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Old 21-07-2009, 17:41   #1
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Toughbook

Hello I am thinking of buying a toughbook cf18. They are the older versions with the flippable touch screen. You can get them for very cheap on ebay and other sights. I was wondering if anyone uses one of these for navigating etc and could put in their two cents.
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Old 21-07-2009, 18:12   #2
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I broke one two years ago. lost the usb controller. Fixed it with usb ports on a pc card.Don't think it was worth the extra cost. Dell now has rugidized laptops.
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Old 21-07-2009, 19:14   #3
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I wonder about the durability of flippable touch screens. The screens that I have seen have a single point of attachment to the frame of the computer. When bouncing on the high seas, there is a lot of stress on that single pivot point. Long voyages offshore could put a several lifetimes of stress on the pivot point - more than the manufacturer intended.

I have had one flippable touch screen laptop from HP,and it lasted about a year and a half before the motherboard died. It wasn't worth fixing.

My Personal preference would be a hinge system that is maximally robust if the computer will spend its time at sea.
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Old 21-07-2009, 19:54   #4
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Quote:
Long voyages offshore could put a several lifetimes of stress on the pivot point - more than the manufacturer intended.
Sort of depends on what you are doing. I'm not sure I see the need for that much computing. On long trips you plot a point once in a while and wait an hour. I just don't see them as that pivotal to every waking moment. You do same navigation check some weather send a few messages and then you are done for a while or even a long while. After that inside the Pelican case and forget about it. I've hauled one around almost on every trip. They come in handy but more as a backup to navigation should I decide to change the whole trip just because it seems like a better idea.

About the most useful thing is when the Admiral is being a PITA and I send her below to watch the bread crumb trail so I don't run aground. Seems to work quite well. Peace and quiet and I never run aground. Not everything that works needs to serve all it's purposes on purpose. So what else are you doing?
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Old 21-07-2009, 21:05   #5
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Sort of depends on what you are doing. I'm not sure I see the need for that much computing. On long trips you plot a point once in a while and wait an hour. I just don't see them as that pivotal to every waking moment. You do same navigation check some weather send a few messages and then you are done for a while or even a long while. So what else are you doing?
When we sail offshore with a crew of four adults, we have our computer running most of the time. I download weather faxes a couple of times a day, grib files, and we have emails flying around the the world around the clock. Because I use WinLink 2000, I have nearly unlmited email access, and we have lots of emails coming and going on Exit Only. I suppose if there were only two of us on board, we would not have used the computer so much.

Just because we may not be sending an email at a particular moment, doesn't mean that a crew member isn't composing an email on the computer to send later in the day or night.

I suspect our use of the computer was unique and a bit excessive. But it kept people busy and in touch. It wouldn't suit everybody, but it suited us.
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Old 21-07-2009, 21:09   #6
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Lots of manufacturers make ruggedized laptops. Most of them are not brand name companies. They are generally sold for industrial purposes, for scientists in the field or for military purposes.
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Old 22-07-2009, 02:46   #7
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I have a lot of experience with the ToughBook CF-18 and CF-19. IMO, the ToughBook is SIGNIFICANTLY better than the Dell "equivalent". the issue of the pivot point isn't really an issue, I've seen a lot of them fail, but not at the pivot point, yet. You can flip it around, and close the lid, with the screen facing out, and lock it. You definitely will need the rubberized keyboard, which makes it watertight, but a PITA to type on. Another drawback, is since it is sealed, the processor isn't very fast, since there's no fan to circulate cooling air. I'm considering using one, and I would have a mount in the cockpit, with a power attachment. The power required is 15.6 Volts, so you will need a unique power supply.
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Old 22-07-2009, 08:48   #8
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I suspect our use of the computer was unique and a bit excessive. But it kept people busy and in touch. It wouldn't suit everybody, but it suited us.
From your use it sounds like what you need is a method of securing it to a nav station. That way it would be secure enough that it won't move around. No laptop can handle being tossed about. Most any of them could handle the G forces so long as it wasn't followed by the sudden stop. I've always found them useless in the cockpit but a great planning and communications tool.
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Old 22-07-2009, 09:11   #9
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I keep my laptop below and use a second (cheap) monitor hardwired to the laptop and a wireless mouse to control the computer. I use this setup for running Maxsea and AIS when offshore. I've been using a VAIO in this setup for 6+ years with no problem. I bought the 5 year warantee from Best Buy but have only used it for a battery replacement.
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Old 22-07-2009, 09:42   #10
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We just bought a used Itronix GoBook III on ebay. This thing is tough and even has a GPS antenna. These computers are made for military, police, etc. use. I also got a docking station that we plan to permanently mount on the flybridge that the computer snaps into and then can be removed when not in use on the flybridge. We are planning to load our navigation software and other things onto the computer.

I'm typing this message on the computer right now, at it works great. I don't remember the exact numbers, but these computers can withstand temperature extremes and rain.
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Old 22-07-2009, 09:43   #11
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The next big thing is solid state, IE no moving parts hard drives. Apple is there already with their Mac Air. When the aformentioned hard drives become bigger (more capacity) and put into a toughbook look out. they will not be indestructable but close.
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Old 22-07-2009, 10:12   #12
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The solid state drives are already out and available in 60 GB sizes so you can load normal O?S and software plus all your electronic charts and most of your music. I'm not so sure it solves all the problems. The screens and key boards can't take a beating either. A single drop of salt water will fry any external connectors as well. It lightens up the package a bit though and that is nice.

Perhaps looking ahead devices like the Amazon Kindle DX may have a better approach.
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Old 22-07-2009, 10:40   #13
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After looking at a few other threads the theme seems to be buy cheap and often. Right now you can get used cf18s on ebay for $550. Has anyone purchased a used one? I am worried about people having beat the heck out of them and then putting them up for sale.
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Old 22-07-2009, 12:45   #14
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The screens and key boards can't take a beating either. A single drop of salt water will fry any external connectors as well.
I've seen the screens and keyboard take quite a beating without any trouble. the only screens I saw broken were abused to the extreme. The ruggedized keyboard that you can get for them is the only one to use on the water. The external connectors have little rubber flaps that close and cover them, but I'm not sure what to do about the ones that are plugged in at the time. It will probably only be a USB connector, maybe a liberal dollop of RTV compound once it's plugged in will work. Or maybe just use a docking station connected to the back, and leave all the external connectors covered. I don't have any concerns about the ruggedness of the CF-18 in my cockpit, just the ergonomics and power draw.
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Old 22-07-2009, 14:12   #15
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I've seen the screens and keyboard take quite a beating without any trouble. the only screens I saw broken were abused to the extreme. The ruggedized keyboard that you can get for them is the only one to use on the water. The external connectors have little rubber flaps that close and cover them, but I'm not sure what to do about the ones that are plugged in at the time. It will probably only be a USB connector, maybe a liberal dollop of RTV compound once it's plugged in will work. Or maybe just use a docking station connected to the back, and leave all the external connectors covered. I don't have any concerns about the ruggedness of the CF-18 in my cockpit, just the ergonomics and power draw.
So is the keyboard an external add on or is it an option that comes built into the computer?
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