Project idea #2: Carputer
A CUSTOM CARPUTER CAN POTENTIALLY RUN CIRCLES AROUND A STOCK CAR ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM.
The ‘carputer’ isn’t a new concept. PC enthusiasts have actually been finding ways to shoehorn PCs into cars for over 15 years and as technology has emerged and/or improved, backed by passionate forum communities, the carputer enthusiasts ultimately made their own market driven by their passion.
A carputer can deliver increased functionality and not only be a fun project but also provide improved features and functionalities of the vehicle, thereby improving your driving experience. Such examples of improved capability include the availability of real-time vehicle diagnostics and increased digital media library size, functionality, management and presentation within the context of a motor vehicle. A carputer can also provide increased vehicle security with unauthorised vehicle entry detection, linked external cameras and integrated recording devices.
In the early days of carputer adoption and implementation, two of the biggest issues were moving parts — particularly spinning disk drives — and excess heat generation and dissipation. Furthermore, the carputer can go through some difficult environmental conditions considering aspects such as prolonged and direct sunlight exposure if in an open area of the vehicle, significant hot and cold temperature variation and fluctuating humidity.
Thankfully, with today’s PC tech driven by mobile development and implementation, elements of concern such as low power usage and improved power state management have almost completely disappeared as a concern. Add to this the prevalence and relatively cheap cost of flash storage options, thereby eliminating mechanical parts and significantly increasing reliability in what can be a tough environment for electronics — this is all good news for DIY carputer implementation.
A major aspect of consideration outside of the operational environment and hardware suitability is supplying sufficient clean power to the system. While inverters are an option, the inefficient process of DC-AC-DC power conversions can create excessive heat and interference. A better approach is to use a broad spectrum DC-DC converter to create 3.3v, 5v and 12v rails for the PC to utilise. Due to the broad spectrum power frequency support, the converter should help remove peaks and troughs in power supply to the PC and therefore avoid power drops or spikes that may result in either a reset PC or in worst cases scenario, damaged components.
A custom carputer implementation complete with custom dash integration.