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Thread: 1st post - ghetto carputer - laptop or tower?

  1. #1
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    1st post - ghetto carputer - laptop or tower?

    1st up, hello to everyone, what a great site!

    Ok, so I have fancied getting a carputer for a while now. I have recently got a bigger car (hurray!) but it has only radio, not even cassette to listen to :-(

    So time to take action.

    firstly, I am going to get an amp and use my iRiver cd player untill I get a carputer together.

    I have to make a decision here though...

    I have an old (1999) laptop (Gateway solo 9300) which I have already installed an nLite'd XP and Frodoplayer. I also have wireless LAN on this computer. So far it works fine, I can download music from my car parked outside my flat. This is a BIG laptop, nice and solid feeling, was top-of-the-range back in the day.

    Ok, so I can get a docking station for the laptop for $50, and a DC-DC PSU for 15 from Maplin. Laptop can hibernate quick and wake up fast. Even has a digital optical (sp/diff) out, so if I find an amp with an optical in, I wont get any ground problems! (although I fear that a digital amp will be outside my price bracket).

    Ok so far so good.

    However, turning it on may involve a hack to the power switch, which I am reluctant to do. Also, the hard disc is only 6Gb so is really old school by todays standards. Finaly, video out only has 1600 1200 (UGA), 1280 1024 (SXGA), 1024 768 (XGA), 800 600 (SVGA), and 640 480 (VGA), with up to 32-bit color.

    I am worried that all those resolutions will look bad on a 7" TFT display. The display is going to be the most expensive component in this 'ghetto' set-up, so I want it working right.

    My other option is to use an old PC ( I have an 800mhz PIII and also just got given a 1gig duron, either could be used as neither is being used ATM) and build it up from components. the Volvo is a big car (estate) so plenty of room for this if needed. However, I am worried that by the time I get a proper PSU, build a case etc, this is going to cost a bit more cash. Also, I am worried about components falling off a tower PC mobo!

    Anyone have any ideas what is the best way forward for me? I have built many PC's (I build audio PC's for making / recording music) so i know all about that, plus I have some electronics expertise and have installed car audio before, so I am not worried so much about that. I just want the best set-up for the least cash!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by electronik

    I have an old (1999) laptop (Gateway solo 9300) which I have already installed an nLite'd XP and Frodoplayer. I also have wireless LAN on this computer. So far it works fine, I can download music from my car parked outside my flat. This is a BIG laptop, nice and solid feeling, was top-of-the-range back in the day.
    I kinda got the exact same setup but mines ghettoer I just set the laptop in the pass seat or if someone wants to ride I set it on there lap. I got the same kind of laptop as you they are tanks ive dropped it many times and still works but it is outdated compard to these new laptops Mine only gots a 5.89hd or something it says? never heard of a half number like that but thats what it is telling me. I was thinking as a money saver to just get a laptop mount of ebay? but then you wouldn't be able to use that nice TFT screen you got.

    Also what is nLite'd XP? is that the same as the normal xp pro just a diffrent name or its diffrent?

  3. #3
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    Nlite is a program which removes XP components to make it run quicker. Also on laptops. I am using one for my car puter - which is a 433mhz and 64mb ram! But I updated ram yesterday to 256mb ( stole some from an old laptop )

  4. #4
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    nLite is a utility that strips all the unused parts of XP out and then saves it onto a new instal CD. I have to say I was very impressed with it... it can roll in service packs and updates, and do automated installs, abd a whole bunch of other stuff that I was impressed with. it cut down my full 700Mb XP install disk to about 380Mb (still takes up 1.2 Gb on install though, I hav to figure that one out). http://nuhi.msfn.org/download.html

    I did (once) drive about with Frondoplayer playing and the laptop running on batteries, but only onboard speakers so sound was a little.. um... rubbish :-) I have to get an amp, atleast then i can plug stuff in and get to grips with it all. I do fancy a touch screen though, as trying to change tracks with a laptop touchpad whilst driving is probably not the safest thing to do!

  5. #5
    FLAC IntellaWorks's Avatar
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    .

    Well if your laptop has VGA outputs... then why would you need a docking station ?? if it's strictly to power the system.. then get a car adapter and hardware that into your car.. then mold a dash with a xenarc and lilli... and you actually have something better than a "ghetto" pc.
    Progress [I will seriously never be done!]
    Via EPIA MII
    512MB RAM
    OEM GPS (embedded)
    nLite WinXP pro on
    1GB Extreme III CF card
    Carnetix 1260 startup/ DC-DC regulator
    Software: Still, re-Writing my existing front end in .Net

  6. #6
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    Well, the docking station would give me a chance to hack the on/off switch without messing up the laptop itself, also would let me take the laptop in/out the car in one swift action, plus the PCIMCIA card can go in the docking station, plus the USB stuff, plus audio line out (only headphone on the laptop itself). Finaly, I can pick one up for this old laptop for really cheap ($25 plus $25 postage).

    The thing I am worried about more than anything is not being able to run a 7" TFT at the proper resolution, as the laptop VGA only has 1600 1200, 1280 1024, 1024 768, 800 600, and 640 480, so I think all these wide screen 7" TFT's will look squashed, no?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by electronik
    Well, the docking station would give me a chance to hack the on/off switch without messing up the laptop itself, also would let me take the laptop in/out the car in one swift action, plus the PCIMCIA card can go in the docking station, plus the USB stuff, plus audio line out (only headphone on the laptop itself). Finaly, I can pick one up for this old laptop for really cheap ($25 plus $25 postage).

    The thing I am worried about more than anything is not being able to run a 7" TFT at the proper resolution, as the laptop VGA only has 1600 1200, 1280 1024, 1024 768, 800 600, and 640 480, so I think all these wide screen 7" TFT's will look squashed, no?
    Which videocard does that laptop have? Many cards can display customized resolutions, like 800x480, which is common for the 7" TFT, using powerstrip. Regular resolutions are 4:3, while the display is (almost) 16:9. Only my laptop (S3 videocard) doesnt support it, but thats due to the crappy S3 graphics card.




    Found it:
    ATI Mobility-P Video Graphics Accelerator with 2D and 3D hardware acceleration


    I guess it works with Powerstrip, so you can get the correct resolution for the TFT display.



    Concerning the harddrive: 6 Gb is enough to run Windows and your main apps. Just buy a USB2 PCMCIA card (about $20 or so on Ebay, including shipping), and buy a USB2 -> IDE convertor (about $20 also or so) and hook up a regular 3.5" (big, 120Gb) harddrive for your movies and MP3.

    You only need a powersupply for the drives if you don't use a 12V->220 (or 110) convertor, but with a little understanding of electronics it can't be that hard (harddrive only needs 5 and 12V, so a regular 7812/7805 will do the trick, thats what I used also.
    I also bought a slot-in dvdrom drive, which will be in my dash somewhere, while the laptop is under the passenger seat.

  8. #8
    Raw Wave rando's Avatar
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    I wouldn't worry too much about the resolutions. Just about everybody here using the VIA mini-itx boards and on-baord video are running their 7" screens at 800x600. With an appropriate skin, it looks fine.

  9. #9
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    Well, the biggest problem is you're putting a computer in a VOLVO!!!! Where are the 2 and a half kids and soccer balls gonna go?
    ------------------------------------------------
    Car: 2000 Grand Am GT
    PC: Pentium III 900mhz 40GB 256mb RAM
    Software: Winamp 5.-3 on WinXP
    Stats: 22 second boot, 6300+ MP3's in playlist
    Head Unit: Blaupunkdt Casablanca

  10. #10
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    Damn, what is it with Volvos? I never realised untill I bought this car that I would get so much of a ribbing for driving one! Ok so I am 34, married, no kids, and I hate football. I bought one coz I am going to be doing up my flat this year and needed something to drive bathtubs, cement, plasterboard, 2 by 4 etc about in... and this one cost me 400. Have to say I think it's a great car, solid as f*** and very safe (important with so many big SUV's about these days).

    Its a step up from the old Ford Fiesta 1 litre anyway! (p.s. if anyone want's to buy a Fiesta in good condition, wee bit of rust, just run out of its MOT, needs a couple of brake pipes, indicators, and a spot of welding done to it to get it through it's MOT, then gimme a shout!! Very cheep (free))

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