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Car PC Hacks
By Damien Stolarz
July 2005
More Info

HACK
#35
Customize Each Passenger's Video
Imagine a peaceful cross-country road trip in which you never need to endure someone else's choice of music or movies, because everyone has a personalized entertainment center
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If you carry around many passengers on a regular basis, or if you just want to make sure that everyone is amused on a long road trip, provide your passengers with adequate facilities to enjoy themselves.

The number of video devices you can have in a vehicle is limited only by your budget and cargo space. I personally would not find it unreasonable to have one of each current video gaming console, a DVD player, and one or two computers in a vehicle. I even have a 12V VCR for showing old movies, and the very bored can always check out the action from the rearview camera .

Enabling all of these devices doesn't require you to have a switchboard operator climbing around in the trunk and trying to route video hookups between devices and screens. Instead, you need a video switcher.

There are several kinds of switchers to choose from.

Matrix Switchers

The third approach to switching video is to connect all the screens and video sources to a single video switcher, which incorporates routing and amplification features. These switchers can switch a number of inputs to a number of outputs (3 x 3 and 4 x 4 being common numbers), allowing each viewer to select any of the available video sources. (See in "Connect a Car PC to Your Factory Screen" .)

Some of these units come with a wired remote for each screen, which is intended to be installed near the screen. Viewers then use the remote to select the input signal for that screen. These units are relatively inexpensive, but you have to run additional wires and install unsightly switch boxes near each screen. Other units come with multiple wireless remotes, so that each viewer can wirelessly select his or her desired programming—but be sure you don't misplace the remotes!

Many video switching units incorporate audio switching as well, so you can use a single set of headphones for all audio sources. The best units broadcast the audio wirelessly and come bundled with wireless headphones. This provides for a customized A/V experience for any passenger, with a minimum of wiring. The audio lines of each video source need to be connected through the switcher, so that the passengers can select from the DVD player, game console, or computer, for instance, and their headphones will switch to the appropriate sound. One of these outputs should be routed to the car's head unit or amplifier, so that the DVD or computer sound can be put through the car speakers as well.

WARNING

2.4 GHz is a great frequency for wireless audio—unless you're also trying to use WiFi and Bluetooth, which use the same frequency. My own experience with dueling 2.4 GHz audio/video repeaters, which mangled my home WiFi signal, revealed that these devices don't play well together.


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