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  1. #1
    Head Crabass Tony's Avatar
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    dont laugh at the geek-truck

    So in between spikes of pain(don't ask) I got something done to improve productivity(translated: give me something to mess with) while on the road.

    I been digging through my junk piles, etc.
    I've been wanting to build a truck pc for being able to work as well as relax watching movies or whatever while not driving. I'll explain the plan for downtime/avoiding resets later.

    So what I came up with...

    I realized that a low end 340w PC power supply can comfortably run on a 500w inverter. The invert I have will do some interesting things as well as shut down if battery voltage drops. But that shouldn't happen considering the truck has an APU with battery monitoring/charging. But it also has a switch input for key-on/acc-on... helpful, but not really needed. I modified an ancient UPS(battery backup) that I don't use since its batteries are wasted. It measures power draw/supply, as well as switching. When it senses one of the criteria I set it for... it can trigger a shutdown on the computer.

    So with that in mind, I filtered through all of my computer junk looking for... 12V stuff

    So far, I am running:
    *An AMD based 64bit windows PC, running Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit with a 160gb SSD. (wireless keyboard & mouse - sleeper has a slideout workstation top)
    -- main workstation, video player, connected to printer, etc (hooked to a 19" monitor I'm working on hinge mounting on a cabinet in the sleeper so it folds out when needed).
    -- also contains a 4 port video capture card. Right now I have no cameras connected, but at a minimum 1 camera will be on the top sleeper fairing looking back and one under the visor looking forward.

    *EeePC 1000HD(Small Netbook-Stays closed,buried in storage) with an external 1 terabyte drive running Linux.
    -- a fileserver, etc. Mainly its hosting about 350+ movies, 50k music tracks, Map data for navigation(3 sources,1 trucking specific),etc.
    -- Audio is piped directly to the stereo head unit
    -- GPS receiver mounted on sleeper fairing, connected to server directly. It logs when the server is down for up to 2 days on internal power.
    -- I can control music tracks, etc from my android phone in its cradle on the dash, switch to the audio input which is connected to my XM receiver.

    *Custom wifi router/access point allowing shared access within the truck stop for movies, etc... if I choose

    *1watt 2.4ghz (802.11b) wifi amplifier connected to a 9dbi omni-directional antenna mounted on the rear of the sleeper fairing... don't think I'll get out of range walking the auction yards

    *12V & 5V usb charge ports for my tablets/cell phone
    All of this is being run off a switched PC power supply, running interconnected with the UPS & Inverter circuitry.

    I've got remotes panels for the power button, reset switch, as well as a power LED to 2 places in the truck which controls everything at once except for the monitor. Which is the only thing not connected directly to the power supply circuits, since it gets powered up later than the PC,etc... it's draw doesn't appear to affect startup of the rest of the systems. The monitor gets shut down by the UPS/Inverter stuff when the PC shuts down since it shuts down the inverter when it's power draw drops. Upon hitting the power button on the inverter, everything powers up at once... and there is not "crying" from the inverter from over-draw.

    I'm not sure I want to show pictures yet. At least not until its all been mounted "nicely" and tested in real-world use.
    Even then, I'm not sure I'll share it all... don't want to publish a "shopping list" on the internet for some thief.

    If I had more power at my disposal with what is already on-hand, I might have included a decent video card in the windows pc. My recent speed tests and ping tests suggest that I'd be able to get away with limited gaming on the road. My connection has always been faster than truckstop wifi, but seeing ping rates on my connection in the 90-120ms range is acceptable for gaming occasionally. I'm not sure if the old GTS250 will run under the power limitations... eh, maybe I'll try later.

    I'm limited by the current Inverter I have... I have power supplies to handle it, the inverter is the question.

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    Last edited by Tony; 04-14-2012 at 03:14 PM.

  2. #2
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    HUH?

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  3. #3
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    But where is the toilet and shower going?

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  4. #4
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    Are you going to run a solid state drive? My laptop in our truck has been rattled enough that its shut down before. You could do away with the regular radio all together and just use the audio outs of the computer and have a touch screen monitor put in the dash.

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  5. #5
    Head Crabass Tony's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gammey4
    Are you going to run a solid state drive? My laptop in our truck has been rattled enough that its shut down before.
    Yep. The primary drive is a 160gb SSD
    Quote Originally Posted by Tony View Post
    *An AMD based 64bit windows PC, running Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit with a 160gb SSD.
    As far as audio...
    Quote Originally Posted by gammey4
    You could do away with the regular radio all together and just use the audio outs of the computer and have a touch screen monitor put in the dash.
    Already handled. My mp3's are selectable(playlists/single tracks) are selectable thru the netbook server(served from the 1tb data drive). Since the tracks are often small, the song gets read, cached, drive goes back to sleep within a minute or less. All is controlled by my android tablet from the dash, as well as which input to forward to the stereo head unit. Since I wrote the code, the interface will also run from my phone handset giving me remote access when in the sleeper without having to take the tablet from the dash.

    Yes, I "could" stream videos/movies to the dash tablet too. But um... I got better things to focus on, like the road

    The "server" netbook is running it's primary bootup + apps from a 64GB SD card. The data is stored on a standard drive that sleeps(spins down) based on inactivity.
    But I've done fairly well so far with all of my shock mounts. It's definitely a harsh ride for a spinning drive in a 1-ton truck, and the bigger truck is definitely smoother. But the drive is using the same shock mount as I've used for years with the 1-ton's.
    Due to Linux being very multi-user, nearly everything gets cached in memory. I've tweaked the kernel to force the HD into sleep more often than usual... not just the power settings since that is unreliable in this case. Instead it's based from read timings, so once the read is complete the drive spins down quickly. There can be a slight delay if I quickly switch songs the moment one starts, but its a small price to pay to save the HD. But since the playlist queues the next song previous to the last one ending, you wouldn't notice anything.

    As far as noise... there really is none. The only moving parts are the CPU fan for the main AMD PC, the Power Supply fan, Inverter Fan, and the one hard drive. But even under load the fan noise + HD spinning are next to nothing. In a completely quiet truck parked in my driveway, I barely hear the inverter under the bunk. Add typical truckstop noise or highway droning... perfect

    All of my "work data" gets auto transferred out of the truck periodically anyway, so there are duplicates safely stored in any case

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    Last edited by Tony; 04-15-2012 at 10:42 AM.

  6. #6
    Head Crabass Tony's Avatar
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    As far as the "are you going to"... can't really answer that. This is all already done
    There are some remote mounting choices I have to make, but right now I remove the whole core unit as one and bring it inside to work on ideas.

    The monitor seems to be my most questionable mountable item. I still haven't decided where to mount it or how to mount it "cheap".
    The problem is... "which is the head of the bed?"
    I've been out with the truck a few nights and still can't make up my mind where to put the monitor.
    Variable mounts get expensive, but I've got some ideas... we'll see what I come up with.
    Dual monitors might work, but I've only got one monitor that I want to use. Since it's out of production I can't get its "twin".
    Plus a long cable run + additional power requirements might limit me... remember, smaller inverter. Big inverter is for the microwave We'll see.
    I think a 19" panel should be sufficient for one guy in a truck.

    All I'm working out right now is a different mounting configuration. The current hacked up frame that I've mounted everything just seems too big.
    So I do plan on shrinking the framing, etc and probably adding a cooling fan to circulate air more. With the APU ducting in the truck, I may exhaust air outside which will also reduce the noise figure more.

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  7. #7
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    Sounds like a sweet setup!

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