Automotive computing – Form and function of a carputer

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The Carputer (CarPC) is a personal computer designed specifically to be inserted in a means of transport. Before 2000, it was used only by hobbyists and computer enthusiasts but in recent years we are witnessing an integration in production cars.

The carputer is composed of the classic components of a modern computer: motherboard, processor, memory, hard disk and monitor.

The main differences lies in the dimensions and measures that prevent damage: the motherboard can be a Micro-ITX, Nano-ITX, Pico-ITX or even a micro-atx recovered from scrap pieces of old computers.

The reduced power consumption allows you to connect it directly to the car battery through a switching transformer, to avoid the delicate components surges or draining the battery of the car.

The screen is usually a touchscreen LCD 7 or 8 inches that can be placed in a compartment in or out of dash. The audio output is connected to the car radio series or the same carputer which also has the function of stereo and DVD player.

They use  storage media – CompactFlash, Secure Digital – with appropriate adapters or hard drives of laptops given the small size. They are housed in hardened cases which are less likely to suffer breakage due to bumpy roads.

Equipped with irda interfaces and / or Bluetooth, it lets you connect phones and GPS receivers.

They can also present the appropriate interfaces to connect with the systems present in modern cars to be able to view real-time speed, rpm, temperature, the settings of comfort stations and related faults. (OBD-II vw is an example).

Fans of carputers (CarPc) also create additional interfaces via COM ports / usb to vocally control your own car: there are examples of people who succeed only with the use of voice to turn on the car engine, raise / lower the windows, turn on the headlights, make phone calls, set the routes on the GPS.

Particularly known to hobbyists are the EPIA boards, VIA Technologies, the leading OEM manufacturer of motherboards of this size. Thinking about science fiction movie, you will remember the television series of the eighties known in Italy as Knight Rider.

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