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Put a computer in my car?

  1. Mar 25, 2005 #1
    How would one go about doing this. Any suggestions. I would really like to do this. Would my cars batery handle this? I would obviously have to convert the dc to ac. But what else would I have to do? I want the speakers in my car to be hooked up to the computer too.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 26, 2005 #2


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    Ok, several ways to do this ranging from cheap to quite nice.

    A simple inverter will plug into the cigarette lighter and give you 120V AC power on a standard household plugin. Can be noisy when interfacing with the audio system but the computer won't care because the power supply will filter it out. Simple and cheap, but a little dangerous if the inverter doesn't have a GFCI type circuit to protect you.

    For the speakers, a cassette tape adapter that runs off the 3.5mm audio output plug would work, or an FM modulator using the same 3.5mm audio plug. Simple and pretty cheap too.

    Best solution is a DC-DC power supply that takes the varying car voltage and regulates and filters it for computer use. Expensive, expect $150+.

    Also best audio solutio is there are a few adapters to interface auxillary audio sources with many radios using the CD changer input. Expensive too, expect 100+ and some a lot more than that!
  4. Mar 26, 2005 #3


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    If you're going to do this, you really want to do it properly!

    Forget cassette tape adapters and FM modulators, just make sure your car stereo has an audio input and you'll be singing. Most of the setups I've seen have a SFF PC cleverly mounted under the passenger seat, with easy cable routing for power and audio, though this is by no means the only option. If you get really clever there are ways of using your dashboard mounted stereo as the CD/DVD drive for the PC, and even ways of interfacing a touch screen display with all your Winamp (or whatever) controls there just sitting on your dashboard.

    Do you only want a PC in your car for audio purposes? You really want to get a wireless network card in the car-based PC so that you can park it outside your house and upload music onto it!

    If you're wanting to use it for on-the-fly remaps of your ECU then there are plenty of people specialising in this.
  5. Mar 26, 2005 #4
    Take a look at Mini-itx computers also. Small, inexpensive, low power, runs cool, no fan needed on some models, good enough for a car system. Most of the consumer variants have a hardware DVD accelerator on the motherboard and some have PCMCIA/CF slots built in. You could--if you were so inclined--build a minimum linux system and install that in a large CF or PCMCIA memory card and run audio/video to your hearts content.

    Swing by mini-itx.com (british site) for more info. I have one I use for home networking and I love it. It's smaller than my DSL modem, and I have never had a problem with it. Via supports Linux more than most motherboard manufacturers which is a plus in my book.

    Good luck.
  6. Mar 26, 2005 #5
    this guy: http://web.njit.edu/%7Ecas1383/proj/main/ [Broken] does custom fiberglassing, and somewhere on his site has a bunch of links (i'd assume under "Links") to a forum dedicated to people putting computers in their cars. apparently its pretty popular, probably quite pricey, but have fun!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
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