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Discussion Starter #1
Well guys, im in the process of downsizing a spare computer I have in my house.

Pretty much my idea is to get a touch screen LCD monitor that might be able to fit in car. Might have to manufacture a custom faceplate for the stereo unit. i love this idea because it makes it able to add on unlimited things to my system. I was thinking of using it as a GPS as well with a GPS receiver. Im just wondering if there are any adapters to get a Amplifier to be hooked up to the Line Out. I might need a SoundCard for that. I am stripping away all the bulky cartrigues and unnecessary cables that I have hooked up to the computer.

Pretty much I just need the MiniComputer for three uses:

- Audio Output (Most likely will use Winamp or Windows Media Player)
- Video Output (Of course, to watch Movies and any kinds of media. Will use POWERDVD)
- WOW factor (Pretty much to show off to friends and for my own purposes :p)

The current specs on the computer are:
- Intel P4 3.0GHz
- 60 GB HD
- 2 GB RAM
- Ati Radeon VideoCard 256MB
- 16x DVD Burner Drive
- CD Drive

I will find a way to use the current power supply and hide it somewhere where its can't get damaged and seen, but if i have to, I might have to find an aftermarket "mini" power supply. I've seen them and I know FRY'S Electronics sells them around here. This project will take me a few months to complete since I currently don't have the full funds to complete, but once I get them, I will start to integrate it into the car.

=========== Problem #1 ============
Right now I will be stripping it and making it as small as possible. The first single problem with this modification will be bootup time, if I do everything right and find a way to boot up like friends Windows XP computer, I might be able to boot it up within 1 minute.

=========== Problem #2 ============
What do you guys recommend I do about this? I might have to find a way to make it easy to shut this thing down quickly. I know Windows XP has a configuration option where it lets you change what the power button does; such as SHUTDOWN, SLEEP, RESTART and ect.

The keyboard I will be using will be a mini keyboard (http://www.nextag.com/Mini-USB-Keyboard-Silver-88655354/prices-html?nxtg=15a240a24052c-F9187380862918AE) that will be hooked up via-USB port so I can use it when necessary.

Anyways, this is alot of work but what do you guys think about this project? I have to find a way to hook it up to the cars JBL system, any ideas on this?

thank you guys, always helpful and real!
My friend made something like this but quite not so elaborate. He used a laptop system to get it to work.
 

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MP3car. com Car computing 101 is a good place to start as well as their forums and wiki.

But in regards to your questions:

1. Only install necessary drivers and software, some have settings to run at startup (to make them load faster when you actually start the program). Read up on slipstream XP installs to find out what exactly needs to be installed to run.

2. Enable Hibernation, this power shutoff setting takes all the info stored in ram and saves it to the hard drive on shutdown so the computer will start up faster. if a normal startup takes 1 minute, hibernation will cut the time in half on average.
 

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I wouldn't use a full sized computer if I were you. You could run into problems with heat and space constraints. I would recommend an Intel Atom powered mini-itx computer. You can get dual core Atoms that produce virtually no heat and they don't cost much. Not to mention the majority of them come with built in sound cards and video cards and even wifi on some models.

I would also steer clear of windows if you're looking for speed. You'd be better with either an "instant-on" os or some other light version of linux. If you compile a kernel to meet your specific needs, boot time could be kept really low.

I can give some more pointers if you need any help.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I have thought of using Linux but then again, who really would use it. I am using windows for one purpose. Ease of Use and compatibility with other programs. This is what I had planned since the beginning.

Hibernation setting could be a good choice. As far as the whole heat issue, I have a wonderful little tool for that, I have attached a picture to show you what I mean about that :). Pretty much, 4 3in Fans that I can easily turn on and off at will. It has a switch and can easily be integrated to my cars wiring.

Im planning on having the board set in the trunk where the spare tire is, and run cables to the front of the car. I work at a computer joint so i can grab whatever i need from there, which makes the job a whole lot easier than anyone can think.

But again, im open to ideas on how to integrate. What would you do for display? i don't want anything fancy or over the top with this, just something I can work with.

I was thinking of moving my EATC controls somewhere else as well to make room on the oval faceplate for the touchscreen monitor.
 

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I have thought of using Linux but then again, who really would use it. I am using windows for one purpose. Ease of Use and compatibility with other programs. This is what I had planned since the beginning.

Hibernation setting could be a good choice. As far as the whole heat issue, I have a wonderful little tool for that, I have attached a picture to show you what I mean about that :). Pretty much, 4 3in Fans that I can easily turn on and off at will. It has a switch and can easily be integrated to my cars wiring.

Im planning on having the board set in the trunk where the spare tire is, and run cables to the front of the car. I work at a computer joint so i can grab whatever i need from there, which makes the job a whole lot easier than anyone can think.

But again, im open to ideas on how to integrate. What would you do for display? i don't want anything fancy or over the top with this, just something I can work with.

I was thinking of moving my EATC controls somewhere else as well to make room on the oval faceplate for the touchscreen monitor.
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I know a computer nut that stuck a laptop in his mustang. What he did was mount the laptop in the trunk and mount a touch screen panel in place of the stereo. He ran all of his audio out of the headphone jack with a cable that changes from 1/8 inch stereo jack to dual RCA cables (can find it at any radio shack). He just used a media program to run all of his music and it was pretty sweet. He also got this nifty wireless remote that he could just point at the screen and it would give him a curser to click on things if he didnt wanna touch the screen.

He even went a little further and hooked up some relay pc boards to the serial port (i think? maybe it was the USB) He could move the curser to a button on the screen and pop the trunk or lock/unlock the doors. It was a pretty cool install for a 1994 mustang, although it would have been better if the install hadnt been worth more than the car lol the poor thing was falling apart.
 

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I have thought of using Linux but then again, who really would use it. I am using windows for one purpose. Ease of Use and compatibility with other programs. This is what I had planned since the beginning.

Hibernation setting could be a good choice. As far as the whole heat issue, I have a wonderful little tool for that, I have attached a picture to show you what I mean about that :). Pretty much, 4 3in Fans that I can easily turn on and off at will. It has a switch and can easily be integrated to my cars wiring.

Im planning on having the board set in the trunk where the spare tire is, and run cables to the front of the car. I work at a computer joint so i can grab whatever i need from there, which makes the job a whole lot easier than anyone can think.

But again, im open to ideas on how to integrate. What would you do for display? i don't want anything fancy or over the top with this, just something I can work with.

I was thinking of moving my EATC controls somewhere else as well to make room on the oval faceplate for the touchscreen monitor.
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If I had to install a car pc somewhere, it would have to be under the passenger seat, reason being is that in the summer it gets really hot and I can only imagine what would happen to it in the trunk, at least in the cabin with have A/C.

Look into parts built of laptops, like hard drives. They are made to withstand shaking and temps better then the larger drives in desktops.

As for monitor, touchscreen on dash models due to EATC, but if you are ok with moving the EATC, then a in dash is good.

In dash model
On dash model
 

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Get a mini itx board like mikeo007 said. Build off of that, it will be MUCH easier to mount, possibly up under the dash.
Creative XFI is a must, and hook it up to an external amp for the speakers. Don't even bother with the JBL unit.
For the screen, get a LCD that will fit inside the oval and fit it in. Gut out the controls for the HVAC. Get some relays for the blower speed, a servo to control the mode, and a variable resistor for the blend air door actuator.
Wire this all up onto a board with a controller and plug it into the itx board. Then just write some code to run all that and make a HVAC popup. Hell you could integrate a thermal resistor and write up your own EATC system.

Note: You need to really know your stuff to do something like ^^^^, not for your average modder. If school didn't take up all my time, this would be a reality in my bull.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Lost my job a few weeks ago so money is somewhat tight, but as soon as I get another job, I will continue with this project. Right now I am working on the motherboard. I am still using the desktop motherboard because i can't purchase the ITX board, plus I know alot about desktops so this will help me create and effective system.

I finished my cooling fans, what do you guys think? This is a very early prototype :p.
[attachmentid=28271]
 

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It looks fine, but you're going through way more trouble than you have to. Sell the P4 board and buy the mini. It's still a desktop board, just really small. Lower models can be had for under $100 and if you can't afford it now, then you're better to put off the project and do it right down the road. Conventional desktop components don't like heat, vibration or velocity, and you'll be dealing with all 3 in a car. Keep that in mind as well, you wouldn't want to go through the whole install only to have it fail a few days down the road.

I understand you wanting to do it your own way, but you did come here looking for advice so keep in mind that we only want to help :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I totally understand where you guys are coming from, and they don't call me Hard-Headed for nothing. xD, but trust me guys, I have this down. I am building my own platform for this project. I have bought some foam that will lay beneath the motherboard holding shell. from there I will use screws to hold down the hard-drive, power supply and any other necessary items.

I have all drawn up in a piece of paper, this is a fairly easy project. You should check out how my room looks like :p, I'll post a picture of how I want my project to look like when I get my phone back, the fiancee took it to work today xD.
 

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Can I at least convince you to use a solid state storage instead of a conventional hard drive? I guarantee that the hard drive will fail within 3000 miles. The vibration will just be too much for it. The only way to mount the hard drive to avoid vibration would be to have it floating on some sort of spring system. :)

Remember, even if you bolt it down to something, what's that 'something' bolted to? It will have to be attached to the car at some point, and the car vibrates, which transfers the vibrations to the hard drive. It won't survive, you'll have a head crash in no time.

Memory cards and a reader would cost $15-20.
 

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This is definitely a neat idea. But in my opinion, it would better, easier, and cheaper to just buy an in-dash CD player with a 7" LCD screen.
Plays music and movies, like you want, and most of them these days work with GPS receivers. Of course, they don't have internal memory like your computer would, but most in-dash players can hook up to MP3 players and iPods. Mine does all of this, and it only cost around $250.

A computer definitely has a "wow factor." Just seems like too much effort. Unless you have some other ideas for what to do with your computer.

Can I at least convince you to use a solid state storage instead of a conventional hard drive? I guarantee that the hard drive will fail within 3000 miles. The vibration will just be too much for it. The only way to mount the hard drive to avoid vibration would be to have it floating on some sort of spring system. :)
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This is a good point. And unless you have an advanced spring system (as in, you do a lot of physics to pick out the perfect springs and such), the hard drive is still going to move around.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Im looking into getting a mini-ITX board, cheapest I've found around the city is $49 which is pretty decent, but as you guys said about the hard drive, im looking for a anti-vibration screws for the hard drive.

If thats not the case, my girlfriend has a 16GB hard drive from a laptop, I might need to find a way to implement that into a desktop motherboard. So i pretty much have this ready to go as long as I can get these issues fixed. I need wire, the neccesary adapters, power converter to power up the board. But I can get that all cheaply.

Yes the WOW factor for this setup is something I am primarily going for, I know I can buy an In-Dash system, but its limited in the types of things I really want to do. A computer has unlimited possibilities as most of you do with your own computers.
 

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Im looking into getting a mini-ITX board, cheapest I've found around the city is $49 which is pretty decent, but as you guys said about the hard drive, im looking for a anti-vibration screws for the hard drive.

If thats not the case, my girlfriend has a 16GB hard drive from a laptop, I might need to find a way to implement that into a desktop motherboard. So i pretty much have this ready to go as long as I can get these issues fixed. I need wire, the neccesary adapters, power converter to power up the board. But I can get that all cheaply.

Yes the WOW factor for this setup is something I am primarily going for, I know I can buy an In-Dash system, but its limited in the types of things I really want to do. A computer has unlimited possibilities as most of you do with your own computers.
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a cheap solution for vibration is the rubber band and pencil. As long as the drive is horizontal, feed 2 rubber bands between the screw slots of a spare 5.25" drive and use 2 pencils on each side keep the bands tight. Fit the hard drive between the bands supported front and back.

Like so (they used elastic rope, but same principal):

[attachmentid=28316]
 

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Yes the WOW factor for this setup is something I am primarily going for, I know I can buy an In-Dash system, but its limited in the types of things I really want to do. A computer has unlimited possibilities as most of you do with your own computers.
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Gotcha. That was what I figured; that a computer can do all sorts of things. It just seemed that you were using simple computer parts that might limit your options. But yeah, if your looking into expanding your capabilities, then a computer sure is the way to go.
 

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Elastic bands is a ghetto solution :), but it would likely work for a while. A more elegant solution would be to get some kind of Compact Flash card, and get an IDE to CF adapter. 16 gig CF cards go for around abouts $25 and the adapters are pennies. CF has way faster random access speeds than a regular hard drive, so you'd have a faster system as well.

I'm also thinking, if you're set on using windows, I think you could probably get it to start without Explorer. If you got some simple app launcher and didn't need any web browsing or anything, you could get away without starting explorer. This would cut down on boot up time a bit.

A laptop hard drive can be connected to a desktop ide slot with a simple adapter, but it's still a hard drive and will have vibration issues, just not as quickly as a desktop drive.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
man idk why vibration is a big deal with you guys. I don't live anywhere close to where I have a lot of bad roads. I live in Southern California by Anaheim, so pretty much all roads are good. My suspension is good too, so im not too worried about it.
 

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man idk why vibration is a big deal with you guys. I don't live anywhere close to where I have a lot of bad roads. I live in Southern California by Anaheim, so pretty much all roads are good. My suspension is good too, so im not too worried about it.
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It's a computer thing, not a car thing. Mechanical storage is really sensitive to movement. I head crash takes 1 bump. I'm not going to go into explaining how a hard drive works, you can do whatever you prefer with the computer.
 

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man idk why vibration is a big deal with you guys. I don't live anywhere close to where I have a lot of bad roads. I live in Southern California by Anaheim, so pretty much all roads are good. My suspension is good too, so im not too worried about it.
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There's vibration regardless of road condition
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Update...

My girlfriend is giving me her old Sony Vaio laptop and im going to be using that system for my project. I am also going to buy CentraFuse frontend system to run the whole setup. $125 for an awesome front-end is really worth it. Screw my exterior sho front clip swap, im really interested in getting this system to work :).
 
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