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Old 19th October 2006, 01:27   #16
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Cool mini ITX! Hell yeah!

Hey Ankur,

Wow, I was just waiting for the day someone would use a mini ITX for a car PC project in India! Good on ya, bro....

In college, my senior design project was exactly this - building a car PC using a mini ITX board/VIA C3 processor as the base. Of course, this was in 2004, so VIA had only come out with the M10000 board then.

We used a plexiglass case with a cut-out on the top plate for a fan, and cutouts in the back for the motherboard I/O.

I trust you should be able to put together the rest of the system on your own (ie. 2.5/3.5 HDD and some RAM). The beauty is, this is really all you need for a base, portable "multimedia PC". Oh yeah, don't forget an LCD screen with proper input interface (mouse/trackball, keyboard, etc.). For my project we got a touchscreen LCD - which was cool, but you'll need proper input devices at least for setting up the system.

Now, putting the system into a vehicle is another subject on its own

The nice thing about miniITX boards is that VIA (and resellers) sell a DC-DC converter to snaps right onto the board, utilizing minimal space in the case (space-case! ) The input for this DC-DC converter can be taken straight from the vehicle's cig. lighter. This is a much better method than using an AC inverter, I feel.

That should help you get started....I'm sure you've already checked out mini-ITX.com for projects that are similar. Even if u dont go with these boards in the end, the site has some cool projects on display that should give u ideas!

Besides that, there ARE two books that are available on ebooksclub.org that should also help you out with ideas, suggestions, etc: 'Geek My Ride' and 'Car PC Hacks'. I've read very little of either, but they seem really useful for this thing......

Finally, the cost factor - I'm not gonna list out crap, but to give u a rough estimate, my senior design project (with touch-screen LCD, which cost the most) cost us around $1500 US (roughly Rs. 67k).

Have fun with your project, pal! Hope my 2 cents helped u out some....if not, sorry for being redundant!

Peace,
'Vez

Oh, and one more thing.......Media Engine 2 and above is a nice front-end as well.

Never used Centrafuse before....how is it?
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Old 19th October 2006, 09:05   #17
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This is an excellent thread. Remember guys, it's the ICE section, In car entertainment, Not necessarily AUDIO. I'm enjoying this discussion very much, well done. In this case, I am learning, not teaching.

We have many IT professionals who are a part of this forum, if they would chip in, it would be nice.
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Old 19th October 2006, 09:34   #18
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You are all set to go then! Dont worry too much about heat as long as you have a decent air circulation system inside the box. Processors can run at 100 degrees for quite some time without crashes etc., and as soon as your fans start things will be okay. The only thing that worries me is that how will motherboard perform under heat as they are not as tolerant to heat as the processor.
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Old 19th October 2006, 10:57   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vezj420
The nice thing about miniITX boards is that VIA (and resellers) sell a DC-DC converter to snaps right onto the board, utilizing minimal space in the case (space-case! ) The input for this DC-DC converter can be taken straight from the vehicle's cig. lighter. This is a much better method than using an AC inverter, I feel.

Never used Centrafuse before....how is it?
you're right about the ac invertor, its simply inefficient
well we guys normally use a dc-dc vehicle atx power supply with ITPS, allows you to startup & shutdown the carpc based on the ignition position/accessory line. it also needs a variable voltage input so that it can your pc can survive cranks without rebooting. also tapping power for this from the cigarette line adaptor is not a very good idea, it all depends on how much power ur pc draws actually, but u'd be better off running a line with an inline fuse straight from the battery or maybe from a distribution block if you have an amp installed etc.
you can download a trial version of centrafuse at www.fluxmedia.net
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Old 19th October 2006, 11:05   #20
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I would consider using laptop/portable parts for this as laptops are more rugged. for example I would use a 1.8" hard disk similar to the ones used in Ipods. Also such components require less power.
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Old 19th October 2006, 11:06   #21
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No one has mentioned anything about shielding so far. Ordinarily you would have a steel chassis / case around your PC but are you doing that here? Also, if you have powerful speakers or a large sub nearby would that cause any EMI effects?
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Old 19th October 2006, 11:15   #22
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Good point on shielding! A metal case frame will provide adequate EM shielding, but a strong magnet could crash the HDD.
Another point would be to have the chasis grounded properly. you dont want static buildup. It kills electronics in a jiffy.
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Old 19th October 2006, 11:20   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajitkommini
No one has mentioned anything about shielding so far. Ordinarily you would have a steel chassis / case around your PC but are you doing that here? Also, if you have powerful speakers or a large sub nearby would that cause any EMI effects?
using an enclosure/chassis would definitely help
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Old 19th October 2006, 12:21   #24
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If one was doing this one could use sheilded speakers to keep the HDD safe. One would still need proper isolation etc... to prevent ground loops and other noise.
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Old 19th October 2006, 12:25   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajitkommini
No one has mentioned anything about shielding so far. Ordinarily you would have a steel chassis / case around your PC but are you doing that here? Also, if you have powerful speakers or a large sub nearby would that cause any EMI effects?
I am using a mini ITX case thats metal based, i think mostly aluminium. It will do for the most part, the location is far from any speakers.
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Old 19th October 2006, 12:43   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vezj420
Wow, I was just waiting for the day someone would use a mini ITX for a car PC project in India! Good on ya, bro....
I think its already been done, look above for pics on the GPS system. He has yet to give the details but my guess is that its a mini ITX.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vezj420
I trust you should be able to put together the rest of the system on your own (ie. 2.5/3.5 HDD and some RAM). The beauty is, this is really all you need for a base, portable "multimedia PC". Oh yeah, don't forget an LCD screen with proper input interface (mouse/trackball, keyboard, etc.). For my project we got a touchscreen LCD - which was cool, but you'll need proper input devices at least for setting up the system.
I already have the whole thing assembled and running in my den for now. Primary input is through a 7" VGA touchscreen. I do have a small keyboard and a finger mouse but those will be hidden from view. I dont anticipate using those much after the initial install. I have a 40GB HDD and 1GB Ram in there for now. OS is XP which is NLITED and reduced to about 200 MB so its running pretty quick for now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vezj420
Now, putting the system into a vehicle is another subject on its own
Oh yeah this is a huge problem. I dont want to just stick the screen on my dash, i will be moulding it into the fascia to look like it came as a factory install (atleast thats the plan LOL). Thats why the shape of the dash is a pain, too curvy. I have been doing some cutting and shaping and i have managed a decent opening in there. I have a G variant INNOVA, no airbags, so the PC will go into the space behind the dash where the passenger airbag usually is.
Quote:
Originally Posted by vezj420
The nice thing about miniITX boards is that VIA (and resellers) sell a DC-DC converter to snaps right onto the board, utilizing minimal space in the case (space-case! ) The input for this DC-DC converter can be taken straight from the vehicle's cig. lighter. This is a much better method than using an AC inverter, I feel.
I am using a much better DC-DC power supply from Opus Solutions, its installed inside the case.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vezj420
Finally, the cost factor - I'm not gonna list out crap, but to give u a rough estimate, my senior design project (with touch-screen LCD, which cost the most) cost us around $1500 US (roughly Rs. 67k).
hehe i am not even going to get into this, i have crossed that line and am not really counting anymore. I do know i dont want to spend a whole lot more on the audio aspect, i am no audiophile so a decent audio is what i want.

I pretty much decided to jump on to this project after looking at Centrafuse, it is really slick and scores highest (in my opnion) for eye candy factor. Other than that its really well designed and put together, its going to be a commercial app but for now the beta vresions are free to try. Download it and take it for a spin, its nice.

cheers.
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Old 19th October 2006, 12:46   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979
You are all set to go then! Dont worry too much about heat as long as you have a decent air circulation system inside the box. Processors can run at 100 degrees for quite some time without crashes etc., and as soon as your fans start things will be okay. The only thing that worries me is that how will motherboard perform under heat as they are not as tolerant to heat as the processor.
Yes thats the case, i am not worried about the heat that much as the motherboard also has a thermal cutoff and will shutdown before the heat gets too damaging.

cheers.
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Old 19th October 2006, 18:23   #28
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Hey Guys,

Good thread, I am just about to start my Car PC project. Was just contemplating what parts i would be needing.
I am also interested in having more than one LCDs connected to the PC.
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Old 20th October 2006, 11:12   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ankur
Yes thats the case, i am not worried about the heat that much as the motherboard also has a thermal cutoff and will shutdown before the heat gets too damaging.

cheers.
nothing that a good fan on the cabinet cannot fix. with the AC on inside the car, i dont think motherboard heating should be a problem
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Old 20th October 2006, 11:42   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by netarchie
Hey Guys,

Good thread, I am just about to start my Car PC project. Was just contemplating what parts i would be needing.
I am also interested in having more than one LCDs connected to the PC.
Netarchie,

What you would need pretty much depends on what you what to do with the PC. On a basic level, you would need :

1. Main Computer (CPU/Motherboard/RAM/HDD/DVD), i recommend the VIA EPIA series for its size, low power consumption and low heat generation. The casing is important but most important is the power supply. You can go the invertor route (not ideal) or the DC-DC power supply route (ideal).

2. Screen - You can opt for a basic VGA screen as your main setup connected to the VGA connector and you can use the composite video output (on most motherboards) to connect another video screen or more using Y adapters. I recommend you use a touch screen as your main screen so you can control many of the functions without a keyboard /mouse, kind of hard to adjust the volume when you are driving .

Anything else is pretty much dependant on what you want to do, audio, gps, communication etc.

Post here what you plan to do with the carpc.

cheers.
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