Carputer is actually a mini computer which is installed in a car.Many people think that a Carputer is only a show off..And I also got so many comments like that.."What is the use of a computer in a car? Can we use that properly? And many more....
And the answer is not that simple too.In short,we can say that a carputer has immense possibilities.
Following are its uses.
- Carputer is an all in one media player.We don't have to carry our CD bags with us all the time.All these goes into the HDD.
- It can play every format of media.Even if a new format is on the way,we can play it by installing a codec.
- OBD2 Scanning:We can get the real time information like the fuel consumption,speed etc by using an OBD2 Scanner.We can even clear those 'Check engine Codes'.
- We can even add DSP effects by just tweaking it using Softwares(most of them are expensive though)
- It supports IPOD connectivity,wifi(wifi dongles are cheap.)
- We can use a GPS receiver for the Navigation.And some maps are even free to download.
- And remember it can act as a small office too.
Now getting into the main part,Building a carputer
As I've already said,a carputer is a mini computer.So we need to buy all the peripherals required for building a Computer.The main two parts are PSU and the Monitor.Rest of the parts are available in local market. Powering the Carputer.
We have two options.
1)Use a 12V DC-DC PSU.
2)Use an inverter and connect the the existing PSU to the car through this.
But I recommend everyone to buy a DC-DC PSU,because inverters can spoil the sound quality due to interference.How many of us will tolerate that Hiss sound from speakers when we're listening to a soft music?
A 160W PSU is enough for a basic carputer.And PSU with a shutdown timer is an added bonus.It shutdowns the computer if we remove the key from key cylinder.So even if you forget to switch off the carputer,the battery wont be drained.All this depends upon the connection of PSU.A PSU usually has 3 pins.One should be be connected to Battery+ and other to the negative or ground.The third should be connected to ACC.This wire controls the shut down timer.If we connect this wire to the amp. remote wire of HU,the PSU will shut down the computer when the HU is switched off. Monitor
A touchscreen monitor would be better as it will be difficult to operate the computer with other input devices while in car.A 7 inch or 8 inch will be a perfect fit for the 2din space. Motherboard and other components
Micro ITX boards are preferred as they need only a small cabinet.But mini ITX boards can also be used.
And as the processor,an intel atom is enough.Multicore processors can be used if u need more computing power.For the sound,the onboard sound card is enough or we can go for a usb soundcard.Cabinets can either be bought or be made as a DIY.For that you can use acrylic sheets.
Hard Disk: For a carputer,an SSD is the best choice as it can withstand higher g's and shocks..Others type can also be used if we need a budget carputer.
For the CD/DVD drive, go for those external drives as it can play all those CDs on the go.
If you have a HU with AUX In,you can connect the computer directly to it using a audio cable.Otherwise you can get an adapter and connect it to the amplifier directly.
There are many softwares/front end for a carputer.Centrafuse is a good one.Others include media engine,media car,In car Terminal etc. (to be continued)