No one ever said this stuff was easy...The Mobile Desktop
In the age where smaller is better, hidden is better, Small Form Factors and Laptops rule the CarPC world...I am going against the grain here. I wanted a CarPC that had to fill out a certain group of criteria.
- Dolby Digital Encoding
- Dolby Digital Decoding
- TV Capabilities
- Desktop gaming performance
- Able to power the accessories it has
The only way I figured I could pull this off was to build a monster of a desktop and retrofit it into the car with enough style that it doesn't look too out of place.
Chapter 1: Welcome to the Digital Age...Dolby Digital style
Chapter 2: Your average desktop PC on a desktop
Chapter 3: Accessing the Accessories
Chapter 4: Preinstall yeah thats going to take some time
Chapter 5: Install time is here...and you thought the preinstall sucked
Chapter 6: Form and Function....hopefully it functions
Welcome to the Digital Age...Dolby Digital style
To be able to pull this off I needed two important components the Dolby Digital Encoder to take all music and convert it to Dolby Digital in realtime.
Enter NVIDIA Soundstorm
NVIDIA's Soundstorm webpage
The motherboard I selected was the ASUS A7N8X Deluxe which has the NFORCE chipset with the integrated Sounstorm ALU. The output from the motherboard is a digital spdif connection. I wanted to not use the analog connection as I would not be using the digital abilities at that time.
Now the next step was find a way to decode the Dolby Digital signal. I had a few choices I could use an amplifier from a home theater solution but wanted more of the car audio way of life. Thats when I found the Creative's Sound Blaster Extigy. It has the ability to decode Dolby Digital signals and actually had both optical and SPDIF digital inputs. Perfect! If that couldn't be enough of a reason to go this route...12 volt DC input which means I could run it off my computer's power supply. More on that later. :)
I finished the set off with a trio of Rockford Fosgate amps and three sets of speakers and two subs
As you can see from the drawing the speakers near the passenger and driver actually emulate the center channel instead of the front left and right speakers because the majority of the sound comes from the center channel not the left and right front speakers.
Your average desktop PC on a desktop
ASUS A7N8X Deluxe nForce2 chipset with Soundstorm ALU
Athlon XP 2600+ Mobile 45 watt processor
512MB (2x256MB) Dual Channel PC3200 DDR
OCZ Modstream 520 watt modular power supply
Just Cooler RC-168 Computer Remote Control
The OCZ 520 watt power supply is the heart and soul of this setup. It is not only for powering the computer itself but for lending a hand with its clean 5 volt and 12 volt connections to power the many other accesories.
The computer has a remote control that easily attaches to a keychain that will power the computer up and also put in standby when needed. It uses Radio Frequency so line of sight is not needed which is great when your in the front seat and your computer is hanging out in the trunk.
There are two keyboards in use one is a wired USB PlayStation2 Logitech Netplay keyboard and the other is the Auravision Presenter
I threw away the PS2 controller part leaving just the small USB keyboard. It will be attached to my sunvisor giving me access to a keyboard at all times.
The point of this keyboard is not only to give me a wireless keyboard but with its built in trackball mouse and media buttons it is the whole package without being too large of a keyboard that you can't just throw it in the glovebox. Because it uses RF instead of IR this keyboard will be useful both in the car and out with no need to point it at the wireless receiver.
Accessing the Accessories
Nitemax nightvision cameras
Preinstall yeah thats going to take some time
Reserved estimated time...April 2007
Install time is here...and you thought the preinstall sucked
Reserved estimated time...May 2007
Form and Function....hopefully it functions
Reserved estimated time...June 2007