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Thread: Planned CarPC in a 1996 Dodge Caravan. Hints/Tips?

  1. #1
    Newbie M.F.K's Avatar
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    Cool Planned CarPC in a 1996 Dodge Caravan. Hints/Tips?

    Hello everyone, after LOTS and LOTS of reading I have finally collected the funds to buy a car PC. I have compiled a list of the components i will be buying. Since everything i say is based on what you guys have said, just confirm that everything should work. Of course whether it will or not, will depend on how bad i screw up.

    Ok so the computer im using is a desktop PIII 650 mhz, it was my secondary PC for quite some time, it has been running XP and i think it can handle the requirements of Carputing. The wattage that I have calculated for the computer range from 120 - 170 Watts depending on which site i go to.
    So heres what i actually plan to buy.

    M2-ATX 160W Intelligent DC-DC PSU

    SP7 VGA 7" - Touchscreen

    Panasonic CW-8124-B DVD 8x + CD-RW 24x24x24x Slim Combo Drive (Slot Load)

    and now, some concerns that i have. I was reading through the FAQS again and i came across regulators. So i assume that the M2 PSU does not have a regulator. My question is, can i run my carPC without one?

    secondly the touchscreen i agree is not in very good standing since many people have had problems with it, but i just need something to interface with the computer nothing too fancy.

    The slot loading dvd drive will be used in conjunction with a ide 2 usb adapter and then connected to the PC.

    I do not know any thing about fabrication, so im gonna use what i know, as in double sided sticky tape maybe some filing and then some material to cover any left over space to fit the screen in the bezel. the dvd drive will go right below the bezel where i have a cd holder.

    i confess im a complete n00b. i did not know what the 'gauge' of a wire meant until i started reading at mp3car, and come to think of it, im still a little confused about how to go about crimping wires, but yea ive soldered before so thats what ill be doing. so heres basically how i plan to do it.

    i do not plan on taking the stock HU out since i dont have a after market HU or AMP at hand right now, and i can connect an auxillary connection to the stock HU. So i want to find a way to plop the screen right in front of the headunit in such a way that it can swing away from the HU and allow access to the head unit.

    find a way to stick the screen in there, could look ugly, but should be functional.

    dvd player will jsut sit in my cd holder rack, might stick it with some double sided adhesive.

    wiring to the battery is another problem. i have NO idea how to take the dash off to get to the Firewall of my car, i plan to take lots of photo graphs wiht my cell while i take out every screw i can see and then go to prying. hopefully ill get to the firewall, i wont be drilling another hole in it but using the existing hole. i do need a new battery which i will get as soon as my carPC parts arrive. my terminals are rusting and my alternator wants out too (i think) everytime im stopped at a red light and i take down or raise my windows, i hear the alternator struggling and the light on the clock dims due to lack of sufficient voltage. a new alternator costs alot so i might just try to work with what i have. (and hopefulyl not blow up everything)

    the PC is in those standard cases that sit below the monitor on your desktop so i think ill just keep it in the original case.

    Thats about all the thoughts ive collected or i can remmber so far. if i remmeber more ill post them. in the mean time id like to hear all your comments. and if any of my concerns above have already been addressed, i apologise but i assure you i tried very hard and read alot, so please just point me to the article.

    Ahh i just remembered, my future additions to the system will be:

    a mono amplifier ive looked at a few and ill be looking for this one here in canada: Alpine MRP-M650
    this will be hooked up to 2 subs namely the 12" Infinity Reference 1250w in parallel.
    i was plannign to go with a head unit but yea the computer will do the job after i stumbled upon the FAQ about how to get audio from ur carPC to the amps.

    I would have bought the audio equipment first, but now im thinking that getting my music to the car first would be better.

    Comments/ Feedback Welcome and Wanted.
    I quit

  2. #2
    Newbie M.F.K's Avatar
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    Anyone?
    I quit

  3. #3
    Maximum Bitrate Dragonknell911's Avatar
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    SP7 VGA 7" - Touchscreen
    If this is a lower quality screen it is going to need a regulated 12 volt line. Which means you would be running it off of your DC-DC psu.
    Did you calculate the extra draw this would be pulling in your calculations?

    I do not know any thing about fabrication, so im gonna use what i know, as in double sided sticky tape maybe some filing and then some material to cover any left over space to fit the screen in the bezel. the dvd drive will go right below the bezel where i have a cd holder.
    Computer drives are notorious for skipping quite easily, so make sure it is at least mounted to the point where it won't move around too much.

    If you search there are plenty of tutorials on how to fiberglass, and how to use bondo to make your install look stock, after you get an aftermarket amp.

    i confess im a complete n00b. i did not know what the 'gauge' of a wire meant until i started reading at mp3car, and come to think of it, im still a little confused about how to go about crimping wires, but yea ive soldered
    There are plenty of calculators which will tell you the gauge (thickness) of wire you need based on the voltage / wattage consumption of a load.

    Crimping is how you put a connector on the end of a wire, again if you search you can find lots of detailed techniques on how to properly crimp connectors.
    If you have a vice you can easily use that to crimp a connector onto a wire. Keep in mind you want to strip the wire first (remove the insulation), then wrap it with electrical tape to re-insulate it.

    the PC is in those standard cases that sit below the monitor on your desktop so i think ill just keep it in the original case.
    Make sure you mount the pc securely, because you obviously don't want it sliding around. If you hadn't thought of it already, the HD will be taking quite a beating the car, so reducing any possible shock it recieves is a very good thing.
    a mono amplifier ive looked at a few and ill be looking for this one here in canada: Alpine MRP-M650
    this will be hooked up to 2 subs namely the 12" Infinity Reference 1250w in parallel.
    Both of those are solid choices.

    i was plannign to go with a head unit but yea the computer will do the job after i stumbled upon the FAQ about how to get audio from ur carPC to the amps.
    Are you talking about aftermarket amplifiers or the cars stock amplifiers? Imo running without a headunit is superior then running it through one.
    If you do get an aftermarket amp, make sure you get a 4-channel one


    and now, some concerns that i have. I was reading through the FAQS again and i came across regulators. So i assume that the M2 PSU does not have a regulator. My question is, can i run my carPC without one?
    The M2 PSU is a regulated DC-DC psu, I believe the regulators you are talking about are capicators? Which are only neccesary to stabilize the 12 v line in the event that you are pulling a very large load.

    Hope that helps
    REBUILDING!!

  4. #4
    Variable Bitrate Zogg's Avatar
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    I'm putting a carpc into a 1997 Chrysler Town & Country which is pretty much the same as your Caravan.

    I am on version 2.0 since I had some issues with my original build, which was an embedded PC in the storage drawer under the front passenger seat. The main problem was it just got too hot, and even after adding fans I couldn't get it cool enough. V2.0 is using an old Dell PIII 650MHz Latitude laptop on a docking station in the rear of the van. I have removed the in-dash cup-holder and will build a bracket to mount the TS display just below the a/c controls. Not going to fabricate anything because I don't expect to have this vehicle for too much longer.

    i do not plan on taking the stock HU out since i dont have a after market HU or AMP at hand right now, and i can connect an auxillary connection to the stock HU.
    I'm not replacing the HU either, probably. Which one do you have? I have the Infinity system but it doesn't have an AUX in, just curious how you have one and I don't.

    wiring to the battery is another problem.
    It's not that hard. I went to Pep-Boys and got a car audio installation kit that has 8 GA wire in it. A screw-retention connector was included to connect it to the battery + terminal, then go straight back from the battery to the firewall. I put a fuse there, then you can poke a hole in a rubber grommet (I think it's for the hood release) and run the wire into the cab. I put a fuse block in-line in the engine compartment as well. For the ground you can pick up a frame ground connection under the dash, and there are several good points both near the emergency brake and under the center console trim pieces.

    I'll be glad to try and answer any other questions on this vehicle. It definitely isn't the best for a carpc.

    Z
    Zotac N630I-D-E M/B w/ Nvidia 7100, E5300 cpu, Xenarc 700IDT, M2-ATX, XP, RR & DFX 5.1.

  5. #5
    Variable Bitrate Zogg's Avatar
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    Oh, I forgot to add that I was using an M1-ATX power supply with the original carpc. I'm still using it to power the Xenarc TS as well as a USB hub, and to drive a relay that controls power to several other devices. The M1 and the M2 do have regulators built-in.

    Z
    Zotac N630I-D-E M/B w/ Nvidia 7100, E5300 cpu, Xenarc 700IDT, M2-ATX, XP, RR & DFX 5.1.

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