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Old 18th October 2006, 11:46   #1
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Default Car PC setup, install and some fabrication

Hi all,
I have been lurking on this site for some time now but i have never written, so i am still a newbie here. I decided to register and start this thread on a project i have been working on for some time.

I plan to install a computer in my Toyota Innova for an ICE replacement. Covering basic entertainment, communications, navigation etc. After planning the project for a couple of months i now have a fair amount of clarity on how to do this and also have most of the needed goodies by now .

The Innova poses an additional challenge, its big but has very few nooks and crannies, cubby holes to hide stuff so bulk of my planning was based on what to put where. Another problem was the really pain in the *** front fascia, they have a crazy design for it and also its not flat (curves out towards the middle), that poses a problem for placement of the screen. I think i have that sorted out for now.

What i was wondering was, if there is any interest in such a setup i could update my worklog here and write about the equipment used etc. I will be doing that on another site but i can do it here too.

Also if there is anyone who has done something similar or is planning to do something like this i would love to share ideas and discuss the subject in more detail.

cheers.
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Old 18th October 2006, 13:05   #2
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A PC in a car ... WHY THE HECK WUD U WANNA DO THAT ??? Ive heard of extreme ideas but according to me this is the extreme of extremes ....

As for ideas Im sure you will get pllenty of advise around here ... if you look around genuinely !!

Keep us updated and Gud Luck !!

Cheers ...........
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Old 18th October 2006, 13:28   #3
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Why the heck ? Because it can be done . Its actually not that extreme in the US and lots of people are into it. Basically it offers anything a conventional ICE system would and more. Besides it has many more options for expansion than any closed end system in the market and offers some form of future proofing.

cheers.
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Old 18th October 2006, 13:35   #4
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Hi Ankur,

Many people have installed PCs in their cars successfully - this was more common in the pre-iPOD days when inexpensive portable MP3 players were not so common. Couple of things that spring to mind are

1. Vibration issues: Hard disk drives are pretty sensitive devices and not very resilient to vibration and shock. Make sure that you install some sort of damping or shock absorbent material to take care of this

2. Cooling: If you plan to use a standard desktop type PC it can get pretty hot. If you install it in a closed space you'll definitely run into problems with overheating. Make sure there is enough space around critical components such as processor, power supply, HDD etc. You could install additional fans it runs too hot.

3. Power supply: Do you plan to use the car battery to run this? If it's a desktop it could consume quite a bit of power. A laptop would run more efficiently though. Plus it would be more resistant to shock and heat issues as well

Good luck and let us know how it goes!
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Old 18th October 2006, 13:50   #5
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a PC in a car is really an awesome idea.i read somewhere sometime ago on a website about how one can incorporate the home pc into a car.i will look for that.you can multi-tasking and integrated loads of stuff!
will come back with more info
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Old 18th October 2006, 14:49   #6
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Here's a link to website of a guy who did it:

http://www.ryanspc.com/carmp3/

Basically a Pentium 233, 64MB of memory, a 10GB hard drive in a case mounted under the front passenger seat, 6-inch LCD screen mounted in the dash and an amp/speaker setup.
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Old 18th October 2006, 14:54   #7
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1.8" Hard drives seem much more tolerant to shock (witness the ipod). Today you can get 80GB. By 2009 you'll get 200GB. an one can always string a few of these together for more storage.

There are many carputer projects on the net. I would guess they should offer you enough information and inspiration. Just be careful and dont operate a computer and car at the same time.
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Old 18th October 2006, 15:20   #8
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hmm Interesting idea.
The best and most satisfying way(and the most difficult one too) would be to assemble your own.
There are some points which you need to be careful about
1. Processor: Go for a good cooling solution. Inside of a car can get pretty hot when parked in sun. Since its mostly ICE etc., and not much hardcore computing, go for a processor which can be underclocked. A dual core mobile will be great as you can underclock it and since in normal state it gives better than needed performance, you can go for slower clock speeds
2. ditto for memory. Run the FSB at a lower clock frequency
3. Make sure you have poweful air cooling in the case which can quickly dissipate heat. Another solution would be to have some Air conditioning output redirected into your system with intake fan, that will solve all your heat problems. But you still have the problem of car standing in sun. Make sure you use high quality thermal gel between heatsink and CPU so that at continious ambient temparatures of 60 degrees things do not start getting bad.
4. HDD : This is the most crucial part. Even laptop HDs may give problems due to shock. So 1.8" is a good idea. but your bios and motherboard should have the capability of booting of such an HDD. If you can get a SATA case for a IPOD type shock resistant HDD it will be great
5. Power supply : Very very crucial. You need a high quality regulator. Get one custome made. your simple SMPS which is used in PCs converts AC to 5V and 12V etc., You need to see on your motherboard what all supplies are needed. Based on that you need to get a 10-14V input to 12V and 5V output regulator. Getting it made will be a good idea. Nehru place will be a good place to start.

If you were in the US it would have been easy sourcing the parts. The assembly is quite easy, and fitting is also not much of a problem.
But in India, sourcing the exact spec parts will be a problem. for example, try getting a motherboard which supports 1.8" SATA drives. You will get it, but it will be painful. Esp with requirements like software underclocking support etc., This is your biggest hurdle, rest all is easy.
Infact once the car is started, with AC working and fans dissipating heat, you can take the CPUs to full power.
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Old 18th October 2006, 16:29   #9
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already done that in my indigo, posted in the gps thread here & here . will post more details shortly.
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Old 18th October 2006, 16:39   #10
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I actually posted in the Mods thread as my project covers more than just entertainment, it has navigation, communications, OBD connectvity and reverse camera functionality among others, but this forum will also do .

Apologies first, i didnt specify how far ahead i already was so let me answer some of the points raised by various people :

1. I already have made most of the purchases, the main system is a VIA EPIA C7 board and cpu. Its a low voltage low heat system, ideal for cars. I also have 1GB ram on it although thats PC4200 (533mhz).

2. I am using a 40GB notebook hard disk, those are better at shock and vibration protection. Most of the people using such drives in the cars have not had any problems, not to say i wont. Funny thing is, last week my hard disk in my laptop died, while i was working on it sitting on a table. So i will take my chances. Long term this this will be replaced with a flash disk or a solid state disk once the prices fall and capacities rise.

3. The power supply is a special car DC-DC power supply especially for this purpose. It puts the system on standby when you switch off the ignition and back on when on. It also monitors the voltage of the battery so if the voltage falls below a certain level, it shutsdown the system.

Almost all the equipment is sourced from USA i wouldnt find anything here, i tried .

cheers.
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Old 18th October 2006, 16:40   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajitkommini
Here's a link to website of a guy who did it:

http://www.ryanspc.com/carmp3/

Basically a Pentium 233, 64MB of memory, a 10GB hard drive in a case mounted under the front passenger seat, 6-inch LCD screen mounted in the dash and an amp/speaker setup.
Try this : http://www.mp3car.com , look in the forums.

cheers.
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Old 18th October 2006, 16:44   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979
Another solution would be to have some Air conditioning output redirected into your system with intake fan, that will solve all your heat problems.
Bad idea. Condesation will kill most of the PC. I have a couple of months of cool weather to try and setup the whole thing before i need to worry about the heat in Summer. I do have some plans for improving air flow to the system and will see how that goes in the summer.

cheers.
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Old 18th October 2006, 20:00   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shldn
already done that in my indigo, posted in the gps thread here & here . will post more details shortly.
Great work, I look forward to the details. I see you are using Centrafuse, its the same front end i plan to use.

cheers.
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Old 18th October 2006, 23:10   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ankur
2. I am using a 40GB notebook hard disk, those are better at shock and vibration protection. Most of the people using such drives in the cars have not had any problems, not to say i wont. Funny thing is, last week my hard disk in my laptop died, while i was working on it sitting on a table. So i will take my chances. Long term this this will be replaced with a flash disk or a solid state disk once the prices fall and capacities rise.
To boot the OS you could try using some sort of flash disk(use your HDD only as a data store), a nice elegant way maybe one of those DiskOnMemory(DoM) modules (these are small little thingies that look like RAM sticks that plug into your IDE slot and look like a normal HDD to the computer).

another option is to buy an IDE-Compact flash adaptor and put a CF card in it..this one too looks like a HDD to the computer. the cheapest way might be however to use a USB stick booting off flash disks would shave a few seconds of the bootup time too!

btw which EPIA did you buy? the nano-ITX or the mini-ITX? and which OS are you plan to going to run on it?
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Old 19th October 2006, 00:04   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by techn0l0gist
To boot the OS you could try using some sort of flash disk(use your HDD only as a data store), a nice elegant way maybe one of those DiskOnMemory(DoM) modules (these are small little thingies that look like RAM sticks that plug into your IDE slot and look like a normal HDD to the computer).

another option is to buy an IDE-Compact flash adaptor and put a CF card in it..this one too looks like a HDD to the computer. the cheapest way might be however to use a USB stick booting off flash disks would shave a few seconds of the bootup time too!

btw which EPIA did you buy? the nano-ITX or the mini-ITX? and which OS are you plan to going to run on it?
Hi,
I do have a IDE CF adapter but i have decided to bypass that for now. The case i am using is very small and i want to minimize what all i put inside it. I will wait for a decent size SSD to come at good price and just replace the HDD.

I bought a mini ITX , the EN15000, pretty much the fastest board i could find .

cheers.
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