Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 30-08-2009, 11:21   #1
Registered User

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Mostly on the boat. Occasionally at our condo in Port St Lucie, FL.
Boat: Manta 42 Sailcat -Toucan Dream
Posts: 82
Marine Computers

Folks,

I'm starting this thread to cover marine computers and information helpful to those building them

Regards

Chris
SV Toucan Dream
__________________

__________________
chris blair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 11:30   #2
Registered User

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Mostly on the boat. Occasionally at our condo in Port St Lucie, FL.
Boat: Manta 42 Sailcat -Toucan Dream
Posts: 82
Overview of my system

Here's what I have done to add a 12v low power computer to our Sailboat:

Computer:
Intel Atom board with a 330 processor mini-itx format
2G memory
320 GB hard drive
12 V mini ATX wide input power supply

All in it cost about $350 with the additional power supply, no monitor. More on that next. Bought all the parts and logicsupply.com. Great prices and great to deal with. Max power consumption is about 4 amps at 12v. standby is about 2 amps. (including fancy Argonaut sunlight visible 15" display).

Regards
__________________

__________________
chris blair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 11:31   #3
Registered User
 
hanschristian38's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Maine
Boat: Defever 41 "Bear Holiday"
Posts: 155
Images: 3
Send a message via Skype™ to hanschristian38
Do you have a source for a good, inexpensive waterproof, and susnlight viewable monitor?
__________________
hanschristian38 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 11:53   #4
Senior Cruiser
 
sailalibi's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Marathon Fl. USA/Bahamas
Boat: Allied Seawind II 32ft ketch
Posts: 62
Chris- A great idea to start this thread! I've been thinking of building a system on my boat starting with the power supply problem. My laptop uses a radioshack inverter (150w) which seems excessive. Is your mini a "carputer" type arrangement?
__________________
sailalibi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 12:35   #5
Registered User
 
Sailabel's Avatar

Join Date: May 2006
Location: Home Base: Seattle; Currently Cruising in Mexico
Boat: Tayana 37- Victoria Rose
Posts: 151
We just had a 12v computer built for our boat. Like some, I was going to put it together myself, but the $50 for the build, operating system load, test, and warranty... it was worth it.

Our reasons for going with a total 12 volt system centered around the need (want) for a dedicated system for back-up navigation, weather downloads/sailmail, wifi when available; and not wanting to run the inverter (it creates noise on the SSB). We also bought a regular monitor that will run on 12vdc.

We also opted to go with Logic Supply (we have no affiliation with them) at Logic Supply - Leaders in Mini-ITX & Small Form Factor Solutions The customer service was great and the prices seemed to be as good as anywhere else. One of our members, Bob at IslandTimePC also builds these systems for boaters.

In our case, the total cost was about $930; but that included the atom 945GSE-A processor, 2 gb memory, 160g hardrive, 12vdc wide-range input automotive power supply, extra com port, dvd writer, and windows xp. I also wanted a case that included 2 additional USB ports on the front, along with front microphone/audio ports. We also carry a couple of laptops for going ashore to internet cafes when needed; and as back-ups.

So far, I've only used it at home in that we're currently traveling back to the boat. It works great.

As a side note, we also purchased the Ubiquiti 'Bullet' WiFi bridge. It currently pulls in more signals than anything we've used before. Can't wait to install it on the boat. It also runs off 12vdc, and because it uses poe, it has no signal loss due to coax runs.
__________________
Steve Abel
SV Victoria Rose, Tayana 37
www.sailvictoriarose.com
Sailabel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 13:29   #6
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: between the devil and the deep blue sea
Boat: a sailing boat
Posts: 17,314
Why build?

Why not take a 'Revo' or a netbook or laptop and pair it with an LCD screen?

b.
__________________
barnakiel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 13:30   #7
Registered User

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Mostly on the boat. Occasionally at our condo in Port St Lucie, FL.
Boat: Manta 42 Sailcat -Toucan Dream
Posts: 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by hanschristian38 View Post
Do you have a source for a good, inexpensive waterproof, and susnlight viewable monitor?
hanschristian38,
To my knowledge there isn't any such animal. Here's what I learned in my search to find one. Monitor brightness is measured in "nits" (weird unit name to me but everyone uses it). Most laptops are about 200 nits. 600 is minimum for bright sun and 2000 is excellent. The best buy in this brightness level is the Argonaut. I know several others that have one on their boats and all are very satisfied. It is 15", weather proof and operates on 12v with only an amp or so. Apparently they use a technology that reflects most of the sunlight from behind the screen resulting in superb brightness at very low power. I think the best technology for the future is oled's that are just now coming out in TV's.

Hope this helps.

Chris
SV Toucan Dream (42 Manta Sailcat)
__________________
chris blair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 13:35   #8
Registered User

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Mostly on the boat. Occasionally at our condo in Port St Lucie, FL.
Boat: Manta 42 Sailcat -Toucan Dream
Posts: 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by sailalibi View Post
Chris- A great idea to start this thread! I've been thinking of building a system on my boat starting with the power supply problem. My laptop uses a radioshack inverter (150w) which seems excessive. Is your mini a "carputer" type arrangement?
Sailalibi,

My boat computer is a separate small 12v computer. It is a mini-itx format based on the new Intel Atom processor. It draws 45 watts max when it boots and settles down at 20 watts or so underway with nav software operating.

Hope this answers your question.

Regards,
Chris
__________________
chris blair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 13:41   #9
Registered User

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Mostly on the boat. Occasionally at our condo in Port St Lucie, FL.
Boat: Manta 42 Sailcat -Toucan Dream
Posts: 82
You could do that but power consumption is way higher and typical laptop and/or LCD screens are barely readable in the sun. There is always the chartplotter route too such as Raymarine or Garmin. But these start at $4000 plus chart chips for a 12" screen and are very inflexible on which charts you can use. The screen is the most expensive part of mine and the whole thing costs under 1500. Still not cheap but waterproof, low power, very versatile, and very visible 15" screen.

Regards,
Chris
SV Toucan Dream
__________________
chris blair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 13:44   #10
Registered User
 
Sailabel's Avatar

Join Date: May 2006
Location: Home Base: Seattle; Currently Cruising in Mexico
Boat: Tayana 37- Victoria Rose
Posts: 151
Hi Barnakeil- using a laptop or other portable device is certainly the most popular option. In our case, we set up our previous system just as you describe. We had our laptop tucked out of the way, so as to be protected from water and bouncing around; connected to a navstation mounted monitor, and used a wireless keyboard/mouse. The system worked well.

The advantage is that we could just disconnect the laptop and take it ashore when needed. I know we could have ordered a 12vdc charging system for the computer.

While it seems kinda petty, I wanted a system that had enough dedicated com ports (RS232), additional usb ports (without using additional hubs), and a front accessible cd/dvd drive and audio/mic ports. All using direct 12volt. And to be able to get replacement components easily.

But you're right, a 12vdc portable computer will meet most of the needs, at a lesser cost. After having a year or so with a dedicated 12vdc system on board, I'll be more able to assess the advantages/disadvantages.
__________________
Steve Abel
SV Victoria Rose, Tayana 37
www.sailvictoriarose.com
Sailabel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 14:02   #11
Registered User

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Mostly on the boat. Occasionally at our condo in Port St Lucie, FL.
Boat: Manta 42 Sailcat -Toucan Dream
Posts: 82
More Features and things I learned the hard way

On the system I built I tried to make it as wireless as possible. I mounted the computer itself on the wall inside the hanging locker on the port side of our catamaran. I ran power to it and a video cable back to the Argonaut screen that is hanging down from the hardtop over the cockpit. All interface is via a wireless mouse and keyboard and a Linksys wireless adapter. This way I can add charts and software easily from any laptop that is on my boat network. The network router I use is a Craddepoint EVDO router that uses our broadband card. We also have an Apple Airport Express that hooks the printer up to the network so my wife or I can easily print to the printer that is located in the forward starboard berth. Wireless network made the whole thing waaaay easier since wires are a pain in the butt on a boat. I basically try out software and experiment with it on my laptop and when I'm happy with it I transfer it to the boat computer.

Things I learned:
  • I found a very neat video cable that is designed to be pulled through 3/4" conduit. It has special pointy ended screw on caps for pulling. The are removed and replaced by a special screw in adapter at each end with standard video connectors on the other ends.
  • Get a wide input voltage power supply. Otherwise most 12 systems will kick out as voltages change with battery draw down and charging systems operation.
  • Spray all the connections with Boeshield T-9 to protect from corrosion. Include memory and everything that plugs in. This works great for years of use.
  • I used an Atom 330 processor that is a duo core unit. It is over-kill for the computer so you could use one of the other, cheaper, and even lower power Atom units. The 330 is 8 watts max the others are 4 watts.
  • To make things easy since I'm not real network savvy I disable encryption and enable MAC ID filtering. So only computers with MAC ID's that I input can get on the network. This works great for my wife and I as each use email a lot and our Iphones. Plus she'd on an Apple and I have a PC.
Hope this helps.

Chris
SV Toucan Dream
__________________
chris blair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 14:12   #12
Registered User

Join Date: May 2007
Location: Mostly on the boat. Occasionally at our condo in Port St Lucie, FL.
Boat: Manta 42 Sailcat -Toucan Dream
Posts: 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailabel View Post
We just had a 12v computer built for our boat. Like some, I was going to put it together myself, but the $50 for the build, operating system load, test, and warranty... it was worth it.

Our reasons for going with a total 12 volt system centered around the need (want) for a dedicated system for back-up navigation, weather downloads/sailmail, wifi when available; and not wanting to run the inverter (it creates noise on the SSB). We also bought a regular monitor that will run on 12vdc.

We also opted to go with Logic Supply (we have no affiliation with them) at Logic Supply - Leaders in Mini-ITX & Small Form Factor Solutions The customer service was great and the prices seemed to be as good as anywhere else. One of our members, Bob at IslandTimePC also builds these systems for boaters.

In our case, the total cost was about $930; but that included the atom 945GSE-A processor, 2 gb memory, 160g hardrive, 12vdc wide-range input automotive power supply, extra com port, dvd writer, and windows xp. I also wanted a case that included 2 additional USB ports on the front, along with front microphone/audio ports. We also carry a couple of laptops for going ashore to internet cafes when needed; and as back-ups.

So far, I've only used it at home in that we're currently traveling back to the boat. It works great.

As a side note, we also purchased the Ubiquiti 'Bullet' WiFi bridge. It currently pulls in more signals than anything we've used before. Can't wait to install it on the boat. It also runs off 12vdc, and because it uses poe, it has no signal loss due to coax runs.
Sounds very similar to my computer only I opted for the Argonaut screen so I can see it well in direct sunlight. I've searched high and low for the best prices and ended up buying everything from LogicSupply.com or Short-Circuit.com except the screen that I purchased though West Marine at the Miami Boat Show. They don't usually have the best prices but at $950 I couldn't find anyone that beat them.

Please let me know how the Ubiquiti works. I've been looking at it since we got back from the Bahamas. Wifi is the only way to get reasonable internet in the Bahamas and it is available at most of the well-known anchorages. But a good wifi system is needed or you have to take the laptop in via dinghy to find a good spot. Not very convenient at all!

Regards,
Chris
SV Toucan Dream(42 Manta Sailcat)
__________________
chris blair is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 15:38   #13
Registered User
 
Rising Star's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: aboard
Boat: Freedom 32
Posts: 65
I use the ASUS 901 laptop. Underway it is on the chart table using SeaClear (free) and NOAA charts (free too). The eee PC is solid state - no hard drive. I bought the LINIX machine and installed Windows XP because the LINIX PC came with more space. I have a virtual hard drive of 20M and 8M extra card. Came with wireless.

It's not big enough for MSWord, EXCEL, or Powerpoint - but hey - I'm retired, so I no longer need to make presentations.
__________________
Merrick
Diesel Free since '07
Rising Star is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 17:34   #14
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: between the devil and the deep blue sea
Boat: a sailing boat
Posts: 17,314
Hi to all brave PC builders,

- you can buy some great power sources from ambulance manufacturers supplies - you know an ambulance has 12 Volt onboard and computers, so ...

- I agree for all you power assumptions except that you tend to omit the case of an LCD screen - they take 100-150 Watts !!! Beware! and to get an IPX7, preferably touch-sensitive and sunlight viewable ... not easy,

- have a look at the new (laptops?) from Acer named Timeline - they run up to 9 hours on charge, are inexpensive (relatively) so make a nice alternative for those who build upon a lap/net -book.

-----

My big problem here is - in Europe it not all that easy to find an IPX7 and sunlight viewable screen. One can be imported, but at a cost that would make the whole project pointless. A decent LCD for the navstation can be had at some 100 USD. Again, if we include the LCD consumption into the energy needs of the system we end up with 150+ Watts against 70 on a 14 inch laptop, and less in case of a netbook or a nettop + screen.

So my current setup is : 1) an ordinary laptop (400 USD, new), plus 2) a gps in the cockpit, with the laptop used for everything (planning, creating and sending WPTs, piloting, weather) and the gps for navigation, course trim and piloting in heavy weather.

My target system is: 1) a plain netbook (300 USD, new) with an independent 12 inch screen for the nav table, plus 2) a Garmin 620 or alike at helm.

With the new system we want to achieve all what we have now plus:
-less power consumption,
-smaller footprint,
-AIS at helm,
-chart at helm.

I just wish had Garmin priced more reasonably - it is not more than a nice car plotter (OK it is very well marinized) but they ask price twice of what we are used to in cars !!!

b.
__________________
barnakiel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 30-08-2009, 18:27   #15
Obsfucator, Second Class
 
dacust's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Southeast USA.
Boat: 1982 Sea Ray SRV360
Posts: 1,743
Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
- I agree for all you power assumptions except that you tend to omit the case of an LCD screen - they take 100-150 Watts !!! Beware! and to get an IPX7, preferably touch-sensitive and sunlight viewable ... not easy,
The specs for the screens I was just looking at shows:

_6" __5 watts
_8" __9 watts
10" _12 watts
12" _16 watts
15: _55 watts
19" _75 watts
32" 165 watts

jnmdisplay.com

-dan
__________________

dacust is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
12v computers, marine computers

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Mac Mini Desktop Computers sluissa Marine Electronics 27 05-09-2009 19:46
sail mail for mac computers dpollitt Marine Electronics 4 07-12-2008 21:46
Great tool for finding stolen computers Stella Polaris Marine Electronics 1 17-07-2008 15:07
12 Volt Computers on board Quincofish Marine Electronics 2 21-10-2003 09:16



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 13:57.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.