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Thread: semi-newb, need help planning for carputer in a Mazda3

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate Stealth915's Avatar
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    semi-newb, need help planning for carputer in a Mazda3

    Sorry in advance for the long post

    i'm looking to put a carputer in my new Mazda3 but I'm looking for some suggestions. I mainly just want to be able to play MP3's and DVDs with it, and possibly implement a GPS of some sort, and I'm open to other suggestions for what I can do with it.

    I'm pretty set on getting a Via Epia mobo/cpu, but I can't decide between the M, MII, or the CL. I'm probably going to put in in a very small case like this one:
    to fit it in my glovebox.

    I'm going to connect the carputer's audio output to my 2 amplifiers through a switch that chooses between the carputer and my stock CD player/radio. 6-channel audio would be nice, but I can live with 2-channel, depending on which mobo I choose. I'm going to use a slimline DVDROM and probably a notebook harddrive, as I doubt a normal one would fit in that case.

    My car has an optional flip-up navigation system that I didn't buy, so I'm going to buy the dash piece from the dealership and put a screen in there to give it the stock look. Now, from what I've heard, I should be able to fit a 7" LCD in there. I would like a touchscreen input, but the screen would be a bit too far for touchscreen to be convenient. I could use a remote, but i'm gonna go all out and attempt to put another LCD touchscreen by my shifter for the input.



    so here comes my flurry of questions... i've read alot of the posts here in the newbie forum, so hopefully I don't ask something that's asked a million times:

    1) Is it possible to use the dual LCD setup I described? I know I'd probably need a video card that can output to 2 monitors, but other than that, would I run into any other problems?

    2) I know everyone would recommend the Opus as the best PSU for a carputer, but I was wondering if there were cheaper alternatives. I still don't know how the power-on, power-off works. Is the carputer completely off while the car is off? or is it just hibernating/suspend-to-RAM? I stumbled across these PSUs, http://store.yahoo.com/ituner/posoformi.html
    they don't seem to be too expensive and are "made for Via Epia." What would I need to add to those PSUs so it will power on-off the way the Opus does?

    3) about those GPS receivers: do you have to subscribe to one of those GPS services to use them or do you just need a receiver and software? If getting navigation is as simple as just buying a USB GPS thing and connecting it to the carputer I'm already buying, I might as well do it.

    4) What do most people do with ODB-II data from the engine on their carputers?

    5) for shock protection, I'm thinking of surrounding the case with some foam padding, but I'm afraid it may get too hot in the glovebox with the foam adding to the heat. that being said, my glovebox is rather big, and I can "easily fit a small child into it" as the car salesman told me, and maybe if I open a hole and route a small tube from my front vent into it, I can keep is cool. Will that be necessary?

    that's all I can think of for now, any help would be much appreciated! Thanks!

  2. #2
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    i can only answer 2 and 3 confidently.. 2) the OPUS is GOD. buy it. its great. seriously it simplifies and kicks everything else's ***. it'll turn on when the car turns on (provided you wire to the ignition signal) and turn off when you turn the car off (again, provided you wire it to IGN). with regards tot he other PSUs.. maybe they are cheaper, but what you save in money will be made up for in headaches.

    3) no fee for GPS. buy a receiver and software package, and you are all set...

    good luck with the rest of your project
    VIA EPIA 533 MHz
    256 MB RAM
    7" Lilliput VGA Touchscreen
    20 gig HD
    Media Engine 2.1.4
    GPS - Earthmate/SA2004
    802.11b Connectivity

  3. #3
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    if you have alreadying been thinking doing a mod for the touchscreen, will you be thinking moving the a/c control and radio control knob down so you can fab and put the touch screen in the middle of the dash right below the on/off button? i believe it will be great for view as well as input too since it would be a big distraction moving your head down to look and the shift knob might block the way so you can't input easily.

    i am just curious becoz i own a mazda 3 too....so you are able to create your own custom front peice?(w/ fiberglass or the wood something?i don't know much of it)

    for question one. i don't have experience with two screen and carputer in car but i do have a desktop that has a nvida display card with dual vga output. so i assume other display card are about the same? you usually need to set which screen is primary and secondary and some program designed to work in only primary screen (in my experience, such as real player, power dvd, icq, and games too, usually program that requires direct3d also)
    however, putting the GPS softwar the secondary desktop (for example, the screen where NAV sits) and doing other things like playing dvd in primary desktop is way so cool!!

    for 5) are you using some old harddisk? or buying a new one? i still hold my project becoz i am waiting the aux in module for my HU (people in rx8 group is going to produce it) but i will definately buy a new HDD from place like bestbuy w/ 3 year protection plan so i don't need to care about it at all.

    have a ncie day.

    jskit cheng

  4. #4
    Neither darque nor pervert DarquePervert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stealth915
    Sorry in advance for the long post

    i'm looking to put a carputer in my new Mazda3 but I'm looking for some suggestions. I mainly just want to be able to play MP3's and DVDs with it, and possibly implement a GPS of some sort, and I'm open to other suggestions for what I can do with it.

    I'm pretty set on getting a Via Epia mobo/cpu, but I can't decide between the M, MII, or the CL. I'm probably going to put in in a very small case like this one:
    [IMAGE]
    to fit it in my glovebox.

    I'm going to connect the carputer's audio output to my 2 amplifiers through a switch that chooses between the carputer and my stock CD player/radio. 6-channel audio would be nice, but I can live with 2-channel, depending on which mobo I choose. I'm going to use a slimline DVDROM and probably a notebook harddrive, as I doubt a normal one would fit in that case.

    My car has an optional flip-up navigation system that I didn't buy, so I'm going to buy the dash piece from the dealership and put a screen in there to give it the stock look. Now, from what I've heard, I should be able to fit a 7" LCD in there. I would like a touchscreen input, but the screen would be a bit too far for touchscreen to be convenient. I could use a remote, but i'm gonna go all out and attempt to put another LCD touchscreen by my shifter for the input.

    [IMAGE]

    so here comes my flurry of questions... i've read alot of the posts here in the newbie forum, so hopefully I don't ask something that's asked a million times:

    1) Is it possible to use the dual LCD setup I described? I know I'd probably need a video card that can output to 2 monitors, but other than that, would I run into any other problems?

    2) I know everyone would recommend the Opus as the best PSU for a carputer, but I was wondering if there were cheaper alternatives. I still don't know how the power-on, power-off works. Is the carputer completely off while the car is off? or is it just hibernating/suspend-to-RAM? I stumbled across these PSUs, http://store.yahoo.com/ituner/posoformi.html
    they don't seem to be too expensive and are "made for Via Epia." What would I need to add to those PSUs so it will power on-off the way the Opus does?

    3) about those GPS receivers: do you have to subscribe to one of those GPS services to use them or do you just need a receiver and software? If getting navigation is as simple as just buying a USB GPS thing and connecting it to the carputer I'm already buying, I might as well do it.

    4) What do most people do with ODB-II data from the engine on their carputers?

    5) for shock protection, I'm thinking of surrounding the case with some foam padding, but I'm afraid it may get too hot in the glovebox with the foam adding to the heat. that being said, my glovebox is rather big, and I can "easily fit a small child into it" as the car salesman told me, and maybe if I open a hole and route a small tube from my front vent into it, I can keep is cool. Will that be necessary?

    that's all I can think of for now, any help would be much appreciated! Thanks!
    I'll address #1, since I'm going to be attempting something similar.
    To do dual monitors, you need two video outputs. There's a couple ways to go about this:
    • Onboard video + AGP/PCI video. Keep in mind that not all motherboards with onboard video allow both the onboard and AGP/PCI to work together. This is probably the best solution for your EPIA, if it will allow both video to run at the same time. Also, your small case may not work with a card installed.
    • AGP video with dual video out. Usually a DVI & a VGA. Most come with a DVI-to-VGA adapter. If the EPIA has an AGP slot, this could be an option, however, it would make using your small case nearly impossible. I thought about doing something with a right-angle adapter fot the AGP slot in a cut-down shuttle case. I think it's possible, but there's a lot of fabrication and you need to cool everything.
    • Dual onboard video out (my solution-see link: Looking around for ideas.... (longish & dull photo)). Keep in mind it's a whole different foundation.


    As for #5, The EPIA isn't the most hot-running board. I'd think that making the cooling in that case the best it possibly can be should be sufficient for keeping it from overheating.
    I've thought about ducting cold air to the 'puter, but conditioned air would create condensation, and hot air when the heater is on... That's kind of a pain in the ***...
    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?



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  5. #5
    Constant Bitrate Stealth915's Avatar
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    i actually didn't want to move the HVAC controls and stuff, cause that would take alot more work. I figure if I can just play with a little fiberglass (or find a shop that does) to fit the touchscreen infront of the shifter and I should be set. I like the way the Mazda3's HVAC looks, so I don't wanna play around with it too much.

    I don't know if I'm going to buy a new notebook harddrive or just use one of my old ones for my carputer. I'm pretty sure that a 3.5" hdd won't fit into the case I want, so I'd need an external enclosure with either a firewire or a usb2.0 connection, which takes up a little more space. realistically, I only need ~20Gb for the carputer for windows install and mp3s, and I can put movies and such on cds.

    So I should buy an Opus to save me time and frustrations. how much does it go for? I've seen threads where they talk about a 90W opus, but it's not on their website, so I guess they only sell the 150W version now? The opus also seems to be a pretty hefty size. Where does everyone put their opus?

    I don't think the EPIA has an AGP slot, so I may have to contact VIA to see if their onboard video would allow me to run another video card through the PCI slot. DarquePervert, the GF4 MX in that shuttle system has dual VGA?

    oh another question:
    6) does anyone make a slimline slot-load DVDROM? I know panasonic makes a combo drive like that, but since i don't need a cdrw for my carputer, maybe just a dvdrom would be cheaper.

    Thanks for all the quick replies

  6. #6
    FLAC mbkowns's Avatar
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    I am going to tap into the RGBS screen that it has (rx8/mazda) and have it switch video depending if I want navigation or mp3car view the navigation would work in the backgroup while I used the car computer.
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  7. #7
    Neither darque nor pervert DarquePervert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stealth915
    i actually didn't want to move the HVAC controls and stuff, cause that would take alot more work. I figure if I can just play with a little fiberglass (or find a shop that does) to fit the touchscreen infront of the shifter and I should be set. I like the way the Mazda3's HVAC looks, so I don't wanna play around with it too much.
    That's kind of how I am. I don't want to mess up the lines of the truck interior too much.


    Quote Originally Posted by Stealth915
    [So I should buy an Opus to save me time and frustrations. how much does it go for? I've seen threads where they talk about a 90W opus, but it's not on their website, so I guess they only sell the 150W version now? The opus also seems to be a pretty hefty size. Where does everyone put their opus?
    I'm not making those kinds of decisions for you. From everything I've read here, your best options are an Opus or a Sproggy Mk3.5 or Mk4. Doa search here. The Sproggy is the cheaper route, but it's a kit and you have to build it yourself to save the bucks.
    As far as mounting locations, mine is going to be external to the case, I believe. But then again, as I plan more and more, it looks liek I'm going to have a near-bare motherboard behind the dash, so...
    I believe the housing for the opus can be removed, as well, with no ill effects.


    Quote Originally Posted by Stealth915
    I don't think the EPIA has an AGP slot, so I may have to contact VIA to see if their onboard video would allow me to run another video card through the PCI slot. DarquePervert, the GF4 MX in that shuttle system has dual VGA?
    Yeah.
    The drawback is that the video shares system RAM. To offset that, I'm going to pack the most, fastest RAM I can.
    Witht e EPIA board, a PCI video may be the solution. I know newer nVidia boards use nVIew to do dual monitor output, but you need to have one nVidia board at least. I'm pretty sure something along the lines of a 32M TNT2 is available as PCI for dirt cheap.
    It is your friend!


    Quote Originally Posted by Stealth915
    oh another question:
    6) does anyone make a slimline slot-load DVDROM? I know panasonic makes a combo drive like that, but since i don't need a cdrw for my carputer, maybe just a dvdrom would be cheaper.
    Yeah, you can find slim-line slot-load DVD-ROMs. They're becoming scarce, though since everyone wants write capability. Think of how cool it could be to play a mix of MP3s for a buddy that's cruising with you and hand him a CD of that mix before he gets out of the car.... There's something extremely cool about that.
    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?



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  8. #8
    Newbie xcalabers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarquePervert
    Think of how cool it could be to play a mix of MP3s for a buddy that's cruising with you and hand him a CD of that mix before he gets out of the car.... There's something extremely cool about that.
    That's an aspect I never thought about but a really cool idea. I think I'l modify my plan for a cdrw.

  9. #9
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    you said you were going to get the mount for the Screen from Mazda when I researched it I found that onle the entire thing was availible and it was like 3000$
    if you can find it cheaper or just the plastic portion let me know....

  10. #10
    Raw Wave Confused's Avatar
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    If you are going to use the C134, then you probably won't be able to use the Opus.

    That's OK though, as there is an alternative which is just as good, and allows you to keep the small footprint of the C134. That alternative is the Carnetix CNX-P1260


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