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Thread: Where are Car PCs up to these days?

  1. #1
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    Where are Car PCs up to these days?

    Hi all,

    I've been out of the car audio/car pc scene for a while now...

    I used to run an in car pc around 7 years ago with a VoomPC case, M1ATX, 8" touchscreen, slotload dvd etc running Centrafuse beta. Took it all apart and sold the car around 6 years ago and bought a TVR, where I never felt the need to make any sound but the exhaust!

    I've just bought myself a Nissan Navara though and I am thinking that the double din headunit could come out and be replaced by something a little more interesting. Since I've been out of it for so long though, I've no idea what's about these days and how far things have moved on...

    I called up one of the car pc suppliers earlier and asked about this and the guy explained that you can buy double din pre-built pc's now, but I was astonished to hear that the shop had never heard of anyone wiring a car pc straight up to an amp, and all of their offerings have only a 3.5mm jack output that they usually plug straight into a head unit.

    This would be a bit pointless though in my opinion as if I'm replacing the double din bit with a screen, I have nowhere to put a headunit (and no need for one either). So is this not done? If not, how do you amp a car pc?

    I used to run an external soundcard with 3 pairs of RCA outputs to 3 amps. But there was a problem with the amps popping on startup as the soundcard cycled to 100% volume briefly on startup. I got around this by using a small script in the windows startup to raise the voltage on a serial pin, which was used to drive a small relay and trigger the amps, though it was a bit of a bodge in my opinion - does this problem still exist? How is it dealt with?

    Lastly, I used to have a problem with volume control.. I had a Griffin Powermate to control volume, but I was never happy with it - I wanted a rotary volume control which had stops on, so the absolute position stayed the same all the time. This way, I could turn it down before the pc started up, and could generally control the volume a lot more effectively. Can this be done now? How is volume control generally dealt with?

    Aside from that, I would like Iphone support, GPS, radio and movie capability with possibility to expand, with great sound quality that I can amp to create an immersive sound. Is a car pc going to be able to fulfil this requirement effectively, or should I look at a Pioneer Navgate type thing?

    Sorry for the long post!

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    Erm... Anybody?!

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    Advanced Member joshnosh's Avatar
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    i haven't been around hear that long but from the sounds off it not much has changed
    sound cards are still a standard feature in car pcs.
    the amp pop problem is solved by M2 ATX power supply's which have an output which turns on the amps after the pc has started in the same way your serial pin bodge (although i wouldn't say that's a bodge)
    get rid off the head unit and buy a touch screen that's compatible with a 2din slot.
    gps is a common feature nowadays just add a usb gps thingamabob

    i think most people use griffins still and i don't really know off many other ways to control the sound level
    radio is tricky but if your willing to spend the money then you can buy pre made DAB usb units now
    there for sale on this forum somewhere


    if your wanting imersive sound then that's all down to how good a quality off speakers, amp and sound card you buy
    if your willing to put the effort into installing it then a pc will be able to do all this
    if its broke, fix it......if it ant broke, mod it!
    astra mk4 LS install home theatre/sever pc

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    Advanced Member stealthe's Avatar
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    Displays may be a little larger than they were a few years ago but still function in the same way, sunlight viewable and led backlights are probably the biggest advance if your budget will cover it.

    Power supplies are still basically the same, with a few higher output models, with programmable settings or multi-output options for some extra cash. Most have 'anti-pop' amp remote leads.

    Motherboard/processor options have moved on a little, with smaller format boards and multi-core processors available.

    Other components are about as upgradeable as any pc, and are dictated by your own preferences really.

    There are a couple of options that may give fm/dab radio.

    Sygic and Igo seem to be the nav choice for the moment.

    stealthe
    Last edited by stealthe; 17-03-2011 at 11:29.

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    Thanks for the replies guys, sounds like things haven't moved on too far. What kind of money should I budget for a decent system then? And would I be better of building the whole thing into a double din case with a screen, or just buy a double din screen and house the pc elsewhere?

    I'm glad that amp pop problem has been solved. I used to run a 3kw system in my car, and you should have seen my face the first time I experienced 'amp pop'. I think the car nearly exploded.

    So I'm thinking of building something to a reasonable spec to run Centrafuse, but I would really like to have Iphone integration so I can both charge and play off my Iphone on the move, and maybe hands free etc. Is this possible with new Centrafuse or does it require a plugin?

    A couple more things, how stable are the pcs? Do you often experience freezes/shutdowns etc? What OS is generally used and is Centrafuse triggered on windows startup or does it replace windows startup?

    My budget is going to be around 1k I guess for the pc as thats roughly what a Pioneer Navgate costs - and from playing with my brother's one, it seems to have most of the carpc bases covered. Not as upgradable or versatile though!

  6. #6
    Advanced Member stealthe's Avatar
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    1k should give you plenty of options to up-spec your install. As there are so many usb options these days you can split things from the pc and use several power supplies to increase the overall power available.
    Unfortunately my install is pretty basic, so I can't really give you much advice on amps/soundcards/Centrafuse etc. The subjects have been discussed on here in the past, and the Centrafuse site has its own forum.
    If you don't find the answer to something specific then feel free to ask.

    stealthe

  7. #7
    Advanced Member joshnosh's Avatar
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    most people use xp or win 7
    xp is more common still i think
    using your iphone should be easy for playing music from and charging
    but doing that whilst having hands free might be tricky
    if its broke, fix it......if it ant broke, mod it!
    astra mk4 LS install home theatre/sever pc

  8. #8
    Senior Member Andehh's Avatar
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    A month on and I may be able to help. I am selling most of my kit, touch screen double din set up, GPS, Garmin Pc software (all legit), m2 atx 150w, 60gb SSD drive etc in the coming week or so if your interested? It is all as new and only selling as I really want a media centra PC & I am moving on to a new project! :)

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