Warning: Illegal string offset 'html' in /home/nissansi/public_html/forums/cache/skin_cache/cacheid_1/skin_topic.php on line 907
"Ultimate" Noob CarPC Guide - Hardtuned.net

Jump to content

"Ultimate" Noob CarPC Guide 

27 replies to this topic

#1 GBear

  • Joined:04-February 04
  • Car:Nissan S13 '93 180SX

Posted 14 November 2005 - 07:57 PM

Some of you may or may not know that a few months back I completed my carpc installation. Iím not an EXPERT in this but after all the reading and doing the install myself, Iím better then the average Joe! Its also going to be a lot of reading but will save you from going all over the internet to find out information.

Before I go on I want to let people know that I got ALL my information from http://www.mp3car.com

It is the definitive source for all your carpc needs, the people there are really helpful, so I take no credit for some things down here, Iíve just written things from my experience and what Iíve read. You will find much more info there then in my guide, my guide will just help you get started in the basics.

Photos during the installation can be seen here: http://www.wooso.com...cts/bootinstall

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

This is basically going to be a guide on the proís & cons, getting a basic setup working and info you need to get started!

SoÖÖÖ lets get started!!

What is a Car-PC?
Well itís basically a computer in your car! Very versatile and pretty robust in car entertainment (ICE) system.

Why a Car-PC?
Its a versatile system, you can do so much more on it then pretty much any high end car multimedia system you can buy. Sometimes even better or the same as ICE systems you get in top of the range BMWís and MERCís. (only difference is theres is OEM, they have a lot of custom stuff, you can do that too, just takes more work and know how.)

What can I do with my Car-PC?
Anything you can do on your home computer you can do on your car-pc, here is a basic list:

ē Audio (mp3, wav, ogg, etc)
ē Video (avi, mpg, wmv, divx, xvid, etc) pr0n!!!! zOMGWTFBBQsauce!!!!
ē GPS Navigation (even with turn by turn instructions)
ē Control your phone via Bluetooth (limited voice capabilities, but you can actually make and receive calls from your computer, a bit difficult to setup at the moment though)
ē Voice recognition, navigate the PC via voice, night rider stylez! WOOT!
ē Play computer games
ē Access the internet via wireless hotspots or when your car is parked at home.

Just for your information these are the specs of my carpc and system so you know just how low you can go and still have a very good system that will rival many high end ICE systems.

Intel Pentium 3 500Mhz
386MB PC100 SD-Ram
D-Link Wireless NIC
MSI Bluetooth Dongle
Opus 150watt DC-DC Power Supply
Mini Keyboard
Lilliput 7Ē Touchscreen VGA LCD
Sound Blaster Audigy 2ZS

1x Alpine V12 MRV-T420 2 Channel Amp
Focal Polyglass 130V2 w/ MB Quart Tweeters
1x Alpine V12 MRD-M500 Mono block
12Ē Rockford Fosgate DVC Sub

Now Iíll List what I think are the proís and cons of this type of ICE system. (in a Nissan its called N-ICE! Ho ho ho! Iím so funny!)

Extremely customizable

All in one system: MP3, WAV, OGG, MPG, DIVX, XVID (pretty much any audio and video format a computer can play!), GPS, Voice recognition, multiple camera options (rear, front, side, top, bottom, etc)

Itís a computer, so you can do pretty much anything! Even play games!

Because itís a computer, more so if you use an old one, if it gets stolen, thereís hardly any resale value! Like mine is worth whatÖ. $50?

A lot cheaper to purchase then an in car DVD player, etc.

No more changing CDís since you can store ALL your music and videoís on the computer.

Gets chicks!!! LOL


At the beginning if your not really computer literate there is quite a steep learning curve.

Heat might be an issue depending on the system you use and how you set it up.

There are small risks with computer hard drives (Iíll get more into this later)

Not an instant start up like car audio stuff. My carpc takes 54 secs to turn on from hibernation and about 4 mins from a cold boot. 99% of the time the computer goes into hibernation when I turn the car off, so cold boots very rarely. I donít mind the wait, but if you are REALLY impatient then maybe a car pc is not for you. People are known to get their system to come back from hibernation in 20 secs or less!

Unless you use a mini-itx system it can be quite bulky, luckily my old system was a micro atx format its slightly bigger then a mini but no heaps.

There is risk for windows freezing, itís never happened to me before, win xp is quite stable!

Thatís all I can think of for now. So onto the basics requirements:

What do I need to get this fully sick system up and running?
The great thing about the car-pc is you can pick from the beginning what you want and what you donít want, think of it as nodes, nodes you donít need you can leave out which saves you money! This section will cover hardware, software will be next.

I would recommend that you plan your system carefully and not rush into it, small items like: USB hubs, GPS units, and easy to add items wonít be much of an issue, but things like CPU and ram, etc will become a bit of a hassle, though it wonít break your bank if you change your mind later on, it just might be a hassle due to system requirements and will save you time! Time = money!

Now you need to ask yourself, what do I want from this uber piece of a system?
Do I want just music and video?
Wireless internet?
GPS Navigation?
Reverse cameras?
Play high end games?
Just make a list, Iím greedy so I wanted everything! For example a wireless NIC will only set you back about $50ish so itís not going to be that bad if you change your mind.

The price can vary from $1500 to $4000+ it just really depends on how much you want! In saying that my system which cost me less then $2500 INCLUDING my car audio and it can do everything I have listed.

Now, onto the items you need (This is the basic system to get you up and running):

ē Motherboard
ē Ram (use 1 stick of 256 or 512 to save power)
ē Hard Drive (if possible use a 2.5Ē drive instead of a 3.5Ē cause they are abit more robust and a lot smaller!)
ē Power Supply (I will get into this later)
ē Sound Card (Donít skimp too much on this)
ē Case (unless your custom building your own box)
ē A few fans for ventilation, but you should plan this so Iíll get in to it later.
ē VGA LCD Screen, its best to use a touch screen! but whatever suits your budget! best size to use is 7" but you can go bigger, 7" fits pretty much perfect in double din space! so unless your doing major fab work 7" is best option, if your going the whole hog, well... whatever rocks your boat!

Itemís that are optional:

ē External DVD Drive
ē Keyboard (Iíd recommend it, but you donít need it ALL the time)
ē Wireless NIC
ē Bluetooth dongle
ē GPS Dongle
ē USB Cameras
ē Various accessories like: neons, fan controllers, VFD lcd screens, etc

I havenít actually told you parts to buy because well, itís entirely up to you how much you want to spend. Iíll list some web sites so you can look at prices, write down my list above and then write the parts youíll buy.

Please keep in mind that running a fully fledge ATX system with the latest and greatest of gadgets is not desirable. Since it will eat up ALOT of power, you need to keep power consumption in mind.

So how will you know how much power your things will be taking?


The link above will give you a rough estimate of the power consumption. Keep in mind that it is going in a car so don't go overboard, plus going over board will cost more money, unless your loaded then go easy. i'd recommend the VIA mini-ITX systems or an old P3 system like mine (make sure you clean it!) newer computers eat more power, Intel says you should be using AT LEAST a 300watt PSU for a P4 system. So unless you plan on running big games on your system don't get a P4 or high end system.

UPDATE (03/08)
Mounting your Hard Drive
Probably the weakest part of any carpc will be the hard drive, they are pretty robust but because they do have moving parts, it is possible that it may lock up if some drastic happens like you hit a big pot hole or fly off the road.

In saying that I haven't experience any hard ship with my hdd (keep in mind that it is an old one too!). So how do you mount your hard drive so it suffers the least amount of shock and possible damage?

You can search the forums at mp3car.com as they go into good detail, but I'll go through the basics. Most people agree that mounting it vertically will give it the best possible protecting.

Also you need to mount it VERY stiffly against whatever it is mounted too (and whatever it is mounted to needs to be very stiffly mounted too!), this way it is less likely to move around when you brake suddenly, use rubber/silicon mounts to absorb vibration.

I haven't read any tried and true methods, some people have reported HDD death pretty early and they've done alot to prevent it, others had more luck. I think its just a bad luck thing for those with failed hdd's.

Also try to get a 2.5" laptop drive, they are abit more expensive but are alot smaller and also can take abit more punishment. Unless you want like a 200+gb drive then get a 2.5" hdd, then get a laptop drive to ide converter you can pick them up for about $20ish.

Keep in mind that hard drives arn't THAT expensive and if it does die after like 6 months - 1 year, most times it'll be covered by warrenty or if not. think of all the cd's you would've burned and wasted and it'll probably close to the same cost!

http://www.msy.com.au (they are usually VERY cheap, just shit service)

http://www.pccasegear.com.au (all your computer rice needs, good for getting fans and CCFLís, etc)

http://www.auspcmarket.com.au (just have a look, not always the cheapest but they have a great e-commerce site, so look for what you want and then shop for cheaper prices)

http://www.cworld.com.au (I find sometimes these guys have cheaper prices then MSY, SOMETIMES!)

http://www.digitalww.com (site looks dodgy but the guy is legit, all your car-pc needs)

http://www.mp3car.com/store (similar to digitalww, mp3car is also THE BEST car pc resource, Iíll get to that later)

How do I power this interesting contraption?
Computers run off DC power, your computer PSU (power supply unit) converts AC > DC. A car runs off DC too, so why do you need to buy a special PSU? Well Iím no electrical expert but it would be something to do with unregulated power, etc. Car voltage can get up to 14.4v and most pc components only take up to 12, and their very sensitive, so I DONíT recommend plugging the computer directly to the car. Unless your rich, then by all means go ahead.

So what do I do dammit!!!!

You need either a DC-DC PSU or an inverter. If your using an inverter then you just need to use standard PSU as well.

I do not recommend using an inverter as they are highly inefficient things and though cheaper then most DC-DC converters, they will cost you in the long run as you can run risk of stuffing up your hard drives and stuff due to incorrect start-up and shut down procedures. Which is why I wonít go in-depth with them, its just not worth it. Also when you use an inverter your power will go like this:

Car Battery > Inverter > Startup/Shutdown Controllers > Power Supply > PC

If you get a proper DC-DC converter like the OPUS itíll be:

Car Battery > Opus > PC

It just saves your more hassle and much less wiring, some computer power supplies have been known to get too hot in the car and actually melt the glue that is used to hold some components, so its up to you. Spend the extra for piece of mind or save a few bucks and have to buy a new computer after summer!

The BEST or what I recommend is a dc-dc converter and that is the OPUS 150watt dc-dc converter. This thing monitors your battery (if your car is off and your using the computer itíll shut everything down if battery voltage falls too low, Iíve used my carpc for over 2 hours) and controls the computer start-up and shut down sequences, when you turn on the car itíll turn the computer on for you, then on shut down itíll hibernate the computer for you and you can even select delayed shut down times, so you can leave it on for another 20 or more minutes if you wanted to, it is also built for the car environment.

The OPUS psu also can survive crank, which most inverters donít, so when you turn on your car while the computer is on, it wonít reset. YAY!

Spend a bit more on the power side to save you headaches in the long run. Trust me! Do it right the first time or donít do it at all.


Getting Sound:

So how do you get sound out of this? You can use any old sound card, but I recommend at least a SB Audigy, better sound quality, I got the Audigy 2ZS which has about 108db SNR! This is great, as you wouldnít want to hear buzzing noises when youíre cruising!

Just use the audio out of the sound card to your line-ins from your amps, youíll need this little jiggy miggy:


Its quite simple! If you want to do 4 channel sound with front and rears then just buy the appropriate sound card, if you wanna go all out and do 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 sound then youíll need at least a SB Live card and multiple amps, it gets quite complicated on multi channel sound so read this link which will tell you how you should set up your sound system depending on your requirements:


For the lazy:

Posted Image

Posted Image

Posted Image

I didnít use the dedicated Sub output from my sound card, but my sound system sounds fine to me, but if your nutty about sound then DO IT!

Operating System:

Now that youíve got your hardware and sound figured out, what OS should you run? Well this is where it gets slightly complex, your two MAIN options are: Linux and Windows XP (I wouldnít recommend others as XP has less tendencies to BSOD!)

Iím not going to go into detail with Linux as I have no knowledge of Linux so Iím going to talk about Win XP.

There are three ways you can go about installing Win XP:

a) Win XP (normal installation)
B) Win XP (nlited)
c) Win XP (embedded)

A is the easiest one, this is the one Iím using, Iíve removed some things that I donít want to be loaded and did some tweaks here and there, works fine for me and Iím not very fussy so it will do for me.

Option B is using a program called nLite to remove unwanted windows components and slipstreaming it onto a CD before installing it onto your hard drive. This is a great option if you are using a very small HDD for your OS and a removable HDD for all your music and video.

Here is a link to read what others have done using nLite:


The last option © is the most complicated and the hardest to get working, I think its a lot of trial and error, you can make EXTREMELY small installs of Win XP like less then 10 megs or something, but that will be only the shell and no GUI. Google for Win XPe and youíll find a lot of stuff on it.

Here is a link so you have a quick read of XPe

There is also the option of using a CF card to put win XP on, which is supposed to make things faster:


Well thatís the basics of OS on to software:

Alright nigga! I got me OS gimme some tunes!!!!

Now, since you are going to be using the pc in the car and most likely a touch screen, you need the program to have big buttons, have all the functions you need at your finger tips, trust me, win amp is not a viable option!

So what are these magical ďit can do everythingĒ programs?

Well, they are called Ďfront endsí there are a few of them around. Personally I use one called Frodoplayer.

Here is the mp3car list of front ends with forum support:


its basically going to be try em all if your not sure which one you want, they all offer pretty much the same thing as each other. They just do things differently or better or do something the other doesnít!

When I get around to it Iím going to designing my own skin for frodoplayer, another perk of having a carpc, you can customize your GUI to your liking and NO ONE else will have the same interface! Well, unless you let other people download it.

Thatís pretty much it! The basic run down of what you need and what a car pc is capable of.

Some people were worried about using a hard drive in a mobile environment if you looked at my install photoís youíd see where my computer sits, right in front of the sub box! I have yet to have any issues, I corner hard, go over bumpy train tracks and havenít heard a skip or freeze yet. Hard drives are so cheap that Iím dying for mine to cark it so I can get a bigger one. Iím currently using my old 40gb Seagate which is about 4-5 years old, and its still going.

So HA! HA! To them nay sayers!

Personally I think once the market picks up things will be easier to get. Its abit more work then getting an AV system like an alpine system installed into your car, but trust me the work is worth the effort, when you see windows running in your car and the amount of stuff you can do you will know its money well spent!

I remember talking to my mate on MSN in my car, first thing i said was "I'M on MSN, in my car, i bet you can't do that!!!" :lol: :lol:

If i have missed anything i will add them later on with notice of update or you got some questions, feel free to pm me or post the q! :)

Next Update: Setting up multiple screens. (cloned or spanned. you could be watching music vids while you drive and the other person could be playing a game or surfing the net!)


#2 GBear

  • Joined:04-February 04
  • Car:Nissan S13 '93 180SX

Posted 14 November 2005 - 07:57 PM

CarPC Guide Part 2 -Nlite Update- See Below

Most of you may or may not have seen my last guide for CarPCís which touched on the basics of what you need and how to set one up. As stated before I donít consider myself an EXPERT but I am learning!

Iím going to go into more detail on things I may have left out or whatever, Iíll put it out in a category basis, so it might be a bit easier for me to know what Iíve left out, etc.

Hopefully it wonít be as long as the last one! (right!)

Nb: Nav where is my last guide!!! I canít find it anymore! =(

Operating System
Originally I used a fully bloated Windows XP installation, meaning I didnít bother doing much on shortening boot times, etc.

I bought a new 60GB laptop drive so I figured Iíd take the plunge and use nLite. Basically you get a copy of windows on cd or whatever, copy everything from that CD to a folder on your computer (I mean home computer!) run this program and select things you donít need and various other tweaks this dramatically improves boot time and windows performance. When you finish it makes an ISO file which you use Nero or whatever to make a bootable CD in which you can use to set up your car pc! Wonderful!

Cold Boot: 3m 50s (from memory)
Hibernation: 54s (approx)

Cold Boot: 1m 20s
Hibernation: 30ish seconds

Cold boot just means full system start; hibernation is like standby but turns your computer off, stand by well, just stands by and eats power!

-Nlite Update- (15/11/05)
Things you will need:

NB: Please do this on your home computer, NOT your carpc!

1) Nlite - Nlite download Page
2) .net 1.1 Framework - Framework Download
3) A full installation CD of windows XP
4) Patience :lol:

After you have installed Nlite and the Framework you need to copy the entire contents of the winxp CD onto your hard drive. You can use any directory and for this tutorial I used D:\WINXP2.

Now run Nlite, Screen 1.1 should be the first thing that will pop up. Select your language and click "Next"
Posted Image
Screen 1.1

In Screen 1.2 you need to point nlite to the directory you copied the winxp cd files to. So click "Browse" and do just that, upon locating the directory nlite will scan through it and give you the details of winxp. Click "Next"
Posted Image
Screen 1.2

This is what you'll see once you click next. This is if you have any preset .inf files, I would assume that you don't so just leave it blank and click next.
Posted Image
Screen 1.3

This next section you need to tell nlite what you want to do with windows. If you do not already have service pack 2 on your windows xp cd, and you want to slipstream it onto this nlite cd then you will need to select "Integrate service pack"

Select the following:
Integrate Drives
Remove Components
Unattended Setup
Create Bootable ISO

It is a good idea to select integrate drivers, because in the next few steps you will be removing ALL the drivers that come with windows in order make the smallest possible windows ISO.

So with that in mind, make sure you have the latest drivers of all the things you need to install. Keep in mind that some things you may not be able to integrate, but you can always do that after you install windows. (this just makes installing windows easier as you won't have to sit infront of your computer installing all your drivers after winxp has been installed.

Drivers you should integrate:
Video Card drivers
Wireless Card (if you have one)
Touchscreen drivers
and any other drivers you may need initially.

(all the other options will be explained as we get to them. so for now, click next and on we go!)
Posted Image
Screen 1.4

If you selected "Integrate service pack" then you will see this next window, bascially just point nlite to where you have your service pack install file
Posted Image
Screen 1.5

After that you will get to the component removal section, but firstly screen 1.6 will pop up. It basically askes you if you will use any of the following things I don't select anything since i won't be using any of these features. Maybe if you plan on installing camera's, etc then select the cameras option. Click OK when finished.
Posted Image
Screen 1.6

Screen 1.7 is where you will be doing most of your work. This an important part and can ruin your winxp ISO so pay close attention to what you remove and what your don't. REMEMBER: All things selected will be REMOVED

I basically click on "Applications" to remove all applications, "Drivers" to remove drivers, "Languages" as well, english is the base language so even if you select every language to be removed english will still remain. I also remove "Directories"

You will need go through the Trees one at a time, luckily nlite gives you a description of what everything is, so just read it and make your own judgments as to whether to keep it or not. Pay closest attention to "Hardware Support" which can be seen in Screen 1.8. Hardware support can really screw you up if you select the wrong things. So most things in red you should leave alone, but you can remove them IF you know what needs it. so say you don't need bluetooth, click it for removal since you don't need it!

Also make sure you leave MIDI support if you want to use Winamp, and Windows media player if you plan on using FrodoPlayer as your front end.
Posted Image
Screen 1.7

Posted Image
Screen 1.8

Phew! the above step is usually the longest so your almost on the home straight!

Once you finish the above steps, click next and you'll come to what is seen in screen 1.9. Make sure "Full Unattended" mode is selected. then click on the "General 1/2" Tab on the top
Posted Image
Screen 1.9

Here you will need to select your computer type, leave as automatic if you don't know, what ever you do, if you plan on using hibernation then you need to make sure your computer supports ACPI which most new computers do (even my old p3 system).

After that put in your winxp cd key, make sure you select auto admin login so you don't have to keep using your keyboard in the car which is annoying, then select anything else you want in this section. now onto General 2/2!
Posted Image
Screen 1.10

In this part if you plan on using your carpc on a network you need to put what domain you will be part of, basically just put in your home domain (whatever you call it) Once your down click on the next tab (personal)
Posted Image
Screen 1.11

In the personal section you just need to put the details of stuff, self explanatory.
Posted Image
Screen 1.12

Since i assume you will be using a 7" touch screen make sure you select "800x600" for the resolution, this sin't try 16:9 widescreen but its quite difficult to to get 800x480 for true widescreen and i haven't figured out a proper way to do it yet. If you want to give it a go there are plenty of thread on it at mp3car.com. Click the next tab when done.
Posted Image
Screen 1.13

I basically leave this part alone!
Posted Image
Screen 1.14

Basically just read what the options say and select them if you want.
Posted Image
Screen 1.15

Ok the tweaks section isn't really required but it allows you to remove annoying windows things. like removing the shortcut arrow when you make short cuts. Basically just select what you want, etc. Once you finish in this section click next. Don't worry about the services TAB (unless you want to!)
Posted Image
Screen 1.16

Once you click next nlite will ask you if you've finished and want to finalize everythign. this is where it deletes everything you told it to and makes all the adjustments required. Once that is finished it'll tell you how much smaller you've made windows.

The next section is where you make your Bootable ISO. if you didn't select create bootable ISO at the very beginning then you won't see this window. If you want to put other things on the CD then nows the time to do it. Copy anything you want into the same directory that you put the winxp cd contents. Make sure you put them in their own folders to save confusion.

Once done your awayyyyyyyyyyy!! you've just put windows through jenny craig! wo0t! :woot:

Windows customization
So youíve installed your windows but you want to make it look abit prettier? Well unfortunately making things look pretty will slow your system down and for a carPC I wouldnít want jerky video, music stuttering or anything else for that matter!

But there are a few things you can do just to make the GUI abit more user friendly:

Make icon BIG, big is better! Yeah!! It just makes it easier to see and click on.

So right click on your desktop then go to appearance and click on the advanced button, then just click on the drop down list and select icon and make it as big as you can. From here you can make text bigger and stuff too. I recommend you make things a big as you can as it just makes things easier to read/do.

If you want computer stats you can use some programs to display it, just to make it look funky, wonít go into much detail on these unless people REALLY want to:


samurize is a great program and you can skin really easy in it. Makes for great looking dynamic desktops!

Another great program you can use is:

http://mbm.livewiredev.com/ (it hasnít been updated in a while so might not support new motherboards)
I havenít been in the computer geek scene for awhile so not 100% up to date on everything!

Powering Things
For a low to medium power computer (ie: not a full blown beast!) Iíd still recommend the OPUS unit as per my previous guide.

But what if you want to run things like fans and CCFLís etc? for the less sensitive computer gear?

Well the good thing is for fans and stuff you can just run it through the car which lessens the power load on the OPUS unit, less chance of your computer freezing due to not enough power.

I have a fan and temp monitor, which is all hooked up to the car accessory power and 4 fans hooked up to this monitor.

If you plan on running LCD hardware like matrix orbital screens then Iíd recommend to hook that up to the OPUS as I wouldnít want something that expensive to blow due to high voltage or something. The OPUS gives regulated 12v and 5v power, better for more sensitive stuff.

Basically the only thing Iíve plugged into the my OPUS is:
∑ Motherboard
∑ Hard Drive
∑ 1 60mm fan
∑ Remote switch for amps

Keeping it to a nice minimum!

Hard Drive Mounting
I put a little addition in my last guide but just to go over it briefly again. There is a lot of debate on what should and what shouldnít be done and as far as shock mounting your drive, it seems to be agreed that its overkill and more hassle then its worth.

A few things you should do when mounting your drive:
∑ Make sure its firmly mounted and what ever its mounted to is also firmly mounted to the car chassis.
∑ Drive is vertical, i.e.: not lying flat, this helps prevent the head from crashing into the platters if you hit a pothole or something.
∑ The platters are spinning parallel to the wheels or the direction of the car. Unless you plan on going sideways!

Unless you plan to go off road down Mt Everest then creating a custom suspension system isnít really required.


To me this is probably the biggest downside of using a CarPC. Computers generate a lot of electronic noise which can cause buzzing or thumps in your system.

There are ways around it but you cannot eliminate it 100%. I recently just installed a CarPC for a mate using the VIA mini-itx system and the noise generated was appalling! This is using the sound blaster audigy 2zs as well! Weíre still fiddling with it, I think Iíve come up with a solution but have yet to test it!

So what can you do to help prevent this?

In my system I only get noise when windows is loading, and next to no noise when windows is running. I havenít researched this into detail so Iíll tell you what I do know.

One way to prevent noise is to turn down the gain on your amps, not all the way down but just enough to make it less audible. I have my subís amp on -10 gain mainly because itís too loud but I guess the pay off is that Iíve never experienced any noise generated from my sub.

- fix your grounding, make sure all your ground points are good ground points!

- use a ground loop isolator, i got one from jaycar, it was about $20.

- use a line driver, search around for them. they can get quite expensive. Car Audio Australia sell some so check it out!

If noise is a major issue (like my friends car) then search mp3car.com for possible solutions Iíve searched a bit but not much. So you might find something I havenít.

My system is still loud enough to make you almost deaf so its good enough for me! I never wanted a system as loud as I have now anyway, it just turned out that way.

#3 GBear

  • Joined:04-February 04
  • Car:Nissan S13 '93 180SX

Posted 14 November 2005 - 07:57 PM

CARPC Options.

For the basic car pc, you have like music and video support. But what if you want more? Extra hardware and stuff, Iíll go through the options you have available and also the lovely Nissan consult port (tune on the run anyone?)

So what extras will I be covering in this section? Well read on!

∑USB Camera
∑Voice Recognition (use it to change tracks, etc)
∑Nissan Consult Port

Adding Cameras.

Ok so you have your CARPC up and running, got the sound pretty much sussed out and music and video is working great!

So what now?

Well if you want to add some cameras you can! The easiest way of adding a camera is to use a USB web cam, their cheap and you donít need to use video-in to make use of them.

Granted some web cams are not that good. Personally I havenít got one yet, but planning to add them in.

The great thing about Carpcís is that you can add heaps of camerasÖ one for the rear, front, side, anywhereÖ under your car if you wanted to!

After you buy one, you should be able to carefully take it apart and mould it into whatever you want. Like rear bar or wherever you mount it.

Just remember that these things arenít waterproof, so make sure you install it so water doesnít get into these things!

Also note that because itís USB you can effectively ďdaisy chainĒ USB devices one after the other, from memory itís up to 128 devices.

But remember a USB port can only supply about 500mA of power PER PORT. So if you plan on hooking up lots of stuff, get a powered USB HUB.

Check out this thread if you want to go fancy:


Voice Recognition.

So how high tech is this! Have a small microphone attached somewhere near you, say your headrest. And while driving you just say: ď180 next trackĒ and it changes tracks for you!

A popular and free program is called NaviVoice, but the new version is going to be called PowerVoice, since it will soon change and let you control the whole computer using voice.


Currently it lets you control: destinator, iguidance, map monkey and frodoplayer.

You can choose to either have it button activated or listen for keyword.

Button activated: press a button, say command.

Keyword: you program a keyword to say, so anything you want, say if you call your car Betty, youíd say ďBetty + CommandĒ

Once you say the keyword, NaviVoice will give you a 10 second bracket to say whatever command(s) you want.

Take some time to ďtrainĒ the program, this means reading to is so it gets used to your voice. Once you train it good, itíll be better at recognising your voice, meaning less errors and frustration when you test it out!

This microphone seems good, its only $13 + about $8 postage, unless you get it at a store. Its got a clip, so you could clip it on your seat belt once you sit in, but taking it off and putting it on all the time can be annoying.


Logitech also make some nice microphones and they always have good product support!

Some places to mount:

∑ A Pillar
∑ Sun Visor
∑ Rear vision mirror

Note that the BEST place is closest to your mouth, obviously the further away it is the more noise will come into play, also if you have your windows open and there is high wind or if your music is too loud youíll have more trouble getting the program to understand commands.

Best to find a microphone with noise cancelling support or if you want to be fancy, use a Bluetooth headset!

GPS Navigation.

Ahh yes, the wonderful world of GPS Navigation. You can use any GPS software you want, but being in Australia we are pretty limited to what we can have in regards to GPS in the CARPC!

Iíll go through what I use:

Frodoplayer (front end)
Map Monkey (GPS program)
Destinator (for the maps)

Map monkey integrates into frodoplayer, so all you need to do is point Frodo to the appropriate map monkey .exe file and just press the GPS button to load it! Your music will still play and wile in GPS mode you can change tracks etc with the buttons on the top.

So what do you need to get GPS into your car?

∑ USB GPS Mouse
∑ Map Monkey
∑ Destinator Maps

You can get the GPS mouse (its called a mouse, but isnít actually a MOUSE as your used to) on Ebay. Make sure you get the ones with the SiRF III (3) chip in it; I think itís the latest, so it has the best pick up.

So if you buy it off Ebay, just search for ďUSB GPSĒ and youíll get em all.

Once you get your GPS, here are some hints on where to put it.

GPS requires LINE OF SIGHT, meaning you canít hide it in your glove box or boot, its best pointing straight through glass to the sky, or even better, stuck on top of your roof!

With this in mind, GPS doesnít work underground, loses a lot of signal when driving in cities that have lots of skyscrapers and cloudy days can also mess with your signal. Personally, I put mine on my front windscreen.

Where do you get maps? You can purchase them from the destinator web site. But thatís very expensive!

Or you could get creative and ďfindĒ it. Sorry but I cannot tell you where due to this being posted on a public site.

So what does this wonderful map monkey offer?

Basic run down:

∑ Speed camera Ďdetectioní (itís a database, doesnít DETECT cameras)
∑ Turn by turn voice directions
∑ Point of interests (look up restaurants, petrol stations and stuff and itíll route it for you instantly)
∑ Save Ďfavouritesí
∑ Set a home point so you just press the home button and itíll route it from where ever you may be.

Speed camera database, there is one available for Australia. You can also add your own.

When driving youíll see a speed camera icon on the map, you can set how far away you want the warning. So it will say:

ďWarning, GATSO detected, 600 metersĒ

then another one

ďWarning, GATSO detected, 200 MetersĒ

Sometimes the camera will be facing the other way, but hey, at least you know its there!

There is also a speed display, and it shows you how fast your going, its quite accurate, until you hit over 100kph and the GPS canít keep up!

With the speed display you can set like speed notifications, say you want to be notified when you go over 80kph. Itís quite annoying, cause itíll keep saying if you drop say from 79 to 81 and then to 79 and back up. But its up to you how you would like to set it up.

Nissan Consult Port

Correct me if Iím wrong but to my understanding ALL Ď96+ vehicles have whatís known as ODB, or ODB II.

Nissan has the consult port before this standard not sure if their still using it now. Basically itís a port that you plug a device into (similar to a PFC) and it gets readings from the ECU, techs run like diagnostics and stuff.

Well you can get hardware that links straight from the consult port to a computer and run software so you can see it. People used to have laptops in their cars hooked up to the consult port now with carpcs and such you can have this linked up and itíll all seem integrated into your car!

These are the vehicles it has been tested on:
∑ AUS 200SX S14 (SR20DET)
∑ AUS 200SX S15 (SR20DET)
∑ AUS Maxima A32 (VQ30DE)
∑ AUS Pulsar N14 (GA16DE)
∑ AUS Pulsar N14 (SR20DE)
∑ AUS Pulsar N15 (GA16DE)
∑ AUS Pulsar N14 (SR20DE)
∑ AUS NX/NXR Coupe (SR20DE)
∑ JDM 180SX S13 (SR20DET)
∑ JDM Silvia S14 (SR20DE)
∑ JDM Silvia S15 (SR20DET)
∑ JDM Pulsar RNN14 GTiR (SR20DET)
∑ JDM Pulsar GTi (SR18DE)
∑ JDM Bluebird U14 (SR18DE)
∑ JDM Bluebird U15 (SR20DET)
∑ JDM Skyline R32 (RB20DET)
∑ JDM Skyline R32 GTR (RB26DETT)
∑ JDM Skyline R33 (RB25DET)
∑ JDM Skyline R33 (RB20DE)
∑ JDM Skyline R33 GTR (RB26DETT)
∑ JDM Skyline R34 (RB25DET NEO)
∑ JDM '94 Cefiro A32 (VQ30DE)
∑ JDM Avenir PWN10 (SR20DE)
∑ CAN '92 Infiniti G20 (SR20DE)
∑ US 300Z Z32 (VG30DETT)
∑ US Sentra B13 SE-R(SR20DE)
∑ US NX2000 (SR20DE)
∑ US NX1600(GA16DE)
∑ US '94 Sentra B13 (GA16DE)
∑ US Maxima A32 (VQ30DE)
∑ US '93 Altima (KA24DE)
∑ US '92 Infiniti G20
∑ UK Almera N15 GTI (SR20DE)
∑ UK 200SX S14a (SR20DET)
∑ UK Micra K11 (CG13DE/CG10DE
∑ UK 1993 Primera P10 (SR20DE)
∑ FRA 200SX S14 (SR20DET)
∑ FRA '93 100NX 2.0 GTI (=NX coupe) (SR20DE)
∑ GER Almera NX (GA16DE)
∑ GER 200SX (SR20DET)
∑ GER '91 300ZX Z32 (VG30DETT)
∑ FIN 99 Maxima A32 (VQ30DE)
You can do a lot of things with this, and you can even do temporary tunes if you know what your doing (I think it resets to default once you turn the car off)

If you use a program called Datascan you can do:
∑ Real time monitoring of RPM, speed, injector pulsewidth, injector duty cycle, TPS position, AFM voltage, speed, idle valve opening %, IGN timing, coolant temp, battery volts etc. All displayed on nice pseudo-analog gauges.
∑ Data logging on all parameters with cool inbuilt replay feature.
∑ Read and reset fault codes
∑ Active tests like ďpower balanceĒ (knocks one cyl out at a time), fuel pump on/off, VCT control, temporary changes to values for coolant temp, IGN timing, AAC valve (for idle adjustment) etc.
∑ ROM read

Or visit the below link for more details.


You can buy the module here:


Here is the basic price:

$AU125 Consult Interface with DataScan software - fully tested.
$AU30 DataScan Software only.

$AU10 Regular postage within Australia.
$AU16 Postage (Air Mail) to most other countries.
$AU5 PayPal commission.
For the mathematically challenged, if you want the Interface with DataScan software that's $AU140 if you are fortunate enough to be in sunny Oz or $AU146 if you live elsewhere.

NOTE: I donít have any affiliation with these people! I just stumbled on their site when I was researching on the consult port. Havenít actually bought anything off them either.

I think this would rock if you were a drifter or take your car to do a lot of track work. As you can have live data logging, see what your cars doing at certain times and see where things are going wrong if anything!

Or you could just give the police a nice log of your driving style and how fast you ripped it at a certain time!

#4 GBear

  • Joined:04-February 04
  • Car:Nissan S13 '93 180SX

Posted 14 November 2005 - 07:58 PM

Just a short and simple tutorial for those of you who are planning or in the process of putting a computer in your car, Iíd assume that if your installing a CarPC that you would be pretty proficient in computers and already know but just for those who donít!

Please note: Iím not an electrician or an electronics guru so if Iím wrong in any area please correct me and Iíll edit my post accordingly.

Computers use DC power and your home PSU has multiple power connectors called MOLEX plugs, basic 4 pin plugs that can only be plugged in one way. You canít get it wrong! But what do those colors mean?

The Molex plug has 4 wires, 1 Yellow, 2 Black and 1 Red.

Yellow = +12v
Black = GND
Red = +5v

Now your car is also a 12v unit and supplies power of the DC type, but when you turn your car on, with the alternator running itíll jump to 13.8-14.2v, I guess depending on the health of your carís electrical.

This is way too high for most of the sensitive components in a computer. There are things you can plug directly to your car and others you canít and shouldnít.

Things you can connect straight to a car with no real adverse effects, doing this will take some load off your DC-DC PSU and leave you with more room to breathe, especially if you need to conserve all the watts you can!

Things you can wire straight up to your car:
ē Fans
ē CCFLís (cold cathode lights)
ē Fan controllers

Things you SHOULDNíT wire straight up to your car:

ē Hard drives
ē Optical Drives
ē Youíre PC (obviously!)

LCD Screens
I havenít had experience with different brands of LCD screens but I would assume that most are very similar in power requirements. Your typical VGA touch screen LCD will be 12v, but it needs a clean and stable 12v current, something your car wonít give, if it gets more then 12v then there is a good chance youíll be buying a new LCD screen very soon!

There are two ways you can wire up your LCD screen; either using the car adaptor that it came with or wire it to your DC-DC PSU. You might notice when using the car adaptor that somewhere along the wire there is a small box, thatís the voltage regulator that keeps the voltage the LCD screen gets to 12v.

Personally I would recommend wiring your LCD screen to your DC-DC PSU as then it will turn on and off with your computer, I just think its better but itís really up to you.

When wiring up to your DC-DC PSU, you need to splice the LCD power cable, give yourself enough length to play with.

Wire the positive of the LCD power cable to the YELLOW wire of a Molex plug and wire the ground of the LCD power cable to the BLACK wire of the same Molex plug.

You do not need to keep the voltage regulator if you plan on plugging your LCD to your DC-DC PSU.

Remote switch your amps
When you had a head unit it had a dedicated remote switch wire that would tell your amp(s) when to turn on and off, with your CarPC you wonít have the same luxury but itís not that big of an issue!

All you need to do is splice the yellow wire of a spare Molex plug and wire that to the remote switch on your amp. Your amp will need to see 12v to switch on, now your amp will turn on and off along with the DC-DC PSU.

USB Hubs
If you plan on using a lot of USB peripherals and do not have enough USB plugs on your motherboard then youíll need a USB hub and when you do this please get a POWERD USB hub. It costs a bit more but will save you headaches if you happen to have too many stuff on one hub.

USB can only supply 500mA, its not much and if you plug in a portable USB HDD, GPS, wireless dongle, Bluetooth, etc, etc youíll soon be having a lot of issues with your USB peripherals!

Powered USB hubs will need +5v to power them, so all you need to do is wire the positive of the hubs power cable to the RED wire of a spare Molex plug and the ground of the hubs power cable to the BLACK of the same Molex plug.

Thatís most of it, now on to an important part of electrics. Please REMEMER to take into account AMPERAGE.

Now your DC-DC PSU might supply 150watts, and have 4 power rails, each power rail will have an AMP rating, exceeding this without proper fusing can seriously damage your PSU so just because its 12v doesnít mean itís a good idea to plug 10 items to the one power rail.

Thats about it, if i've left out anything that you think is important let me know and i'll add it in!

Happy installing! :D

#5 aldmo87

  • Joined:28-November 04
  • Location:Australia VIC
  • Car:soarer 1jz-gte

Posted 14 November 2005 - 08:13 PM

lol u could just edit your original post but hey what the hell, good writeup dude should go in the articles section, im very much considering putting this in my car soon, just waiting on some more funds.


  • Joined:20-June 05
  • Car:black CA18DE S13....NOW AN RB25DET

Posted 14 November 2005 - 08:32 PM


my mates done the same....

i said why don't you just use a laptop on the passenger seat <_< :lol:

hook up ECU to USB interface and monitor your cars every move at the same time :ph34r:

but nice all the same :P

#7 go180

  • Joined:18-October 04
  • Location:Australia NSW

Posted 14 November 2005 - 09:32 PM

Just wanted to know how much power your carPC is using according to the website? Does the power supply handle the amount of consumption your PC uses easily?

#8 GBear

  • Joined:04-February 04
  • Car:Nissan S13 '93 180SX

Posted 14 November 2005 - 09:41 PM

whats the diff between using a laptop? i can still use the nissan consult port interfact on my pc. i plan on getting it soon.

laptops require more work to integrate into a fully fledged car pc, and like i've posted before. with a desktop pc you can upgrade and change parts easily. laptops you cannot in most cases.

if you have a laptop that you hook up to your car when you get in and take the laptop with you when you leave then yeh maybe it'll be better.

#9 DjeMz

  • Joined:10-September 03
  • Location:Australia VIC

Posted 28 January 2006 - 02:25 PM


thats alot of info but i probably wont read, but fark watever it is, wd man

#10 Simvegas

  • Joined:13-March 05

Posted 20 February 2006 - 06:11 PM

im building one at the moment, but a bit more hardcore.
With 7' touchscreen in centre, THX dolby 5.1 optical audio, usb2.0 fm and hdtv tuner with hdd capture, 500gb external hdd as well as wireless rf remote control and ipod dock. best bet is to chop up laptop and install in glovebox( i had 3 so one had to go anyway) , that way u dont need dc-dc psu and startup controllers. just use ignition as a switch to bring your computer out of hibernation. im also flush mnounting the original 15" LCD into passenger side of dash and mounting datalogit into glovebox aswell. so complete power fc tuning in windows on the go... crazy. just need some kinda wideband 02 sensor installed in the zorst system.

#11 NewKleer

  • Joined:30-June 03
  • Location:Australia NSW
  • Car:MY01 WRX EJ25

Posted 22 February 2006 - 09:31 PM

for those thinking of running consult display on their in car pc, ive released an interim version of ecutalk which has full screen mode and adjust gauge size depending on number of gauges and screen size to maximise size used (good for widescreens)

eventually ill hope to have some kind of config so you can set it to auto connect/switch to full screen on running the .exe, but atm it needs to be done manually

#12 Panda180

  • Joined:15-February 06
  • Location:Australia VIC
  • Car:Kawasaki Ninja

Posted 23 February 2006 - 09:44 AM

The setup is pretty awesome

I like it, I wanna ask how long did it take u to put it in the car? the comp>?

I wanna do something like that i recently just bought a laptop with all that new stuff - AMD Sempron 3000+
15.4inch screen
Dvd Burner
Geforce Go 7300
512 rams
etc.etc u know these pc stuff goes on and on

just curious on how to set it up in the car u know something stylish u know all concealed n hidden u seem to be the expert on this so n e ideas, I asked the guys at my local strathfield cause i had an inverter to use on my xbox in the car so i can watch films and stuff, cause xbox was pretty much the same, a modded one could do n e thing from watching movies to playing games, it was pretty cool. Well n e ways i got sidetracked there, um like they said i shouldn't use the inverter that i have i have a 100 watt inverter, i just assumed using that and also using the battery from the laptop that the car battery would use less than it does atm, correct or am i wrong cause i know very little about this stuff, can u help plz tell me what to do, like i am good at setting up this stuff just need someone to tell me how, n e help is appreciated

#13 GBear

  • Joined:04-February 04
  • Car:Nissan S13 '93 180SX

Posted 25 February 2006 - 09:32 PM

using a laptop is abit different to using a pc, although almost the same, the way you power it would be different. i didn't do any research on hooking up a laptop but you will find plenty of info on:


u cannot use a 100watt inverter cause its just too low powered, assuming its a cheap inverter it would be highly ineffecient in delivering sufficient power, not to mention reliable.

but like i said above, i haven't done any research into powering a laptop as a carpc, though power consumption would be ALOT less!

i have since changed my boot installation and it doesn't look like the above pics anymore, if u do a search in this section i'm sure you'll find the pics. everything i have done is consealed, all wires and cables running from the boot to the front centre console are under carpet. you don't see anything!

#14 Simvegas

  • Joined:13-March 05

Posted 11 March 2006 - 12:14 PM

I use a carnetix p1900 power supply nd shutdown controller. It provides 19v out for laptop and 12v for screen. Just need my dolby digital car amp and im there. Ive wired it all into the old stereo loom, as I think that could safely supply enough amps, 15 at 12V is when my fuse would go in the PSU so we'll see.

#15 Liger GT-T

  • Joined:03-April 06

Posted 08 April 2006 - 12:05 PM

So does this mean your PC is always going to be limited to 150w via the Opus? I'm pretty proficient with computer but have no idea on power restrictions (should have soo paid attention to physics in high school).

Cant you just get 2 of them opus things and wire up the outputs together and get 300watts? But that might double the voltage as well right? From 12v to 24v.

#16 NewKleer

  • Joined:30-June 03
  • Location:Australia NSW
  • Car:MY01 WRX EJ25

Posted 08 April 2006 - 02:09 PM

in series u would double the voltage. in parallel ud double the output almost, but would have problems with "competition" between the 2 supplies, im not sure in practice what the effect of that would be.

#17 8700S14

  • Joined:23-February 06
  • Car:Nissan S14 200SX

Posted 30 April 2006 - 01:36 PM

Appropriate link

Probably makes one of theese a good buy then?

#18 SNip3D

  • Joined:27-August 03

Posted 03 May 2006 - 12:46 PM

u didnt mention monitor in the needed equipment...

#19 GBear

  • Joined:04-February 04
  • Car:Nissan S13 '93 180SX

Posted 03 May 2006 - 08:31 PM

well what do you know!! i didn't !!! lol i'll edit it...

#20 NewKleer

  • Joined:30-June 03
  • Location:Australia NSW
  • Car:MY01 WRX EJ25

Posted 12 June 2006 - 11:18 AM

to correct/add to your post on the consult stuff:

not all 96+ cars are obd2

s15s arent
R33/R34 skylines arent

also there are other less cumbersome consult interface alternatives, such as www.blazt.biz

and plenty of consult software, most of it free:
ecu talk - has fullscreen mode which can fill out to widescreens also, so not limited to 4:3 setups

#21 meminto

  • Joined:21-November 02
  • Location:Australia QLD
  • Car:S13 Silvia

Posted 26 June 2006 - 09:12 PM

This post is tha shiz, i looked at installing a pc in my car a few years back but the technology in lcd just wasn't viable... now its like not much dearer than buying a decent head unit ...... good work chief :D

#22 pharo

  • Joined:01-August 04
  • Location:Australia NSW

Posted 04 July 2006 - 10:55 PM

so if datascan is only for 96+, what can i use to read data for a 91 180sx?

to use ecutalk, i need a cable to connect the consult plug to my laptop? anyone know where i can find a guide on this?

#23 NewKleer

  • Joined:30-June 03
  • Location:Australia NSW
  • Car:MY01 WRX EJ25

Posted 07 July 2006 - 09:27 PM

most consult software will work on any car with the 14 pin grey consult plug. datascan should.

if ur 180sx is the sr20, then datascan, ecutalk, calumsult, all should work.

assuming u have the grey 14 pin consult plug, you're after a "consult interface", either serial or usb (only get usb if u dont have a proper serial port on ur laptop, serial one is more "pure" and will work with anything, and costs less)

caz on these forums sells the blazt.biz interfaces (do a search for interface or something, or pm her), u can also get them from plmsdevelopments.com

#24 Guest_shaunsil_*

Posted 16 October 2007 - 09:44 PM

Hi, i am very interested in doing this but i have a question about heat.
I want to mount my computer in my boot - will the boot get extremely hot during hot summer days? causing the computer to shit itself?
or would a better idea be a laptop and mounting it under the drivers seat so even in summer, there is some kind of ventilation?


#25 GBear

  • Joined:04-February 04
  • Car:Nissan S13 '93 180SX

Posted 26 October 2007 - 12:04 PM

under the seat is even worse, there is very little room and air will not get down well there, not a good idea.

i've had an OLD p3 system in my car with NO FAN, but it had alot of space around it. in hot summer days and nothing happens. it ran fine.

i have a new system now which sits where my digital climate control unit used to sit, and its fine there too.

#26 sanel

  • Joined:24-November 09
  • Location:Australia VIC

Posted 23 April 2011 - 07:51 PM

any1 got pics that work of a setup in the car

#27 Slydin

  • Joined:13-July 11
  • Location:Australia NSW
  • Car:180SX

Posted 27 July 2011 - 08:10 PM

epic write up, sorry for the revival, once i get some more funds i will be doing this :)

#28 kaul_

  • Joined:05-January 08
  • Location:Australia QLD
  • Car:93 Qs Silvia

Posted 29 July 2011 - 06:37 AM

Since this hasn't been updated for a long time. It's probably best to now use low power CPU mini-ITX motherboards like Intel Atoms and AMD APUs. Plus with the advent of SSDs instead of HDDs I recommend one as they consume less power and will reduce start up times and quicken up the CPC overall.

1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users

Common Links

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • User Agreement
  • Help & Support Forums
  • Advertise

    By your continued use of this site, you agree to follow all Rules & Guidelines and abide by the User Agreement outlined in our Terms & Conditions.

    Hardtuned Network is hosted by Sanity Technology

    Design, Site Management & Hotness provided by Loz.

    Big thanks to all our members and volunteers for making this network what it is today!