My next TruckPC (possibly)
I've been looking at a new computer for the truck for awhile. This 2.5yr old laptop is about due for replacement. This is what I found:


The kit contains the Intel D945GCLF2 Mini-ITX Motherboard, the VoomPC-2 car PC enclosure, the P4-12V to P4-12V cable for M2-ATX Intelligent DC Power Supply, the Slim Cd-ROM to 2.5" IDE Adapter, wire harness, connectors and jumpers.

VoomPC-2 is a compact, high performance yet affordable x86 vehicle / car PC (car computer) kits specifically designed for the ultra power sensitive conditions of in-vehicle applications. Based on Intel D945GCLF2 Mini-ITX Motherboard the VoomPC-2 is aimed at driving telematics mainstream and provides a versatile, low cost navigation and infotainment platform.

With a footprint of 21cmx26.5cmx6.6cm, made out of massive 5.5mm extruded aluminum profile, the VoomPC-2(TM) car PC (carputer) encloure was designed to work with any type of mini-ITX motherboard (170x170mm) from fanless configurations such as VIA mini-ITX or Pentium or low power Pentium-M processors and an entire range of slim ATAPI devices: CD-ROM, DVD-ROM, CD-RW and DVD-RW drives, making it the ideal car PC solution.

The VoomPC-2 integrates the intelligent Mini-box M2-ATX car PC (vehicle , boat, electric cart, etc) automotive power supply unit to prevent system damage from power surges and eliminate car battery drain by monitoring car battery levels, even when the car is turned off. The VoomPC car PC (carputer, boat pc) can take a SlimCD drive and a 2.5" drive. While in deep sleep mode, M2-ATX constantly monitors your car battery voltage levels, preventing deep discharge situations by automatically shutting down (using a buil-in shutdown controller) until battery levels reach safe levels again.

No more dead car batteries, no more computer resets during engine cranks, along with multiple timing schemes, small formfactor and very competitive price makes the M2-ATX the premier solution for dc-dc ATX vehicle / car PC power supply solutions.

VoomPC-2 barebone platform is ideal for automotive enthusiasts and telematics (in-vehicles) system integrators alike to integrate a wide range of GPS navigation, communication, entertainment and information functionality into private cars or vehicle-dependent professional service vehicles such as law enforcement, rescue and commercial transport, where access to data on the road is essential.
The system comes built to run on a 12v DC system, but since I already have an inverter, I'll probably get this power supply for it:


The computer with a dual-core 1.6ghz cpu, 2gig of ram, 160gig drive and a slimline dvd/cd combo, plus the power supply, will run me just over $400. I can then go back to whatever monitor I want in the sleeper. Plus, the computer is nice and small, and can be mounted pretty much anywhere.
Ken in Regina
That's the one that caught my eye a few weeks ago, too. I especially like the 12V power supply. I have an inverter but it's just extra clutter that I'll be happy not to use. Sometime after xmas I'll be looking more seriously at building one. I just need to figure out which small touchscreen would be the best for mounting and using.

If you configure the system at the link I posted, they'll completely assemble and test it for you. The only thing that would be left would be to install the operating system and your software.

As for the touchscreens, I've used both a Lilliput and a Xenarc 7". I preferred the Lilliput over the Xenarc I currently have, for a couple reasons:
1 - The Xenarc doesn't have a default setting. Every time the power cycles (starting the truck does this), the Xenarc reconfigures itself, so I have to redo it each time.
2 - To dim the backlight in the Lilliput, you simply hit the up or down button on the display. For the Xenarc, you have to hit the Menu button 2x, then use the up/down.
3 - The Lilliput was quite a bit cheaper.

The only reason I don't have the Lilliput is because I accidentally fried it by shorting out the power cord. I thought the Xenarc would be a better monitor, so I "upgraded" to it. Dumb me...

The dash mounts that come with both are almost identical.
Ken in Regina
Thanks for the tip on the Lilliput monitors. I've put their web site into my Carputer folder for more investigation when I get serious.

Do you remember where you bought yours? Any idea which model you would get if you were doing it again?

I bought mine from mp3car.com. They've upgraded the model I had at the time. If I was to buy a new Lillliput, this is the one I'd get:
$299.99 - http://store.mp3car.com/2008_Lilliput_7_VGA_Touchscreen_629GL_70NP_LED_p/mon-016.htm

This is the Xenarc that I currently have:
$364.95 - http://store.mp3car.com/Xenarc_700TSV_7_TFT_LCD_Touchscreen_Monitor_p/mon-004.htm

If this was my truck (instead of a company truck), I'd like a monitor like this:

mp3car.com also sells the same VoomPC-2 system that I posted in the OP. However, their price is a tad higher. I'd buy the computer from mini-box and the screen from mp3car.
Ken in Regina
Thanks for the links. That Xenarc in-dash unit looks sweet. Unfortunately there is no place to put it in my dash so I'll have to go with something that has an external mount.

In the truck, the only reason I use the factory radio is for playing my audio through the truck speakers. If it was my truck, I'd pull the radio, put an in-dash touchscreen in and just use an amp for the speakers.

Actually, I could use a double-DIN setup for the display. I'd just have to move an air-switch and an led display that shows what gear my transmission is currently in.
I only have a pickup truck and find that display placement is a major issue. I have a UMPC with a 7" screen which isn't much larger than those displays. However, I have not yet found a location that is easy to glance at but doesn't block controls or gauges. Placing it at windshield level has too many negatives; blocking my view, heat issues, washout problems and security but everywhere else is already taken. I think I would like something in the 5" widescreen line.

I have the Intel Atom mb listed on order, but not from MP3car. The Canadian dollar exchange is awful right now and shipping is an issue too. NCIX has one but the case isn't as nice and no 12v option. I'll work on that later.

Do you run the single or dual core Atom? Any probs with it?

If you are asking me, I won't have the Atom dual core until next week and still have to decide about memory. The UMPC is only a Celeron 900 but runs the GPS programs I've tried with no problems.

I will try to provide more information in a week or so.

Marvin Hlavac
malaki86, will you keep the small PC in the truck at all times, or will you take it with you when you are done for the day?

I now use a 12" convertible laptop/tablet, and it is easy to take it with me. However, in the past I used a plain desktop PC tower, which set on the floor, behind the driver seat of a GMC 3500. I wouldn't want to carry the heavy tower with me home, as you can imagine. But I wouldn't want to leave my hard drive parked in my driveway over night, either. To solve the dilemma, I used a removable hard drive rack. It only took a couple of seconds to slide the hard drive rack in or out the PC, and I didn't have to fear of my data ever getting lost.

The old PC and the old LCD monitor were worth nothing, but I didn't want to lose my hard drive.
That's a good idea on a couple of levels. The hard drive has moving parts and could be susceptible to moisture due to changes in temperature as well as holding possibly sensitive data.

With a tiny ITX layout, you probably couldn't adapt a hard drive carrier and XP won't boot from a USB drive. However, one of the SATA connectors could be extended externally and used with a SATA hard drive and enclosure. XP will work with that.

I'll leave the computer in the truck. My current laptop has "lived" in the truck for 2.5 years now - I've only brought it to the house a few times.

Do a Google search for flash drives. I saw a place where you can get a non-volatile 2.5" 32gig flash memory drive for around $400. The price is still high, but there are no moving parts to worry about with them.
If you are interested in solid state drives, make sure you wait until the Intel ones are in our price range. The cheap ones have serious problems still.



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