Installing a Car Computer: Integrating the Motherboard

central console car computer
  • 2-4 hours
  • Advanced
  • 100-250
What You'll Need
Needlenose pliers
Soldering iron
Car computer power supply

There are a number of different types of car computer that you can add to your car, the most common of which has an ordinary PC motherboard, running on 12V just like a car. This motherboard is the most important part of a car computer, and you need to consider whether you have a suitable power drive for your computer once you have fitted the motherboard. You can look for different types of motherboard to suit the particular car computer that you want to install, but the basic principles are the same.

Step 1 - Working the Motherboard

Although your motherboard will run on a 12V power supply, the voltage which the car uses is not directly appropriate for your car. The car computer motherboard requires that you install a constant power, very different to that supplied by the car battery. In order to get the correct voltage, you can do one of two things, you can either choose to purchase a power inverter, which will supply the motherboard with the right power, or you can purchase a specialist car computer power supply. Whichever of these options you choose to purchase, you can install them both conveniently by yourself, using some basic household tools.

Step 2 - Installing the Inverter

Take your inverter, and then place the power supply into the connections at the back. You will need to position the inverter so that it is close to the power supply, but not so close that you risk contact sparks. Screw the inverter into the position you choose, and then connect the wires from the motherboard into an ATX supply. This should then be connected to the inverter. You may find that this option creates a lot of noise, and you simply don't have enough room in your car for the ATX and the inverter.

Step 3 - Installing a Specialist Power Supply

Your other option is to purchase a power supply which is specially designed to provide power to a motherboard. There are some specialist options around, and your local garage may be able to supply you with one, or the name of a make. Some of these makes suggest that you install the power supply directly into the battery, but this is not a good idea.

Step 4 - Installing the Motherboard

Once the power supply is attached, you can then add your motherboard to the car. When installing the car computer motherboard, you will need to screw it into a flat surface. Any wires from items which the motherboard will power should be soldered in so that they are not likely to fall out, and you should also add a layer of anti-static insulation around the motherboard to protect it from the battery. You can position your motherboard both in the front dashboard of the car, or under the passenger seat at the back, depending upon what room you have.