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Thread: Mini-ITX/Car-PC Newbie asking for some help please!!.

  1. #1
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    Mini-ITX/Car-PC Newbie asking for some help please!!.

    Hello,

    Please excuse my ignorance but i'm very interested in building a Car-PC but basically don't have much of an idea of where to start.

    Could anyone please advise what exactly is needed in order to build a reasonable spec' Car-PC. I'm happy with sourcing a Mini ITX Mainboard, Mini ITX Case, hard disk, memory, optical drive and operating system from somewhere like tailormadepc.co.uk however I don't really have much of an idea of what other parts are required.

    I think that an ITPS is needed but where exactly does that come into play (or maybe an Opus Solutions Power Supply?).

    Thank you for your feedback.

    BTW, please excuse my website being a little out of date!!.
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  2. #2
    Low Bitrate TommieG's Avatar
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    Welcome to the board buildfromscratc!

    There are a few routes to go regarding power supplies. It really depends on how much power you need, if you want a shutdown/startup controller, and if you want the system to survive cranking.
    The main options are:
    1. use the mains ps supplied with the case, together with a power invertor (DC-AC).
    2. use a DC-DC.

    Going down route 1 is the cheapest and simplest. Many opt for this, but you MAY have trouble with the system restarting when cranking.
    Route 2 is more expensive, but in my opinion a lot "slicker". You'll have a system that survives cranking, a system that starts up and shuts down safely (when used with a su/sd ctrlr) and probably a system that is more efficient in terms of power usage.

    If you're using mini-itx, 2.5" HD and a laptop cd/dvd, a 90W Opus is great. It's small sized and have built in controller.
    There are other options too; use the DC-DC ps of a mini-itx case and this
    http://www.carnetix.com/CNXP1260.html

    I have no experience with the CarNetix ps, but it's only 60W
    VIA EPIA M9000/120 GB/Xenarc 700TSV/Opus 90W DC-DC
    Haicom GPS/3Com 11g Wi-Fi/D-Link BT
    WinXP/myHTPC/InfoMap Navigator Eu/PhoneControl w/T68i
    Blaupunkt HU & speakers/Velocity active subs/Alpine amps

    Progress: removed while waiting for nano-itx

  3. #3
    FLAC
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    buildfromscratc,

    Welcome to the forum! The CarNetix PSU that TommyG mentioned is designed for the Mini-ITX systems such as the Travla C134 with M10000 motherboard. The C134 (and several other Mini-ITX cases) come with a DC-DC power supply already mounted inside. However, the Morex PSU requires a well-regulated +12V input (+/-5% regulation) which the car's battery/alternator cannot provide. That's what the CNX-P1260 does. My own system consists of the Travla C134 case with Morex 60W PSU, laptopt HDD, and slim CD/DVD. This combo requires only 3.4Amps (~40W) MAX to run. I've also attached my Lilliput screen, and a couple of USB devices and all works well.

    The CNX-P1260 also has a startup/shutdown controller to automatically start and stop your system using your Ignition switch input. In addition, there is a "remote power on" control signal to tell you auido power amp to turn on 3 seconds AFTER the CarPC is powered. This helps prevent speaker "thump".

    We're a startup and just now getting our production up to speed. If you see "out of stock" on our web page, check back again in a few days since we're currently building in small lots.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you've got additional questions.
    MikeH

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by TommieG
    Welcome to the board buildfromscratc!

    There are a few routes to go regarding power supplies. It really depends on how much power you need, if you want a shutdown/startup controller, and if you want the system to survive cranking.
    The main options are:
    1. use the mains ps supplied with the case, together with a power invertor (DC-AC).
    2. use a DC-DC.

    Going down route 1 is the cheapest and simplest. Many opt for this, but you MAY have trouble with the system restarting when cranking.
    Route 2 is more expensive, but in my opinion a lot "slicker". You'll have a system that survives cranking, a system that starts up and shuts down safely (when used with a su/sd ctrlr) and probably a system that is more efficient in terms of power usage.

    If you're using mini-itx, 2.5" HD and a laptop cd/dvd, a 90W Opus is great. It's small sized and have built in controller.
    There are other options too; use the DC-DC ps of a mini-itx case and this
    http://www.carnetix.com/CNXP1260.html

    I have no experience with the CarNetix ps, but it's only 60W

    Hello,

    Thanks for your reply. I've just read a few horror stories about using 3.5" hard disk drives, would you recommend a 2.5" hard disk drive is used instead (and mounted vertically?). Shall checkout the carnetix website as suggested. Many thanks for that. Take it that the Carnetix is an equivalent to an OPUS (By the way, does the ITPS do the same thing?). Many are recommending OPUS but they're quite expensive to buy from what I can gather, however do the job very well. Get what you pay for I guess?.

    So I could use an inverter, hadn't thought of that, a cheaper option no doubt but then the Car-PC would not p/u and p/d would it?. I'm probably wrong here though as no doubt it can be done with an inverter.

    Your comments would be appreciated.
    Have yourself a good weekend.
    buildfromscratch.co.uk

    Hobbyist level website explaining
    how to build a PC from scratch
    using industry standard components

  5. #5
    FLAC
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    Take it that the Carnetix is an equivalent to an OPUS
    No, the Opus is a full ATX power supply which plugs directly into your motherboard to provide +5, +3.3, +12V. The CarNetix PSU is a +12V input and +12V output power supply that feeds the ATX PSU that normally comes mounted in cases like the Travla C134 (which comes withe the Morex 60W DC-DC PSU inside). The CarNetix is similar to the Opus in that it provides a shutdown controller and survives engine cranking. The CNX-P1260 provides functionality similar to the ITPS, except that it can survive engine cranking and provides a delayed turn-on signal for your audio amplifier to help prevent speaker "thump".
    MikeH

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeH
    buildfromscratc,

    Welcome to the forum! The CarNetix PSU that TommyG mentioned is designed for the Mini-ITX systems such as the Travla C134 with M10000 motherboard. The C134 (and several other Mini-ITX cases) come with a DC-DC power supply already mounted inside. However, the Morex PSU requires a well-regulated +12V input (+/-5% regulation) which the car's battery/alternator cannot provide. That's what the CNX-P1260 does. My own system consists of the Travla C134 case with Morex 60W PSU, laptopt HDD, and slim CD/DVD. This combo requires only 3.4Amps (~40W) MAX to run. I've also attached my Lilliput screen, and a couple of USB devices and all works well.

    The CNX-P1260 also has a startup/shutdown controller to automatically start and stop your system using your Ignition switch input. In addition, there is a "remote power on" control signal to tell you auido power amp to turn on 3 seconds AFTER the CarPC is powered. This helps prevent speaker "thump".

    We're a startup and just now getting our production up to speed. If you see "out of stock" on our web page, check back again in a few days since we're currently building in small lots.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you've got additional questions.
    Hello MikeH,

    Thanks for your reply. The Carnetix sounds a good option, any idea's as to whether or not it's available in the U.K.?. I've found Lilliputs on ebay for dirt cheap but am wondering whether or not to buy as I really cannot afford to lose hard earned cash. Any suggestions?. What Lilliput model do you guy's recommend?.

    Just to confirm what's needed (sorry to go on!!).
    (1). A Mini ITX Mainboard (any particular one recommended?).
    (2). A Mini ITX Case.
    (3). Either an Inverter, OPUS, (ITPS?) or CarNetix (sounds like the CarNetix is the best option here!!).
    (4). RAM (low profile?).
    (5). 3.5" or 2.5" Hard Disk (preferably the latter and mounted vertically).
    (6). Operating System (Windows XP Home Edition or Pro Edition?)
    (7). Lilliput Screen (unsure of exact model).
    (8). Optical Drive 5.25" or Slimline (depending on Case at a guess?).
    (9). GPS Receiver & Software (and suggestions, haven't a clue here :-( )
    (10). Any other recommended software that is used in a Car-PC installation.
    (your suggestions would be appreciated here also).

    Thank you once again for your help.
    Apologies for appearing to be so completely ignorant but I need to have an idea of what to budget for and cashflow is a little tight.

    Have yourself a good weekend.
    buildfromscratch.co.uk

    Hobbyist level website explaining
    how to build a PC from scratch
    using industry standard components

  7. #7
    FLAC
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    any idea's as to whether or not it's available in the U.K.?.
    We're currently selling direct in the UK (order from our website). Shipping takes about 1 wk via USPS.
    (2). A Mini ITX Case.
    Make sure it comes with the internal 60W Morex PSU.
    (5). 3.5" or 2.5" Hard Disk (preferably the latter and mounted vertically).
    I have the Travla C134 with a 2.5" HDD mounted horizontally...works fine.

    I'll let others comment on the rest of the components.
    MikeH

  8. #8
    Raw Wave Confused's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buildfromscratc
    What Lilliput model do you guy's recommend?.
    None. Seriously. I have used both a Lilliput and a Xenarc, and the Xenarc is much better build quality, much more robust, and I have had no problems with the touchscreen on my Xenarc, but the Lilliput I borrowed from a friend I had no end of problems with, plus it wasn't as easy to view during the day as my Xenarc. Save a little more, and get yourself a Xenarc 700TS from Lin-ITX (actually, that's a really good place to get all your stuff in the UK!)

    Quote Originally Posted by buildfromscratc
    Just to confirm what's needed (sorry to go on!!).
    (1). A Mini ITX Mainboard (any particular one recommended?).
    (2). A Mini ITX Case.
    1) The Epia M10000 or the M120000 is a good bet. Depending on if you want a parallel port, or a CF/PCMCIA slot, depends on whether you get the plain M, or the MII (the MII has the CF/PCMCIA slots)

    2) Lots of cases come with the Morex 55W PSU inside, and the really small ones have room for only a 2.5" HDD (which is better for in-car use, IMO, BUT, the hard drive is more expensive per GB).

    Quote Originally Posted by buildfromscratc
    (3). Either an Inverter, OPUS, (ITPS?) or CarNetix (sounds like the CarNetix is the best option here!!).
    If the case has a Morex 55W PSU inside it, get the Carnetix product. Also, this will be fine if you get a 2.5" HDD and a slimline dvd drive (see below).
    If you will be using a 3.5" hdd and a desktop dvd drive, then the internal PSU in some cases (and therefore the Carnetix product too) may not be powerful enough for the parts you have, in which case get yourself an Opus. Don't mess around with inverters, or the ITPS.

    Quote Originally Posted by buildfromscratc
    (4). RAM (low profile?).
    (5). 3.5" or 2.5" Hard Disk (preferably the latter and mounted vertically).
    4) Depends on whether the case you get requires the use of low-profile memory.

    5) Again, depends on the case, the really small ones will be 2.5" only, but, they are more expensive per MB, and spin slower than 3.5" drives.

    Quote Originally Posted by buildfromscratc
    (6). Operating System (Windows XP Home Edition or Pro Edition?)
    Most people use XP, but between Home/Pro, it doesn't really matter, the only advantages Pro has really is that it can connect to a domain, so unless you will be connecting it to a domain, stick with Home.

    Quote Originally Posted by buildfromscratc
    (7). Lilliput Screen (unsure of exact model).
    See above. I really can't recommend the Lilliput from experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by buildfromscratc
    (8). Optical Drive 5.25" or Slimline (depending on Case at a guess?).
    Again, depends on case, however, LinITX have a nice slimline slot load DVD/CDRW. If you do get a slimline one, make sure you have the adapter to connect it to standard IDE interface (this will either come with the case, or you will have to get it seperate)

    Quote Originally Posted by buildfromscratc
    (9). GPS Receiver & Software (and suggestions, haven't a clue here :-( )
    I've had good luck with my RoyalTek Sapphire USB mouse, which I got from GPS Warehouse, but some people have also had good luck with the cheapy USB GPS mice from Ebay. As for software, that really is something that is personal preference. I presonally am using Destinator.

    Quote Originally Posted by buildfromscratc
    (10). Any other recommended software that is used in a Car-PC installation.
    (your suggestions would be appreciated here also).
    Other must-have software include any of the awesome programs written by members here, such as MediaEngine, MediaCar, FrodoPlayer, VOICES to name but a few. That again is personal preference, and entirely up to you.

    Other suggestions is to take your time, all the hardware set up outside of the car before you touch the car, read read read and and if in doubt, ASK!


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

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