I'm putting a computer in my car. No good reason other than I can.
Here's a list of the hardware:
I bought a Via EPIA M10000 (Nehamia) from the the fine folks at Mini-Box. It has an on board floppy controller, 2 ide controllers, VGA and TV video out. 100 mbit lan, USB, keyboard, mouse, sound, serial port, 1 pci slot, and other feature which I can't remember. It's got everything you'll need a very lower power small form factor. I populated mine with 256Mb of PC2100 memory and added a 20GB hard drive.
I also got the power supply from Mini-box. One of the biggest concerns for an in-car computer (besides where to put it) is the power supply. The 12V output from the battery can go from less than 10V during cranking to over 14V while the car is running. This makes getting a stable 12V a difficult task. Some supplies like the Sproggy or OPUS boost 5V to 12V to solve this problem.
I started with a PW70A / ITPS combo. The PW-70A (right) is designed for the VIA EPIA-M motherboard. It provides cool, silent power for your mini-ITX motherboard. It's specifically designed for the mini-ITX form factor, and thus eliminates the need for an ATX power supply or power inverter. Just hook it up to your battery and go!
The ITPS is a combination power sequencer and Low Dropout Voltage regulator. The purpose of this device is to provide a clean 12V supply to the PW70A. This is important since the PW70A doesn't regulate 12V, it just passes it straight thru. The power sequencer is designed to turn the supply on and after the car is started. and turn it off when the car is turned off.
I happen to have another battery (an Optima Yellow Top) already installed, so the dropout while cranking is not a problem. My computer DOES survive cranking! When the car is off, the system thing runs for a while, then the whole thing will going into a deadly reboot cycle. I suspect that the Via motherboard is detecting a 'brownout' of the 12V and resetting the system. Fully charged, by battery reads 12.6 volts, not enough to supply a constant 12V at the input to the PW70A. I'm going to bridge the solder bumps on the ITPS and see what happens.
UPDATE 03.07.2004: The systems works fine with the ITPS bypassed! I'm not using any 12V devices, and don't find the power sequencing to be of much value either. So, I've removed the ITPS entirely, and am selling it on Ebay.
I'm using MediaCar and Win2K.
I replaced the factory AM/FM/6-CD changer with a Pyle PLCD42. It was cheap. You get what you pay for! Sometimes this new radio will lock up if I power cycle the car too quickly, then I have to remove the faceplate and reset the whole unit -- oh well, we'll see if we can resolve that problem another day.
UPDATE 03.10.2004 After pulling and re-installing the radio, I haven't had any more reset problems. I take back everything bad I said about the Pyle. It's living up to the $59 that I paid for it!
I used to have an ITPS, but once I bypassed the regulator, I couldn't see keeping it around, so I removed it completely. I mounted a button on the dash, and connected it to the front panel switch on the motherboard. When I want to turn it on, I push the button. When I want it off, I push the button. SIMPLE! If I forget, I've set the automatic power down settings in windows to hibernate if the machine has been idle too long.
I've also installed a 'kill' switch that completely removes all power coming into the system. If my car's parked at the airport for a long time, I'd hade to come back to a dead battery.
I also have a 'scheduled event' that runs a .bat file every morning at 5am to copy last nite's David Letterman from my PVR computer to my car -- nothing better than watching, errrr listening, to David in the morning on the way to work!!
Here's some more installation pictures.
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