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HTPC for the SUV

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February 18, 2010 5:26:17 PM

OK. Here’s your chance to get creative. How about an HTPC for the car?
Here's some rough ideas since the kids are about to get home from school. I'll clean it up later. It needs to:
Play Blu-Ray DVDs
Pick up over-the-air TV signals and DVR them
Play MP3s, etc.
Allow two people to play a game against each other (I’m not a gamer so I don’t know how to phrase this correctly.)
Do multiple displays, maybe three – two for videos/gaming, one for GPS and finding a restaurant while on the road
Have Internet access – using a cell phone modem?
Zotac 9300 MoBo - just been reading about this and it sounds pretty good
4GB RAM
E6x000 CPU
SSD hard drive
ATI 5000 series video card
Power supply? Enough power to drive USB and other peripherals? Do I have to bump up the car’s ability to supply power? Extra battery to keep it going while stopped? How do I keep the power flowing while I pump gas? We’ll probably need to use diapers since there’ll be no desire to make pit stops with this much entertainment in the car.
Several small LCDs for the car, and the ability to hook up to most TVs in hotels or rental condos
What software to use? Windows 7, PowerDVD9 or Media Center
Will there be enough space on the drive for Office?
Use an external drive to rip DVDs, music, TV shows, etc. for the trip?
Add you own suggestions, ideas and wishes. Like the government we’ll worry about the budget after we design it. Heck, maybe we could get a grant to build it. Is this a shovel ready project?

More about : htpc suv

February 18, 2010 5:38:47 PM

Here's a brief idea. The case is a bit big for a car though...

CPU: X4 955 $161
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3 $85 after rebate
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $90
Optical: BluRay Reader $62
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner $23
Case: Antec 300 $60
PSU: SeaSonic 650W 80+ Gold Certified $160
GPU: HD 5770 $150. Might need to bump it to the HD 5850 ($300) depending on the monitors' resolutions.
TV Tuner: Hauppauge w/ remote $130
OS: Windows 7 Home 64-bit OEM $105

Total: $1,141. I can't garauntee that this will work in hotels. Many of them have jacked wit the TVs so it won't accept typical connectors. As for power, you may want to find a battery backup with a typical plug that can be powered by a cigarette lighter. I don't know the specifics, but I've seen them before...

SSDs are a waste of time right now, and wouldn't do anything for the build.

There aren't many games that are two player from 1 PC that I can think of. You might want to consider getting a car GPS and a PlayStation 3.

BTW, there is no way you spend enough time in a car for this to be worth it.
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February 18, 2010 5:57:55 PM

This isn't about being "worth it" this is about can it be done.

I'm thinking that the budget could be less than $600 for the PC.

I was thinking that an SSD would be better so that I would have to worry as much about vibration and the PC would boot really fast. Storage on the road is not an issue since it will be part of a network at home.

I guess two person gaming on 1 pc is like dual video card set ups. An idea only a engineer could love. I guess gaming is an individual sport. If it is multi-player then who would want another smelly (that's meant as a joke based on the stereotype) gamer in close proximity? Better to do it over the Internet.

You obviously don't have kids. They'll drive you nuts on a 10 min. trip to the grocery store and insane on a two hour drive for a day trip. Don't even get me started on an all day drive to Disney World, or a road trip in the Summer.

I'm thinking that $100 for a GPS, another $150 for two DVD players, $300 for two Nintendo DSi and you're up to the cost of a PC that you can use in the car and at home.

I got the itch after reading about a guy who was going to build a PC that he could slide in and out of his dashboard. Again, not about being practical, but about can it be done and how.

Thanks for the input. It has added a couple of twists to the concept.
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February 18, 2010 6:03:58 PM

You'll find a lot of parts for what you want to do here: http://www.logicsupply.com/. As for the multiplayer gaming, why not build 3 car PCs? One as a server, housed in the glovebox or in the back and and two clients for gaming? I think that's what it's going to take.

Livin' large!
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February 18, 2010 6:04:17 PM

The problem with two player PC gaming isn't the GPU. It's just the fact that most PCs (or games) won't accept multiple controllers (2 keyboards, 2 mice).

If you wanted it for $600, that can be done, but it won't have a BluRay player or TV tuner. SSDs are out of the question until you break the $1,500 mark.

I might suggest a different setup as the gaming goes. The PS3 (which is multi player) is only $300. Stick in another $50-75 for the second controller, and you have an entertainment device. In addition, you wouldn't need 2 DVD players. The PS3 would work as one too.
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February 18, 2010 7:12:45 PM

Dougie Fresh said:
You'll find a lot of parts for what you want to do here: http://www.logicsupply.com/. As for the multiplayer gaming, why not build 3 car PCs? One as a server, housed in the glovebox or in the back and and two clients for gaming? I think that's what it's going to take.

Livin' large!


Thanks Dougie. I found Logic Supply earlier today while I was checking out miniITX boards. Looks like they have quite a selection. Haven't checked out their prices yet.

With dropping hardware prices an in-car server and a couple of netbooks might do the trick. Bring along the adults' notebooks and you've got a real party.

Then again. If you are going to spend the time looking at a screen instead of the scenery why leave home? I've been trying to get the kids to play the license plate game, but I'm the one that finds most of them.

This is going to be an interesting thought process.
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February 18, 2010 7:25:02 PM

I would think that most of the trouble with getting this working is figuring out the displays.

You can easily get an inverter to just plug a typically set-up PC pretty much into any car lighter port. Your SUV may even have a lighter/electrical outlet in the cargo area. That will stay on while you've got the car off and you're filling up the tank.

Netbooks with an ad hoc wireless network are a good start. As mentioned, most multi-player games these days aren't at all the same as multi-player games from the 80s & 90s, where you would take turns or split the screen.
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February 18, 2010 8:09:37 PM

coldsleep said:
I would think that most of the trouble with getting this working is figuring out the displays.

You can easily get an inverter to just plug a typically set-up PC pretty much into any car lighter port. Your SUV may even have a lighter/electrical outlet in the cargo area. That will stay on while you've got the car off and you're filling up the tank.

Netbooks with an ad hoc wireless network are a good start. As mentioned, most multi-player games these days aren't at all the same as multi-player games from the 80s & 90s, where you would take turns or split the screen.


I agree about the displays. I can't remember the name of the company but there is one out there that does brackets for mounting laptops in cars like the police have. They might have something that could be used. Or maybe some sort of seat back mounting. Or maybe just buy an RV. Time to get creative.
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February 18, 2010 10:26:40 PM

I may have misled you by putting gaming in the spec. I'm not thinking about hard core gaming. Maybe some simple games to keep the kids occupied.

I've always thought that most PC games were played with game controllers. The only games I do on my PC are the ones that come with the OS. The kids mostly do Java/Flash games online. The only PC game we have is Lego Indiana Jones which uses a keyboard or game controller. Two players can play that with one using a controller and the other the keyboard (or maybe a second controller). I anticipate the kids wanting to get into gaming at some point. Based on your comment about keyboard and mouse I'm guessing that games played solely on a local PC are on their way out. Seem to recall an article on TH about EA requiring all their games to have an online component beginning this year.

I'm a bargin shopper so I'm surprised that you say that BluRay, TV and SSD are out of the budget.
CPU: X4 955 $161 (I was thinking a E6300, or other CPU for less than $80)
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3 $85 after rebate (I was thinking mini ITX at about $120 or less)
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115 (I was thinking DDR2-800 for under $70)
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $90 (I was thinking a $50 HD, maybe a 2.5” or a $150 64GB SSD)
Optical: BluRay Reader $62 (I’ve seen 4x drives that burn DVDs for $70)
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner $23 (not sure why I’d need two optical drives)
Case: Antec 300 $60 (That’s about right for case. Though one might pick one up for less on sale)
PSU: SeaSonic 650W 80+ Gold Certified $160 (I was thinking of using a case that came with a 250W power supply.)
GPU: HD 5770 $150. Might need to bump it to the HD 5850 ($300) depending on the monitors' resolutions. (This is probably overkill for the gaming I was thinking about. I was thinking of either the Nvidia 9x00 on the MoBo, or an under $80 HD 5000 series card.)
TV Tuner: Hauppauge w/ remote $130 (I was thinking of one that was under $90.)
OS: Windows 7 Home 64-bit OEM $105 (I forget to include this when pricing systems.)

So that would be under $700 with a 64GB SSD. Wireless keyboard/mouse, software, etc. might add another $100 to $150.

I was hoping that this thread would function more to spark ideas and the potential for an HTPC with a car attached rather than trying to solve a specific problem. Ahh... I forgot pre-marital counseling 101 - Men try to solve problems, women just want to talk and feel. And men tend to take things literally. I’m trying to spark ideas, not find solutions.
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February 19, 2010 1:44:26 AM

I was trying to think what I'd do at home and then sticking it into a SUV. :) 

Headrest LCD displays with a media extender or mini HTPC attached to each running W7MC. Larger server PC in the back with a Gigabit router -- maybe running Windows Home Server. SSDs in the client PCs. A couple of 1.5TB drives in the server. You'd also want some kind of extender/client wired into the sound system of the SUV. No wireless -- all wired with Cat6. Kids can decide to watch movies or play their own games. You can listen to music over the car stereo system. How to do it all no idea -- but you asked for ideas ...
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February 19, 2010 8:27:18 PM

Here's another possibility, an internet tablet that runs the Google Android platform:





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February 19, 2010 9:49:53 PM

A creative option would to have one "server" and use Xbox 360's as media extenders. I do this at home and it works great. That would also make gaming against each other a lot easier. I run Windows 7 on the main machine and the Xbox 360's can access all my media files over the network.
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