Building an onboard car computer

October 19, 2011 at 16:56:16
Specs: Windows 7

Hi, I have been googling this for a while now and see a lot of people saying this can’t be done. But I want to build a custom computer that can handle just about anything and be able to upgrade as the tech changes. Laptops can’t do that. That being said..... I want to take my computer I built and put it in my car. While the car is on I will have a power inverter with a remote wire running from the ignition powering the computer so that when I shut the car off the power shuts off. Now if I did this with a laptop I would just set it to hibernate after a min of not being plugged in. so my question is how can I get a desktop to run off a battery and where do I find the program for the battery options. It just needs to keep it powered long enough to get to hibernate and be able to sustain it while the car is off

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October 19, 2011 at 17:16:48
You cannot run a desktop of a battery without going through an inverter to boost the 12v to the 110/240v that a desktop requires. If your thinking of running the computer directly from the car battery, forget it. You would have to design a complete new power supply to regulate the power and provide the varying voltages that a desktop needs.

You had better make sure the vehicles charging circuits are in tip-top condition or you are going to your self with a lot of flat batteries.

You are also going to have to design a power supply unit in order to smooth out the variations in supply as the current availalbe from the battery fluctuates every time you turn the indicators on or press the break pedal. Turn the headlights and windscreen wipers on as well and you will come close to overloading the system.


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October 19, 2011 at 22:15:12
You don't need an inverter. There are power supplies made to convert automobile voltage to 12, 5, 3.3 volts required for the computer. There are low powered motherboards drawing less power than a notebook. A SSD will provide more vibration tolerance

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October 20, 2011 at 03:12:57
Hi Wilson,

irrespective of how you power the pc, Stuart's comment regarding flat batteries needs considering.

With your intended installation power needs to be supplied after the car ignition is turned off. Eventually the pc is switched off, then (if remembered) the invertor or whatever supplies the pc's power turned off.

Perhaps an additional smaller battery, such as one from a motorcycle that charges when the car is running?

Please advise back on progress.

Good Luck - Keep us posted.

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October 20, 2011 at 09:00:53
Thank you all so far, the flat batteries is already been taken care of, I am running LED's and a lot of other mods that I have done a lot of power calculations for, I have a beefed up alternator that puts out more power while the car is running as well as charges 2 Car batteries I have wired in series, I have everything covered for while the car is on but my problem is when its shut off, that feature you have on a laptop that allows you to go into power options and set the “on battery" and the "plugged in" settings. Plugged in will be when the car is running and the inverter is powering the desktop. I just need a way to get a desktop to give me that power option. Then run a different power converter to it running from my battery to keep it in hibernate. I hope I am making sense.

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