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Thread: Lots of questions.. long post.

  1. #1
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    Lots of questions.. long post.

    First thing. Yes, I'm new. No, I've never successfully built a computer. No, I don't know ANYTHING about cars. Yes, I "searched." Point? Don't be a dick because I'm asking questions that might have been answered once or twice in this forum. Not everyone has time to scour every effing post for every answer. I'm so sick of reading posts that just reply with "search" to questions these elitist carputer "geniuses" probably can't answer themselves. So don't waste your time and mine by starting with "search you stupid newb!"

    Here's what I'm going for...
    MP3, DVD, general media playback
    GPS Navigation
    Internet Access (via WiFi, I live in an area with tons of hotspots, so I basically need a low-level, low-filesize browser)

    Here's what I'm not planning on...
    Major gameplay... MAYBE some emulators, but no Half-Life hardcore ****e.
    Ripping DVDs or burning CDs/DVDs

    My theory is, if you're going to drop as much money as you will on something like this, you better do it right. I'm not going with the VIA boards, I will go with a micro-ATX... basically components you can get from places like NewEgg.

    Onto questions:
    OBD-11... I have a 91 Chevy S10 (which is pre-1996, so probably none of that fancy shmancy engine ****) so is it worth considering a system involving this component. This aspect consumed the least of my research, but I thought it might be valuable because I dont' know a lot about engines and that it could help me diagnose my own problems and help out my mechanic besides me describing the wierd sounds cars make over the phone.

    Never installed car stereos or done any wiring. I understand the diagrams, but I was wondering, how hard is actually doing the soldering and getting this stuff to work? Am I going to spend hours just trying to acclamate myself to this trade? Or is it something feasible?

    Am I going to need anything but a dremel tool and other basic hand tools? (I've got a drill, jigsaw, sander and other stuff [hammers, screwdrivers, etc.]) This is not including the actual materials... and for that matter, is this something I can do without a garage and a huge room exhaust system?

    GPS confuses me... what actually do I need if I'm running (basically) a hidden PC located under my seat? If I get a USB GPS device, do I need an antenna and software only or are there other requirements?

    I live in Maine where my truck will sit in sub-zero weather overnight, all day, in the snow, etc... and it could stay in that type of weather for a couple days at a time due to snowfall. I've read that this shouldn't be a huge problem, but since my truck is so old, I figured I'd ask.

    How about breaking into the dash and removing the seat and effing with all the stock parts... I physically dont' know how to remove all the plastic covering my dash. I read there are books made for each model of a car telling you how to do this... does anyone know if they are worth looking at? (I ask because, chances are, the local autozone won't have my specific manual on hand) Otherwise, are there any other resources for this? I had a wicked hard time finding stuff like this. Easy to find PC Mod stuff, not so much for trucks.

    In addition to all this junk (aka carputer), I will have a CB radio in my truck. Is there any kind of all-in-one antenna for cb/fm radio/wifi, etc? or is it all going to be separate? I saw wifi antennas and they are real low profile (as opposed to cb radio antennas) which is good.

    FM radios... is it even worth it to try for FM radio via PC (minus HU)? Seems like it's kind of a crappy alternative to a decent HU. And I love hockey, so I'll need my AM radio

    Here's my biggest question. (I know, so many of them! ) Opinions on layout! I figured it's easiest, since I want a regular PC, to mount that either under my seat or behind it. Either way, not much difference. What I'm concerned about is the touchscreen, the dvd player and the fm radio (if I go with a headunit). I figured the single din digitalww screen coupled with a slimline dvd via usb to mobo would work, but that relies on my fm radio question above.

    Expertise, opinion, etc welcome and appreciated! Thanks so much for reading my post! (And thanks for everyone else posting their experience! I think this is one of the most innovative, creative things people can do with computers. Just great.)

    -=rach=-

  2. #2
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    Forgot one thing... what about software? (not frontface software like MediaCar, but like IE, Outlook, etc.)

    What do you guys use? Will XPLite slim down my XP to *my* bare minimum config? Any particular app that makes your carputer amazing? There's just so much out there, it's hard to sift through.

    For that matter, can I use XPLite on my regular Home PC to get rid of all the bloatware **** that Windows ships with?

    Thanks again.

  3. #3
    Maximum Bitrate GruvThang's Avatar
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    very well worded and well researched post.

    Software: whatever you like the less you have the less you can do. Is boot speed a concern? If not just leave a normal install of windows as you would in a regular PC it eliminates a lot of "missing component" issues. Trust me, the more you mess with a Windows install the more likely you are going to have to re-install.

    GPS: the "mouse" or antenna usually has a 6ft or 10 ft cord the BU-303 is a common one http://search-desc.ebay.com/gps-bu-3...trypageZsearch

    GPS mice come in two main flavors usb or serial it is a personal choice of which you pick some say usb is easier

    Antennae: I would not trust an all-in-one solution, if they even have one. so yes you will need seperate

    free bump
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  4. #4
    Maximum Bitrate GruvThang's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rach
    GPS confuses me... what actually do I need if I'm running (basically) a hidden PC located under my seat? If I get a USB GPS device, do I need an antenna and software only or are there other requirements?
    you need a gps reciever that connects to a PC and GPS software like routis, mappoint or "streets and trips". check out: http://www.deluoelectronics.com/cust...ome.php?cat=17
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  5. #5
    Nic
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    about the wiring and stuff, its not really that difficult if you understand how it works there are pleanty of car audio sites out there that tell you how to do installs and all that studd applies here, if you can use a dremel/drill etc etc its not difficult to run wires and its also not difficult to take your car apart all you have to do is try and you'll soon work it out.

    about the antennas, the different signals (wifi/your radio or whatever) will all be running on different frequencies, different frequencies means different antennas, as a general rule longer wavelengths need longer antennas (like your radio) shorter wavelengths you can use shorter antennas (like wi-fi)

    and completly off topic do we have another female member here?
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    YOU KNOW IT! Female and proud of it... but I do play lots of sports. Love all kinds of sports, computers and other "man" type things.

    Thanks for the info everyone... keep it coming if you got it! I do this kind of thing all the time-- research it to death but never actually get my feet wet. We'll see if I'll ever afford to get this off the ground

  7. #7
    Low Bitrate Udonboy's Avatar
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    Let's see if I can add some info too...

    OBD-II: Yea, since it's pre 96, you don't need this. And even if it is post 96, you don't need it, although it is a pretty cool thing to have. Don't worry about this.

    Motherboard: May I ask why you don't want to go with a VIA board? I have the VIA M10000 and it works great for everything I want it to do. (MP3, DVD, movie, Emulators). Since you're not going to be doing any hardcore gaming, then you don't need anything that powerful. I got mine for $145 at www.monarchcomputer.com, shipped. I also went for this b/c it's small. I put it in a Morex 3677. These cases are really small, though it's a tight fit for everything inside of it. But it's small enough for me to put under the seat. The VIA also doesn't produce alot of heat and they don't suck alot of energy.

    PSU: Go with an Opus, either 90W or 150W. From my experience (and alot of others that I've read here) this thing is the best way to go. It's a bit expensive though, I spent about $160 on mine. I got a 90W and actually put that inside the case, removing the PSU that came with it. Check this thread if you're interested in going this rout. http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...d=1#post268325

    Others here will say that you don't need an opus, just get an inverter, but I felt better with spending more money and getting something that almost everyone here has had success with.

    Stereo/Amp: I had to remove the stock radio in my car b/c that's where the LCD screen is going. That left me with the question of am I going to use a radio or an amplifier to power my speakers. I chose the stereo rout over the amplifier b/c with a stereo, I could still have my radio, and a way of controlling the volume other than using windows. Luckily in my car, I could install the radio where the clock is. I dunno exactly how you might hook everything up in your car, but if you don't have a place to install a stereo, then you might want to go the amp rout. I'm sure others have better input on this subject than I though. If you go the stereo rout though, it's better to do the installation yourself. All you need is a stereo wiring harness for you car and a crimping kit. If you can connect two wires together and crimp them, then you can install a stereo.

    Wiring: This at first can seem a daunting task, if once you get down to it, it's really not all the difficult. If you do get a Opus, then you pretty much have to hook up 3 wires. One wire goes from the Opus (red wire) to the positive terminal on the batter (with a fuse in it, I put mine before the battery). The 2nd wire goes from the Opus (black wire) to the negative terminal. The 3rd wire on the Opus (instructions said yellow, but mine was blue) goes to either the ignition, or to a switch. I didn't want to hook mine up to the ignition b/c I also have a turbo timer and thought that would be too complicated. Instead I hooked it up to a switch that looks like those missle buttons on a jet fighter. ^_^ So, the blue wire when to a point on the switch, and I had a return wire go from the other point on the switch back to the red wire (the one that goes to the battery). Look at the diagram on the Opus manual and hopefully that'll make some sense.

    LCD: I have a lilliput LCD screen, and it works great, or rather I should say it WORKED great. That was until I took it apart to fit it in this bezel I bought for it to fit in my car. I messed around with the ribbon cable in it too much and I think I broke it. I'm waiting for a replacement cable so hopefully that'll fix it. But before I messed it up, it worked great for me. I've seen people here who have mixed feelings about the Lilliput, so I don't want to give any definate answers on this.

    Pictures: If you look at the picture of my switch, you'll see a piece of gold-colored metal. That's actually a brace I made myself out of some spare pieces of metal. I used a dremel to cut the metal into the shape that I wanted it, and a drill to drill a hole in it for the switch to fit thru. I also used a dremel to cut a side into my computer for the power cables to come out of from the opus PSU. That's about all the cutting/drilling that I did.


    Well, this is all that comes to mind right now, let me know if you have any more questions.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Udonboy
    Motherboard: May I ask why you don't want to go with a VIA board? I have the VIA M10000 and it works great for everything I want it to do. (MP3, DVD, movie, Emulators).
    One of those won't work for Dreamcast emulation.

  9. #9
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    Similar Project in works

    well as I am aware you cannot use the stock head unit unless someone has a mod that they know about that I don't to add inputs. I make a dumb mistake by going out and purchasing a headunit which doesn't have a aux-in . My system isn't setup for gaming but I do have a more powerful system than what I need due to money constraints and the need for a graphics card that supports the lilliput's native resolution ( not a massive fan of funky resolutions but I'll make due with a ATI card which will support it). I am in need in deciding a method of putting in audio into the existing the system or an aftermarket with no aux-in ( I can't take it back now unfortunately but it does have lineout) or just installing a amp and replacing the whole darn thing. my screen hasn't arrived so there is no telling how it will fit in. I don't extactly have an S10 I have a S15 from GMC which is very similar and it's pre 1996 so it is very similar probably. I managed to fit my computer behind the seat vertically within a box 4x12x24 inch

    I am also looking for input on a shutdown controller or switch and should I wire via from fuse socket or running a new line from the battery.

    Any suggustions on molding it into the dashboard as well or similar?

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