Connecting directly to 12v car wiring

Discussion in 'Wii - Hardware, Devices and Utilities' started by dishe, Aug 7, 2018.

  1. dishe
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    dishe GBAtemp Regular

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    I've been using my minivan's 110v inverter to run our Wii in the car, but I've been thinking about wiring it up directly to the car's DC power.
    If I'm correct in what I've read, the Wii's RVL-002 wall plug adapter just takes the AC power and converts it to 12V DC for the wii anyhow. So I've been essentially running an inverter to take the 12v DC from the car and make it 110v AC, to power the Nintendo AC adapter which brings it back down to 12v DC again. Seems terribly inefficient, not to mention the car is wired to only allow the built-in inverter to work when the engine is actually ON (not in the accessory position like most other things in the car). Anyway I'd like to clean up the installation and hide the wires, so is it really as simple as just running off the car's 12v?
    I'm guessing the easiest way to do this would be to open up the RVL-002 original wall plug adapter and just remove the wires going to the Wii, then solder those to a line coming from the car's DC jack? That way I can keep the proprietary Wii connector on the end, and feed it the voltage it needs. Or am I missing something?
     
  2. dishe
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    dishe GBAtemp Regular

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    I forgot to mention, sometimes the wii freezes (since I'm running a heavily customized home-brew launcher by default), so I have my kids pull the plug to the inverter since the actual console hardware is hidden under the seats and not accessible. I don't like the idea of them pulling a live 110v ac plug in the vehicle while we are driving, that just seems dangerous to encourage kids to do. I was going to wire up an inline switch or something they can reach, but that's when I started thinking about avoiding the inverter entirely and just using the 12v DC line. I could wire up a cheap mechanical switch and put it somewhere they could reach if the unit needs to reset.
     
  3. FancyNintendoGamer567

    FancyNintendoGamer567 GBAtemp Advanced Fan

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    I don't know about any of those, but I have one question.
    Why the hell are you using your minivan to power your Wii?
    Do you even have electricity in your house?
     
  4. Ryccardo

    Ryccardo and his tropane alkaloids

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    I wouldn't do that, for one a nominally "12 V" lead acid battery is actually 13.8, but a generic vehicle's power system is far from clean (from noise and spikes) and stabilized

    You will want a regulator and stabilizer (in fact, my car has one for the radio/nav - but it's the exception rather than the norm)... then stack one or more large capacitors in parallel between its output and the console: now we're talking!


    About being afraid of touching the inverter "while driving", maybe you're right - but for a rather different reason :)
     
    Last edited by Ryccardo, Aug 7, 2018
  5. dishe
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    dishe GBAtemp Regular

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    Silly, the wii in the house gets powered by the house. The one in the car gets powered by the car. Duh.
    Unless I'm supposed to take a REALLY long extension cord on our road trips... I didn't want to go into a tangent about my detailed vehicular entertainment system based on a wii housed under the third row of seats, and the whole video amplifier and second display up front under the dash for the front passenger, etc... none of that was relevant to this discussion. So I summed it up in the first sentence:
    "I've been using my minivan's 110v inverter to run our Wii in the car". Not at home. IN THE FRIGGIN CAR. Still with me? Good. Moving along... :)

    Ha- ok, well, to be clear, Honda includes its own inverter as part of the vehicle. There's a factory 110v AC plug outlet right next to the AV inputs, which makes setting this up super simple. On a side note, between that and the wireless IR emitters for headphones acting like a sensor bar, its almost as if the Odyssey is begging for a wii installation. :)
    But my plan was just to use it for video playback and light gaming on road trips (non sensor-bar based games like mario kart and brawl). I even came up with my own UI based on wiiflow that it boots into so that titles can be chosen graphically without any need to point to the screen.
    But anyway, my point is: no one is touching the inverter. It is installed in the car as per factory specs and works well enough as is right now. My concern was having a kid unplug it from the outlet when it freezes and then plugging it back in, when there's a live 110v AC flow of current being inverted in front of their fingers. Sure, it would be just as dangerous as it would be at home, but I wouldn't encourage kids to do that at home either, especially when we COULD just be dealing with 12v DC instead. Also? I don't know the specifications of the Honda unit, but I know a lot of these inverters don't like sudden changes in draw. Like, unplugging something abruptly and plugging it back in might be putting unnecessary stress on the components it was not designed to do during usage. I don't know, that might just be my own paranoia. Also? It just seems super inefficient to be using the power this way, and can't be running in accessory mode since the AC plug is wired to only turn on when engine is on in Honda vehicles.

    As far as spikes and/or regulated clean flow of power... I'm not sure how "unregulated" it is, or at least how much of a difference it would make in the real world. Remember, this same 12v supply from the vehicle already supplies power to both screens and a video amplifier (to make sure the signal is strong enough to drive both screens- it turns out just using a Y-splitter on the video cable made each screen darker when they were both on. I had to buy a cheap amp that is designed to power up to 4 displays to get 2 screens with their own unfettered video source so it wouldn't matter which screen or both were on). That cheapo video amplifier is designed to be tapped into the 12v power supply of the car directly. As is the screen I installed up front (it was designed for backup camera usage). Neither of them appear to have any kind of fancy shmancy regulators or stabilizers. In fact, I took apart the display because I wanted to see if I could power it off 5v instead of 12v, since I had a USB port behind the dash board from my bluetooth kit already available, but in the end I just went with the 12v direct connection.
    Now, you could argue that those devices were "made" for the irregular unclean power supply from a car, and perhaps the Wii is not. But I'm under the impression that all DC electronics have some sort of range of acceptable power input, due to fluctuations even within the adapter. Please correct me if I'm wrong or missing something important in my understanding of the concepts here. If there's any reason to think the wii would be any worse off than any of the other components we are discussing, let me know. Or for that matter, if there would be any benefit to a "regulated" clean power supply when all the other components (amplifier, screens, etc) are not. Perhaps the stereo is, I'm not sure. I did notice that plugging in an aux while charging a music player when I first got the car did not give a ground loop hum on this vehicle whereas previous vehicles of mine DID with the same component setup. So maybe it has something cleaning up the stereo's power supply. I don't know enough about this to be certain either way, but you've given me a lot to think about. All I can say is my current setup seems good enough, I just want to make it better. If you're saying using the built-in inverter would be better than hard wiring it because of the unclean power, that's something for me to consider. I don't want to break a working setup. But I'm under the impression that everything here is somewhat of an erratic sourced power already anyway, so it probably won't be any worse than it currently is (which seems to be fine).

    On that note, I could just get one of those extension cords with an on/off button and have that instead of the plug/unplug thing, and leave it as is otherwise. Just seems silly to be working off AC power in the car when everything here is DC based at the beginning and end of the chain.

    — Posts automatically merged - Please don't double post! —

    UPDATE: They do make car adapters for the Wii, that use the lighter/accessory DC port, and have the end that fits in the read of the Wii. I could buy one of those and then cannabalize the parts to wire it directly behind the plastic faring (I'm trying to hide wires and don't want more plugs sticking out), but I was under the impression that if I buy one and open it up, there will just be a pass through of the 12v DC power to the other end. Is there any reason to think there's some sort of regulation of the power going on in those things?
     
    Last edited by dishe, Aug 8, 2018
  6. Ryccardo

    Ryccardo and his tropane alkaloids

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    Your reasoning is sound, but I don't think anyone published a through research of what's the acceptable voltage for a Wii (and Nintendo's tradition of "4.6 V" DS chargers just to muddy the waters doesn't help); maybe the "portable" modders already tried?

    Of course, with the (current) price and availability of Wiis, it could be worth it to be the first one to try and report :)

    — Posts automatically merged - Please don't double post! —

    There will (hopefully) be at least a voltage limiter (zener in parallel after fuse in series, as an example of a simple one); probably worth to grab one to research!
     
  7. dishe
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    dishe GBAtemp Regular

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    Its funny, I got this idea because I had read somewhere that the Wii works on 12v DC and that it could be wired up to a car battery directly- someone had done this, and I thought it was to put it into a car in a similar way to my setup, but more for a camper than a minivan. But now I can't find any record of it. I was hoping if I asked here, I'd find the information re: people who have done this before. I don't think I'm the first to try it.

    Also, regarding the price of the Wii being worth trying- that's coincidentally why I took this route rather than the other ideas I originally had for a car entertainment system. I have a Raspberry Pi board I was originally going to use, but the additional parts required to make it work the way I wanted (especially for power management, reliable controller interface and decent analog audio) made it more expensive than a used Wii. I ended up modding my Wii from home to try it out, since it did everything the Pi was going to do (play media, retro games, etc) while also having the added benefit of being able to play Wii games AND be more-or-less ready out of the box hardware wise, complete with wireless controller system and power button right on each controller. If I had to replace the hardware for frying it, it isn't the biggest deal I suppose, but I'm trying to keep this whole setup as cost effective as possible. So far the console, video amp, wiring and second monitor have cost me just over $60 for everything!
    Hmm. Maybe. Its not an official Nintendo part or anything, its a no-name brand likely direct from China, so for all I know it won't even work. :)
    If it works, maybe it would just be worth getting it and a spare auto DC outlet plug- I've seen ones you can wire up to an existing DC outlet wiring to make a spare plug in your car. I could have anther outlet come out right under the seat where the console is hidden, and then use that to connect the Wii adapter. Then I wouldn't have to take it apart. Then again, maybe I should just leave the inverter alone the way it is, and then add an inline switch to the wire to reset when necessary.

    BTW, speaking of noisy wiring, I was thinking about what you said and took a closer look at the display today. There is a little bit of interference on the analog monitors, like the kind of thing you might get with a group loop feedback sort of moving pattern. It is very slight, but it is there if I'm looking for it. Would that have to do with the wii coming from a noisy power source?
     
  8. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    "Like, unplugging something abruptly and plugging it back in might be putting unnecessary stress on the components it was not designed to do during usage."
    While I am now slightly curious as to the inductive or capacitive spike of the wii power adapter most such warnings are more concerned with big motors or transformers or something capacitive being plugged in. Or if you prefer you are effectively doing that every time you turn on the vehicle with it plugged in.

    Battery wise. Yeah resting or trickle charging voltage is usually nearer 14V than not, and I have seen malfunctioning alternators go somewhere near 19 (higher still if someone gets a bit creative with the wiring but enough of that one for now). Most lighter sockets (or vehicle power points if we are using on the "correct" terms I see nowadays) are just straight off the battery and/or alternator (or at least the regulated aspect) with maybe a fuse to protect it.

    As far as I am aware the Wii is just a fairly plain 12V (if rather higher current than some things, though 3.7A is nothing too drastic). No weird tick pulses or anything like an Amiga. To that end you could replace it with something else that is 12V and a car battery would be a good source. I have not looked inside a wii charger for a while but I would consider what it might have on the secondary side of the transformer to see if it has any regulation and smoothing. Alternatively if you did want to do a proper DC-DC conversion and smoothing (a decent buck converter setup will manage, though full current might be a little bit harder than rock bottom priced ones). Your screen and other things are probably already geared for it in one way or another
     
  9. Sathya

    Sathya GBAtemp Professional Poetry maker

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    wii freezing, sounds quality is bad or noise, because you are using the inverter. if you buy a car amplifier, its was design for car electricity, so its work fine. But wii was design for home usage. Not car usage. i suggest you to buy a: Car voltage stabilizer. so you can connect directly 12 volt outlet to wii. but make sure, at least maximum voltage output for wii is 12.2 volt and minimum 12.1 volt. and i suggest you to not use the wii adapter with inverter in a car. I will harm your wii in a long time. because the voltage output from car alternator, is 13.8 and it will little bit drop if you used AC, lamp or amplifier. So you need a stabilizer for that. Hope it works.
     
  10. dishe
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    dishe GBAtemp Regular

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    Not the Wii freezing, at least. That's because of the heavily customized Wiiflow. To be clear, most of the freezes came from loading a title, and that was because the settings got corrupted, likely due to the power being shut abruptly when the key was turned off, or SD card issues. After deleting the Wiiflow cache and saved game file, all titles were working again. Or one time it froze on the WiiFlow screen just sitting like a screen saver for too long. It isn't really meant for that. It has never frozen while playing a game or watching a movie, and we have gone on some 6+ hour road trips. I've had similar experiences with the Wii in my household attached to AC.

    Now, the sound quality isn't bad, there is just the slightest hint of ground loop hum in the background if I turn the volume way up. I do notice a bit of shifting in the picture as well, it is barely noticeable, but looks sort of like what you would get if running an analog connection for too long (signal loss and/or interference). For all I know, it could just be some interference on the line, and perhaps I should install some of those magnets or something to shield it.
    I guess the way to test this would be to bring an AC extension cord from the house and plug the wii into that and see if it makes any difference. Then I can rule out the source of power being the issue.

    Maybe I'm not understanding, but isn't the inverter a sort of stabilizer as well? It is supposed to take the voltage range from the vehicle's alternator, whether 13.8 or 12.1 or whatever, and give us 110V AC. Also, I'm under the impression that the Wii's power supply is designed to work on a range as well, since houses can fluctuate the same way (lights flicker when AC comes on as the load changes, etc), not to mention there is a +/- 6% degree of variation in a house's electrical supply in the US. So the way I see it, the car's inverter is already sort of stabilizing the output, then the Wii's adapter is likely further doing that, so the Wii hardware should have a pretty stable source of power after all that, regardless of changes in the car's load on the power supply.
    I think the audio visual artifacts I'm noticing might be more due to a grounding issue than a power stability one. The same way an audio device powered by the car might have a noisy ground loop humming connected to aux that would not be present if powered off its own battery. Or, perhaps it could be interference on the cable from other electrical components nearby. The extension cord from the house test should help narrow down what the issue is I think.
     
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