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Thread: Help me Build a "suggested systems" FAQ for n00bs

  1. #1
    Admin. Linux loser.
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    Bugbyte's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    Corning, NY
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    Help me Build a "suggested systems" FAQ for n00bs

    Hi folks, I'm trying to put together a FAQ for newbies that answers one of the commonly asked questions, "Can you just tell me what to get so I can do my install"?

    Newbies often come on here and want to jump right in but get very confused about what to buy and whether they have all the right stuff or not. What I'd like to do with this thread is give four ready made systems (I can do more if we need to, but 4 sounds about right) that meet different needs.

    1. Cheap install.
    2. Compact/low power. (Probably a Via install)
    3. Zippier but still compact (a mini-ATX? I don't really know much about these)
    4. Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead! (Gamer's delight, no holds barred, max power)

    I need your help to put this list together. Yes, I know it will go out of date quickly, but it will serve as a guide to newbs who can't seem to figure out all the stuff they need and want a "parts list"

    When specifying a system, make sure you include the mobo, power source (i.e. inverter or DC-DC) and approximate prices for the system. I'll consolidate the answers into a single point FAQ eventually.

    I can start a separate thread on each of these systems, if that would make it easier. Let me know. Thanks for the help!
    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

  2. #2
    My Village Called 0l33l's Avatar
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    Jul 2004
    Berkeley, CA
    VIA EPIA M10000 - $154
    256/512 Megs of DDR266 RAM $26/45
    80gb 5400RPM Laptop HD - $100
    Slim CD-RW/DVD drive - $90
    Slim Converter USB - $50
    M1-ATX - $75

    VIA EPIA SP13000 - $249
    512 Megs of DDR400 RAM - $45
    7200RPM Laptop HD - 7200RPM Desktop HD - $168
    Slim CD-RW/DVD drive - $90
    Slim Converter USB - $50
    120w Opus - $149

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Northern Va


    gong chep has its side effects. It can be more challanging as well as much harder to do.
    For a good cheap system, you need any smllish Motherboard and CPU laying around. I am using a 1.3 Ghz AMD athalon cpu with 256 of pc133
    (total cost new, around $70?)

    For the Video, I bought a $25 ATi 7000 that has S-Video out. this is connected to a 4 inch LCD that natively uses 12 volts. (can be pulled right off of the pc power supply) A screen of that size is less than $100

    For power, I built a 550 watt 12 volt (car power) DC to 120 volt (Us ac) adapter. These can be purchesed for around $50. Any standard or small footprint pc (baby tower) pc power supply will work

    For input, I took a $4 keyboard, and took it apart. Inside is a thin plastic set of sheets that did the work in the large unrollable keyboard. A little bit of sharpie to lable the keys, and you have a roll up keyboard for cheap. Also, as I just use winamp, a serial control can be used to control the basic functions of playback a quick search or's plugins tells all. As a new feature, I found a nifty device called OpticalBar that gives you touch screen like capabilities, and has some powerful software.

    Any old IDE desktop drive works well, but I did throw mine in a removable tray so that I could update my music Database as needed.

    A 20x slotloading IDE desktop drive is hard to find, but can be gotten for around $5 at some used computer shops. By useing a slot loeading drive, you have less of a hassle when ptting a new cd in.

    For a case, mine is made out of metal and plexiglass

    A gps is optional, but I use a Tripnav GPS that is just under $100

    And software, nothing fancy, just Windows xp, Winamp, mappoint and girder to tie together everything

    Everything is in USD
    I will update and finalise this post when it is not 2 am, and others are more than welcome to take/expand apon/fix all the spelling issues... this post
    Every day driver, 1989 Celica. Probly won't get a carpc for a while

    Working on: 1972 240z. Gonna put a V8 and a Turion in it. Best power in bothworlds. Now if only I could get my theoretical boot as low as my theroretical 1/4 mile time (8.22 s)

  4. #4
    Jesus Freak antimatter's Avatar
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    Jan 2004
    Good idea.

    For the cheap setup what are the space requirments?
    -Jesus- King of Kings Lord of Lords

  5. #5
    Admin. Linux loser.
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    Bugbyte's Avatar
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    No space requirements. Just cheap! Although it looks like we may need a "cheap" and a "dumpster diver, found computer stuff cheap"!
    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

  6. #6
    Variable Bitrate nzKAOSnz's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Christchurch - New Zealand
    Really cheap/ghetto install: only for MP3's

    - old atx computer. anything over a 200Mhz will do. pref with onboard sound, and onboard lan helps. If doing a custom case - avoid P2's as their cpu is quite tall - and restricts the size. a socket 370 cpu (a 433 i think) did me well
    - only needs 32mb-64mb odd ram.

    - Hdd - 2gb min - doesnt matter if its a 3.5". they make things easier & cheaper
    only put your current selection of music, and the OS on this.

    - Search round and find a cheap DC-DC psu. Something such as the morex psu can often be found cheapish. I paid the same for my 80W morex as what an average 400w desktop psu is worth.

    - get a cheap keypad. can be found in most computer places.

    Display (optional):
    - Find a hd44780 compatible charater LCD. 16x2 is enough.
    Wire this up to your parrallel port. Diagrams on net.

    - Win98. Cut it down if wanted
    - Winamp
    - Markus Zedhner's LCD plugin (not sure if spelt rite)

    - Either dust off the old woodwork skills - or use a normal case. (i did say ghetto)

    Thats all i can think of at the moment - total cost for me:
    Motherboard+CPU: $40 i think
    Ram: very little i would assume (had lying around)
    Harddrive: 4gb cost me $10-20
    Power: Expensive bit - $80
    Input: $20-40
    16x2 LCD: $40+$15 for wiring
    Case: cost me $20 of sheet perspex
    Programs: all free except windows 98 (?)

    So i spent less than $200 on first carputer.
    THIS IS NZD$ so you do the maths
    92 Subaru Legacy Wagon

    Epia MII12000 :D
    Morex 80W
    120G External HDD
    16x2 Charater Display
    Creative IR Remote
    VIA Sereniti 2000 Mini ITX Case
    7.2Ah SLA Tank
    PCMCIA 802.11b
    256DDR Ram

    Diamonds are for girls- wise men follow the stars

  7. #7
    Low Bitrate chomo's Avatar
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    Jan 2006
    How cheap is cheap???

    I did my first try with an old PIII 800MHz with 128MB RAM with a Matsonic MoBo and a AT 200W PSU, two hard drives, a 3.5GB for the OS and tools and a 10GB 2.5" HD, a USB numeric keyboard and no screen... Except for the 2.5" HD and the keyboard, which I got from an old laptop that didn't work anymore, I basically just dismantled an old PC I had laying around my house; so I didn't spend a single dime! I did buy a 300W DC-AC inversor, but it was a real bargain: less than US$30!!! I didn't get to even see what I was playing, but I did love every single song I had in my collection and back then it was a cheap alternative to an iPod.

    By the way: doesn't the apple shuffle go for about US$99 and does exactly the same and nothibg else?
    Car PC progress: 60%
    Pics coming soon!!!

  8. #8
    FLAC DodgeCummins's Avatar
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    Oct 2000
    DFW area
    I am still running my cheap system.

    The only thing it won't do is run video...well...

    But it plays MP3s WHILE running the moving map software.

    $150...maybe less now.

    To run only mp3s a P90 could do it...

    I think you need to define the task...not the price.

    If you simply want to run mp3s with no visualization...then buy a pocket mp3 player and plug it in. ($60 total)

    If you only want visualization...get a low cost mobo (something in the 500+ mhz range) and almost free everything else...but put a few bucks into the screen...a standard composite screen will be fine for this task. ($150 total)

    If you want to play DVDs and other video files, (and perhaps a nice on screen control center with touchscreen) then you will need as a minimum a M10000 miniitx...and can get crazy expensive from there...up to one of those Pentium M mini motherboards.
    Also now you need to get a couple of nice VGA screens...$200 to $1000...each. These start sucking the power so you need to spend some bux on a nice 12v power supply...from low price to Opus. (so from $500 to $2000 total)

  9. #9
    And then I was mod. Tidder's Avatar
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    Sep 2003
    New Mexico, USA
    Wow, talk about bringing dead posts back to life...

    Try RevFE
    The best resurrected frontend I've ever used, period.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Little Elm, Texas
    hey dodge - are you aware of the D/FW meet July 9th?
    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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