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Old 12-02-2011, 03:41   #31
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Hi Four Winds;

The on-line specs say:
19Vdc, 3.42A, 65W Power Adaptor

Mine wont arrive for another week.

Cheers, Jim
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:23   #32
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Thanks jimthom, that's what I needed.

Thought I looked for the numbers online but have looked at so many lately and I get confused more easily in my old age.

This computer could be hooked to boat power using a 12v - 19v converter like a Powerstream PST-P90.
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:36   #33
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MacBook Air. No hard drive, no problems with hard drive. If one were to need something on a disk, just hook up the separate one most of us have stashed away somewhere.
Apple - MacBook Air - The next generation of MacBooks.
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Old 12-02-2011, 07:53   #34
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Considered the Air myself. Decided I use the DVD and card reader too much to have them connected externally.

I like the lighted keyboard on the MacBook Pro as well.

With the smaller solid state drive I thought I might need an external hard drive connected most of the time as well. Mine's not dedicated to nav only. It's an everyday use item for me. So I'd like to embed a mini computer for the nav tasks.

The air would be a great choice if these external devices aren't often needed, or if they are accessed over wireless to eliminate the wire mess.
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:00   #35
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BTW, Powerstream makes a wide variety of dc to dc power adapters for many name brand laptops.

If you consider running a laptop of the inverter to be less efficient this could be an option.

Haven't used their products but may soon.
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Old 12-02-2011, 08:13   #36
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I am still reading that some posters discard the Apple Macbook option because they think it is incompatible with M$ Windows, so I will have to repeat it big:

Apple Mac's run M$ Windows too !!
Not as some form of emulation or other trick; it can run Windows natively like any other PC or laptop running Windows.

Mac's ship with a full driver-kit for Windows; you can run XP, Vista and Win7... yes, as funny as it sounds, Mac's are among the very few PC's/laptops left with full support for Windows XP. Windows itself is not shipped with a Mac; you have to find an old CD/license or buy it.

People who prefer a fixed setup (like the "boat-computers") should have a look at the MacMini too: it's a MacBook Pro without screen, keyboard and battery with the size of a CD-box and it even has HDMI output.

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Old 12-02-2011, 08:52   #37
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This is true. Running natively, not emulation.

I think it applies to the newest models which have the same hardware on the inside as PCs. Intel proccessors, pci bus, nvidia graphics (I think), etc. One of the best moves Apple made on the laptops.

I like the Mac's engineering like the magsafe power connection. Where the cord is held to the machine by magnetism, so if it gets pulled on obliquely it releases without damage. Also the no compromise approach to screen quality and video chipset, etc. This and market share raises the price of course. But I have noticed a PC laptop with comparable video components and other hardware is practically the same price. The less costly PC laptops have integrated graphics chipsets and other shortcuts that lower performance and price, though many would never have a reason to notice this.

Looking into the mac mini too. I think the AC cord goes to the unit itself so it would be AC only on the water. Power consumption is only 10 watts when idle. HDMI, firewire, 4 usb ports, sd card reader. No built in wireless.

Morningstar makes a pure sine wave inverter that is reasonably priced at about 250 US$ and 300 watts (600 surge) that I am considering for running AC electronics on board if I go that route.
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:52   #38
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There are also hardware platforms (PC) made to be installed into automobiles. They are the size of (1 & 2) DIN slots and are replacements for your vehicles indash CD player. You can even build one yourself for under $1500 USD. Some even have a built in/slide out 8" touch screen. That of course is almost useless, but throw in another $150 for a 20' LG flat screen, and not only do you have a working 12vDC computer, but being built right into the nav station next to the rest, makes for a very uncluttered and sexy nav station.

No matter what solution you use, have a full backup/disaster plan in place, and make it part of your routine. Burn regular copies of everything you have to have (tax records, pics & vid, business records etc) and put a copy of the latest backups in your ditch bag.
Even though it won't get you into a country, I had my @55 saved when I lost my passport trying to check into Holland. Having a quality scan of it (.jpg), made proving who I was, and receiving a new passport all the faster. It was much better than just trying to explain myself to Customs through a 3rd person.
...and all it took was 10 minutes @ the library and a USB stick.

//$0.02
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Old 12-02-2011, 10:30   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by four winds View Post
Looking into the mac mini too. I think the AC cord goes to the unit itself so it would be AC only on the water. Power consumption is only 10 watts when idle. HDMI, firewire, 4 usb ports, sd card reader. No built in wireless.
The MacMini has both 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth wireless on-board, just like the laptops.

I have the older version with external PSU but I connect it to AC anyway. The newer model is smaller and has internal PSU. I use a 600W true-sine inverter for it which also powers a screen, printer etc. When you buy a 12V->19V converter you also have the efficiency loss.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobleshift View Post
No matter what solution you use, have a full backup/disaster plan in place, and make it part of your routine. Burn regular copies of everything you have to have (tax records, pics & vid, business records etc) and put a copy of the latest backups in your ditch bag.
MacOS has another nice surprise for Windows users switching over: TimeMachine. A completely integrated backup-system that automatically supports disk image backup etc. It has special support for applications like Email where you can open your inbox the way it was yesterday or a week ago or whatever... like the name says, a time machine.

There is a free download of a backup-program that creates a disk-image of the Windows (bootcamp) partition on the hard-drive. Run it and time-machine will include it in the overall backup next time it runs. I don't even run an anti-virus program under Windows anymore; when I get a virus I just restore the whole partition.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 12-02-2011, 12:55   #40
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Sorry long post - I have the idea it is not actually about the particular laptop J

Well my Vaio (Which I neither love nor hate) is sitting on my saloon table as I write this, which is where it has also been (on a non slip matt and held down) for my last 2 years using it as my primary navigation system. My boat is small enough that I can see it from the cockpit and being in the saloon it is away from the hatch and allows me to keep real charts on the chart table. The laptop never failed me, although I had one or two brief outages whenever the USB Serial converter had a hissy fit - hard to find real serial on a laptop these days but a car/marine PC, as some have suggested, may overcome that problem. In fact I think the possibility of real serial ports is the main reason to use a dedicated (Industrial PC based) compact unit over a standard laptop..

I have worked years supplying Computers and s/w to yachts and over time formed the opinion that water/damp and motion are not a big problem if you are sensible. However I wonder if in some areas real high humidity (might) be an issue although I can’t at the moment think of a case I encountered.

As one poster suggested the main thing you can do if you want reliability is stay off the Web (and don't let friends install clever new bits of software or "Improve" your set up).

I recently changed out a 7 year old Toshiba laptop because the owner wanted more speed. It was used solely for Navigation software, Weatherfax and boats database. It had sat under the chart table seat held firmly against movement, cables all secured and plenty of ventilation, - the laptop never got wet or bashed. A separate screen and wireless mouse/keyboard for the navigator meant there was still room for paper charts and pilots (plus a cheap spare wired Key/Mouse setup just in case). The boats other laptop, used for email/web and general software was I think changed 3 times during the life of the "Navigation" computer, which was left well alone apart from chart updates.

Even if, like me, you are poor/short of space then you should be able to find a place for the laptop where it stays dry (well I got away with the glass of wine that time) and does not bounce about. All the ones I know that died a physical death got a direct hit, for example spray down the hatch, were used by someone in dripping oilskins or in one case sluiced when the crew brought a Genoa down the hatch, not realising it had a few gallons of water in the folds.

It seems to me that tough laptops are very expensive and often inferior in some way so I only would recommend if you are working in a RIB or have some reason which means you cannot keep the laptop dry.

Buy a good laptop - I cannot be sure which that is but it is not a marine question, if there is a salesman you know and trust try to find out which ones come back least, I am sure it changes over time and with individual models - check the specs against the software you need to run. Whichever you buy keep it away from water and make sure it cannot bounce at all but is firmly held to a solid surface (avoiding sudden jolts and vibration). Don’t cut off its air supply and if possible use at least a separate mouse, and…

BACKUP … BACKUP … Of course this last bit of advice applies to any computer which has anything you care about on it no matter whether on a boat or in Fort Knox.

And if you feel you really need it working for the boats navigation then have a 2nd spare one with a mirror image of the setup - that is what distance race boats I have encountered chose to do. Two standard laptops will be cheaper than one rugged one and the tough one is no more protected against a software problem (which is your most likely issue - though the Mac fans will laugh at that).
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Old 12-02-2011, 13:29   #41
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I didn't see the wireless listed for the new MacMini, which surprised me. I wasn't looking at the detail or configuration page. Makes sense it has it.


I wonder which would have more loss. From DC to AC back to DC, or DC to DC conversion. I've been asking myself that during the planning stages.

I have a tight budget and need to get it right the first time.

I plan to embed the on board system in the storage space behind the nav station seat for protection as just mentioned, protecting it from the elements. I'm thinking of using a wireless washable key board. Maybe the flexible silicone type. There is one that is illuminated as well. So the companionway mounted monitor will be the most difficult to protect, still thinking about that. Ideas are welcome.
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Old 12-02-2011, 13:31   #42
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I like the old ones-these two brands particularly.
Old P2 panasonics and ibms use less power.<1amp dimmed down,no cd in the slot.They will run directly off 12 volts when attached where battery goes.

Ditto P3 ibms and Panasonics but power consumption is a bit more >1.2 amp when idling along navigating...
Bigger faster processors use more power as do bigger screens.12-15" is best.I Avoid Glossy screens but some like em.

A netbook I haven't tried.Screen is awful small.

Best to use the ac adapter when motoring with an alternator but a 3 amp solar panel will not hurt em "direct".Voltage won't rise enough with their load.

So far,in 5+ years,never lost a machine.(and I use em a lot for everything else too.)The hdds may stick a bit on bootup if not used for a long time,so take em home.MAYBE packed in airtight case with desiccant will fix this.A tap gets em going too.
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Old 12-02-2011, 14:06   #43
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I use aToughbook CF-52 with i5 processor and 8 megs ram. The hards drives a little small (325 gigs) but I plug it into a 1.5 terabyte drive. I run Maxsea time zero with harbor pictures and 3D display. I run a tune up utility for speed optimiztion and it really flies. I must say that my first Toughbook lost its USB ports after 5 years but I'm allways in a salt water enviornment. Unfortunately this laptop costs more than twice what many of the above cost. Is it worth the extra money?
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Old 12-02-2011, 14:10   #44
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Hey Four Winds:

If you're tight on funds, then consider this: I'm typing this on an older laptop I bought on Craigslist for $90. I spent $41 putting in a new hard drive. Then I installed Ubuntu Linux (free). I run Open CPN navigation software (free) with a hockey-puck type USB GPS from Ebay (about $35, I recall). I power it with a 120 watt inverter ($60 I think) from Walmart. The laptop is velcroed to the nav table.

This system is inexpensive, easy to set up and install, lightning fast, extremely robust, virtually immune to viruses, etc. It is not the most energy efficient setup, but battery power has never been an issue at all in over a year of using it. The reality is, the thing is asleep most of the time when you're offshore. If you're motoring in tighter waters, then battery power is not an issue.

It's so cheap, it's easy to have an extra laptop as backup and cheap to replace the original when it dies. I've looked at all kinds of possibilities (including many of those you're looking at) to see if they would be better, but I keep coming back to this solution. For what it's worth.
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Old 12-02-2011, 14:36   #45
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That is good advice. I've used Ubuntu and OpenCpn and like both. However PolarView is more readable to me at a distance because the graphics are more bold. I have a hand-me-down Dell (bad brick) available that was my niece's in school that I can configure as you describe. Only have one gps puck right now, plus handheld VHF w/gps built in. (still need on board VHF, new throttle and shift cabes, and other bits) Old Garmin 215 monochrome plotter at the helm that is hard to see for me, and no charts north of New Port Richey, FL. Chips are discontinued for it and I don't want to put money in it anyway.

Right now it's the Mac first, old Dell backup if I choose, and handheld/paper charts last. The monchrome plotter is a paperweight once I head North, except as back up position fix since the gps is there even it charts aren't.

I'd like a new inexpensive primary system first located out of sight, then the Mac or Dell, then handheld/charts combo.

At the price you describe one could have a couple of backups ready.

A crazy set of variables, but something has to keep on working underway for my own safety at my experience level. I'm just coastal cruising for years at first I assume, so I can always just head or land and feel my way in. But that would be risky for me at this point in terms of grounding.

Trying to get prepared for a cruise up to the river system in AL to port at an inexpensive place there. Where I'll haul and prepare for next winter to spend in the Keys, I hope.


Has anyone tried the Navigatrix bundle?
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