Here you will find out about the hardware I have used for v4 of my CarPC. Where I can I have given you information as to how good the product is and others that do the same job.
My Screen – TFT 7″ In Dash Manual Pull Out Screen
This Non-motorized is packed with features such as USB Touch Screen, VGA and Video inputs, 1 din installation size.
Touch screen consists of a 4 wire resistive touch panel and the latest USB controller. Touch screen is very accurate and easy to use. Remote control operates some of the functions of the monitor and has Left/Right swivel action which I find really useful. After all the problems with the K301 I was glad to get some thing reliable and well built although I do have a few niggles. First of all it is well built – when sliding the unit away it feels solid and you get a firm ‘click’ to indicate it is locked in place. Pressing the eject button also gives a similar response how ever I do feel that the springs behind it are a little too enthusiastic. I would advise you to make sure that it is correctly fitted as any play ( or wobble ) you get will be amplified when mobile.
Fitting the screen was easy enough how ever I was a little bemused at the instructions and found the ‘ignition’ cable a waste of time as the screen is not capable of auto on even though a software hack. I also found the power cables a little thin and a pain to fit but they should be able to carry the ampage none the less. I also like the idea they both the video and power looms can be detached from the screen allowing for easy removal should the need arise but with out having to de-cable every thing.
The scenes performance although just slightly less than the K301 is still far better than my old Lilliput and although it has the normal high reflection rate due to the touch screen like many others with the ability to swivel this screen to the side or even up and down it is easily over come.
OK – Problems…. ok – the touch screen is the only major problem I experienced. First of all the drivers have to be a certain version as the newer ones do not work well ( and this includes the bundled ones ) with out restarting them each time. So Ric355 came up with a solution on MP3car.com which I asked Konfoo to take one step further so that this process was hidden. The app basically watches for a reboot or a return from hibernation / stand by and simply closes and restarts the touch screen calibration program in the back ground. Simply starting it fixes the problem…. which tbh is very strange and my only issue with not giving this screen a 9 out of 10 for function or even a 10 out of to for value although I do think the inclusion of a reversing camera function would have made this unit a mega winner imho.
One further modification I did was to remove the ‘steal me’ logo on the front of the screen when its closed. Top that off I don’t like the 7″ TFT screen logo as I think it spoils the look of the dash. To do this I simply unscrewed the four screws on the back of the screen its self when extended… ( tip a work with a cloth underneath to prevent scratching the screen ) and then gently prise open the two halves of the main body. The panel with the button and logo should slide out easily then. Once its open push the logo out from behind – its only a bit of stick tape so does not take much effort – paint and then re-assemble. I used the same colour of my dash surround so as you can see it blends very nicely and is very easily missed.
So to sum up if you want a in dash screen that’s reliable at this time then this is the one for you – motorised are getting better but do seem to have a high failure rate due to a number of reasons.
- Panasonic LCD Panel
- Screen Size: Diagonal 7″ (16:9)
- Native Resolution 800×480
- Supported Resolution: 640×480~1280×768
- Dot Resolution 2400×480 = 1,152,000 (dots)
- Brightness: 400 cd/m2
- VGA Input (1x 15 pin D-SUB)
- 2 Video Inputs (2x RCA)
- Power Input: 12V
- Consumption: 8-12W
- Non Motorized with Left/Right Swivel
- Remote Control
- 1 Din; will fit in most cars and trucks
- In-dash Monitor
- Remote Control
- (VGA, Touch Screen, Video and Power)
- LCD Monitor: Length 7.5″ (190mm) x Width 7″ (179mm) x Height 2″ (50mm)
In all 8 Out of 10
My CPU / Motherboard Etc – TheVIA EPIA MII-Series Mini-ITX Mainboard
The complete Digital Home Platform integrating CardBus and CompactFlash for seamless wireless connectivity, enhancing digital media performance and media portability.
Providing the signature low profile, minimal noise and reduced power of the VIA EPIA series on a 17 by 17cm small form factor, the VIA EPIA MII Mini-ITX Mainboard is an “all-in-one” entertainment platform geared to the digital home. The VIA EPIA MII-Series easily slots in to a digital home infrastructure providing a vast horizon of applications that feature sophisticated connectivity including wired or wireless media servers, mobile PCs, receivers for the living room and beyond.
The VIA EPIA MII is available with the fanless VIA Eden™ ESP processor for ultra low power, quiet or silent system designs, or the VIA C3™ processor for rich media-intensive applications. Enhanced multimedia performance is further delivered through the VIA CLE266 chipset featuring integrated VIA UniChrome™ 2D/3D graphics and an MPEG-2 accelerator with motion compensation, along with support for the greater memory bandwidth of DDR266 SDRAM and the high transfer speeds of ATA-133.
An array of modern storage and connectivity options are supported, including onboard CardBus, CompactFlash, and a PCI slot. The VIA EPIA MII also offers support for the latest in high bandwidth connectivity through IEEE 1394, USB 2.0 connections, as well as S-Video and RCA TV-Out (NTSC & PAL) and 10/100 Mbps Fast Ethernet. The VIA EPIA MII also offers support for a number of embedded LCD panels and is fully compatible with Microsoft® Windows® and Linux operating systems. The VIA EPIA MII can be fitted into a full range of Mini-ITX chassis as well as FlexATX and MicroATX enclosures and power supplies.
This is a great board as it gives you that PCMCIA and a Compact Flash port with out the need for a large board or using that valuable PCI port. I chose it specifically for this reason rather than a faster 1.5mhz board as I planned to use my TDK Trueblue BT card with it and a Voom case.
- VIA EPIA MII-Series Mini-ITX Mainboard Specifications
- Model Name – EPIA-MII12000
- Processor – VIA C3™/ VIA Eden™ EBGA processor
- Chipset – VIA CLE266 North Bridge & VIA VT8235M South Bridge
- System Memory – 1 DDR266 DIMM socket and Up to 1GB memory size
- VGA – Integrated VIA Unichrome AGP graphics w/MPEG-2 Accelerator
- Expansion Slots 1 PCI
- Onboard IDE – 2 X UltraDMA 133/100/66 Connector
- Onboard Floppy – 1 x FDD Connector
- Onboard LAN – VIA VT6103 10/100 Base-T Ethernet PHY
- Onboard Audio – VIA VT1616 6 channel AC’ 97 codec
- Onboard TV Out – VIA VT1622AM TV Out
- Onboard 1394 – VIA VT6307S IEEE 1394 (Optional)
- Onboard CardBus / CompactFlash – CardBus Type I & Type II
- Ricoh R5C476 II / R5C485 CardBus Controller
Back Panel I/O – 1 CardBus Type I and Type II slot +1 CompactFlash Slot
- 1 CompactFlash slot
- 1RJ-45 LAN port
- 1 PS2 mouse port
- 1 PS2 keyboard port
- 1 Serial port
- 2 USB 2.0 ports
- 1 VGA port
- 1 RCA port (SPDIF or TV-Out)
- 1 S-Video port
- 1 1394 port
- 3 Audio jacks: line-out, line-in and mic-in (Smart 5.1 Support)
Onboard I/O Connectors
- 1 USB connector for 2 additional USB 2.0 ports
- 1 Front-panel audio connectors (mic-in and line-out)
- 1 CD Audio-in connector
- 1 Buzzer
- 1 FIR connector
- 1 CIR connector (Switchable for KB/MS)
- 1 Wake-on-LAN connector
- 1 LPT port header
- CPU/Sys FAN/Fan 3
- 1 Connector for LVDS module (Optional)
- 1 Serial port connector for second COM port
- ATX Power Connector
- BIOS – Award BIOS – 2/4Mbit flash memory
- System Monitoring & Management – CPU voltage monitoring
- Wake-on-LAN, Keyboard Power-on, Timer Power-on
- System power management
- PC power failure recovery
- Operating Temperature – 0~50°C
- Operating Humidity – 0% ~ 93% (relative humidity; non-condensing)
- Form Factor – Mini-ITX (6 layers) – 17 cm x 17 cm
In all 7 out of 10 ( Would be Nice To Be Quicker )
My Power Supply – Mini-Box 160w M2 With ATX PCB
The M2-ATX is an high powered vehicle 12V DC-DC ATX Power Supply. It is similar to the M1-ATX but with a higher wattage. Likewise, this power supply is designed to provide power and to control the on and off switch of a motherboard based on ignition status. The M2-ATX power supply is capable of surviving tough engine cranking down to 6V, as well as transient over-voltage situations. M2-ATX has 8 user selectable microcontroller driven timing modes that allow you to choose up to 8 ignition/shutdown timing schemes. By removing all user-selectable jumpers, M2-ATX becomes a traditional PSU with no ignition control and it can be used in non-vehicle applications. The PC still consumes a few hundred milli-watts even when your machine is switched off. This is needed to monitor the PC’s on and off status. If the computer is in the sleep mode, the memory needs to be powered at all times requiring more power. The power consumption in the suspend mode is a few watts. Regardless of battery size, it is possible that your battery will drain in a matter of days. Whilst in deep sleep mode, the M2-ATX constantly monitors your car battery voltage levels. Thus preventing deep discharge situations by automatically shutting down until battery levels reach safe levels again.
- 160 Watt Output
- ATX, 6-24V wide input range
- Ideal car Power Supply for operating low power P4, P4-M, Celeron, AMD systems
- Intelligent shutdown controller
- On and Off Motherboard control
- Battery deep discharge prevention
- Survives vehicle engine cranks
- 15A Automotive fuse (mini-blade)
- VIA, P4, and AMD CPU Support
- This power supply ensures that there are no more dead batteries, no need to restart during engine cranks and has multiple timing schemes.
- Width 1.77″ x Length 6.31″ and is less than 1″ high. The same version of microcode will run on both M1-ATX and M2-ATX.
- 160W M2-ATX PSU
- 20pin ATX Cable extender plus HDD and Floppy power (9inch)
- Power input cable harness terminated in 0.25″ (12inch)
- 2 x pin M/B on and off power on control wire harness (9inch)
- 3 x Jumpers to control various power sequencing schemes
- 1 x ATX Voom Case PCS Connector
To view the User Manual Click Here
In all 8 Out Of 10
My Case – The Mini-Box VoomPC ITX Case In Black
The voomPC (TM) automotive (car, boat, electric cart) enclosure is a small, rugged car PC (carputer) enclosure designed to work in harsh environments such as dust and high temperatures. Made our of massive 5.5mm extruded aluminium profile, the voomPC (TM) car PC (carputer) enclosure was designed to work with any type of mini-ITX motherboard (170x170mm) from fan less configurations such as VIA mini-ITX or Pentium or low power Pentium-M processors, making it the ideal car PC solution. This car PC / carputer enclosure is specifically designed to work with the M1-ATX car PC automotive power supply series. The VoomPC car PC (carputer) enclosure can take one or two 2.5″ drives, mounted on silicone rubber shock-mounts and is recommended for use with a the mini-ITX board EPIA MII 12000. The VoomPC enclosure + M2-ATX + EPIA MII 12000 makes the perfect carputer / car PC combination and provides the lowest cost car pc solution to date. Its very easy to install your hardware how ever a flexible IDE adaptor is needed due to the space restrictions. I also found that until I got this right I was trapping the bladed from the fan … I did not know this and every time I took the case out after hanging and over heating it seemed ok. Its also worth pointing out that the unit I had seemed to include soft screws and too much pressure severed the heads of causing a few unplanned problems.
- Dimensions : 263mm x 215mm x 75mm
- Installation Tutorial : Support / Manuals
In all 9 Out Of 10 ( Would love to see an mATX Version )
From Cartft.com / Mp3car / Custom Car Computers / Karputer / Linitx / Digitalww and Mini-Box
My Navilock GPS / RDS TMC Receiver
I got this GPS experiment with TMC ( Traffic Data ) how ever due to some licensing problems in the UK as there is a new provider ( RAC TrafficMaster ) I have not been able to find any software that supports it. Hopefully Freedrive or even Cetrafuse will support it as the codes ( locations are based on codes which equal junctions or crossings of roads ) how ever Destintors current version ( on which Freedrive & Centrafuse are based on ) requires a 3rd app called Trafficsam so I’m not sure where it will all fit.
I have tested its reception of the TMC data using SendGPS so I know it does work, its just so frustrating that there is no app I can use to utilize this or any Internet based data feeds.
As a GPS it works very well and holds and signal very well and I have no cuase for concern at all although the USB adaptor you need to buy with it is fairly big.
In all 7 Out Of 10
My Sound Card – A Sound Blaster USB
I went do the USB route as I could digitally move the sound from the rear of the car to the front with out any interference. This was needed because due to some length issues I ended up running my power and data cables side by side. The Sound Blaster MP3+ is also know for not having any hibernation or standby issues as well, top this with the powered USB hub in the dash it means its very easy to install and run. The drivers are in built in Windows XP how ever I would recommend you download the latest driver set from Creative any way. I got this unit from EBay for around £25 how ever they are now harder to find so keep an eye out.
- 100% Sound Blaster-Certified Audio
- Bass Boost – No more puny bass! Bass Boost it for that extra punch that your music deserves
- 10 Band Equalizer – Really make it “your” music. The 10-Band EQ gives you total flexibility in personalizing the characteristics of the music you listen to
- CMSS 3D – Expand your audio experience over stereo speakers or headphones. Turn normal stereo sound into virtual surround sound. Movies never sounded so good over headphones
- SVM – Avoid huge jumps in volume with Smart Volume Management. The volume of MP3s encoded at different levels will be automatically adjusted so you get an even volume across across your whole collection
- EAX effects – Give your music or recordings some ambience by adding real-time effects such as Concert Hall or Arena to recreate the listening environment you want.
9 out of 10
For more information visit Creative
My TMobile MDA ( Kjam ) ( For Internet connectivity on the move )
This was a highly anticipated handset in the UK and in fact most of the mobile world. The main reason I bought it was because it came with a contact from T-Mobile that included 40Mb GPRS … Web N Walk. In fact so successful this tariff has been they have just released a new one with up to 3gb of data per month for next to nothing compared to other providers.
Any way – its not a bad handset, although can it be a bit flaky and a bit slow and comes with a complete keyboard built in along with WIFI and on mine a 1gb card.
- OMAP850 – 195Mhz, with two cores: An “ARM926EJ-S™ core for applications processing and TI’s EDGE digital baseband modem.” (from TI’s site)
- 2.8″ QVGA (240×320), 64k color, transflective screen
- *Windows Mobile 5.0*
- WiFi: 802.11b & *802.11g*
- GSM 850/900/1800/1900, GPRS, *EDGE*
- 1.3 megapixel camera with 2.0 megapixel software interpolation and flash for night shots. (optional in some models)
- Bluetooth v1.2 compliant, implemented via the Microsoft stack. Does not support BT 2.0 Enhanced Data Rate.
- Bluetooth *A2DP* Profile support since ROM 18.104.22.168 (Wireless Stereo)
- Slide out keyboard which is backlit (when opened the screen flips automatically to landscape mode)
- Bottom loading telescopic stylus
- Built-in stereo speakers
- Stereo output for headphones
- Internal antennae
- Standard miniUSB/1.1 jack
- 1250mAh Li-Ion battery
- i-mate K-JAM manual PDF
In all 7 out of 10 ( A bit slow at times )
For more information visit xda-developers.com
My D-Link Airplus 2.4Ghz Wireless PCMCIA Cards DWL-650+
- 32-bit CardBus interface for pc-host (pc-card type II)
- Maximum speed of 22Mbps
- IEEE 802,11b (DSSS) 2,4GHz standard
- Internal Aerial
- Ad-hoc or infrastructure communication
- 64/128/256-bit WEP-coding
My Bluetooth Adaptor
Note: Profiles subject to change dependant on new Bluetooth profiles being approved 3 SCO channels
In all 6 out of 10
For more information visit TDK.com
The Media Remote RF Control ( Also Known By x10 or a Fire Cracker )
This custom RF remote comes with everything you need to add control to pretty much any application you may be writing. It comes with a USB RF receiver, and you can download drivers as well as source code and test programs online to help you integrate support into your program. This remote is silver in colour and has everything you need to put yourself in control of entertainment. All the buttons are clearly labelled with symbols that most everyone knows; this means even people who have never used the remote before learn how in just minutes.
You will notice that each button has a few functions. When you press search for example, you can type letters in just like you do on a cellular phone, once the search is done, the buttons return to their normal functions. The use of multi-function buttons allows the remote to be very small in size.
Since the remote uses RF technology there is no need to aim it at a receiver, just be within 15 feet of it. It uses radio frequencies to transmit to the included receiver which hooks to your computers USB port. You may also want to have a look at Girder – the application has a control set just for this remote, look for ‘Fire Cracker’. Finally the remote is very small at only 6.25″ x 2″ x 1″ in size – very well worth the money.
In all 9 out of 10
My Portable Keyboards – PS2® MINI-key & PS2 Number Pad
This mini USB key board was originally for use with Sony PS2’s how ever because it is USB it works just like a normal PC keyboard but its a lot smaller. The downside how ever is that a couple of keys such as Del is missing which means you can not do a control alt delete when needed.
That been said I do tend to use the XP ‘On Screen Keyboard’ a lot ( c:\Windows\System32\OSK.exe ) as I find it very useful but again that too can at times have some keys missing i.e. ‘\’.
I also have a PS2 ( as in PC connector ) number pad too. The reason for this is its small and if you look at it all the keys you need to access your BIOS and change any config or even press enter when that pesky hibernation file needs deleting are there. Best bit was it cost only a few £ as I got it from Ebay.
In all 7 out of 10
My DTT ( Or Digital TV ) Receiver
This product comes with an infra red remote control capable of controlling all the features of the TV receiver. This item is supplied with all power connectors and AV connectors required to fit the unit into the car and connect to a screen. Ok so its slightly cheating by not being an actual CarPC item but that’s because a) there is nothing out there that can do this for a PC as it is and b) I wanted it to work independently any way for the kids in the back. I do plan to add a Girder interface for it a later date so it can be controlled by the CarPC but thats in the future. In the mean time I would say this is an average unit with average reception even when connected to a full house aerial and unfortunately I have yet to test it at speed. The very nature of DTT does make it difficult to hold a steady signal and if you are making a long journey you will have to search for channels a number of times. This is unlike a analogue system where you would just tune up or down.
That been said its good enough for occasional use and if your using 7″ screens the quality of picture should be more than suitable – after all its not a home cinema is it ?
- In car DVB-T TV tuner
- Overall dimensions (mm): 145 (W) x 167 (H) x 28 (D)
- AV Output Jack and leads
- External remote control cord
- In-car power connection lead (12V)
- 4 way video output
- Infra-red remote control
- External antenna input and output
In all 7 out of 10
For more information about the services it receives please go to www.freeview.co.uk
My Analogue TV Receiver
- PAL Multi System.
- Colour/Contrast/Brightness Adjustment.
- 1-6 Channel Selection.
- 2 x AV inputs (i.e. for Playstation / DVD).
- Optional Navigation System ON/OFF.
- Dimmer Control Level.
- Remote Control Included.
- Left and right image selector
In all 3 Out Of 10
The Extra Passenger Screen
I chose a portable region-free DVD player for the passengers to watch movies on the move and form me to use at home. It has a stunning design with 8 functions with a 8.4″ TFT LCD screen. It also came with 300 GAMES provided on a CD with two joysticks. You can also watch the TV channels or listen to FM Radio with its built-in antenna or connecting it to the external aerial. It is fully compatible with Mpeg4/Divx. With the rechargeable battery, car power adapter. It integrates 8 functions into 1 unit: DVD, MPEG4 (DivX), Analog TV receiver, FM radio Receiver, plays USB disc, Game, AV input/output.
- Play MPEG4 (Divx) disc or MPEG4 (Divx) file on USB disc
- Play DVD / SVCD /VCD/ DVD-R/ DVD+R/DVD-RW/DVD+RW
- Play MP3 / CD / CD-R / CD-RW/
- Built-In TV Receiver (World TV System: NTSC/PAL/SECOM/AUTO)
- Built-in FM Receiver
- Read USB flash disc or USB mini fix disc
- Over 300 Games with two joysticks
- AV output / input function
- Wireless transmission to Car Audio
In all 7 Out Of 10
The Hi Gain Antenna
- Active booster (Connects to 12VDC, ground)
- 2x glue strips for internal car windows
In all 4 Out Of 10
The Reversing & Forward View Cameras & CarTFT Reverse Sensor
This camera is easy to install. Simply plug RCA Video Jack to your car monitor and connect 12V (red wire) and ground (black wire) to the power.
- RCA Video Cable and Power Wire Provided
- No Connection Problems with any car monitor
- This camera is water proof and comes with a quality compact metal housing
- One of the smallest and most compact cameras on the market specifically designed for rear view systems
- Crystal clear resolution: 628 x 582 (420 lines)
- 100 Degrees wide viewing angle for safety back-up of Jeeps, Vans, Pick-Ups, Estates, or any vehicle
In all 6 out of 10
Rear camera view switcher (automatic)
- Monitor picture will be changed to rear view CCD camera automatically when the reverse gear be switched.
- Dimension(L x W x H) : 82x60x25mm
- Connect 1 or 2 video (PAL/NTSC) sources to this switch and your camera. Then connect the switch with the vehicle rear light power (12VDC). The switch then automatically will switch to the camera view, when the rear gear is shifted in !
In all 6 out of 10
Kenwood KDC-W6527 ( My Head Unit )
In all 9 out of 10
For more information visit Kenwood
Power Cabling For The System
To power all this I used AWG wire and the easiest way to do that was buy a kit. Mine came from CPC and only cost around £24. The kit contains most items you need and some you don’t. Running from the battery though the fire wall is the mains and to get the ground I took that from a local screw point in the boot area. The ignition was sourced ( fused of course ) from the existing stereo’s DIN connector. Its important to note where possible run the power cables away from the audio and video cables. In my case I was unable to do this so to clean the sound up a little I have installed a ground loop isolator and a USB sound car located at the front of the car.
Included in this kit 60 Amp
- 5m x 10mm2 red power cable
- 0.5m x 10mm2 black earth cable
- 10m x 1.5mm2 OFC speaker cable
- 5m blue remote cable
- 5m directional double screened phono cable
- Gold AGU fit fuse holder (terminated to cable)
- Gold plated AGU fuse 60amp
- Fitting accessories bag containing gold plated speaker and power terminals
- Screws and cable ties
In all 7 out of 10
For more information visit CPC