Building Your Own Car Computer: Wiring the Power Building Your Own Car Computer: Wiring the Power

What You'll Need
Computer with power cord
Heavy duty AC to DC power inverter
Shutdown controller (optional but recommended)
Cigarette Lighter installation kit
Sheet metal screws
In-line fuse
Wire cutters
Wire strippers
Rubber grommets
Electrical wire
Wire nuts
Drill with drill bits

If you would like to install a car computer so that you can enjoy access to a digital music or video collection, or if you want to install a computer based GPS system, you will need to know how to properly wire your car for powering the desktop or laptop computer. Wiring a car for a computer installation is much easier than you think, and this this simple step-by-step guide will show you just how to do it. Let's get started.

Step 1 - Disconnect Negative Battery Cable

Before you start, disconnect the negative battery cable from the terminal on the car battery. This will help you avoid electrical shock or injury while working on the wiring for your car computer.

Step 2 - Choose Installation Location

Next, you'll need to choose an installation location for the power supply unit for the computer as well as the power inverter and cigarette lighter adapter kit. Although you can install these pieces in the floorboard underneath a seat, it is probably best to install them in the trunk or hatch back area of your vehicle.

Step 3 - Install Cigarette Lighter Kit

To install the cigarette lighter kit, you will first need to drill holes that will be used for the sheet metal screws when you attach the lighter kit to the floor of your vehicle. Take a drill and a drill bit that that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the sheet metal screws and create pilot holes. Look at the base of the cigarette lighter kit to determine how many pilot holes you need to drill. Once the holes are drilled, insert metal screws to the base of the cigarette lighter to secure it to the floorboard.

Step 4 - Install AC to DC Power Inverter

Just as you did with the cigarette lighter kit, use a drill to drill pilot holes for installing the DC to AC power inverter. Once you have your holes drilled, place rubber grommets on top of the holes and then set the inverter on top of the grommets. Then, carefully insert the sheet metal screws into the mounting brackets on the inverter and the rubber grommets. Secure the sheet metal screws with a screwdriver.

Step 5 - Attach In-Line Fuse Adapter

Cut a piece of electrical wire that is long enough to run from the new cigarette lighter location to your car battery. Make sure to take into account any increases in length that will be needed for running the wire underneath floor mats or in door panels. Then, connect the in-line fuse adapter to the end of the positive cable wire that will be connected to the car battery.

Step 6 - Run Wiring for Power

Run the electrical wire from the cigarette lighter to the battery in your vehicle. If you choose to run the wiring through the firewall, be sure to install rubber grommets first. This will help prevent damage to the wire because of the sharp metal edges on the firewall.

Step 7 - Connect Power Wire to Cigarette Lighter Adapter

Connect the wires to the appropriate terminal lead on your car battery as well as the terminal leads on the cigarette lighter kit.

Step 8 - Connect Inverter to Cigarette Lighter

Use the cigarette lighter adapter that comes with the DC to AC power inverter and plug it into the cigarette lighter kit. Plug the other end into the plug-in port for the inverter.

Step 9 - Reconnect Battery Cable

Reconnect the battery cable you disconnected earlier. Your vehicle is now ready to provide power to a desktop or laptop computer.

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