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Old 12-02-2011, 22:59   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Idlegreg View Post

snip of a lot of reasonable commentary...

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).
All good stuff and very close to what I anticipate doing. Nav/SSB software is not particularly demanding, and I figured that it was cheaper to use a series of bubble-wrapped, dessicant-equipped "fleet" laptops (superannuated from bankers, brokerages, etc, and some in surprisingly good condition) for $300-$400 apiece. Say I buy four for $1,500. I now have three backup powersupplies, and if they are modular as many are (like Dell, for instance), I can swap as needed. A strict backup regimen, perhaps done via thumb drives for data only (you'd have to sail for a thousand years to make too many waypoints and nav notes that a 4 GB USB drive couldn't handle), and I am set.

Having recently bought an ASUS eeePC 1018 netbook for $350 and having installed OpenCPN on it, I figure I can buy a USB backup drive, a DVD player, and three more brand-new netbooks and do the same deal with a better warranty.
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Old 12-02-2011, 23:50   #47
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I use a Toshiba Tectra 12" laptop mounted in a tray above the nav table and screwed in place. Battery is removed and it runs perfectly off the ships 12v supply. I tried a step up converter but that just interfered with the radios. Dc to dc converters apparently rectify to ac and then back to dc. I run Seaclear 2 on windows 98. Whole programme including charts can be backed up on a thumb drive so if you should have a problem just drag out a reserve laptop and your ready to go. I bought a back up Toshiba Portege off eBay for $15, it looks like new and even had the buyers original receipt for $4036!. These old laptops are quality items and more than adequate for nav use.
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Old 13-02-2011, 01:17   #48
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Buy one that is fast and has plenty of HD space and lots of Ram.

Then take it apart and lightly coat everything with CorrosionX using a small brush. Do not use anything but CorrosionX, no matter which expert tells you. Put it back together.

Whatever the laptop is, you will get twice the life.

The biggest problem with very low voltage devices with microprocessors is that even microscopic corrosion will cause you problems. I learned this trick from a cruising/retired IT guy. I had a 12 volt PC (this one was made with laptop components) that would blue-screen daily. I replaced the HD, Ram, DVD player...some things seemed to help, but only temporarily.

I asked him what to buy...that is when he told me about CorrosionX.

I had nothing to loose on my 12 volt PC, so tried it. That was 2 years ago. The PC is now 6 years old with a 2 year old HD, 2 gigs of Ram, and a 2 year old DVD burner. I have not had a single problem since using CorrosionX...and I have used it on all kinds of electrical and metal corrosion problems.

I do not have any connection with CorrosionX. They are a private Dallas, Texas company...If they were public, I would be a stockholder.

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Old 13-02-2011, 01:22   #49
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This is THE gun thread for nerds! LOL

Funny thing is they will all get the job done and every thing said here is true, BUT, I'd rather buy new laptops vs. used, failure rate for used computers excellerates like a mad pirate in Somalia.

Buy new! If your budget is $1k buy 2 $500 laptops, it's amazing how much horsepower you can now get form a $400 or $500 laptop. If all you do is email and blog / a little picture editing a $250 net-book will work fine.

PC, MAC, whatever, if it fits your budget buy it! Doesn't matter, in a couple years it's going to be obsolete and cost half what you paid.

STAY AWAY FROM USED COMPUTERS! Please don't argue how you can buy 5 off eBay for what a new one cost, the night mare dealing with it IS NOT WORTH IT!!!!
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Old 13-02-2011, 05:48   #50
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All of my laptops (8) except one are used. All bought from reputable dealers. One is even a '95 P150 toshiba, all running strong.

Buying (almost) anything new, and putting it on a boat, especially non-marine electronics is a waste of money.

But I see from this thread that many of us do just that. Shame.
Even if you are going to throw away a $1000+, buying a Mac is the poorest choice of all. For the same price of an entry level Apple laptop, you could buy twice the machine (PC) for the same price.
Yes Macs are nice, but in the end they are nothing more than over priced techno fashion. Look up the specs yourself. Don't let the Apple fanbois muddle things up. They are loyal to the brand, even in the face of facts.

Using a home computer, such as a Mac Mini, mid tower, etc, etc on the boat is a huge mistake. Get a laptop, get a 12vDC socket lighter type power cord and save yourself some major headaches. NEVER EVER directly wire your laptop into the boats 12v system. If you must use an AC plug, use a dedicated inverter that is only slightly larger in capacity than what you will need for the laptop.

Flame me all you want, I've been doing this for over 15 years, I've worked on everything from government mainframes to programming on smart phones . . . . Apple earned my distaste through bad/flawed designs all the way through their business practices.

I expect to get/see a load of butt hurt responces to this post.

Flame on.
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Old 13-02-2011, 05:59   #51
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Toughbooks & the like are fine but start out with conservative specs. You soon end up with a machine that works faultlessly but is way out of date.

For the same money you could buy a couple of top spec laptops giving you redundancy, then renew one every two years. It won't cost any more.
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Old 13-02-2011, 06:10   #52
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All of my laptops (8) except one are used. All bought from reputable dealers. One is even a '95 P150 toshiba, all running strong.

Buying (almost) anything new, and putting it on a boat, especially non-marine electronics is a waste of money.

But I see from this thread that many of us do just that. Shame.
Even if you are going to throw away a $1000+, buying a Mac is the poorest choice of all. For the same price of an entry level Apple laptop, you could buy twice the machine (PC) for the same price.
Yes Macs are nice, but in the end they are nothing more than over priced techno fashion. Look up the specs yourself. Don't let the Apple fanbois muddle things up. They are loyal to the brand, even in the face of facts.

Using a home computer, such as a Mac Mini, mid tower, etc, etc on the boat is a huge mistake. Get a laptop, get a 12vDC socket lighter type power cord and save yourself some major headaches. NEVER EVER directly wire your laptop into the boats 12v system. If you must use an AC plug, use a dedicated inverter that is only slightly larger in capacity than what you will need for the laptop.

Flame me all you want, I've been doing this for over 15 years, I've worked on everything from government mainframes to programming on smart phones . . . . Apple earned my distaste through bad/flawed designs all the way through their business practices.

I expect to get/see a load of butt hurt responces to this post.

Flame on.
Totally agree. I was trying to stay away from this thread, but it's killing me

I'm a longtime ex-geek. I've never bought a brand new computer except the few that I've built from mostly new parts.
I was a unix guru back in the day, then I switched to mac when osx came out... What do i use now? windows Total devolution...I have a $300 Thinkpad x60s that is plenty fast for anything short of gaming, ultra low power consumption, 5 hour battery life, matte screen (for daylight ), and as tough as they get short of being 'ruggedized' (even has the thinkpad signature 'spillproof' keyboard). I also have a $200 netbook with a 64gb SSD, drive for my nav computer, which also has a matte screen and gets upwards of 7-8 hours battery life. I Keep the drives backed up, if one succumbs to the rigors of marine life, then it'll easily be replaced without too much pain and misery.
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Old 13-02-2011, 07:07   #53
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I've always used both Macs and PCs, not a zealot for either. So no flame from me. I'm as open minded about computers as I am about people.

In the early 80s worked in a classified field in the Air Force using 64 bit operating systems and flash memory, etc. At that time the graphics card was actually a separate black box for display only. Imagine working on a setup where the system bus actually connected between four or five separate boxes.

At any rate, it was a great head start in dealing with the changing world of computing ever since.

For me, I'd like my primary system to be built in and hidden, and laptops as a backup.

A couple of observations.

Interference from a dc-dc converter can be minimized be using one with a FCC class B certification and choosing the mounting location carefully. Including considering adding some shielding external to the unit, tied to the grounding.

It is dancing with the devil to connect an old 12v input laptop directly to boat power. It will work, but puts the components through their paces with the voltage fluctuation on board.

The two most likely failure points for computers are ones less than thirty days old and ones more than three years old, by the stats. In other words, if it makes it thirty days, probably makes it three years before problems. Of course there are plenty of examples to the contrary. That's why I dislike statistics. My own experience contradicts this as well. I choose a mix of old and new myself, and a mix of Mac and PC. That's just the way I roll.

Need to look into Corrosion X, probably an excellent suggestion I may execute on the old items.

I have a Sinclair ZX80 from 1980 that works perfectly. Even has the 16k memory expansion pack and original tape backup. I'm guessing I'm the oldest geek in the room.



Seems to me everything stated in this thread has merit, and is worth considering. Thankfully it lacks the ridiculous stereotyping and emotional bias of the gun threads.

I think it's mistake to suggest that the solutions one has personally chosen are the correct solutions for everyone else.
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Old 13-02-2011, 07:17   #54
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Old laptops or PC's are actually much less energy efficient than new ones. The new CPU's & systems have very low power consumption when idling and they complete tasks much more quickly, spending most of the time in that idling mode.

For keyboards and mice, I recommend to buy the so-called "gaming" grade versions. These cost a little more but the $$$ actually go to longevity of the product instead of pockets of businessmen. Example: the Logitec G5 mouse (Logitec uses that "G" for their Gaming grade stuff) even has a polyester braided cover over it's cord, switches that never fail etc. I see that they are at the G500 mouse already... but my G5 just keeps working.
For a keyboard, look at something like this: Deck Keyboards
Remember that you need illuminated keyboards if you plan to use them during night passages. I stopped using wireless keyboards and mice because they interfere with bluetooth and wifi.

DC-DC conversion actually has DC-AC-DC conversion in a single module/unit.

Reading some of the other comments, I can't stop myself from taking the bait

First, if you're tight on money, don't even read about the Mac's; just buy a new $300 netbook with Windows XP and live with it. But realize that by the time you buy the 3rd one, I'm still on the same $1k MacBook. Also, it will not run applications like MaxSea TimeZero (but fine for MaxSea v10)

Second, it's really too late to try to talk down Apple. They won, all the reviews and tests show that they use top quality components, design and construction and their sales figures for laptops are seeing the biggest leaps ever while others go belly-up or have hard times. Where cruisers with laptops gather, you see Mac owners working with their laptop while other are trying to get their kit to work

Third, you haven't been much of a Unix guru when you're drooling over Windows now. Apple's MacOS is the #1 Unix with graphical interface and even the simplest macBook comes with a full set of apps that a Unix geek wants, including Apache webserver etc. etc.


Nick.
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Old 13-02-2011, 07:26   #55
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Jedi, the Deck keyboard doesn't mention waterproofing that I can find. Do you know?

I'm considering this cheep wired keyboard, or other similar similar keyboards. I'm thinking Best Buy might even have something like this on the shelf.

USB Flexible Foldable Luminous Silicone Keyboard, White


Your comment about the dc-dc is correct, but the question remains is it more or less energy efficient than using the brick power supply through and inverter. That's what I currently have away from the dock.
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Old 13-02-2011, 08:13   #56
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Jedi, the Deck keyboard doesn't mention waterproofing that I can find. Do you know?
I'm considering this cheep wired keyboard, or other similar similar keyboards. I'm thinking Best Buy might even have something like this on the shelf. USB Flexible Foldable Luminous Silicone Keyboard, White
No, the keyboards I use are not waterproof although most will survive when you dry them out. 20 years ago I would revive old keyboards by putting them in the dishwasher. Also, those rubber keyboards are just a gadget, I gave up typing on these after 10 seconds. It would take me at least 10 times as long to type this post using one of them.

Quote:
Your comment about the dc-dc is correct, but the question remains is it more or less energy efficient than using the brick power supply through and inverter. That's what I currently have away from the dock.
It's more complicated than that. I'm sure a 12-19V converter has a horrible power efficiency compared to a modern true-sine inverter. The problem is that those figures are only valid at maximum load. When you use a 600W true sine inverter, you will hardly load it, resulting in a larger absolute loss than the 12-19V converter close to it's full load. Just stop me when I'm getting too technical

cheers,
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Old 13-02-2011, 08:19   #57
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First, if you're tight on money, don't even read about the Mac's; just buy a new $300 netbook with Windows XP and live with it. But realize that by the time you buy the 3rd one, I'm still on the same $1k MacBook. Also, it will not run applications like MaxSea TimeZero (but fine for MaxSea v10)

Second, it's really too late to try to talk down Apple. They won, all the reviews and tests show that they use top quality components, design and construction and their sales figures for laptops are seeing the biggest leaps ever while others go belly-up or have hard times. Where cruisers with laptops gather, you see Mac owners working with their laptop while other are trying to get their kit to work

Third, you haven't been much of a Unix guru when you're drooling over Windows now. Apple's MacOS is the #1 Unix with graphical interface and even the simplest macBook comes with a full set of apps that a Unix geek wants, including Apache webserver etc. etc.


Nick.
In my defense... I certainly don't 'drool' over windows. My usage has changed over the years, no longer server farming, instead I'm just a web user. If I need a server they have them on the internet these days. Win7 is a vast improvement over all other versions of windows and is now my preferred OS for several reasons (which I won't go into).

And to be fair... I used the same ppc mac for many years, best computer I ever owned. But when I decided I'd finally join the crowd and get a laptop (2 years ago), I realized the only way to get a remotely useful macbook was to spend over $1000... spent $300 instead on a PC, and still have 100% functionality with no sign of becoming obsolete any time soon. I've never had a computer break or fail, so I'm not sure what people do to theirs?? Apple certainly uses top quality hardware, but it is the exact same hardware used in high end (and similarly priced) PC's. If budget is not a concern then it's only a matter of OS preference. If budget is a concern then you have a PC, and you still get OS options...

Also no reason a netbook wouldn't last many years, or just as long as macbook given the same usage. I don't see how people qualify that stuff...

It's true you can't run Time Zero on a netbook you also won't be editing video or 3d gaming on it either... I'd also mention that if you use an older version of Maxsea, make sure its at least 10.4 or you must have a serial port. However, they all will run OpenCPN, SeaClear, and PolarView just fine.
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Old 13-02-2011, 08:22   #58
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Really, if I think much about it, the most sense is made by assembling a mini-ITX or pico-ITX PC inside a Faraday cage with holes punched in it for venting of heat (but it's small enough that it's fanless and therefore doesn't suck in salty air). Use SSDs for storage.

Bury this device in the cabinetry. Make sure it's sprayed with conformal spray (which is what I assume CorrosionX is), and run leads to outlets, screens and to an IR node.

Modify as needed. Unless you need to take something to shore (and I would hesitate to take the boat's main computer anywhere other than the driest place aboard), you can have a perfectly good "computer" that's about the size of an airport paperback, uses 10 watts or less, and can be used to run all plotting, comms and record-keeping.

If you want gaming, buy a DS or PSP.
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Old 13-02-2011, 08:47   #59
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Really, if I think much about it, the most sense is made by assembling a mini-ITX or pico-ITX PC inside a Faraday cage with holes punched in it for venting of heat (but it's small enough that it's fanless and therefore doesn't suck in salty air). Use SSDs for storage.
I have used these for years incl. the picoITX fanless designs with heatsinks. I have two for sale if anybody is interested

In the end, I have been disappointed with these systems. The reason is that their innovative development is so slow that mainstream systems overtake them quick and decisively. They lack CPU and graphics power, and their power consumption ain't so good anymore when compared to the new generation of CPU's used in netbooks and laptops. Also, their reliability for use aboard isn't too good either. After a couple of years I have a lot of corrosion in a miniITX system and the PicoITX systems show trouble like failing ports and some form of corrosion on the contacts (which are "gold plated") of memory modules and/or the sockets they go into. A $400-$500 netbook outperforms them at lower cost.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 13-02-2011, 08:52   #60
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How you use it the key?

When we originally went cruising we left with a Compaq, brought it to internet cafes etc... it lasted 1 year and then we gave it the 'float test'... after that bought a Toshiba in Malaysia and NEVER used it for anything other than CMAP, Weatherfaxes and Winlink (email)... that was in 1999, and that same laptop is still running 100% (knock on wood), draws about 2.8 amps when it's running & plugged in.
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