolly because they can't process as quickly .

    On HD I would actually prefer a full size drive. I don't know that laptop hard drives are any more resiliant than regular HD's even though I have heard that stated here. In fact my experience with using them to power PC's at home is they are not, at all. Most of them died within months (perhaps it was the 24/7 usage?).

    Thanks!
    I would think cooling issues depend on where you live. I will be building an el cheapo computer to put in my car because in the summer it reaches between 150 and 120 degrees here. Course if it can stand up to the heat then I will build a better one. There are people here that are running the AMD and Intel processors that are more recent than whats on the Via boards. Just make sure you have enough fans.

    As for what boards. Not really sure. Its been sometime since I looked at motherboards so I don't know what changes have occured. Like I said I will only be building a cheap one so I haven't done that much investigating. Course first you have to decide on a chip

  6. #6
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    laptop drives can typically take a higher G load, but only while not in use. As far as the regular 3.5" drive, I would recommend just buying some 1/4-1/2" urethane grommets and build a mount in which they can be used between the drive and the metal chassis. Ths is usually enough shock protection as I am sure you dont hit speed bumps/road humps as 30+ mph. Another thing you may want to consider, due to the warm climate, is installing heatsinks on your motherboard chipsets, RAM, and video card. I usually do this in my desktops I build, as well as a fan blowing air across the hard drive lengthwise. Be sure to tie wrap all your cables, install your intake fans as low as possible (I am building a stealth intake duct for mine) and use an additional exhaust fan besides the one in the power supply. (Make sure it is blowing air out, and not in)

    That should help you with any heat concerns. As far as the motherboard goes, look around at the different manufacturers and see what you like. There are a lot of them on the market, so you have a large selection to choose from. My personal reommendation is to look for the following when selecting a board:

    1) Space for mounting additional/alternate heatsinks on the chipset
    2) 4x or better APG slot
    3) ATA133 for your primary IDE channel
    4 DDR 333 or faster (PC2700) memory slots and split your memory bewteen them evenly
    5) PCI and AGP slots that will not "share" a cardslot in your case


    Well, I think I have rambled on long enought.
    Toups

  7. #7
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    BTW, I will be running a Celeron 2.8 and my car gets about 140+ in the summer here! (Black 300ZX in south Texas)

    Just use good heatsinks, duct/direct the airflow and use high quality thermal compound (Artic Silver)

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by slushieken
    Secondary problem: I am also wanting to integrate my car Heat A/C controls and remove that from the dash if possible... I know in the Vette it is all electronic (no vacuum) so it should be possible with a PLC. However there appears to be some processing relating to temperature (you set a thermostat on the A/C controller). I am not sure if this processing is done in the Heat A/C head unit, or if this data is passed back to the main computer and processed there... Any suggestions on that?
    The processing is done in the climate control unit.
    It has all sensors hooked up directly to it, and it controls vacuum solenoids and motor controllers directly.
    It is, however, a Class 2 device. It almost looks like the A/C compressor request is a Class 2 command from the climate control unit to the PCM.

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    I have a similar setup to what you are suggesting in that I have a Via motherboard and Lilliput touch screen. I use a D-Link USB wireless device to download MP3's and movies from the house and will soon be putting a D-Link USB radio in place. Thinking about it, I believe the D-Link radio is FM only.

    When I started my carpc project I found that what I originally thought I wanted I ended up changing to something different. The Via board with built on CPU is fine for most needs in the car i.e. video, MP3's etc. And runs fairly quietly and cool. I took the view that I would use USB where I could and save the PCI slot as a last resort. It is possible to get a riser card to provide 2 cards from the one slot if needed so you don't have to go to a larger board especially if you don't have much room for one.

    From experience of my project, I would think of the more practical side of things from where are you going to put the PC? This may limit the size of motherboard to go for. Would the hard drive be mounted in a different location to the motherboard? This may mean long cable runs between the two and therefore another limit on hardware you purchase. For me I am thinking of using USB2 CD/DVD drives to the computer (Disk drives in the front, computer in the back!).

    The other big difference I never thought of until I started building is software. I have now settled on Mediacar for the front end screen. The latest release now supports the D-Link USB radio and hence my selection for that device. It's amazing how your needs change based upon experience on this board! I started off wanting Digital radio.........

  10. #10
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    Thanks all for the great responses... I live in Dallas so pretty comparable to South Texas.

    Magpie get outta my brain! I concur with you on all you got but I am concerned about the sound quality from a USB device... I guess a carputer will never be a Sony in that area but I had thought an internal card might be better? Dunno...

    On the M/B I am limited by space. I know I will have to do a mini-ITX or smaller. Not a lot of room, but that fits neatly into the trunk pockets. I still lean towards the VIA MII b/c of heat and cost. My car is black as well as being in Texas, so even with the VIA I know I will need to put in good cooling. I may start off with that and if it doesnt have enough horespower to play videos, etc. I will upgrade. Stability and cost are most important at this stage.

    A 2 slot setup would solve my problems. I could also USB the wireless...

    Will use the hard drive mounting ideas and use one of my full size 30gb to start with.

    One more thing I forgot to mention. I wanted to put an XM PC receiver in there too. XMPCR looks like what I need, but alternatives are always appreciated!

    Thanks again guys

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