If you have ever wished that you could use your laptop, tablet or any other device to make your long trips more comfortable, there is now a way. Android Auto lets you connect your phone to the car display, giving you the ability to view your phone’s apps and get driving directions without taking your eyes off the road. Plus, you can listen to your favorite music or call your mom, hands-free, using Google Assistant.
How to Hook Up Your Computer
There are two ways that you can connect your computer to a car: through the cigarette lighter outlet (traditionally called a “cigarette lighter” because it is a convenient place to light a cigarette) and by using an in-car power supply. Most computers come with their own power supplies that regulate the voltage to ensure that the computer’s input is always stable, which is important if you are using your car as your computing device.
The voltage in a computer’s power supply is usually between 110V and 240V. This is the output voltage that your computer’s motherboard and other peripheral devices use to function. To convert this output to the input voltage of your in-car system, you will need an inverter. This inverter will take the input voltage from your car’s cigarette lighter outlet and convert it to the high-voltage power that your PC’s motherboard requires.
You can find these inverters and adapter outlets at Radio Shack, Pep Boys, and Wal-Mart. They are a little more expensive than your typical hardware store, but they will save you time and money in the long run by saving you from having to make multiple trip stops for adapter outlets or jumper cables when you want to hook up your device.
How to Connect Your Computer Through the Cigarette Lighter Port
Most modern cars, including the latest model from GM, Ford, and Toyota, don’t come with a cigarette lighter socket anymore. However, it’s still a standard outlet that can be used to power devices or charge your cell phone. Many of today’s cars have a small inverter installed that can change the output voltage of your vehicle’s 12V outlet to the higher-voltage input needed by most computer power supplies.
To connect your computer to the cigarette lighter socket, you will need a crimp connector that allows you to tap directly into the existing wires (Figure 1-13, middle). This is a great option if you’ve got a lot of existing wires in your car, or you’re installing a power kit that has several different 12V and ground wires.
This crimp connector is easy to install, and is very secure. If you’re a novice DIYer, you can learn to do this with a little practice and the help of some YouTube tutorials.
How to Use Your In-Car Power Supply
You can find an in-car power supply for a few dollars at your local Radio Shack or a similar store, and this will allow you to connect your computer’s power source to the car’s existing 12V outlets. These power supplies will also give you the option of connecting more devices, or extending the lifespan of your in-car electronics.