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Thread: New to site and carputers, and got quite a few questions

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    Newbie heyitwrx's Avatar
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    Question New to site and carputers, and got quite a few questions

    I would like to say hi and introduce myself. I am new to the site and the whole idea of carputers. I am pretty good with computers, although a little behind in terminology on the hardware side, and Iīm good with cars, plus Iīve got a Mercedes tech at my finger tips anytime I need help (my cousin is a glutton for punishment when it comes to custom fabricating stuf my my cars). I accidentally stumbled onto the site yesterday looking for a way to install an aftermarket Nav system into my 04 Infiniti G35 coupe 5AT (automatic). I found a pic of one of the installs here on a G35 forum and followed the link and started reading and got hooked on the idea! Iīve been reading and searching the forums and looking at other carputer sites...i have quite a bit of free time at the moment. And the more I read the more I understand, also the more confusing somethings get!
    Ok, hereīs what Iīve got so far (please tell me if Iīm confused)...from the battery you need either an invertor or a DC-DC (like an Opus). After that comes the carputer which is hooked up to the sound system or existing head unit. An LCD screen mounted somewhere is used as the carputerīs monitor.
    Now for the confusion...I have seen quite a few "mini PCs" for use as carputers, but on the site I have seen many people with custom ones (i.e. fiberglass cases, etc.) are these basically the same functionally and the custom oneīs just for those people who like to take the custom looking, hard route? Or are they actually separate pieces in the system? Next confusion...What exactly do I need to get the carputer running, not including extra gadgets such as GPS, etc. although I will be definitely having that stuff as major priorities in my carputer.
    Ok, now for some G35 specific questions. Are there any ways to hide the LCD in the dash besides paying $1300 for the stock pieces (please include other methods of doing the same thing for cheaper)? Also I saw one guy routed his sound through the stock tape player, how is that done, and does it sound good or is another way better without removing stock stereo and its functionality? And does the stock disc changer play DVDīs and if so can it be used to play on the same LCD as the computer? Also how difficult were the installs in a G (any in-depth instructions would be appreciated, either post here or if too long PM me)? How long did it take you?
    I would also appreciate any brand recommendations. Anything setup that you used that worked particularly good for a decent price. I plan on using the carputer for mp3īs, DVDīs, GPS, possibly OBD II (does that have any effect on the warranty?????), possibly a few games, and maybe use it with my cell phone (how does that work?). Thanks in advance and sorry for the long list and all the complete noob questions.

  2. #2
    Raw Wave Confused's Avatar
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    Options for Power:

    Repeat after me: inverters are bad, mmmmmKAY.

    There are two very good solutions, depending on your needs:

    If you will be having a low power system (like a VIA Epia), with laptop components (hard drive, dvd drive etc), then get yourself a case with a Morex 55W DC-DC power supply already in it. Then, get yourself over to Carnetix and get yourself their CNX-P1260, which fits between your battery and the power supply in the case.

    If you will be needing more power (using a desktop hard drive/dvdrom etc), or a faster processor, then get yourself an Opus. This is rated at 150W output, but it seems to be very under-rated (unlike most PC power supplies which are grossly over-rated!)


    If you need a screen, get yourself a Xenarc 700TS, make sure it has VGA input though. In my experience, the Lilliput displays, while cheaper, are not as good quality. As for putting it in the dash, some people have fabricated their own casings etc, it all depends on how good you are at fabrication!


    Most of the "custom" ones you are talking about will just be fancy fabricated cases, often containing exactly the same components


    Garry
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  3. #3
    Variable Bitrate Batmanatthenewb's Avatar
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    heyitwrx,

    There are two schools of thought on power issues. Confused likes his DC-DC power supplies. I ave not personally used the DC-DC setup. I choose to use the inverter to standard atx power supply method. The reasoning for this is because when I get home at night I can pull my car into the garage, unplug the computer from the inverter, and the plug it directly into an extension cord to the house electric. This way I can run the system all night long while transferring music, upgrading software, etc.... without running the battery down. Same reason I have a wireless NIC (network interface card) and a hard wired NIC. Other than the slight fan noise of the inverter (when the car is off and you are sitting in it) I have had no problem. I run a full size motherboard / pc setup as opposed to the epia products. Again the choice was due to my particular wants and needs. My system uses the MSI K3T-ARU Raid board (not that I will ever use the raid in the car), has 3 slots for memory, 5 pci slots, agp slot. So, I can pick and choose any desktop hardware that I want to run in my system. Upgrades are not a problem. The EPIA motherboards are definitly smaller and use less power. But, you are limited to (I believe) one or two pci slots and using the built in video. Almost all of your periperals will have to be USB based. If you want better video, you are out of luck with another agp product. I also have lights in my case, and multiple fans. My power set up is a 300w inverter with a 300w standard atx power supply. My other thought, if I am on vacation and my power supply goes out, I can stop anywhere and find a best buy, walmart, compusa, etc... and get a new power supply and get my system back on the road. With the DC-DC power supplies, you won't find that kind of availability. Most of the time you have to order them.

    As far as the sound system, go from your sound card to an amp to your speakers is the cleanest, best solution. Some people will use FM Modulators which plug in between your radio head unit and the car antenna. The are the cheaper way to go, but you lose a lot in sound quality.

    As far as the case...mine is the custom install. I wanted the standard pc components and I wanted them in a specific place. The only way to accomplish this was to fabricate myself. All kinds of pictures of the full install on my web site. Just make sure to look at version 3. Some people will take a standard tower case and set it in the trunk. I didn't want to lose the trunk space, hence, the nice tight fit in the corner of the trunk.

    To get the pc running, you basically need all the components of a desktop type computer, plus either a DC-DC ps or an inverter. Beyond that an amp to connect the sound system, or an fm modulator.

    As every car is different, and every person is different, where you mount the screen is up to you. Some people build them into the dash (I did). Some people mount them on brackets externally. Height and location will vary based on your car, and how much you will be using the system. You don't want to put it too far away where you can read the messages, or get to the touch screen. You also don't want to be looking too far away from the road while you are changing songs, reading the gps or whatever.

    As far as the OBDII setup, you will need a open serial port, or a usb to serial adapter. You can use the screen to control all funtions. Or, if you want to get carried away, you can use it to manage stand alone fuel management systems, turbo boost control. nitrous injection, or anything else that can be controlled through a pc.

    As far as your specific car, I don't have any info, but I hope the rest of this helped.

    Batman
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  4. #4
    Variable Bitrate Batmanatthenewb's Avatar
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    Now with the lights on

    Batman
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    Raw Wave god_of_cpu's Avatar
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    I also have a g35 coupe and I already installed a computer into my car and did a how-to to how I installed my xenarc screen. It can be found on the g35 forums here

    If you don't want hide your screen in the cubby, you should check out superG35's install here

    I also hooked up my steering wheel controls to my carputer through a gameport, the software I wrote for doing this and how to construct the circuit can be found here

    I also hooked my carputer up to the keyfob so it turns on and off with the door locks. The instructions to do this and the relay circuit for it can be found here

    Heres the actual computer installed in the trunk.

    I'm currently using an FM-Modulator to get the sound from the computer to the speakers, but I'm eventually going to go head unit less once I get my amps installed. However, if your going to keep the head unit, your going to want to get the PAC auxilliary input here

    and finally the specs of what I installed:
    Xenarc 700TS TouchScreen
    OPUS 150w power supply
    AOpen MK79G-N http://usa.aopen.com/products/mb/MK79G-N.htm
    AMD Anthlon 2000+
    512mb Ram
    Philips Aurillium USB 2.0 External Sound Card
    Griffen Powermate Controller
    KeySpan USB Remote Control
    OBDC II thing from Scantool.net,
    3.5" 10gb IDE Hard Drive
    30gb external usb 2.0 2.5" Hard Drive
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    Newbie heyitwrx's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone!

    god of cpu: I already found that how-to topic on your install but i canīt get the word file to open up for some reason. Does your screen actually hide in the dash or is it in a fixed position? Since you are using the FM modulator you canīt use the stock in dash changer for DVDīs right? And what is in the small compartment above the glovebox?

    General question again: so if I buy one of theose Mini PCīs will it work for everything I would want it to do? I really donīt want to do a complete custom setup b/c I will probably screw something up if I build it myself. If I do buy one of those mini PCīs what is the best one for the money?

    And now for the power arguement: Since I will be at college I doubt I will be able to run an extension cord from my dorm room to the parking garage (even though the pluging it in is a great solution)...so I would probably go with the DC-DC solution. But quick noob question why do most people say inverters are bad? Not as efficient? More heat? Since that will be my solution for college later I might decide to go with an inverter for the same reasons as Batman. To swithc those out is just changing parts right? No major changes to the carputer itself? I heard that the Opus is usually what is used to control the shut-down process of the carputer so would I need to find a new solution if i switch to inverter?

    Thanks for your help everyone!

  7. #7
    Raw Wave Confused's Avatar
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    If you're using one of the mini-pc style things with a VIA Epia motherboard, then most of them have a 55W PSU inside it, along with a mains adapter for it. Using the Carnetix product, you can still keep this power supply, and the mains connector should you need to use it indoors. Just unplug the plug from the power supply, and plug in the mains adapter

    I've bought my dad's PC indoors tonight, and his has the Carnetix CNX-P1260 product, I just unplugged that and have it plugged into the mains adapter right now reinstalling Windows (it had about 5mb space left on C: and only 128mb RAM so it had killed itself!).

    The Opus, and the CNX-P1260 both control startup/shutdown with your ignition, and the PC won't restart when you start your car!

    The reasons people don't like inverters, is because they are inefficient, and they can introduce a lot of noise into your system. All the noise I had in my system disappeared when I swapped from an inverter to a DC-DC solution.


    Garry
    Co-Developer of A.I.M.E.E
    www.aimee.cc

  8. #8
    Raw Wave god_of_cpu's Avatar
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    Yes the screen moves up and down, see more pictures of it here:
    http://filebox.vt.edu/users/cholbroo/g35/index.htm

    I'm not sure why the word document doesn't work for you, I just redownloaded it onto another computer and it worked fine.

    There is no such thing as a stock in-dash dvd player. The cd changer in the radio only plays cds and there is no way to get it to work with the computer regardless of what you do. I can still listen to cds on it separately though since I'm using the modulator I just switch from radio mode to cd player mode.

    My sound card, FM modulator, buttons desoldered from my xenarc screen, and an open USB port are in the box above the glove box.
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    Newbie heyitwrx's Avatar
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    god of cpu: one more question...I see the little track that lets it slide in and out from the pics but it looks like it is not held up very well when visible. Is the screen very stable that way? It looks like if you hit a bump hard enough or stepped on the gas it could flip forward. Just wondering if youīve had any problems with it. By the way...i like your screen setup for the G better than any of the others thanks to the hide-away feature of it.

  10. #10
    Raw Wave god_of_cpu's Avatar
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    The track has a bump in it at the end so the screen is held in place by gravity. I also added a magnet to the back of the screen and a metal shield for it to stick to on the underside of the cubby hole cover. This makes the screen very sturdy when it is extended, it stays in place by gravity most of the time, but the magnet makes sure it wont fall down when I accelerate hard. I don't have any problems keeping it up.
    StreetDeck.com Developer (I am Chuck)
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