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Old 16-11-2012, 13:00   #31
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Re: 12 Volt Boat Computer

For what they charge, isn't it more effective to buy a laptop or netbook, complete with the extra screen, wifi and bluetooth and whatever, keyboard, pointing device, battery and regulated power supply, etc? Seems like they are charging a premium to offer the slightly smaller but way more stripped down device, which is also going to need to be embedded and can't be taken ashore, etc.
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Old 16-11-2012, 13:08   #32
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Re: 12 Volt Boat Computer

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Originally Posted by Beausoleil View Post
I'm thinking about something like the fit-PC3 from Compulab. 12v, HDMI out @1080p, 4gb ram, etc. I'd type more, but I'm using my tablet :-)

http://WWW.fit-pc.com
I think I fixed the link above. That looks like a nice computer depending on maybe a thing or two.

I wanted an internal DVD drive for ease of loading software and such and being able to play DVD's, but that might not be a big deal for you.

Since we use SeaClearII and OpenCPN I also wanted built-in serial ports which you can still find sometimes. There again you can add on USB/Serial adapters that might work for you. I've used them....

Keyspan High Speed USB Serial Adapter Serial adapter - USB

.... for data-logging in race car applications so they are a possible solution there also. One I haven't used but might consider trying is ....

Digital Yacht NMEA Adapter f/PC

....the one above if I was connecting to a NEMA device.

If one is looking for monitors I've been using....



...the I-INC 16 inch monitor on the boat and at home and it will run direct off of 12 volts and only uses 10 watts. I like it and the price was only $70. Recently my screen on the lap-top was going out and I wanted to find another one to use on the lap-top and to have as a spare on the boat and could not find the I-INC in stock...

I-Inc IK161ABB 16 Widescreen LED Monitor - 720p, 1366x768, 16:9, 600:1 Native, 8ms, Tilt, VGA at TigerDirect.com

....anywhere, but did find the...



...Hanns-G above that is imported by the same people and seems to be a new version of the I-INC. It also runs direct off of 12 volts if you want and is also 10 watts. I got it in and like it also. Right now...

HannsG HL161ABB 16 Class Widescreen LED Backlit Monitor - 1366 x 768, 16:9, 500:1, 16ms, VGA, Energy Star at TigerDirect.com

...they are $65.00 (I paid $70 a couple weeks ago ),

Sum
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Old 16-11-2012, 13:14   #33
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Re: 12 Volt Boat Computer

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
For what they charge, isn't it more effective to buy a laptop or netbook, complete with the extra screen, wifi and bluetooth and whatever, keyboard, pointing device, battery and regulated power supply, etc? Seems like they are charging a premium to offer the slightly smaller but way more stripped down device, which is also going to need to be embedded and can't be taken ashore, etc.
That is an option, but finding a laptop that uses 20 watts or less is going to be hard unless it is a notebook. We don't have what he posted, but there are also others out there from other suppliers. We put components together for ours but I can see how many would like to avoid that.

For us I like the small computer box out of the way and a full size keyboard on the Nav. Station along with the monitor there and the mouse. I move ours from boat to boat and also use it at home. I also work on our web site and other projects at home and on the boat and so probably use the computer more than others might,

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Old 16-11-2012, 13:34   #34
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Re: 12 Volt Boat Computer

I used a small rechargeable battery (maybe 4" x 4" x 4") and a small automatic charger meant for computer systems. This kept the laptop isolated from the rest of the boat.
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Old 16-11-2012, 13:55   #35
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Re: 12 Volt Boat Computer

Sum-
"That is an option, but finding a laptop that uses 20 watts or less is going to be hard unless it is a notebook"
That's what I said. Notebook, laptop, netbook, all the same to much extent. The power consumption of the "computer" itself doesn't matter in these devices, because you are comparing apples to oranges. They all consume power for a complete system--including display. Shut the display, and the power consumption plummets. Go with devices that have no spindles, and the power consunption plummets. Pick similar low power CPUs, and the power plummets. And the more recent Windows OSes, since NT5, have also enabled more power saving options in each generation, allowing compliant hardware to shut down entire sub-systems when they are not needed.
I'm not sure but I suspect a lot of smartphones and tablets would do all the necessary computing, with the only "power" questions being how large a display you want, versus how much power that takes. Some suck power very lightly, others now use quad-core 1.4GHz processors and compete with 'real' computers. Drop 'em in a dock with a keyboard and screen, and you can't tell them apart from whatever-books.

Internal DVD: No really, how quaint, someone still using rotating media on a spindle. <VBG> Which is not to say they are obsolete, but CD/DVD media this year now remind me of the old Monty Python skit about "Penguin on the telly?" Its not dead yet. Yes it is. No it isn't. Yes it is. Like my USB floppy drive, very handy when it is needed, but that might only be twice a year.
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Old 16-11-2012, 14:11   #36
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Re: 12 Volt Boat Computer

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
The power consumption of the "computer" itself doesn't matter in these devices, because you are comparing apples to oranges. They all consume power for a complete system--including display. Shut the display, and the power consumption plummets..
It is true that the CPU is only part of the power usage, but the boards like in the computer he posted or what we are using has a low power chipset. In our case the complete motherboard uses less than 10 watts and the monitor uses less than 10 watts.

We run a digital amp meter on the boats that is good to .1 amp and the computer on with the monitor on uses 1.8 amps when the hard disk is not being accessed and 2.2 when it is. If I turn the display off it is going to be less than 10 watts for the computer, the whole computer (power supply and motherboard). This is way less than the two laptops we currently own. They also need to run either off of an inverter or in our case a DC/DC converter that also uses electricity.

For most it probably isn't a big deal if they run a computer like this or a laptop or a tablet, but I use ours a lot and on the Mac we are limited to the size of the solar array. The Endeavour doesn't have that limitation so I could probably run about anything on the boat.

For us this has been the best solution at this point in time, but I'm the first to say that it might not be the best solution for everyone,

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Old 16-11-2012, 14:19   #37
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Re: 12 Volt Boat Computer

Once upon a time, Toshiba and Lenovo both supplied direct 12VDC laptops from their normal lines to sailboats in races. These days, I think you'd need to take hostages to get wither one to put an engineer on the phone. Or explain why a laptop with a "nine-ish" volt battery needs a 20V charging source, no one seems to know. But that's more a function of intentional FUD than a question of whether there are/n't native 12V laptops available these days.

And of course, the tablets only require 5VDC.

Your laptops may simply reflect a product targeted for the mass market, rather than optimized (or selected) as power sippers. One thing for sure, they weren't intended to be run off a 12v battery as the primary power source. Of course even 10W is an energy hog once you start moving towards embedded systems.<G>
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Old 16-11-2012, 14:26   #38
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Re: 12 Volt Boat Computer

I have built a 12v computer, but I have not installed it onto the boat yet.

Asus e45m1-deluxe motherboad. It is a fanless design. This is the E450 cpu, with integrated graphics.
emc-800b Aluminum case, with 12v supply - thought I could make things fanless, but I ended up modding the case to cram a fan in there. It was running too hot otherwise. With the fan things are nice and cool. If I was doing it again, I would try to find a case that could work without the fan, or that came with a fan installed.

8gb system memory - 8gb because it was cheap. More memory should be better for opencpn
Samsung 830 256gb ssd drive

Panasonic blu-ray burner - You cannot have this with a normal hdd in there at the same time, the SSD is only 7mm thick, so the SSD sits on it's side next to the motherboard, and is held in place with a couple of foam earplugs. Sounds cheesy, but works really well.

Windows 8

For videos/music, we have been using XBMC. I really like it thusfar. If you try it, install the add-on that makes a backup of your config - we lost ours once already, and it is so configurable, it takes a lot of work to get it just they way we wanted it.

It boots in about 15 seconds, and even with the fan, is still pretty quiet. We have a Vizio 23" LED tv that we are using as a monitor. When I get it onto the boat I can take some pics. The whole shebang should draw less than 4 amps.

Chris
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Old 16-11-2012, 14:46   #39
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Re: 12 Volt Boat Computer

There are many bare bones computers available that are close to what I built, without the hassle. Here is one:

Amazon.com: Zotac ZBOX-AD04-U PC Barebone System: Computers & Accessories

You would need to install the OS from a USB stick, that is easy these days.
Zotac also makes one with a 60gb SSD installed, and a wireless remote, but it only has 2gb, and I wanted more than that.

I also picked 256gb SSD because I wanted it to hold most of our music (we have over 150gb now), and most of the electronic charts. The Samsung are fast, and use very, very little power. Some SSD drives use a bunch more (but still less than any mechanical drive.)

Chris
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Old 20-12-2012, 20:12   #40
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Re: 12 Volt Boat Computer

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Anyone using a raspberry pi yet?
Not quite, but I am using a mini2440 (FriendlyARM) to run nmead, making NMEA data from a Raymarine E85001 Seatalk-NMEA adapter available over TCP/IP, via a Bullet 2HP WiFi, so I can monitor wind speed, direction and temps while the boat is at mooring, or as it is now, on a cradle in the yard. I also have a network camera looking aft under the winter cover, so I can check for excessive snow loading on the frame.

The mini2440 runs on 5V, originally I used a Carnetix P2140 DC-DC supply, but found it is programmed to shut down at very low temps, so I'm now using a Griffin iPad USB car-lighter plug adapter.

This winter's Grand Experiment will be to see if the solar panels can keep up with the 1.7A current drain of the Seatalk instruments, computer (250 mA), WiFi and Camera 24/7 as the days get shorter and shorter... as of this evening the batteries are down 160 AH from full charge so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a few cold, clear days (while the forecast is for 20 cm of heavy, wet snow). In summer everything's full charge by early afternoon, even with the fridge running. These short northern days are a challenge.
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