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Thread: Laptop for carputer project

  1. #1
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    Laptop for carputer project

    I am a complete newbie to this hobby. I have done some extensive searching and reading of old posts so please don't shoot me down in flames if I ask questions that have been answered before.

    As I said, I have NO experience with carputers apart from installing Federal Signal siren units into police vehicles and paramedic response cars. I wanted to float this idea to see if it is feasible:

    I have a fairly modern Dell laptop from a friend. The only fault is that it has a broken screen and is pretty much useless as a laptop. I was planning to get a dash mounted touchscreen connected to the laptop in the trunk via USB. The screen would be on a sperate power supply and the laptop comes with a cigarette plug adaptor. Basically the idea would be that when the car is switched on a relay would allow the laptop to run off the car battery (and charge the laptop battery) but when the vehicle is switched off the laptop would have to run off it's internal battery.

    Initially I will be using the computer for music and GPS but plan eventually to have complete touchscreen controls for my emergency siren unit.

    Would this work? If not why not? Be brutal.

  2. #2
    Variable Bitrate
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    Yes it'll work, I have an old laptop that I soldered wires onto the back of the power switch to do this but I have gone down the miniITX route now. Set the power management to shut down after being on battery for a while and never on mains (car adapter) power.

    It's just the switching on that you have to get round if it's in the trunk...
    Old setup
    Epia M10k, Cubid 2699R case, 512MB, 40GB 3.5" drive
    New setup
    Optiplex 260SX (2.8GHz P4, 512MB, 30GB, DVD)
    Xenarc 700IDT, USB hub, 802.11g, bluetooth, P2140, P5V

  3. #3
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    Mark,

    What made you change to the mini ITX route? Is it that much more easier to upgrade than instaling a laptop in?
    Malaysia
    -Alfa Romeo Giulietta 1982 with 1992 Alfa 75 2.0 Twin Spark Engine-

  4. #4
    Variable Bitrate
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    Well my laptop is a celeron 566 so not the fastest thing out there. Also the shutdown control functionality you can have with an opus/carnetix etc...

    I originally bought a touch screen that the laptop had trouble with as well, as it has limited resolutions and only one refresh rate for an external monitor....
    Old setup
    Epia M10k, Cubid 2699R case, 512MB, 40GB 3.5" drive
    New setup
    Optiplex 260SX (2.8GHz P4, 512MB, 30GB, DVD)
    Xenarc 700IDT, USB hub, 802.11g, bluetooth, P2140, P5V

  5. #5
    Constant Bitrate
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    airborne_cookie im on the same track your on, ive got an extra laptop that im prolly gunna mount in my truck. good luck to you.

  6. #6
    FreeDrive Creator CdRsKuLL's Avatar
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    ok. .I'm on my third carputer now.. and I went down the route of using a laptop, the main reason for this was because I found my M10k epia board was just to dam slow for what I wanted.. so I then looked into getting a faster board, but the epia range doesnt really cut it, so I looked into the others that are available and then I noticed the price creeping up. So when I found a Dell D600 with a cracked screen for 100.. bargin.. so this is what i've done so far..

    now the main problem you will come across how do I turn it on.. off.. and sort out the rest of the stuff ! Below is how i'm doing it.

    I first needed a 12 volt and 5 volt supply, this is needed to give a nice current for my xenarc screen, and also to power my usb 2.0 hub and the combo drive up front. I wanted to delay the amp in turning on, so it was after the laptop, this stops the popping sound and also to power on/off the laptop... so I looked at normal car ATX psu's. Finally deciding on the M1ATX 90w unit. This is what I found -

    The M1ATX psu needed to be modifyed alittle.. As I'm not using a ATX board I needed to join pins 14 and 15 (green & black) this then makes the M1 think its ready to be used and outputs on the rails. Sadly the pulse signal fails to turn the laptop on, but does turn it off.. so I needed to build a seperate circuit for this.. I also found that the M1 wasnt powerfull enough to power the 65watt DC Dell psu that I've used to power the laptop. So all i'm using the M1 for it to provide a steady 12v and 5v rails and also to delay my amp turn on.

    I have added two circuits ;

    1. 12v miniture relay,1kuf cap,10k res these are wired up to 'press my power button'
    2. 12v 30amp relay, wired direct to the battery for powering my psu.

    both the above relays are turned on via the 12v rail from the M1

    I have only just completed all these circuits and its been working for a day or so, but I would expect it to provide a faultless operation.

    I have set the laptop to go into hibernation 10 mins after it starts running on battary.. so far so good.

    As for the benefits from using this laptop.. well as its centrino it can go for 4 hours + just on battery alone, so when I'm parked up outside my house I can just remote into it via the wifi and do anything I want. It has a 32mb vga ATI card built in.. bluetooth built in .. etc.. etc.. very please with the speed of it so far. I'm also using a seperate usb soundcard.. at the moment this is only for input(mic) rather than output. I am just using the onboard soundcard for this. Only reason for this is to save running a mic wire down the side of the car.. only 3 wires running up the side.. 1 x usb2.0 into a 7 port hub, 1 x vga cable and the other is a 3 core cable which carrys 12+, 5+, neg upto the front to power the screen and hub. So upfront I've got the screen, usb2.0 hub, keyboard, wifi, compro actionmate tv, combo drive.. think thats it for the moment but I want to add a mem card reader. I will provide pics an dmore details once its finished.. its all hanging out of the glovebox atm :-)

    anyway hope some of this info helps

    cheers

    CdR

  7. #7
    Raw Wave shotgunefx's Avatar
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    I've been planning on a car computer for some time. Finally it occured to me to use my old 433 celeron laptop.

    I picked up a docking station for 18 bucks on ebay and mounting it in the trunk with a vcr bracket to keep it off the floor. The dock gives me some pci slots too.

    There's more info at my blog

    Nice that when I want to work on it, I just yank it from the dock.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    I removed my p4 shuttle to relace it with a centrino laptop......a carputer benifits alot with mobile technology in many ways, not the least of which are much lower power consuption....battery backup/tank that is supported/monitored/controlled by the motherboard/bios.....low heat generation....the list goes on & on......I would go out on a limb & say that I think the right laptop install can be superior to most desktop alternatives....maybe a bit more of a pain in the *** installation wise.....but definately at least as good if not better......

  9. #9
    Raw Wave shotgunefx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbocad6
    I removed my p4 shuttle to relace it with a centrino laptop......a carputer benifits alot with mobile technology in many ways, not the least of which are much lower power consuption....battery backup/tank that is supported/monitored/controlled by the motherboard/bios.....low heat generation....the list goes on & on......I would go out on a limb & say that I think the right laptop install can be superior to most desktop alternatives....maybe a bit more of a pain in the *** installation wise.....but definately at least as good if not better......
    I dunno, I think it's less of a pain. All I had to figure out was how to click the power button automatically. Actually the hardest part I had so far was hanging the bracket for it in the trunk. Though a nice little mini-atx seems cleaner.

  10. #10
    Constant Bitrate
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    Quote Originally Posted by CdRsKuLL
    ok. .I'm on my third carputer now.. and I went down the route of using a laptop, the main reason for this was because I found my M10k epia board was just to dam slow for what I wanted.. so I then looked into getting a faster board, but the epia range doesnt really cut it, so I looked into the others that are available and then I noticed the price creeping up. So when I found a Dell D600 with a cracked screen for 100.. bargin.. so this is what i've done so far..

    now the main problem you will come across how do I turn it on.. off.. and sort out the rest of the stuff ! Below is how i'm doing it.

    I first needed a 12 volt and 5 volt supply, this is needed to give a nice current for my xenarc screen, and also to power my usb 2.0 hub and the combo drive up front. I wanted to delay the amp in turning on, so it was after the laptop, this stops the popping sound and also to power on/off the laptop... so I looked at normal car ATX psu's. Finally deciding on the M1ATX 90w unit. This is what I found -

    The M1ATX psu needed to be modifyed alittle.. As I'm not using a ATX board I needed to join pins 14 and 15 (green & black) this then makes the M1 think its ready to be used and outputs on the rails. Sadly the pulse signal fails to turn the laptop on, but does turn it off.. so I needed to build a seperate circuit for this.. I also found that the M1 wasnt powerfull enough to power the 65watt DC Dell psu that I've used to power the laptop. So all i'm using the M1 for it to provide a steady 12v and 5v rails and also to delay my amp turn on.

    I have added two circuits ;

    1. 12v miniture relay,1kuf cap,10k res these are wired up to 'press my power button'
    2. 12v 30amp relay, wired direct to the battery for powering my psu.

    both the above relays are turned on via the 12v rail from the M1

    I have only just completed all these circuits and its been working for a day or so, but I would expect it to provide a faultless operation.

    I have set the laptop to go into hibernation 10 mins after it starts running on battary.. so far so good.

    As for the benefits from using this laptop.. well as its centrino it can go for 4 hours + just on battery alone, so when I'm parked up outside my house I can just remote into it via the wifi and do anything I want. It has a 32mb vga ATI card built in.. bluetooth built in .. etc.. etc.. very please with the speed of it so far. I'm also using a seperate usb soundcard.. at the moment this is only for input(mic) rather than output. I am just using the onboard soundcard for this. Only reason for this is to save running a mic wire down the side of the car.. only 3 wires running up the side.. 1 x usb2.0 into a 7 port hub, 1 x vga cable and the other is a 3 core cable which carrys 12+, 5+, neg upto the front to power the screen and hub. So upfront I've got the screen, usb2.0 hub, keyboard, wifi, compro actionmate tv, combo drive.. think thats it for the moment but I want to add a mem card reader. I will provide pics an dmore details once its finished.. its all hanging out of the glovebox atm :-)

    anyway hope some of this info helps

    cheers

    CdR
    HOLY SH**..... I could never do this. i think ill just cram my laptop somewhere up front and push the pwr button... sounds nice though!

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