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Thread: Bunch of questions .. New around here.

  1. #1
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    Bunch of questions / Starting Work Log

    Hello all, I'm Timm3h and I'm sure you guessed .. I'm new around here. I'm working on my first "car-puter" and of course, have some questions. I plan on turning this into a work log as soon as things start .. well .. working, but until then, I do have some things I need to get cleared up.

    Meet The Shank .. (Originally known as Daz, but my girlfriend wants it to be called The Shank .. thoughts?) .. my 1999 Mazda 626.


    I seem to have the handicap that I know plenty about computers, but nothing about car audio and power. Most of my questions are actually about powering the computer .. so let me get started ..

    I'm plan on putting a VIA EPIA MII10000 Mini-ITX, mostly due to the fact that it is the most inexpensive miniITX I could find with a CardBus slot (planning to put an Orionco card in there). I've been reading a lot of stuff on this site (special thanks to Bugbyte for all the helpful stuff I've read so far) and I still don't seem to understand how to power my system. My plan is to run directly from the battery (a splice in the power line or however you connect up to it) to the power supply and then from the power supply to the motherboard, a hard drive, and a few (3) fans. Now from the looks of it, the Opus can be hooked directly to the car's power, but I don't understand how that then hooks to the ATX on the VIA motherboard. Is there an adapter, or am I missing sometihng all together? I just looked at the other recommended power supply, the M1-ATX. I also assume that one can be hooked directly to the car's power? I believe by looking at the M1-ATX and reading about it, I might go that way, unless I get different feedback. I was talking to my brother about this stuff (he knows more about cars than I) and he said I should, for safety, put a fuse on the power cord coming from the battery. Any input on this idea? Doesn't seem like it'd hurt.

    How fast are the boot times on some of your systems? What if you just wanna run to the store really quick, but want to bump some tunes on the way? I would think you could put hte PC in suspend mode, but after reading some more, I realize that does drain the battery. How do you all overcome this problem? I would think booting windowsXP on a 600Mhz processor would take a lil' longer than a quick trip to the store.

    I've got / am getting a Lilliput 7" screen. I've read a couple of things about people having problems with them. Any input on this? Is it worth it to go with the lilliput .. granted I'm getting it on ebay for half the retail cost ..

    Another major issue I'm having is deciding whether to keep my cdplayer or not. I have the stock speakers in my car and my CD player is acting as the amp for my speakers ..

    Here's my center console ..


    I have two ways of going about this ..

    A. Leave the cd deck in there, buy and AUX adapter cable and try to find somewhere to mount my 7" screen. Finding somewhere to mount it is my main problem. If I leave the deck, I would be able to just listen to CDs if I so choose w/o having to boot the PC. But as I said and will say again .. Where th heck could I put it?

    B. Lose the deck and mount the Lilliput in it's place .. like this ..

    And then have to buy a small / good / cheap amp in order to boost the audio for my speakers. I love the way it looks and if I messured correctly, it should fit in there nice and snug .. though some minor adjustments would be expected.

    Which way would you all go?

    If I were to choose to go with getting a new AMP, here's some pics of where I would mount the PC and the AMP ..

    Right side of my trunk .. AMP


    Left side of my trunk .. PC


    I think that would look extremely cool .. I have some other amazingly cool ideas, but I think I've done enough damage for my first post.

    I really hope I don't **** anyone off because this place looks like an amazing resource .. heck it already has been. I do appologize if some of this stuff has been answered a million times. I looked through the FAQs and the work logs and I don't believe I saw any answers to these questions.

    I appreciate any input! Thank you so much!

  2. #2
    FLAC edrex's Avatar
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    Whoa there fella. Little too much info, but I'll try to clear up some of your questions.

    Power Supply: The opus has connectors that run to the Mobo and HDD's just like any other power supply. The only difference in the way it functions is the input, getting the power from the car battery instead of a wall plug.

    Boot times: Everyone is different. But they are not bad. On mine I have music 30 sec. from start coming out of hibernation. A full boot would be longer.

    Screens: I can't understand anyone who still buys a Lilliput after researching in the LCD section. But to each his own. If you still want it cause its a good deal just keep in mind that the one you are buying off Ebay almost definately is not under warranty. So when it does fail on you, make sure you donate it to Scouse's backlight project. He needs a couple test screens. Then go buy yourself a Xenarc. Now you've spent close to $700 on screens when you could have done it right in the first place. But don't get me wrong: Scouse really does need a test screen, so get the Lilli.

    Where to install: Thats up to you. I am getting rid of my headunit and replacing all speakers. This added a pretty penny to my project. If you do replace the headunit, make sure you find the right amp for your speakers. From what I understand most stock speakers are 2 ohm and would sound like crap amplified.

    Good luck with your project.
    Spent so far: $1,755
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  3. #3
    MySQL Error Scouse Monkey's Avatar
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  4. #4
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    I know I did go a little overboard with my questions, so I do appologize.

    At the same time, I do thank you for your input. You cleared up a few things for me. I did't end up getting the Lilliput, so I will be looking into the Xenarc. Only thing .. I'm cheap, so this may end up setting me back quite a bit. But I guess if your going to do it right, you may as well get good gear. I appreciate your info .. on this, becuase I had read about the screens not being all that great, just wanted some more input.

    I checked into my speakers earlier today and they are Pioneer 4oHm 35WATT, so my brother is checking on AMPs for me. I don't need anything fancy, just enough to get the speakers powered. If I had the money, I would love to go all out and get me speakres, a sub, and a nice AMP, but that will be a phase two sort of project.

    When you put your system into hibernate, do you worry about it draining your battery, or is it so minimal that there's no fear?

    Again, thank you for the info.

  5. #5
    Constant Bitrate blackbravo's Avatar
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    hibernation uses no power at all,

    try it on your home pc, hibernate it, then un-plug it, then re-bot, muh quicker boot on a clean system
    Still Planning and Scavenging Parts ------Software-----and anything else i can lay my hands on!!! :)

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  6. #6
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    Hibernate uses practically zero power. There's just a very small draw from the circuit that monitors whether to power up again or not. Inconsequential. Also, the startup from hibernation is in the 35-45 second range. You'll have tunes before you leave the parking lot.

    Regarding power - Almost nobody regrets buying an Opus. I've seen some problems with the M1ATX but lots of people use them successfully, so that route would also work for you.

    BTW - your brother is right about the fuse. Imagine if you didn't have one and had an internal short in your system, causing a fire. Do you carry a fire extinguisher? Me neither. But my system is fused. And yours should be too! Put the fuse close to the battery, say within a foot or two.

    Question about your proposed mounting location - that looks pretty low down. What's wrong with mounting it higher on the dash?

    Welcome to the forums. As you can see, your wallet is already lighter than you planned. Get used to it!
    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.
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  7. #7
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    I was trying to keep it .. how shall I say .. low profile. I didn't really want this big screen on by dash. On top of that I'm not sure how I could mount it higher w/o it looking like it was just stuck there. I should probably look around at some other worklogs to see if there might be a good solution.

    I would also like you opnion on my amp/no amp issue, Bugbyte. If you don't mind of course.

    Also, I hadn't mentioned this before, but my plan is to rip out the guts of an old broken kenwood amp, mount all my PC components in it and then mount that in the tunk, that way if you look in the trunk, all you would see would be two amps (or one, depending on the route I take). I figured that would look rediculously cool as compared to a larse case sitting back there, or throwing it under the seat.

  8. #8
    Newbie etown's Avatar
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    my 2 cents

    Keep the deck, loose the ashtray.

    You can get rid of the deck and replace it with an amp, but you are going to need a four channel amp. Even though you're only going to output two channels from the VIA you'll be left with no way to balance the speakers front to rear. Basically this means you end up running a more expensive amp just to achieve the same sound quality you would have had with the deck.
    In my system I ripped out the deck, ashtray and storage pouch; relocated the climate control to below the touch screen; replaced all the speakers; added a sub in a custom (read homemade) enclosure and used three amps. The three amps were so I could indepently control the gain for each pair of speakers. It sounds great, it was not cheap! If I could have kept the deck and stock speakers I would have. And instead of having a trunk full of crap, it would be empty and I would not be broke.

    As for the Lilli...mine works great. The new ones are a lot better than the old.

    Oh yeah here is a good site that will cover any question you could possibly have about car audio:

    http://www.bcae1.com/

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timm3h
    I would also like you opnion on my amp/no amp issue, Bugbyte. If you don't mind of course.
    If your HU has an aux in and you don't need the room, keep the HU. I kept mine for my current install and find it handy to turn the volume up and down easily. It's also simpler to keep it if it's already installed and working.

    On mounting it low, remember you may need to tilt it upward if you want to see the screen easily. Try printing out a screen cap of Frodoplayer and pasting it to a piece of cardboard the size of the Lilliput. Sitting in the driver's seat, make sure that the angle is okay for viewing.

    The trunk mount option sounds good, lots of room back there.

    Good luck with the install, it looks like you're on your way already!
    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

  10. #10
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    Thank you very much. And your screencap idea is awesome. I will try that out as soon as I have a free moment.

    .. stupid finals for school.

    Also, I'm trying to avoid any major fabrication, due to my lack of ability to work with plastic and such, thus I was looking to a nice place with minimal need to create custom molding. I will try out the screen thing, maybe take a few pictures and then come back here .. that is if you all don't mind

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