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In car PC


GBMUD
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So who has an in-car PC? I am guessing that people who frequent internet forums are more likely than average to own such a device.

What do you use it for? MP3s? Nav? Tesco online? Browsing the forum? Office tasks? Surfing for porn when stuck in traffic/fiddling with your 'Mega-squirt'?

What size HDD, memory, screen size, touchscreen, OS, internet connection? Roughly what would a setup cost?

Thanks

Chris

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I use it for mega squirt fiddling. Got a 2GB solid state harddrive, double din lilliput 7" touchscreen, some old motherboard in a plastic enclosure plus intelligent PSU

I have unbuntu on it and installing the OS was a complete nightmare.

£130 screen

£30 PSU

£20 box

£15 Mem chip

£40 SSD harddrive

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I have one in my comp motor. In total it cost around £450 to build including the touchscreen.

The PC itself is built into an IP67 enclosure so if/when I get into deep water the PC survives (sadly not the touchscreen though so I try to avoid going dashboard deep !).

It's used for all sorts. It's main use is for navigation and I have developed an overlay that runs with oziexplorer to allow waypoints (punches) to be entered extremely quickly. Not such a big requirement for most of todays "winch trials" but for real challenge events it's a real time saver. It's linked directly to the main vehicle GPS (Garmin 128) so it uses that to provide the location and, if need be, waypoints can be uploaded to the GPS. As well as navigation it's used for MegaSquirt duties, MP3 source, playing DVDs. It also has all the technical manuals installed and wiring diagrams for my vehicle.

I'm using a normal 2.5 inch laptop hard disk, been running it for about 5 years now and the only failure I had was when I didn't put the lid on properly and then drove into a river a few weeks later... had to replace just about everything in the PC as a result :(

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£240 on eBay (probably less now), runs WinCE (TJN has one running OziExplorer, says it was dead easy), has ~7" motorised touchscreen LCD, comes with SiRF-III GPS mouse and navigation for the whole of europe (rest of world is available in the same package), has SD card for nav software + SD slot for music etc., USB port, CD/DVD drive, bluetooth connect/streaming, 3x A/V inputs including auto-switched reverse camera input, A/V output to rear headrests (rear can watch a DVD while front sees OziExplorer), 4x50W, auto-dimming when you turn the headlights on, AM/FM tuner, TV tuner (new ones have DAB/DVB too), IR remote control, plays CD, DVD, MP3, AVI, etc... and it fits in a single DIN socket:

eonon1.jpg

I wasn't expecting it to be any good but 1st weekend I had it it navigated us into the centre of Brugge and back flawlessly. I'm pretty damn impressed with it really, it even sounds good. The blue illumination is tacky but if I get really bored I'll get the soldering iron out and fix that.

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David - no idea, google will know though :P

My other nav setup (in the 109) is:

Itronix IX250 toughened touchscreen laptop (~£100 or less eBay), plus SiRF-III GPS mouse, plus OziExplorer. I put more RAM and a ~160Gb HDD in and it's taken everything I've thrown at it (three trips to Russia now). I like the fact it's dirt cheap, if it gets damaged I won't be upset. I may replace/supplement it with one of the double-DIN in-dash ones from eBay just 'cos I think they're really rather neat.

My other other suggestion would be Panasonic CF18 Toughbook, a bit neater/lighter/more modern than the Itronix and early ones are around £150 on eBay now. My work laptop is a Mk2 (1.2GHz) version and my home laptop is an early (900MHz) version, they're not as "bang nails in" hard as the early toughbooks (CF25/CF27) and Itronix but they are good enough for most people.

My other other other suggestion is to see if Jez has any Xplore tablets left, 'cos they're pretty neat.

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Hi chris,

I reckon you're looking at around £450 - £500 to set up from scratch if you are building yourself a set up.

This would include all the hardware you would expect - case, motherboard, DC-DC PSU, 2.5" HDD, Touchscreen, GPS receiver - plus if you are using it with audio then you would also need an amplifier (assuming your current head unit doesn't have an aux input ;) ). Don't underestimate the amount of cabling you will need it soon adds up!. All the software is 'free-ware' if you know where to look.

A really good site for sourcing parts and for costing is here:

http://linitx.com/

And this forum, although generally aimed at 'boy racers', has a wealth of useful information on it:

http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/

I have had a set-up in the 90' now for around a year which was in my car for a couple of years before this. The only problem being that the mud console mounted screen is at the wrong angle and so not easy to see in bright daylight, and recently the cold has caused the hard drive difficulties when booting. It runs full blown XP, Memory Map and X-Nav fine and even has a WLAN link to my network at home for ease of loading software, gps way points and music etc. - which I can remote desktop from the comfort of my living room to the truck rather than trying to do everything from an on-screen keyboard on a 7" screen!

I would seriously consider an IP rated enclosure and SSHD for LR use and think carefully about where the screen is going to be mounted.

If you go down the notebook route then your options are only limited by cost and the fact that you need to take it with you when you park up!

Hope that helps,

Dave.

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I've created two in-car PC installations.

Both are centred on a DELL L400 laptop, with a 12" screen, running Windows XP to SP3.

In one case the PC was hidden under the seat and cabled to a Lilliput Touch screen. I started with a 7", then upgraded to 8". I made the bracket for the screen myself, and customised the power wiring to the PC.

Overall I can't say I found it a positive experience, although monitoring car activity via Rovacom was successful.

I never had much success with navigation applications.

Since then the conditions of use of my car has changed.

At the moment the PC is mounted on a standard floor mounted bracket, in a different car. The PC is opened flat out, sitting vertically in front of the fascia.

I have never used a Navigation application in this application. I do connect a GPS receiver to the PC and use Memorymap, following a pre-plotted route. Sometimes this is plotted in detail, sometimes it's just a general direction line up to 1/2" away from the road, enough to guide me through junctions.

I feel this use has been the most successful.

What do you use it for?

MP3s? Nav? Tesco online? Browsing the forum? Office tasks? Surfing for porn when stuck in traffic/fiddling with your 'Mega-squirt'?

None of those.

What size HDD, memory, Don't know, screen size, touchscreen,, OS, see text, internet connection? No.

Roughly what would a setup cost? Don't know really. The PC was free, I bought both touchscreens. The current installation cost the price of the stand, which I think was recommended on this site.

If I was to install in a modern car, and decided I could put up with the small screen, I'd be sorely tempted to go for the DIN sized unit pictured earlier, or an equivalent.

The biggest problem I see with a in-car PC is that I'm a right handed driver in a RH drive car, so the PC screen or keyboard is never 'to hand' (the correct hand).

When I'm a passenger I use an in-car PC, but it's a 14" laptop. It can convert to a tablet, and use a touchscreen, but I find it easier to use it as a laptop, on my lap. When I have to get out of the car to open a gate, say, I just close the PC and drop it between the seat and the transmission tunnel.

I've never had an equipment failure due to in-car use, although I never undertake the competition / challenge activities Dave W does.

HTH

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Used a Sumicom car computer with Liliput touchscreen, and ran centrafuse and Garmin MobilePC (ace)(Maplin were selling software plus dongle for 50 quid).

I found a pice of freeware through one of the car pc forums which modified the dislplay slightly keeping the audio player controls visible in a top bar so you could change track/volume etc while running Garmin.

Sadly the HD died a bit after taking a battering on North African roads, so when we get back I'll try again using a solid state pc.

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Compac T1000 Tablet

Has MegalogViewer Megatune, Road Sat Nav (Navigator 8) Off Road (Memory Map - Ord Survey)

Cheap as cheaps off ebay, on Home made bracket, ACTIVE Pen, ie ONLY a pen will work it, so mud :ph34r:

"Joining" the screen does nothing :)

http://forums.lr4x4.com/index.php?showtopic=21468&view=findpost&p=254736

HTH - theres quite a lot in the thread linked to :) ?

HDD 20GB

512Ram

XP Tablet (have discs :rolleyes: )

£150 Ebay PC 11" screen

£15 Ebay Waterproog GPS

USB to Serial Convertor £35

Batteries for Active Pen :lol: £1

Note : Never ever bothered with T'internet on it, so although old Tech the Operating Syastem is stripped down to light,

plus no antivirus, no firewall, no slowy down system :D ?

Nige

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Thanks everyone for your input. I had always thought that they were a lot more expensive than they appear to be. I like the idea of one fitting in the DIN form factor with the fold away screen - or even just a fold-away screen connected to a larger box of tricks behind the seat.

The reason for my curiosity was that I have recently acquired a used iPad. I had not considered it as an alternative for an in-car PC setup but it seems to do the vast majority of the stuff people do with in car PCs and a whole load more besides, and all for a similar price to many in car PCs. I have installed the MM app on it too (£9.99) and it seems a bloody good solution and uses all the maps I already own.* The one thing it needs though, and which I may have to spend money on, is turn-by-turn sat-nav - the TomTom app is only for iPhone. ...but for the cost of good sat-nav software, TomTom included, one could buy a stand alone TomTom device.

Of course, like a tablet PC or laptop, one downside is that it will have to be removed each time the car is left. Is this not an issue with a fixed touchscreen in a LR too though? Surely that just screams 'Steal me' to any passing scroat (who I assume will not know it is only the screen)?

If anyone knows of good off-line sat-nav for an iPad I would be keen to hear. ...yes, I know I could jailbreak it and go the illicit route. ;)

Cheers

Chris

* - If you have an iPad3G/iPhone and are looking at the MemoryMap app, do not be too put off by the negative comments/ratings in the AppStore. I think that they refer to an earlier version of the app and do not reflect the quality and functionality of the current update. I am very pleased with it so far, and though it is not as feature packed as the full PC version, it is IMHO, much more usable than the WinCE/palmtop version. Time will tell, and anyway, it is less than a tenner!

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How do you equate the size of the iPad screen with 'In-Car PC'?

My take is that an in-car PC has to have a screen that is readable by the driver, while driving (throw in the normal safety caveats of course).

If it needs stating, I think any phone screen fails that test, on the grounds of size.

I use Memorymap (Pocket Navigator) on my Smartphone, but only while walking, to confirm my position via GPS.

Are you sure you didn't start this thread just so you could insert the line "I have recently acquired a used iPad".

:-)

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Chris,

Any screen can be 'moulded in' as part of the build so that it becomes like an OEM screen - you would have to destroy the dash to get at it which would also wreck the screen!

In terms of cost - it depends what you want the PC to run. Pretty much any old M-Board with limited RAM will run nav software and play MP3's for example. The only specialised bit of kit would be the DC-DC PSU which cost no moe than £40.00 inc VAT (or you could use a cheapy invertor), add a GPS mouse for around £30.00 and your good to go - The software can get expensive if you follow the correct (and legal) routes but there are freeware versions of nav software around - have a look on the CarPC websites, a number of the posters are software writers that produce applications specifically for Car PC use. Google is your friend!

Of course the easy way is to buy a purpose made bit of kit with properly developed software - but this will cost you, and is kind of out of the LR bodge-it/fab-it/make-it work way of thinking :P

Dave.

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How do you equate the size of the iPad screen with 'In-Car PC'?

My take is that an in-car PC has to have a screen that is readable by the driver, while driving (throw in the normal safety caveats of course).

If it needs stating, I think any phone screen fails that test, on the grounds of size.

I use Memorymap (Pocket Navigator) on my Smartphone, but only while walking, to confirm my position via GPS.

Are you sure you didn't start this thread just so you could insert the line "I have recently acquired a used iPad".

:-)

An iPad screen is quite a lot bigger than most of the touch screens used on in car PCs at just a smidgen short of a 10 inch screen (most in car PCs use 7 or 8 inch), it's also much higher quality (132 ppi at 1024x768), than most of the touchscreens being used. I assume you're confusing it with an iPhone ? The iPhone actually makes quite a good "in car PC" but the screen is, as you say, a bit small.

The main downside to using an iPad to my mind is the difficulty of adding an external GPS. While the internal GPS is pretty good on the iPad it's not as precise or as quick to update as an external GPS. You need the more expensive WiFi + 3G model to use the GPS. There are people using them quite successfully though and they'll do just about everything else an in car PC is normally used for. You'll even be able to fiddle with your megasquirt with it soon :) - http://mobisquirt.org/

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You'll even be able to fiddle with your megasquirt with it soon :) - http://mobisquirt.org/

That looks pretty cool - I do not do Megasquirt though. :) With accelerometers and GPS in the iPad you could even make it tune it's own custom map by accelerating repeatedly up a specific hill and measuring acceleration in a set position...

Chris

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I've just got an HTC Desire HD, and there's an Android app to allow you to display your legitimately-obtained MemoryMap files. The screen is just over 4", which is fine for turn-by-turn nav (also bundled with the phone) but it's not big enough for convenient and detailed mapping - though I'd challenge the idea that an OS map is simple enough to read in detail while you're driving, on any size screen.

The big selling point for a phone-based option is that I already "need" a phone, so might as well combine the two applications. Much as I don't want to like the iPad though, they are rather tactile. :)

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When I mentioned iPad earlier in the thread I thought wasn't being picked up on.

It's brilliant for memory map - my thoughts are:

The screen size and touch use is really good

The GPS on ours seems very good

Memory Map works beautifully - though it takes GPX files for overlay and for some reason I can't convert my MMO's and get them to work

I haven't worked a good way to mount it yet

I'm not sure how robust / fragile it is

There is a free turn by turn nav for it called navfree that is supposed to be very good?

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