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Thread: New at this CarPC thing... intro and some ?'s

  1. #1
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    New at this CarPC thing... intro and some ?'s

    First off want to say Hi and thanks for the great site. I just stumbled across this site today and it started me thinking about an in car computer setup for the wife.

    A little background on me, I'm a computer tech with about 7 years experience in the computer field, very familiar with Windows OS, especially XP. I've built several computer systems myself, and have a rudimentary knowledge with Car Audio and a fairly extensive knowledge of Multimedia PC's.

    My expectations is to build a decent CarPC utilizing some existing hardware (will outline below) that will play digital music, DVD's, and possibly incorporate a TV Tuner. I currently am not interested in a GPS Navigation system, but would not rule out adding the feature in the future.

    Exisiting Equipment:
    JVC KD-SH55 HU (http://www.jvc.com/product.jsp?model...2&archive=true)
    Dell OptiPlex GX270 Small Form-Factor (http://support.dell.com/support/edoc...n/ug/index.htm)
    P4 2.8Ghz 512 MB RAM CD-RW/DVD Combo drive. 40GB HDD
    OR
    Dell Latitude LS Laptop
    (http://support.dell.com/support/edoc...n/ug/specs.htm)
    PII 450mhz 192MB of RAM CD-RW/DVD Combo Drive 40GB HDD (Have Auto Adapter for Laptop)
    '93 Toyota 4Runner

    Needed:
    LCD Screens (touch or other?)
    TV Tuner (how well would this work?) + Antenna
    Power Convertor if going PC route vs. Laptop
    Alot of learning and patience

    First off, should I go with the Laptop which is slower and limited on RAM (max 256MB of RAM, currenlty 192) or should I use the desktop which is quicker but bulkier? Secondly should I go touch screen or use a small wireless keyboard and mouse + reg. LCD screen? As is, the laptop is very limited with avail USB ports, only has 2, the CD-RW/DVD Combo drive hooks up via an external media bay using a (approx) 12" cable - which may be a problem or a blessing. I also have a port replicator for the laptop which will increase the avail USB ports to 4 and provide with an external method of powering the laptop. The Head Unit already has an Aux input which will greatly faciliate the process. I'm thinking of going with an 8" LCD up front and a 7" in the back for the kiddo to watch movies. Any recommendations on which screens I should use? Should I go touch screen + regular LCD? What are the positives or negatives of this? Anyone added TV Tuner capabilites to their CarPC's? How is the reception? Which tuner did you use? Which software? Anything that I'm forgetting (I'm sure I am)?

    Again thanks for the site, and thanks in advance for the help.

  2. #2
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    Wow... didn't get a single response. Did I not format my post correctly? I would like to at least begin diagramming my install and would like opinions wether I should go with the small form factor PC or if I should go with the laptop. Also any input on installing a TV tuner would be cool. Thanks!

  3. #3
    Constant Bitrate ltrain1007's Avatar
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    Arrow my response is. ..

    [QUOTE=First off, should I go with the Laptop which is slower and limited on RAM (max 256MB of RAM, currenlty 192) or should I use the desktop which is quicker but bulkier? Secondly should I go touch screen or use a small wireless keyboard and mouse + reg. LCD screen? As is, the laptop is very limited with avail USB ports, only has 2, the CD-RW/DVD Combo drive hooks up via an external media bay using a (approx) 12" cable - which may be a problem or a blessing. I also have a port replicator for the laptop which will increase the avail USB ports to 4 and provide with an external method of powering the laptop. The Head Unit already has an Aux input which will greatly faciliate the process. I'm thinking of going with an 8" LCD up front and a 7" in the back for the kiddo to watch movies. Any recommendations on which screens I should use? Should I go touch screen + regular LCD? What are the positives or negatives of this? Anyone added TV Tuner capabilites to their CarPC's? How is the reception? Which tuner did you use? Which software? Anything that I'm forgetting (I'm sure I am)?

    [/QUOTE]

    1. id go with the desktop, if too bulky maybe rebuild a machine in a less bulkier case. imo and most on this board, a laptop is an easy way out, but is effective.

    2. Touchscreen is a no brainer. just think about changing songs while driving or whatver, its just safer and more convient. Having a mouse and keyboard also wont hurt for a secondary method.


    3. laptop only has two usb ports: not a problem, just get a 4 port hub and expand.


    4. Are you leaving the headunit in, what kind of vehicle are you installing for? Thats a good thing to mention in your title for people witht he same vehicles will be likely to respond. or people that are just interested in that vehicle install.


    5. your kid definately doesnt need a touch screen, id prolly just run a regular lcd in the back. are your windows tinted?


    inclosing, i know its exciting you get to this forum and you see pics and you just want to get started. but you cant really look over these forums for 5 mins then ask questions. because most questions u asked have been answered 100s of times, so people get tired of responding, so if you do a search in these forums you will learn a great amount about things
    Go on and do it, do it, Do it 'til you're satisfied,
    Whatever it is, do it, Do it 'til you're satisfied.



    CarPc progress |OOOOXCOOOO| 57%

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by ltrain1007
    1. id go with the desktop, if too bulky maybe rebuild a machine in a less bulkier case. imo and most on this board, a laptop is an easy way out, but is effective.

    2. Touchscreen is a no brainer. just think about changing songs while driving or whatver, its just safer and more convient. Having a mouse and keyboard also wont hurt for a secondary method.


    3. laptop only has two usb ports: not a problem, just get a 4 port hub and expand.


    4. Are you leaving the headunit in, what kind of vehicle are you installing for? Thats a good thing to mention in your title for people witht he same vehicles will be likely to respond. or people that are just interested in that vehicle install.


    5. your kid definately doesnt need a touch screen, id prolly just run a regular lcd in the back. are your windows tinted?


    inclosing, i know its exciting you get to this forum and you see pics and you just want to get started. but you cant really look over these forums for 5 mins then ask questions. because most questions u asked have been answered 100s of times, so people get tired of responding, so if you do a search in these forums you will learn a great amount about things
    First thanks for your suggestions.
    1. I was also thinking, as the laptop is an older unit, it has only USB 1.1 support, though I'm not sure if the port replicator may upgrade this to USB 2.0 when docked, I'll have to look into it. The desktop is not much bigger as it is a small form factor, but it's limited as it only has 2 PCI slots.

    2.I agree on the Touchscreen route, after pondering it for a while, it just makes sense to go touchscreen.

    3.A hub would work, but as I mentioned earlier, it's only USB 1.1 so running a DVD drive off of it would not be succesful.

    4. Yes I am leaving the Head Unit in... i definately want to keep the radio feature and as is, the Head Unit has an Aux In so that'll make things alot easier.

    5.Definately going regular LCD for the back, the kid (really a baby he's 1) wouldn't know what to do with a touchscreen if he had one. The windows are tinted, but I'll probably go a tad darker in the back as the tint is 10+ years old and has faded some.

    I understand what you mean about people answering these questions repeatedly, but this is the "newbie" section after all. I did read the FAQ's as well as quite a few of the other posts in this forum, but wanted some input that had not been provided before. Also still haven't heard from anyone on the TV Tuner idea... just saw a slim line PCI TV Tuner on www.bensbargains.net for $70, add an antenna and you'd have TV in your car. Not sure how well the reception would work while moving, but everyone used to do this back in the Custom Van days, so it shouldn't be a big problem and should provide an alternative to watching DVD's.

  5. #5
    Constant Bitrate ltrain1007's Avatar
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    cool,

    radio can be acheieved with the tv tuner, and you can connect your pc audio directly to the amp. incase some space problem comes up with ur install.
    Go on and do it, do it, Do it 'til you're satisfied,
    Whatever it is, do it, Do it 'til you're satisfied.



    CarPc progress |OOOOXCOOOO| 57%

  6. #6
    Admin. Linux loser.
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    Bugbyte's Avatar
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    It's true, you posted in the Newbie section, and thanks for reading the FAQs.

    Problem was - too many questions. Post too long. Takes a long time to answer them so people move on.

    1. Laptop. Speed isn't an issue. Most carputer apps don't require much power.

    2. Touchscreen. Too hard to drive an operate a mouse. Try it with your laptop on the dash one day. On second thought, DON'T try it!

    3. Extension cable to USB port replicator. Plug in the touchscreen, the drive (did you say it was USB?) and the keyboard.

    4. Leave the head unit in for now. Replace it later if you get a real bug to go all computer.

    5. Video LCD for the kiddo. Cheaper, especially if it has to be replaced because of peanut butter contamination

    Good luck and WELCOME. Prepare to read, read, read. Start by searching on terms "laptop startup" to find ways to auto start and shut down your laptop.
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
    Want to:
    -Find out about the new iBug iPad install?
    -Find out about carPC's in just 5 minutes? View the Car PC 101 video

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