Few years ago, I played with Car PC with some of my friends. At that time, it was complicated to bring PC into the car. We need to buy expensive DC-to-DC inverter, have to buy expensive VIA EPIA C3 mainboard and chassis, then finally have to work with slow VIA C3 processor.
It was so slow and expensive!
We also need to build (or buy) chassis like picture below (taken somewhere on the net).
The cost would be very high just to adopt a slow computer inside your car.
Some of my friends suggested to buy 2nd hand notebook and use it as computer. Interesting. But now, I have a “light bulb” (better idea) on my head 😉
Look picture below.
It’s an Eee PC. Do you get my point? If don’t, let me enlighten you…
Eee PC is a new ultra portable and affordable laptop from ASUS. Weight only 920 grams (225x35x165 mm) with 7″ LCD (the size of double DIN in your car).
Still don’t get my point? 😉 Ok, shall I continue?
On 701 model (4G series, priced around US$ 360-370), it’s equipped with Intel Mobile Processor (Celeron M-ULV 900 MHz and Intel 910 graphics), 4 GB of Solid State Disk (this is what I call a “shock proof design”), and standard 512 MB RAM (easily changed to 2 GB of RAM, single slot only). On my experiment, a complete Windows XP Pro SP2 only takes 25 seconds to boot up.
Don’t forget to mention the standard 3 USB port, Intel HD-Audio (with mic and line out), VGA D-Sub video output, Ethernet, a Wi-Fi 802.11b/g connectivity, and a VGA camera.
Still don’t get my point? 😉 Ok, I quit! 🙂
I’m thinking of disassembly the Eee PC. Separate the mainboard unit with the LCD, then add a touch screen module on the LCD. Then we will have the finest and most affordable Car PC on the market.
Check the photo below.
We have to separate (and make some extension for some cables). From the picture above I think we will have some cables like camera, speaker, inverter, LCD video, and wireless antenna cable (usually two, with black and white color).
I don’t know whether we can create a cable extension (especially for LCD video cable). But I think we have that possibility.
For storage, we could add USB Flash Disk or SD Card. I think, 8-16 GB card will suitable for this stuff. We can have small Bluetooth USB dongle, some USB GPS module, or similar add on. It’s very easy to add since this is a real PC.
Power supply consideration
I recommend to use the battery. Why? Because we can shut down the Eee PC in Windows, but it will take 15-20 seconds to complete shutdown of the system. You don’t want to wait, right? So turn off your car then this Eee PC will automatically switch to battery mode until it completely shut down. If you don’t use battery, you need to wait until it completely shut down before you can turn off your car engine.
The standard power supply for Eee PC is rated at 9.5 Volt and 2.315 Ampere. In you car, the voltage (engine is running) is around 14 Volt. You will need a regulator to make sure your Eee PC will receive a good supply.
The easiest method is to use LM138 regulator (support up to 5A).
Picture below shows the possibility to use LM138/338 as adjustable regulator. The minimal input voltage should be 2 or 3 Volt higher than output voltage. In the case below, the V input is 28 Volt. So maximum V output (after adjusted/regulated) is 25 Volt (it can be adjusted by potentiometer – named R2 on picture). For our purpose, which needs V output at 9.5 Volt, so minimum V input should be around 12.5 Volt. That should be fine since we can have around 14 Volt in car when engine is running. Adjust the potentiometer (R2) to get the necessary Voltage output.
Make sure you use sufficient heatsink on the LM138/338. I use LM138/338 because it supports 5A (although Eee PC will draw around 2.3A only). It’s kind a bit overrated, but it can make your life easier (and you can sleep well) rather than using a cheap but too close small rated regulator.
This is just a concept idea from me. Feel free to use it and let me know if you really can do it…