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I may have found a solution for you. TRC MIS System they have a whole host of Mobil PC's to choose from, take a look.




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For those people looking to just hook up a big hard drive to your PC to hold MP3's well then Kenwood has a new product that might solve this conundrum for you. It’s called the Kenwood Music Keg and it connects to any 2003 Kenwood deck with changer control or their FM modulator so you can use it on any deck including the stock system. Check it out on Kenwood’s site click link



I came across these the other day and they both appealed to me, so I thought I would share.
 

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There will be another PC option coming into market soon. :wink:
I plan to do an official .net release when done.
 

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elmalloc said:
Thanks..Music Keg!!! :crazy: :bitching:
Here is my review of MusicKeg:

I persuaded my Dad into buying one when I was on my MP3 quest.
It was a disappointment for me. I had to write software so he could load MP3 songs that do not use standard English file naming conventions. I won't get into tech support details I had to give on how to maintain the files. Another problem it has is Kenwood limits number of songs per folder to 99, as the original navigation on the Headunit was designed for regular CD changers. The upload speed also leaves to wish for the best. When synchronising is done, the DMS (hard drive) unit needs to be unplugged and then plugged back in if more songs are to be downloaded.

Maybe I am too demanding. :cry:
I guess for normal users, it is a nice thing to have.
 

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I have an iPod and just use the FM or tape adapter for it. Works great for me + I can use it for when I start working out again :lol:
 

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vlad_a said:
elmalloc said:
Thanks..Music Keg!!! :crazy: :bitching:
Here is my review of MusicKeg:

I persuaded my Dad into buying one when I was on my MP3 quest.
It was a disappointment for me. I had to write software so he could load MP3 songs that do not use standard English file naming conventions. I won't get into tech support details I had to give on how to maintain the files. Another problem it has is Kenwood limits number of songs per folder to 99, as the original navigation on the Headunit was designed for regular CD changers. The upload speed also leaves to wish for the best. When synchronising is done, the DMS (hard drive) unit needs to be unplugged and then plugged back in if more songs are to be downloaded.

Maybe I am too demanding. :cry:
I guess for normal users, it is a nice thing to have.
I would say that your points are just, but at the same time unrational to the typical consumer. Perfection is different in everyones eyes, thus you can never please everybody. The music keg has room for improvemnets, but for the target market at large its a great device. I have personally used one since they were on available in demo form and nor for-sale. I love the thing. It takes a bit to get used the set-up, but once done you can easily add MP3's to any vehicle. The unit talks the disc name when switching folders or whatnot.

Overal the MK is a nice addition to any audio system.
 

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OZIS200 said:
Ipod 20gig
all you will ever need :D
Fully integrated PC, 120Gig, 802.11g for upload, more than you will ever need. 8)
 

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Lisnup65 is right, Perfection is different in everyones eyes.

Even though I am crazy about the idea of PC in a car and at the same time a bit biased, I would like to point out a few things about the TRC MIS Station.

I got to give them credit on the enclosure design, as it looks very well done. Having everything in one spot would make installation a bit easier. The whole system setup is a big step from past mini-ITX designs.

However, here are a few things I find "not perfect":
1) Lack of Auto On/OFF feature
2) No support of USB 2.0 as many new devices, such as ext DVD and high speed wireless networking require it.
3) Only 3 USB 1.1 ports (Yes, they can be expanded, but it's nice to have more to begin with).
4) No Stabilized Power output, as there are some ext devices that need it.
5) No mounting brackets for the PC unit (?).
6) CD/DVD unit integrated into the main unit, which would more than likely be mounted in the trunk, making it inconveniet to change disks.
7) Timer relay may be needed to avoid iginition voltage drop.
8.) Memory is SDRAM PC100/PC133, which is ancient technology in today's world.


I am not trying to bash the unit, but to point out a few things I took into consideration when designing one for myself. Some people that are not computer gurus may find them useful. I realize many of the above items are because of a compromise between performance and power consumption, as well as price, however, newer technology is available.

Please, feel free to add or critisize my points. Please, try not to use "it is only for a car" comment, as in my view Car PC (CPU :wink: ) has to be very capable.
 

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When you have a mobile/embedded system, you usually don't cram hardware to fit your software needs. You trim down software to fit the hardware. I think the specs for the TRC MIS look just fine... if you don't just cram winXP into it and call it done.

What I'm concerned about is:

1. Will it hold up to the extreme heat on a hot summer day? This was one of the biggest problem I had in my last in-car PC project.

2. Can the hard disk withstand constant vibration? This is especially important since we're not driving a soft & floating ES300. I had to switch to compact flash because spending $100 for a failed HD every few weeks is too much.

3. Is it compatible with Linux? :) Linux gives me much more flexibility to customize and trim down.
 

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Sleepy, on a project I'm working on, here is how I addressed the issues you described:

1) The enclosure is vented on all sides, plus there is 1 fan that is temp activated. Another fan can be added for extra cooling, should the need arise.
2) I placed the hard drive on a "suspension" to reduce some of the shock.
3) Linux has not been tried; it may work with a proper set of drivers.

Do you have any other pointers? I am trying to iron out even the smallest things.

P.S.
A note on software trimming. There is one piece (visualizer) that I would not want to trim, but rather give it more hardware support. :wink:
 

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vlad,

My brother (partner for the project) actually went through the trouble of designing a custom chasis, but still our Via miniATX system wasn't designed extreme conditions. :noway: We had to turn on AC all the time just to be safe :lol:

Then we put the PC on a layer of foam which pretty much solved the vibration problem, but it looked ghetto... so we still went for compact flash.

We reached the conclusion that off-the-shelve components are cheap and easy, but most are pretty crappy for mobile environment. So a specially designed PC like TRC MIS looks really interesting to me, as long as price is reasonable.

Sounds like you're really ambitious with your project. Care to give a sneak peak? :D
 

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Sleepy,
Ambitious is an understatement. I have spent past 6 months developing this thing, trying out different hardware, tweaking my car. This is 3 of my hobby directions combined (car, electronics, audio), on top of my profession (IT), so this makes me very excited. :p 8)

Here is a sneak peak:









The last one is the display w/ tochscreen (nevermind the blue plastic cover) mounted in JDM dash kit. The white part is being used to create a mold so that with some work monitors can be mounted into double din opening.

All of the pictures are just a portion of the things I am getting done. Unfortunately, I am unable to get enclosure's pictures because the shop is still working on getting test units into production.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Were as I agree technology has passed by on most of the hardware used looks as though it’s already out dated. However I have to disagree on one point with you, to me it looks like they did this intentionally to reduce heat. the new P4 systems with DDR and especially Rambus memory run extremely hot, in most case in a normal PC case you will need a couple of extra Chassis fans just to keep it nice and cool something you never really needed for this old hardware. I even had to start using round IDE, SCSI and ATAPI cables to help make airflow better inside the case and this is on a large mid tower case.

In vlad_a's case and some of us that actually work in the IT Field we could easily build our own unit similar to this with newer hardware and maintain it because we would be able to make our own changes to the unit if things started to fry in the case of this unit they are selling to people who the majority could not do this for them selves, so they had to trim the hardware back.

And I will make this point because I know you will try and make it next, and I totally agree with it at some point this company will have to start working with their suppliers to make boards and drivers and such which will support USB 2.0 and Bluetooth and so on… I still think it’s a pretty good deal especially for those people with out the technical knowledge to build their own

Just a few comments on this stuff.

1) Lack of Auto On/OFF feature.

This more then likely is a feature of the bios and could be turned on or off depending on your taste.

2) No support of USB 2.0 as many new devices, such as ext DVD and high speed wireless networking require it.

Fire wire is one of the features that it does have meaning you could use and external HDD or DVD rom Drive and mount it anyware you can run the wires which means you could even mount it in the dash.

3) Only 3 USB 1.1 ports (Yes, they can be expanded, but it's nice to have more to begin with).

I'm on their site now and can't seem to see where they say the 3 USB Ports are only 1.1 in fact to prove my point in red is the USB and in Blue the Firewire information

Built-in 10/100base-T Ethernet, 3 USB, 1 IEEE 1394 Fire-Wire Storage: One 2.5 inch Hard Disk 9.5mm high (Support Ultra DMA 33/66/100)
In Fact if you go here and look on the list it says this about 7 items down listed as one of the accessories for this unit is "Hi Speed 4 Port 2.0 USB Hub"

4) No Stabilized Power output, as there are some ext devices that need it.

No argument there however i would think a simple power converter would do the trick.

5) No mounting brackets for the PC unit (?).

They probably have to be made or fabricated for each vehicle some things have to be left to the installer.

6) CD/DVD unit integrated into the main unit, which would more than likely be mounted in the trunk, making it inconveniet to change disks.

See number two on this, no one said you can't add another external DVD drive.

7) Timer relay may be needed to avoid iginition voltage drop.

I agree however this goes back to the instant on or auto on you mentined earleir if they simply set it to not instant on you and you either extend the power button up to the fron or you get a nice RF keyboard with a power button on it and just turn it on once started.

8.) Memory is SDRAM PC100/PC133, which is ancient technology in today's world.

I think this goes back to the operating temprature to be honest, DDR and RDRAM are really hot and if you can't mount them a certain space apart due to things like space limitations then they heat up even more.


vlad_a said:
Lisnup65 is right, Perfection is different in everyones eyes.

Even though I am crazy about the idea of PC in a car and at the same time a bit biased, I would like to point out a few things about the TRC MIS Station.

I got to give them credit on the enclosure design, as it looks very well done. Having everything in one spot would make installation a bit easier. The whole system setup is a big step from past mini-ITX designs.

However, here are a few things I find "not perfect":
1) Lack of Auto On/OFF feature
2) No support of USB 2.0 as many new devices, such as ext DVD and high speed wireless networking require it.
3) Only 3 USB 1.1 ports (Yes, they can be expanded, but it's nice to have more to begin with).
4) No Stabilized Power output, as there are some ext devices that need it.
5) No mounting brackets for the PC unit (?).
6) CD/DVD unit integrated into the main unit, which would more than likely be mounted in the trunk, making it inconveniet to change disks.
7) Timer relay may be needed to avoid iginition voltage drop.
8.) Memory is SDRAM PC100/PC133, which is ancient technology in today's world.


I am not trying to bash the unit, but to point out a few things I took into consideration when designing one for myself. Some people that are not computer gurus may find them useful. I realize many of the above items are because of a compromise between performance and power consumption, as well as price, however, newer technology is available.

Please, feel free to add or critisize my points. Please, try not to use "it is only for a car" comment, as in my view Car PC (CPU :wink: ) has to be very capable.
 

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^^^^
A few notes on the above:
1) Auto On/OFF is NOT A BIOS FEATURE!!!
It is a piece of hardware that does SOFT power-up/shut-down, as well as SOFT sleep/wake-up. Power-up can be set in Bios to work whenever the power is supplied to the mainboard (limited number of boards support that feature), but that would mean rebooting the whole system. Then, there is a problem with shutdown, as it has to be done manually, prior to power cut.

2) True on firewire, however, I was not able to find decent DVD hardware (slimline) for firewire. USB 2.0 is more supported. There is no Firewire Wireless Lan adapter. USB 2.0 is recommended to take full speed advantage of latest Wireless Lan technologies.

3) USB 2.0 Hubs are backward compatible with USB 1.1 system, however, when plugged into 1.1 USB port, they function only as a 1.1 hub. In no specs I have it specifies USB 2.0. All it states is USB, which, coming from a PC hardware world, means USB 1.1 to me.

4) Power converters make things even more complicated, as some of the devices are better (even though may not be necessary) to be setup to turn on/off at the same time PC is. But as you said, it can be done.

5) N/A

6) As I mentioned above, firewire is no longer ext devices preffered choice. See above notes (2) on slim devices. USB 1.1 based Devices do not play DVD movies flawlessly.

7) RF Keyboard WILL NOT turn on the system, as it needs USB receiver to be powered up for it to work. Once again, more "manual" things to do.

8.) RDRAM had its problems and always needed heatsinks. DDR, however, seems to run relatively cool. The reason to use SDRAM may go back to the chipset used on the mainboard, temperature reasons, space limitations, or all of the above combined.


Carry on... 8)
I am getting some useful info here. :D I most certainly would like to know if I missed or misinterpreted something. :-?


A little note on why I am biased:
Even though I have a distribution agreement with their partner company where I buy some of the components, they are also my competition. :wink:
 

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On another note, my Car PC (CPU :wink: ) is ALIVE!!!
Even though the 2 shops I am using for plastic faceplate adapter manufacturing and an aluminum enclosure are delaying my orders, I quickly put the system together to see if it works. :p

There are still some issues to work around, but that thing is so amazing.
It is everything I thought it was going to be and more. Touchscreen is so nice. Pushing buttons on a screen with your finger after many years of using a mouse is just an experience in itself. When they designed buttons to be "pushed" on a screen, they did it to immitate a push, and now with a touchscreen it is awesome, as the actual push really happens. :D
I quickly loaded up 2,500 MP3s, so now I have some tunes!!!
It plays my MP3s that use non-standard (non-english) file naming and ID3 tag convetions!!! VBR (Variable Bitrate) is supported! You can see what is playing and what will play next. Navigation is so much easier. File access is quick, unlike the MP3 changer I used to have.
I said "Hi" to one of my favorite visualizers. That thing is worth the whole process of installing a PC. :p
After being tired of using touchscreen and mini wireless keyboard, I programmed my IR receiver and credit card sized remote to control Winamp and other windows functions. The end results was more than I expected, the system has become a fully functional headunit. :p :D
It starts up (wakes-up or boots-up) as I turn on my car and turns off when I turn it off.

As I mentioned, there is a number of things to tweak around, but it's all part of the process.


Bottom line, PC in a car stands far above any available headunits on the market.


After toying around for 2 days, I had to pick my Dad up from the Airport. Since my car is missing some of its interior (part of the project), I used his. Looking at the Kenwood Headunit running MusicKeg, well.., wasn't so exciting. I mean, it plays music, and does a nice job at it, but that is about it. The flying penguins (Kenwood's "visualizer") just no longer cut it.
 

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How's that LCD screen working out for you?

The reason I ask is because we have have a black white LCD (couldn't afford touch screen + color at the time :crazy: ), and during bright shiny summer days, the screen might not be bright enough in direct sunlight. We implemented a function that changes the polarity of the colors, which helped a bit, but still not completely satisfactory.

The stock NAV system also has a similar function where it switches background color according to the lighting of environment. It also has a tilt feature to make the screen easier to read. But this is also not perfect, especially when I watch DVDs where the video picture don't have enough contrast.

Have you tried driving around with your screen?
 

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^^^^
It works in the sun! :eek:
Of course, it is much harder to see things on the screen, but I had no problem finding buttons to push or figuring out what's going on. I am thinking of getting tint next season for optimal performance. 8)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I still disagree with a few things.

Its been my experience anything that’s small form factor and has more then two USB ports has been 2.0 - Were this theory has nothing to stand on but past experience the fact that 2.0 has been out long enough for IBM HP Sony and several other Hardware manufacturers to list just USB as a simple option list but still once investigated it happens to be 2.0 - not really that important right now however some hardware for USB 2.0 is backwards compatible with 1.1 and USB 2.0 is the new standard and the P4 system are likely conforming to that standard.

There is a reason some more expensive memory makers make DDR with Heat sinks - because it gets hot...

Yes I understand what soft bios is I haven't seen a board made in 2 years that doesn't have soft bios and I would almost place a wager that the boards bios uses award soft bios or something similar. for those that don't know what soft bios is it came out about six years or so ago it allows the bios to control every feature of the Main board even jumper settings that previously had to be set manually for things like memory type CPU speed and such soft menu also controls the Power on and off features of a board allowing things like Standby and Hibernate and wake on event features such as Wake on LAN which would wake the PC up if someone tried to access the PC from a network.

Linksys Wireless-G 802.11G USB Adapter is both USB 1.1 and 2.0 compatible obviously 1.1 wont be as fast as the 2.0 though however it will support speeds over 700 Kbps which is faster then your T1 at work.

Additionally since I know you to be similar to my self you could get a wireless 108Mbps Gateway and use a uplink cable off the 10/100 Built in NIC. you are right to my knowledge there are no Wireless adaptors that use fireware but you can get PCMCIA readers that are firewire and you can link PCI board to a PC using firewire meaning you could build a small PCI riser in a small box shove it were ever you like and run PCI Wireless cards and you could even through a USB 2.0 PCI Card to deal with those other items you like. --just a thought at any rate we will know soon enough i emailed them for more detailed information.


vlad_a said:
^^^^
A few notes on the above:
1) Auto On/OFF is NOT A BIOS FEATURE!!!
It is a piece of hardware that does SOFT power-up/shut-down, as well as SOFT sleep/wake-up. Power-up can be set in Bios to work whenever the power is supplied to the mainboard (limited number of boards support that feature), but that would mean rebooting the whole system. Then, there is a problem with shutdown, as it has to be done manually, prior to power cut.

2) True on firewire, however, I was not able to find decent DVD hardware (slimline) for firewire. USB 2.0 is more supported. There is no Firewire Wireless Lan adapter. USB 2.0 is recommended to take full speed advantage of latest Wireless Lan technologies.

3) USB 2.0 Hubs are backward compatible with USB 1.1 system, however, when plugged into 1.1 USB port, they function only as a 1.1 hub. In no specs I have it specifies USB 2.0. All it states is USB, which, coming from a PC hardware world, means USB 1.1 to me.

4) Power converters make things even more complicated, as some of the devices are better (even though may not be necessary) to be setup to turn on/off at the same time PC is. But as you said, it can be done.

5) N/A

6) As I mentioned above, firewire is no longer ext devices preffered choice. See above notes (2) on slim devices. USB 1.1 based Devices do not play DVD movies flawlessly.

7) RF Keyboard WILL NOT turn on the system, as it needs USB receiver to be powered up for it to work. Once again, more "manual" things to do.

8.) RDRAM had its problems and always needed heatsinks. DDR, however, seems to run relatively cool. The reason to use SDRAM may go back to the chipset used on the mainboard, temperature reasons, space limitations, or all of the above combined.


Carry on... 8)
I am getting some useful info here. :D I most certainly would like to know if I missed or misinterpreted something. :-?


A little note on why I am biased:
Even though I have a distribution agreement with their partner company where I buy some of the components, they are also my competition. :wink:
 

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^^^^
When I talk about SOFT power-up/down, I mean the way ATX power works. When you push power button when the system is plugged in and not powered up, it will power up. When you do Start -> Shut Down -> Turn Off in MS Windows, the system powers down.
Of course, on some mainboards, I noticed most of them using Phoenix Bios, there is a menu option to setup to Power-up the system whenever the power supply gets power, for example plugging in the power supply into the outlet.
All of the above works nicely for Desktops and Notebooks (Notebooks have hardware/software to sleep/suspend/hibernate themselves when the batteries run low).
When we get into the Car world, this is where it gets tricky. How do you power-up/shut-down the system? Powering up is easy - apply power, setup bios to auto power-up when the power supply gets power, viola! This AT type of a setup works one way flawlessly - you turn on ignition, system gets powered whenever ignition is on, it works.
But how do you power it down? Park the car, push Start -> Shut Down -> Turn Off; when the system is off, turn the ignition off. I guess it works. However, it is a PC and it can be automated.

No, I do not need help in figuring out how to make it work, because it already is (Thanks .Net for a tip in the past :D ).

For their sake, I hope they used USB 2.0, because the setup you described above is something I would not be tempted to do, and I am not a regular PC user. Most of the USB 2.0 hardware I have seen is backward compatible with USB 1.1, provided performance would suffer. P4 came out before USB 2.0 did, so there are still plenty of mianboards that utilize only USB 1.1. I agree that USB 2.0 has been wide-spread over the past year.

On the DDR memory, I always used brand-name memory. It never came with a heatsink. I've seen some that did, but, apparently, it was just one of those "extra" things to have. My server PC has been running DDR memory (Crucial/Micron) for the past 1.5 years 24/7. No temp problems were encountered. The 2 pieces of DDR memory I use in my prototype running in Dual-Paging mode remain relatively cool. But, as mentioned in the previous post, heatsinks are available, should there be a hint of a temp problem.


Sorry for a long post. I am mumbling. It is too early in the morning and I am already at work.
 
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