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Thread: Scared…Very scared newbie(about Minis, Amps, Sound Quality and Power consumption)!

  1. #1
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    Scared…Very scared newbie(about Minis, Amps, Sound Quality and Power consumption)!

    I’ve been exploring this forum for quite some time and i’m really thinking about doing it! "I'll get a Car PC"!
    But now, on the verge of spending my savings, i feel more than a "newbie"... I feel like a scared newbie! And very scared one!!!
    So i don’t want to mess things up by not asking for help... so here i am!

    Before i get to my doubts, let me tell you what i want to do.
    I want to build a system without the OEM Head Unit. So the sound will go from the pc to the amplifiers. I am planning on use two Alpine PDX amps. One for the subs and another for the speakers. I'll have one 7 inch monitor in the front to control the pc and two VGA monitors on the headrests. Because of the two amps, power should be an issue...

    In order to reduce power consumption i wanted a Via Epia Mini ITX Board (SP1300). I thought it was a good option. It runs Windows so there are a lot of possibilities for pretty much everything. I tried power calculators to determine how to keep things low and almost got my mind made up. But i ended up considering everything again... I live in Portugal and Via Epia boards aren't that easy to come across. Even more important, in case of a problem, besides the forums, i would be alone. So i thought about a Mac Mini. It's a complete package, it's small (size being important) and every now and then i hear of a friend saying that i should try it. It's easy to get it and in case of a problem, it would be easier to find someone to talk to. But the Mini Mac brings a whole lot of questions that i tried to find answers to but couldn't (they’re most likely here but i couldn't find them). How much power does the Mini consume? Should i go for a "solo" or a Dual Core? I know i don't need the capacity of the more recent processors but, even though faster, are they (maybe this is a very stupid question) somehow more efficient in terms of power consumption than the old ones?
    To compensate for the lack of OS X software, i would like to use Windows XP. If so, will all the USB hardware that is available for Windows based systems work? This takes me to the next question...

    Making the sound work right, and with good quality is one of my main concerns. I know how the connection should be made (it's very well explained in the FAQ's) but some people reported problems with the external USB sound cards not working after hibernate. Will this question get worse because of the fact i’m using an Apple Mac Mini running on Windows XP? I ran across some threads and there's people questioning the Creative Audigy NX 2. Is it really a bad product or is just the fact that there's a lot of people using it (which makes normal for a certain number of problems)? Is Phillips Aurilium or M-Audio better options over the NX2?

    I know that i will have to make mistakes... and part of the joy is solving them out... But i don’t want to go and do something that is completely wrong from the approach point of view.
    So please, feel free to tell me what you thing about anything. From the amps, to the pc, etc.. I’m still in time to change everything.

    Well, let me recap the questions

    Having the power in mind, should i go for a Mac Mini or a VIA ITX Board?
    Having the lack of VIA products where i live in mind, should i go for a Mac Mini or the Mini ITX?
    Will the two PDX Alpine amps send me to whole new level of electrical modifications or needed car audio equipment? (would like to keep things relatively simple)
    Will a Mac Mini (with Windows XP installed) be compatible with all software and hardware designed for Windows?
    Having what you know in mind, should i even be posting this thread? (It's my first thread so i'm counting on the HTWC-Hard Time welcome Commitee to do it's job, give me a hard time!




    Don’t know if it helps but the car i want to put the pc in is a BMW E46 328i.




    Thanks in advance for any reply. And thanks to Bugbyte for the great tread about “Installing a Mac Mini”



    Redding

  2. #2
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    Hi, since you have taken all that time to write all that and no ones replyed, i will.

    First of all power consumption isn't too much of an issue, as long as you buy a propper DC-DC power supply with a controler, your set.

    You see, the power to run an mini-ITX board is bugger all. with that said, i actually have at the moment a micro ATX board running in my car off a 160 watt DC-DC power supply. Yep standard PC parts you can buy at your local IT for bugger all, I payed AU$200 for board & cpu, Ram would be extra.

    Here is some tips:
    1. Your speaker AMP, make sure its 4 channel, gets you ready just in case surround sound gets you in.

    2. calculate your power consumption! for example: 160W (for carpc), 1000W (Sub Amp), 500W (SPK AMP) add them together, 1660W <-- That is how much power this set up is consuming. Now divide that by your 12V battery will = 138.34A <-- That is roughly how many Amps your battery is putting out for your setup. So for this setup id say a 150A fuse at the front would work a treat.

    3. Use big guage wire! i cant stress that enough. leave yourself room to upgrade, if you put a 0awg wire though, your set for life. NO LOWER THAN 4awg!

    4. Your always going to have compatiblity issues using macs, i have no experience with macs myself, so dont just take my word for it, but software side, with a car pc, you want it to be flexible and innovative. adaptable to new technologies, if the mini-mac can offer that, go for it. I cant see it's power consumtion being much different to a pc.

    Basically i wouldnt worry too much about power, your amps will drain at least 3 times as much power as the carpc.

    btw power consumption is definetly something to lookout for when building these systems but as long as it's a small board with VGA on board it shouldnt be a problem, still keep an eye on it but dont stress.

    Someone else may be able to shed light on the pdx's dont know too much except their class D and small.

    have any other questions just ask mate

  3. #3
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    http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/maccar/

    an entire sub forum dedicated to Macs and using them as CarPCs. I'd suggest spending some time in there if you're interested in using a MacMini.
    Jan Bennett
    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

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    Thank you! I'll take some more time checking things out!

    HDTech, you talked about a big wire on the number 3 item of your explanation. But i couldn't get it.

    About the battery... well, o don't know if a 150A would fit in my car! But i'll try to se if there's any that does!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redding View Post
    HDTech, you talked about a big wire on the number 3 item of your explanation. But i couldn't get it.
    What didn't you get? The idea that you need to run large gauge wire? Wire does come in different gauges. Generally, the smaller the number the larger the wire.

    About the battery... well, o don't know if a 150A would fit in my car! But i'll try to se if there's any that does!
    A 150 amp fuse is the same physical dimensions as a 100amp as a 60amp...they are ANL fuses. There should be no reason that you wouldn't be able to fit the proper size fuse in your car.
    Jan Bennett
    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

  6. #6
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    Your best bet is a 0AWG amp wiring kit. you can buy a kit like this from your local car audio store. this kit will include, your power wire, ground wire and fuse block. then you can just buy a 250A ANL fuse, they could get that in too.

    You will need a power distribution block, the type that would better suit you would be a ĎTí Block. This has a 0AWG input and 3 4AWG out and is shaped like a ĎTí. DO NOT piggy back amps to other amps. Your pc doesnít use much power so we can wack the power wire into one of your amps spots on you distribution block.

    OK Some pics of the wiring, forgive me for the picture quality. Iíve just installed vista and its got compatibility issues with some of my imaging programs so I had to just do this up in paint:

    Power wiring design for 2 amps:

    Your basic ANL Fuse:

    Hope Iíve been help. Need any more info just ask fella


    pics may not work just yet, my web server is playing up

  7. #7
    Car Audio Moderator durwood's Avatar
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    BTW- The audigy NX is hard to find might be no longer in Production. It required external power, which is not hard to do but it adds more to the equation. If you like creative cards, the LIVE USB is still availbe and is USB bus powered and no hiberantion problems for me. Otherwise look in the Car audio subforum. There is a CAR AUDIO FAQ section too with a list of other external card options as well as otehr helpful car audio links.

    Welcome Home

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    Maximum Bitrate d_sellers1's Avatar
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    Correct me if I am wrong but 150A and 250A fuses are way overkill. The whole point of having a fuse is so that it will blow in order to protect the circuit. I have 80A fuses in my system and that is way too much. In fact, one day I grounded out the line to the car's frame (I forgot to disconnect the fuse at the battery). Instead of blowing, the wire actually sparked and arced. The fuse did not blow and a fire could have resulted if I was not there to break the connection... My system consists of an OPUS 150 and two Pioneer ams. I'll be putting in lower fuses in the near future (perhaps this weekend now that I've been reminded about it).

    Derek

    EDIT: BTW, 0AWG is overkill too... 4AWG wire will be good enough and easier to install... unless of course you intend to install this in an RV and then you'd need the thicker wire to compensate for the longer distance to travel.
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    View my Worklog to see some of my progress.
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  9. #9
    Maximum Bitrate d_sellers1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by durwood View Post
    BTW- The audigy NX is hard to find might be no longer in Production. It required external power, which is not hard to do but it adds more to the equation. If you like creative cards, the LIVE USB is still availbe and is USB bus powered and no hiberantion problems for me. Otherwise look in the Car audio subforum. There is a CAR AUDIO FAQ section too with a list of other external card options as well as otehr helpful car audio links.

    Welcome Home
    The Audigy NX only requires 5VDC. You can get that off on of the power connectors since one wire is 5VDC and the other is 12VDC. Installation is not that hard to do like durwood said.

    Derek
    Progress [||-------]
    View my Worklog to see some of my progress.
    Downgraded Progress - Starting with another car... 09/13/06

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by d_sellers1 View Post
    Correct me if I am wrong but 150A and 250A fuses are way overkill. The whole point of having a fuse is so that it will blow in order to protect the circuit. I have 80A fuses in my system and that is way too much. In fact, one day I grounded out the line to the car's frame (I forgot to disconnect the fuse at the battery). Instead of blowing, the wire actually sparked and arced. The fuse did not blow and a fire could have resulted if I was not there to break the connection... My system consists of an OPUS 150 and two Pioneer ams. I'll be putting in lower fuses in the near future (perhaps this weekend now that I've been reminded about it).

    Derek

    EDIT: BTW, 0AWG is overkill too... 4AWG wire will be good enough and easier to install... unless of course you intend to install this in an RV and then you'd need the thicker wire to compensate for the longer distance to travel.
    Anything off of the battery is fusing to protect the wire. That's why you have a fuse towards the component that's smaller.

    Running 1/0 leaves tons of room for improvement.
    Jan Bennett
    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

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