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  Project:     Jollyeskimo's Project 850itx Part 2  
  Guest Author:     Jollyeskimo
  Date:     October 26th, 2005  

Introduction:

In Part 1 of this project, I basically wired a laptop into my car to provide an all-in-one multimedia solution. While the basic setup worked fine, it was hardly original, not elegant at all, and a bit too basic. Wires were everywhere, the laptop sticking out of the back of the seat was an absolute eyesore. The gears in my head started turning, and plans for upgrades fell into place.

Project 850itx
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Project 850itx
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Since keeping power consumption to a minimum was still a priority, I looked into VIAís Mini-ITX EPIA motherboard line, as they were small, easy on the juice, and packed to the brim with integrated features. I ended up choosing the newer VIA EPIA SP13000 board with a healthy 1.3 GHz C3 processor, integrated video/audio, and most importantly support for regular desktop-sized DDR400 DIMM modules to keep performance level decent at a low cost. To go along with the board, a generic 256MB stick of DDR400 was purchased, along with an 80GB Samsung MP0804H laptop hard drive, recommended for its quiet operating noise levels (thanks to its fluid dynamic bearing motor) and great size to price ratio.

Project 850itx
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Project 850itx
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Since my original 8" Lilliputís touch screen controller was fried in an unfortunate accident, I replaced it with a smaller 7" model. The smaller model actually works better in the end as it isnít quite as obtrusive, and has a widescreen aspect ratio for watching movies. A Griffin Powermate was added as a secondary input device as well, providing play/pause/next track/previous track controls in addition to volume adjustments at a fingerís touch. The LED lit acrylic bottom was also a nice touch, varying in brightness in proportion to the volume level and pulsing when the volume has reached its maximum. Two other accessories that I added to the setup were a USB 802.11b Wi-Fi adapter for on-the-go connectivity, and a Polstar PGM-111 USB GPS receiver for navigation purposes.

Project 850itx
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Project 850itx
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Since I was no long working with a laptop with a power brick anymore, some thought had to be put into the power supply as well. I needed a power supply that would be as small as possible, yet be able to provide clean and stable power from a 12v DC power source, so conventional power supplies were automatically out of the question as they couldnít do either. Fortunately I happened upon exactly what I was looking for with a Morex DC-to-DC converter that runs off a 12v DC power source and provides 60 watts of conditioned juice to an ATX motherboard and one or two peripherals. Itís not much, but 60W is more than enough for a Mini-ITX board and a laptop hard drive. The more amazing thing about this miniscule 4.5cm x 16cm PSU is that with the 12v regulator attached, it is capable of providing juice even when the input voltage runs as low as 9 volts, or as high as 16 volts. Perfect for low battery situations, or dips and spikes during ignition of the car.

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