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Old 21-06-2012, 04:03   #1
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computer onboard

I an planning to upgrade my laptop computer which I use for navigation tidal data, weather downloads entertainment music and playing dvd and photo & video storage.

I have not interfaced this with my on board instruments and this would be my intention.

can I have your advice on what to consider... I would like large battery capacity. can I have a large hard drice without being split into two.. should I consider external hard drive for storage and what software would you recommend.

thanks
john
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Old 21-06-2012, 04:25   #2
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Re: computer onboard

That's a pretty big question. Any of the three major OSes would do (Win, Mac, Linux), so first start with that decision. Most software for cruisers is either available to run on all three, has an equivalent, or can be made to run using WINE if a windows app. This will be a matter of personal preference, and I suspect you already have a choice. Knowing that will reduce the options to a more manageable level.

Software is readily available to interface instruments on all three platforms.

The hard drive is the least of the problems; if nothing else you can buy an aftermarket 2.5" drive, up to 1TB, and replace the internal one. Currently I'm using a fast 640GB drive (7200RPM) inside mine which I installed - no big deal there. I do have a 2TB external drive for storing accumulated things plus a backup.

I spent a winter in Crosshaven, on the hard at the boatyard. Have you been sailing there long?

Greg
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Old 21-06-2012, 05:26   #3
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Re: computer onboard

Three years ago I went with a Dell Inspiron 1012, a netbook. It got drenched in a storm and I easily replaced the keyboard & screen, upgraded the RAM to 2 gig and put a lager solid state hard drive in for about $150 in parts. It runs on 12v and handles all my needs. I use Coastal Explorer, it has an interface to all my instruments, gps and ais,have all my ebooks on a SD card and watch Netflix on it.
I have cloned the hard drive in case I have a problem so a new on becomes literally plug & play. Replacement cost is between $150 & $250 on ebay.
It's chesp, it does the job
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Old 21-06-2012, 10:08   #4
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Re: computer onboard

greg thanks for the reply... I have just posted my first Utube of donegal Breeze search
Donegal Breeze sailing.. we built her in Oman in the middle east and came back to ireland in 2004
regards
john
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Old 21-06-2012, 11:06   #5
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Re: computer onboard

I use a MacBook Air. Been Mac fanatic since '84. MacENC chart plotter, and it will read NMEA 0183 instruments. Ship Modul MiniPlex lite to buffer NMEA data to the USB port and talk to the VHF / auto helm. MacENC will display AIS info passing thru the miniplex.

Over abbreviated I know . . . just my 2.
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Old 21-06-2012, 11:27   #6
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Re: computer onboard

If you are serious about a computer for on board you should talk to Bob Stewart at Islandtime PC. Marine PC's & WiFi by IslandTime PC

He can build you a great machine customized to your preferences optimized for onboard use for a very reasonable price. Im running a gateway laptop now but when it goes we plan to get a computer from Bob. He is on CF often so I wouldnt be surprised if he chimes in. You will find nothing but praise for the guy too.
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Old 21-06-2012, 17:15   #7
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Re: computer onboard

I think one thing to note is that petty much any computer is powerful enough to do the job, so there is a wide price range available. Personally I am using a a 5 year old MacBook Pro; I know a couple that are using an inexpensive mini-ATX motherboard with an Atom processor and running Linux - a 'cheap and cheerful' solution. I also try to maintain a cloned drive in addition to the compressed backup on the external 2TB drive.

I have tried the MacENC software a couple of times in the past and really like it. The newest version supports NMEA 2000 so I may be buying it some day. Polar Navy also supports the Mac (and windows and linux) and is, or will be soon, supporting NMEA 2000, so that is another option. Currently I am working with OpenCPN (which doesn't support NMEA 2000 at this point).

The Airmail software used for shortwave email (ham and sailmail) is windows-only but runs well in WINE.

I do think that having a second computer, of some sort, is useful as a backup. It could be something as inexpensive as a netbook (which would be convenient for carrying ashore to get emails).

There are quite a few options to filling this requirement.

Greg
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Old 21-06-2012, 18:51   #8
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Re: computer onboard

Where exactly is the computer going to be located? If you're just going to put it somewhere in the cabin and use it for planning purposes, pretty much any old computer will do. Running plotting software really isn't that resource intensive.

If you're wanting to use it for navigation underway and have it on deck, you're going to want a ruggedized laptop with a high brightness (~1000 nit) sunlight readable display. These are thousands of dollars, though.

As a halfway, you might consider keeping the laptop inside and then running a video cable to a waterproof monitor on deck for navigation purposes. You can get monitors like this with touchscreen input for 1-2 thousand.

Personally, I'm running Polarview on an old Macbook. If the conditions are rough enough that it would get soaked in the cockpit, I'm probably not out on the water. I like Polarview mostly because of the ease that it displays vector charts and the fact that it has a chart downloader/updater built in. In your case, it also has a decent set of gauges that can be interfaced with NMEA through PolarCOM.

If you are alright using Raster charts, you might consider OpenCPN. I don't think it does gauges, though.

John
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Old 22-06-2012, 10:48   #9
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Re: computer onboard

If you want to use it on deck, you need something like this: Working Outdoors: the Benefits of a Transflective LCD Screen - RuggedNotebooks.com

Tom
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