[Philkotse guide] Building the ‘carputer’ of your dreams

Dec 02, 2019 | Same topic: Handy maintenance tips
Here’s a handy guide on how to build a car computer (carputer) on your own -- including identifying the basics of hardware and some of the best DIY hardware components.


While you may see some upgrade their audio system, there are also people who like to alter the body kits. But for those who are also tech-savvy, upgrading their car’s computer hardware is a must. This is what most techy car enthusiasts also refer to as the “carputer”.

man using car stereo


For those car owners who are tech-savvy, upgrading their car’s computer hardware is a must

Although there aren’t any restrictions as to what you can install in your car for your carputer, there are still vital factors that you need to keep in mind. There are lots of ways for you to get the carputer of your dreams. In fact, you can opt to build it from scratch all by yourself.

This will give you gratification once you’re all done. You can also have a professional do the job for you. Just pick out the unit you like and pay for the labor fee. Continue reading this article from Philkotse.com to know more about carputer hardware. 

The basics of carputer hardware

Whichever path you want to take, you will still basically need these three components: a screen, a computing device and maybe one input method. Other than that, there are no specific restrictions to limit you.

If you’re not so picky when it comes to the units and their specifications, you probably won’t allot a big amount of money just to buy new parts. You can make use of your old netbook or old tablet. But of course, you can always opt for a single unit that can complete the whole carputer system.

Netbook inside the car


You can make use of your old netbook or tablet

We already know that carputers require a screen of some type. It will also require an input method for maximum usability. You can consider using a laptop, a netbook or even a smartphone as a screen. It doesn’t even matter if you go for a temporary or a permanent screen solution.

You can also go for dash-mounted screens. Getting a touchscreen display will also let you have an input base and display at the same time. Other options like voice control, a keyboard and the likes are available depending on your preference.

>>> Check out: 

Dash-mounted screens

You can also go for dash-mounted screens

Here are some of the best DIY carputer hardware components and why you should consider them:

  • Netbooks and/or laptops – Any “old” laptop usually does a good job most of the time. Why? That’s because it’s easier to power netbooks and laptops using your car’s electrical system. In fact, it doesn’t matter if the hinges or the screen is broken. You can work around the problem by using an LCD monitor.
  • PCs the size of books – These are mini-computers that can easily be tucked away. You can hide them in your glove compartment. You can even keep it under your car seat. You will also need a power inverter for this to work.
  • Single-board computers – You can tell from the name that this won’t be as powerful as most of the devices on this list. Although they aren’t as powerful as the book size PC, they are also a lot smaller. In fact, it’s so small that you can hide it almost anywhere in your car. Aside from that, it will also be easier for you to find add-ons and power supplies -- that is if you are using one of the most powerful platforms which are Raspberry Pi. Examples of add-ons are Bluetooth and GPS.

>>> Good to know:

Single-board computer

Single-board computers are not as powerful as most of the devices on this list

  • Tablets and smartphones – If you don’t have an old smartphone or tablet for the job, you can always buy one. We’re not even saying that you should get a brand-new one. You can easily find more affordable options for you in the market. There are second-hand units that can cost way less than buying a new unit solely intended for this particular purpose. The major advantage of using tablets and smartphones is its built-in features. Most of these devices already have GPS and data connectivity. This is easier for you to access maps and stream data.
  • Video game consoles – This is the less universal type of solution. There are a few video game consoles that will let you install a secondary OS. This is also applicable if you choose to go for Linux. To put simply, you can put almost any video game console and install it in your car. But there is a slight drag to that. Your carputer’s functionality will be very limited.

>>> Just for fun: In-car gaming: How to have unforgettable gaming experience.

tablet in car

The major advantage of using tablets and smartphones is its built-in features

In terms of DIY computer screens, here are our suggestions:

  • LCD screen – If you made use of a broken laptop, a single-board PC, a laptop and similar, you will need an LCD screen. If your head unit is already equipped with an auxiliary video and LCD screen, you can go ahead and connect it to that.
  • Netbook or laptop screen – If your netbook or laptop still has a working screen, you can use it. You can choose to set your computer in a cradle. You can also choose to take the device apart. Just mount your screen on your dash.
  • Smartphone or tablet screen – This is the easiest to mount.  You can also choose to install your device permanently or temporarily. You can even set it up in a way that it looks like an authentic head unit.
Source: Hanna Miel Sanchez