Ok i think this would be the most appropriate forum to post this in.....
i had this crazy idea the other night (i am sure some else would of thought of a similar thing but i have never heard about it) so i would just like some advice/suggestions about it and if it would actually work.
The idea is to build a fairly cheap and small computer with a 10-20Gb HDD to put in the boot of my car. The purpose i so i can use it to play my mp3's from it, instead of carrying around tons of cd's. I would then connect the audio out to a car amplifier then attach my car speakers. I am thinking i could buy a small lcd monitor and place it on the dash and hook it up to the video out on the video card.
To control it i would buy a multimedia keyboard and just cut the panel out for the multimedia and shortcut keys (play, pause, next ect.) and put that somewhere on the dash. For a mouse, (which i dont intend on needing to be used most of the time) probably have it in the glove box and if it needs to be used i can use the inside of the door as a surface.
Now for the hard part - Power. There are two ways which i see it being powered. One being from an inverter running from the cigarette light. I think (just a guess so tell please feel free to correct me) that it would drain the car battery very quickly and/or use a lot of fuel.
The other option could be using a UPS. I dont know much about them because i have never needed one. But is it possible that i could use a UPS to power my computer. And if so what type do i need and how long does the power last in them?
If this works i could see this as being used as a both a mp3 player and a dvd player.
I have thought about using a laptop which would be much more convient and easier but i see it being a fair bit more expensive.
So please leave your suggestions/advice/critism whatever...
I don't know how much computer you'll run off a cigarette lighter socket, but those things are only good for around 20amps, which at 12v is 240W. Smart money would be on installing a second battery and adding a heavy wire to the inverter.
Most large UPS's don't run on 12v. I have one here that does, and I've figured out how to bypass the smart switch in order to make it a regular inverter (but of better quality of course). I only paid $20 for it, I'd let you have it for $30. No batteries are in it.
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I've often mulled over similar ideas. Most of the time I lean towards using either a VIA EPIA setup (shock and horror) with a laptop's external power supply, or an actual laptop. (In actuality, I lean more towards the actual laptop for a number of reasons.)
A cheap refurbished old laptop would be more than enough to run an MP3 player. (Heck, my pld P133 could play MP3s, so a 500MHz laptop would kick arse on that front I'd imagine.)
The bigger concern to me was physical shock. All of the bumps on a road would wreak havok on hard drives I'd imagine. A laptop's hard drive is at least designed to be bumped around more. So my thought was that if anything was going to survive the mistreatment of the running hard drive, it'd be a laptop.
But even then frequent bumping around while the drive is running might be too much. I mean how many months of constant abuse like that could it survive before errors popped up? So it <i>might</i> be better to get one of those 'low noise' cages for quiet PCs that suspend the hard drive in a rubber harness and throw a laptop drive into that. I don't know.
But anywho, the other solution that I figured would be a standard portable MP3 player or a PDA. If you used a flash memory solution then the hard drive would never be a problem. And both are designed to be ultra-low-power users so you could easily run them off of the car's electricity. And being small devices, you could probably mount them into the dash or something even. That just has the flaw of not being able to play DVDs.
For the most part though I just lean towards just velcroing a laptop to the dashboard. Heh heh.
And of course one has to consider, will you run actual audio cables into the stereo or will you use one of those tape-deck audio jack dealies, or will you use a short-range FM transmitter? These are important things to consider too.