Carputers

pgarner

TC ModFather
Moderator
Points
417
From
Lockerbie, SW Scotland
Car
Octy smoke machine
I have been looking at the possibility of getting a cheap second hand laptop to keep in the car so i can monitor the car through the diagnostics on a more regular basis.

came across the idea of a carputer. basically its a semi decent spec computer that has better tolerances to being knocked about. connected up to a touchscreen monitor, which would take the place of the double din space in the center console. this would mean losing the cdplayer up front. on the plus side there are programs that are designed to work in cars to give access to radio, music, videos, dvds, gps, etc through the touchscreen buttons.

now for my question does anyone have anything similar to this or have they seen one system working ?
dont really wont to be saving up around £600 for the system then to find that its not really that good and slow
 

obi_waynne

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887
From
Deal, Kent UK
Car
A3 1.4 TFSI 150 COD
This is a great idea. Why not stick with a laptop get a small 12" - I got a Dell D400 from sterling-xs.co.uk for just £250 and this would be ideal (get one with a marked screen for heavy discount and wire it up to your ICE monitor). You can probably run it from under the passenger seat or footwell.

Use a power inverter to power the laptop or get a special in car charge adapter.

It has a vga out so you can have a screen in the car. Then add a USB Bluetooth and get one of those mini keyboards (logitech) I think with a built in track ball - hey presto a complete in car computer.

Add a 3G data card for internet access as well £10 pay as you go (or bluetooth throught your Nokia Phone modem!) If you are happy with the speed etc then spend out on the screen for the dash.

A mac mini is the right size but you will have software issues.
 

pgarner

TC ModFather
Moderator
Points
417
From
Lockerbie, SW Scotland
Car
Octy smoke machine
that might be an idea certainally cheaper. would prob be able to built the whole thing up for £400. already got a inverter from when i had the ps2 installed so thats not a problem as long as the laptop can accept modified sine wave ( the vaio cant ) otherwise its a car charger job.

yeah did see one where someone had used a mini mac and installed it where the cdplayer should have been and had grafted the screen into the dash.

will check out that website and see whats on offer. did look at mini laptops but they only have a max of 4gb hard disc and not much else.
 

obi_waynne

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Points
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From
Deal, Kent UK
Car
A3 1.4 TFSI 150 COD
Those EEE pcs are tiny but seriously underpowered. They are more of a mobile internet device than anything useful. The 12 inch screen is a good size - long battery life and decent size keyboard.

You can always add a bigger hard drive - the 2.5 inch drives are pretty cheap and are plug and play usually.

This is more of Glaymores field - might be worth asking him for some pointers.
 

paulgolding

Torque Junkie
Points
67
From
Thanet
Car
vw t4 caravelle 2.5
I looked into the car computer thing. I had a 7" monitor fitted into e36 with a dvd in glovebox. The computer goes in the boot. As you said, can be controlled by touch screen or wireless mouse/keyboard.

All your music can be put on hard drive, plus with divx (I think) half hour video is about 200mb so lots of videos/movies can be stuck on the hard drive.

I just liked the idea of everything being in one place and being able to access it easily.

was it something like this . . .

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/12-24volt-Car...hash=item260162876158&_trksid=p3286.m14.l1318
 

paulgolding

Torque Junkie
Points
67
From
Thanet
Car
vw t4 caravelle 2.5
you don't really need anything major to play music or show videos on a 7" or so monitor.

Not sure on car diagnostics though, but again, can't imagine you need the top of the range quad core ??
 

pgarner

TC ModFather
Moderator
Points
417
From
Lockerbie, SW Scotland
Car
Octy smoke machine
no vagcom only requires something like a 500mhz pet 3 and something silly like 64meg ram. most movies would require more.

trying to read up on how hard it would be to wire up an auto on so it switches on with the ignition. this is with a 2nd hand laptop. hoping to get one for around the £200 if possible.
 

paulgolding

Torque Junkie
Points
67
From
Thanet
Car
vw t4 caravelle 2.5
surely you would just connect the invertor via the terminal on the ignition switch ?? . . or would the invertor demand too much current ?? In that case, some sort of relay switch ??
 

pgarner

TC ModFather
Moderator
Points
417
From
Lockerbie, SW Scotland
Car
Octy smoke machine
no the power supply is easy enough just connect a realy to the ignition, the problem would be switching the laptop itself on. on my current one it requires just a quick press off the button more than 2 seconds shuts the thing down.

as funds are a bit low at the min i might just wait and keep an eye open see if a actual car pc itself turns up cheap. if you can get them for around £350 new then theye might be a few 2nd hand ones turn up.
 

paulgolding

Torque Junkie
Points
67
From
Thanet
Car
vw t4 caravelle 2.5
of course !! I see what you mean now !! I would imagine that would involve tampering with the laptop internals.

Happy hunting !! I have seen second hand car pc's going in the past. One will probably pop up soon
 

pgarner

TC ModFather
Moderator
Points
417
From
Lockerbie, SW Scotland
Car
Octy smoke machine
yeah i have turned up a full system in the past no longer wanted for £300 inc screen but no software (scrubed the harddisc)
cheers might have it by the end of the year hopefully gota get the remap done first
 

obi_waynne

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887
From
Deal, Kent UK
Car
A3 1.4 TFSI 150 COD
Surely the laptop could go into a low power sleep mode with a wake on keyboard press. There is also a wake on Lan option where a signal on the LAN cable will pull the computer out of hibernation.

I saw a tiny bluetooth USB card which was little bigger than a USB plug on Misco.co.uk
 

pgarner

TC ModFather
Moderator
Points
417
From
Lockerbie, SW Scotland
Car
Octy smoke machine
i really wanted it to wake along with the iginiton. did think about using the lan connection and connecting the correct wires to a switch.
got 2 bluetooth dongles anyway and currently only use one. the other should still be in its box.

have been playing about with some front end software and it pretty fast working. quicker than the cd player can find the song.
 

HDi fun

TC ModFather
Points
637
From
Buckinghamshire UK
Car
Passat 2.0 TDi
Can't you just skip the battery all together and power the laptop directly from the car's 12v DC rail? Most laptops with built in NICs will do wake on LAN or keystroke, although I'm not sure this will work with a USB keyboard in all cases. If you equip it with WIFI you can completely update your media from indoors whilst the car is parked outside.
 

HDi fun

TC ModFather
Points
637
From
Buckinghamshire UK
Car
Passat 2.0 TDi
One thing you might want to consider is a solid state HDD. These are virually immune to mechanical shock and vibration. They're also very very economical with power, which may overcome the need to actually power off and reboot the thing each time to start and turn off the car.

Next consideration is OS stability.

Do you really trust XP Media Center (or any other edition) for such a purpose? I wouldn't.
 

obi_waynne

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Points
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From
Deal, Kent UK
Car
A3 1.4 TFSI 150 COD
Good old WINDOWZ! Linux is a good OS but not much in the way of software support. Although you can get media players and open office for it. VAGCOM is still very much a PC only application.
 

HDi fun

TC ModFather
Points
637
From
Buckinghamshire UK
Car
Passat 2.0 TDi
I dunno Waynne - over the last 2-3 years the Linux world has grown enormously in terms of S/W support. If you pick a distribution for your intended purpose then it's great. But if VAGCOM insists on a MS environment then it has to be Windows.

Shame, really. Although the traditional Microsoft and BG baiting is a bit overdone now. Mr Gates is not a criminal as some paint him to be.
 

obi_waynne

Administrator
Staff member
Moderator
Points
887
From
Deal, Kent UK
Car
A3 1.4 TFSI 150 COD
Its come a long way since DOS, GEM (anyone remember that?) and windows 3.11 with its 12 3.5 inch floppy disks to install.
 

HDi fun

TC ModFather
Points
637
From
Buckinghamshire UK
Car
Passat 2.0 TDi
I do remember the lot. Worked in IT since 1989.

Microsoft BOB anyone?
CP/M?
Windows NT 3.2 - 4.0?
IBM's System 3x/400 range?

It wasn't that many years ago when we were fitting desktops with 40Mb (yes, Mb not Gb) hard drives. Most kit now ships with 1Gb of RAM as a minimum.
 

pgarner

TC ModFather
Moderator
Points
417
From
Lockerbie, SW Scotland
Car
Octy smoke machine
ok i remember dos.
Lots of questions there

HDI you can get DC-DC 12v and 5v power supplies for computers to run them in the car. With regards HDD it seems to be the laptop drives that more secure than the conventional 3.5" HDD.
the carpc runs directly off the same as a stereo. live, ignition earth and remote
these run pretty low power anyway 150w seems to be the biggest ones you can get mainly 120w or 90w. think some allow it to hibernate when the ignition is switched off and shut down if the voltage starts to drop low. car prob would be set up for Wifi as it could be a pain taking it out and copying everything over then refitting. my router gives quite a good range (my phone can still connect across the street)

OS prob use XP pro as have a copy sitting around at home somewhere. vista is still a bit temperamental and seems to restart itself alot during the nights, doesnt say anything about important updates
not likely to use big programs with it. word excel media player of some sore (using KM Player at the mo) Vagcom and a incar front end

Yeah my dads last computer was bought in '98 came with a 4gb hard disc and 32mb ram 233mhz. bought my laptop for around the same price 120gb hd. 1gb (2x 512mb) and 1.6ghz twincore desktops are getting crazy for the same price
 
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