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Old 07-03-2018, 13:59   #31
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

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We have a dated HP presario laptop as our main PC for downloading, file transfer, backup nav.
Should add that upgrading the ram and changing hard drive for an SSD plus dumping win7 in favour of Linux mint gave this a good improvement in performance for minimum spend.
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Old 07-03-2018, 16:18   #32
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

Here are some links of previous threads that containes similar topics.
Best Computer for Open CPM - Sail Mail - Winlink - Pactor
Best Lap Top Computer for a Cruising Boat
Replacing Ship's Computer -- Atom vs Celeron?
The latter thread contains the most information, but is not laptop specific.

Or have a look at this Chinese supplier, maybe not all models at the forefront of technology, but may be very suitable for boating environments (many run from 12 Volt!): Thin Client|Mini PC|PC Station|Net Computer|PC Share|NComputing - Qotom

I have used on the boat full blown desktop PCs, a few Shuttles, now a 7 year old Toshiba laptop, and made a built-in 19 Volt power supply like Reefmagnet. Now aiming for a mini computer like NUC, Asus, MSI and the like. I use plotters for navigation, and the laptop is for backup, planning only.

And lastly to answer your question regarding laptops..... nearly anything will do, I think, but smaller screen, slower processor, SSD instead of HDD will all reduce the power requirements. And if you have sufficient power..... get 2 screens, one larger one for movies etc, fast processor.
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Old 07-03-2018, 16:22   #33
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
I tried that idea.. Unfortunately most "corporate" versions of laptops have circuity to identify a proper power adapter. If they don't find a proper adapter, they allow the device to be powered, but not charge the battery.

There is a way to cut apart a true supply and extract the "one wire" chip that provides this data to the laptop. However that circuity is over most layman's heads.

Dell and Lenovo both have verification circuity in thier higher end devices.
Can't say I've ever really seen this (I've played around with HP branded corporates in the past) so it may not be that widespread??. I'd guess this would also impact generic 12V input converter PSU's too, making them best to avoid for boat use. I know NUC's will refuse to boot past BIOS if they detect an out of range voltage condition. My 12 VDC NUC is happy to run off the boat's DC supply directly (it doesn't have a battery of course) but will refuse to continue further (and informs you so) if the charger is on during boot and the correspondingly higher voltage is present.

I have noticed that some of the more recent NUC's specify a 12 to 19 VDC input voltage range which would make them perfect for direct connection on a 12VDC battery supply, but haven't personally tried one yet to see if this actually holds up in practice.


And on the subject of ToughBooks....

Great concept and they do work really well aside from the low relative performance (they're fanless) and heavy weight. I had a CF-19 on the boat for a while. Right up to the day it sat on the salon floor sloshing around in brackish water for a couple of hours. To it's credit, it survived the ordeal after drying out for a day, but it's internal battery charging circuit was fried. It's Archille's heal was the wireless mouse dongle plugged into a USB port preventing the rubber flap door from closing which allowed water ingress
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Old 07-03-2018, 17:07   #34
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

I support the Panasonic Toughbook or an Android tablet with contactless Qi charging (can be retrifitted) in a good waterproof and ruggedized case.
The contactless charging needs a little more power, but you hardly ever need to open the case then.
The tablet lives in a dry environment than.

There are also fairly good rugged and waterproof and rugged tablets out now which do not need an extra case.
Opencpn (CM93) and Sailgrib(Mbtiles) work both on Android.
Opencpn also under Windows.

I'd always want an internal battery as well, just in case the power or power connection fails.
Also always like to have at least one, better two back up computers on board.

Some phablets could even be attached to the lower arm and you always have you chartplotter and AIS at hand.

Unless you are a gamer or working a lot with graphics, CAD, ir large high res image files or video editing, almost any computer should have enough power for chartwork.
Test the display in sunlight!
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Old 07-03-2018, 22:50   #35
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

About a week ago I compared three potential boat computers:
  • Lenovo laptop, Win 7 (with Intel Core i7 CPU), $860 in 2015
  • "Intense" fanless PC, Win 7 (with Intel Core i7 CPU, 1.7 GHz), $1,149 in 2014.
  • MINIX “NEO Z83-4 Pro” NUC-style computer, Win 10 (with the Atom "Cherry Trail" processor, 1.9 GHz), about $200 in 2018

The MINIX computer only has 4G RAM and a very small SSD, so I added a $40 128G micro-SD card for use as a second SSD.

For the "Intense" and MINIX units I used a 14" USB-powered display, similar in size to my laptop screen. During all my tests, the monitor brightness was set to 50%.

I powered these computers from my lab supply, set to 12.9V, and used a power monitor to collect average consumption. The MINIX and the “Intense” use a direct connection to the “12V” supply, and the laptop used the Lenovo-provided 12V adaptor. The tests ran for at least 12 hours, to let the laptop battery charging reach equilibrium. I monitored the current consumption numerous times during the test to see if there was current drain cycling (there wasn't). The peak currents varied a lot, perhaps up to 2X the average. I believe that the watt-hour totaling of the power monitor gave me a fair picture of power consumption during 24/7 computer operation.

I ran my usual navigation software suite (NavMonPc and OpenCPN or Expedition). NMEA data was provided via a networked player, using pre-recorded data. In regular use, this data would be generated by my instruments.

Results:

Computer, Average Current (@ 12.9V), Power Consumption (24 hours), CPU Utilization

“Intense”, 0.91 A, 280 Wh, 5.00%

Laptop, 0.68 A, 211 Wh, 8.00%

MINIX, 0.48 A, 148 Wh, 28.00%

(The CPU Utilization numbers are very approximate, as they jumped around a lot.)

The MINIX ran my programs well enough but wasn't nearly as "snappy" as the other computers. If I tried to run additional cpu-intensive programs (such as Software Defined Radios and WFAX decoding) the machine would stutter and temporarily freeze. But if I only ran the nav programs and some additional low-impact programs (email, satphone, PACTOR modem, simple photo editing), the MINIX did OK.

Running the same programs, the laptop burned more power than the MINIX. It could easily handle the extra load of the SDR / WFAX programs.

Under the same conditions, the “Intense” used almost twice the power of the MINIX. It had even more spare CPU cycles than the laptop, and handled everything I threw at it.
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Old 08-03-2018, 04:56   #36
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

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Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
Can't say I've ever really seen this (I've played around with HP branded corporates in the past) so it may not be that widespread??.
Unfortunately it appears that its become much more widespread in Dells. I have seen some "consumer" models with a "smart" power supply. I think Dell might be doing it for all laptops now.

If you are interested in the details, here is a link to 4 part series where the author completely reverse engineers the identity chip and circuitry.
https://hackaday.com/2014/03/03/hack...dentification/
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Old 08-03-2018, 12:17   #37
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
Unfortunately it appears that its become much more widespread in Dells. I have seen some "consumer" models with a "smart" power supply. I think Dell might be doing it for all laptops now.

If you are interested in the details, here is a link to 4 part series where the author completely reverse engineers the identity chip and circuitry.
https://hackaday.com/2014/03/03/hack...dentification/
Interesting. Possibly a consequence of past episodes of spontaneous combustion combined with competitive pressure to build cheap and sell cheap.
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Old 08-03-2018, 12:26   #38
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
About a week ago I compared three potential boat computers:
  • Lenovo laptop, Win 7 (with Intel Core i7 CPU), $860 in 2015
  • "Intense" fanless PC, Win 7 (with Intel Core i7 CPU, 1.7 GHz), $1,149 in 2014.
  • MINIX “NEO Z83-4 Pro” NUC-style computer, Win 10 (with the Atom "Cherry Trail" processor, 1.9 GHz), about $200 in 2018

The MINIX computer only has 4G RAM and a very small SSD, so I added a $40 128G micro-SD card for use as a second SSD.

For the "Intense" and MINIX units I used a 14" USB-powered display, similar in size to my laptop screen. During all my tests, the monitor brightness was set to 50%.

I powered these computers from my lab supply, set to 12.9V, and used a power monitor to collect average consumption. The MINIX and the “Intense” use a direct connection to the “12V” supply, and the laptop used the Lenovo-provided 12V adaptor. The tests ran for at least 12 hours, to let the laptop battery charging reach equilibrium. I monitored the current consumption numerous times during the test to see if there was current drain cycling (there wasn't). The peak currents varied a lot, perhaps up to 2X the average. I believe that the watt-hour totaling of the power monitor gave me a fair picture of power consumption during 24/7 computer operation.

I ran my usual navigation software suite (NavMonPc and OpenCPN or Expedition). NMEA data was provided via a networked player, using pre-recorded data. In regular use, this data would be generated by my instruments.

Results:

Computer, Average Current (@ 12.9V), Power Consumption (24 hours), CPU Utilization

“Intense”, 0.91 A, 280 Wh, 5.00%

Laptop, 0.68 A, 211 Wh, 8.00%

MINIX, 0.48 A, 148 Wh, 28.00%

(The CPU Utilization numbers are very approximate, as they jumped around a lot.)

The MINIX ran my programs well enough but wasn't nearly as "snappy" as the other computers. If I tried to run additional cpu-intensive programs (such as Software Defined Radios and WFAX decoding) the machine would stutter and temporarily freeze. But if I only ran the nav programs and some additional low-impact programs (email, satphone, PACTOR modem, simple photo editing), the MINIX did OK.

Running the same programs, the laptop burned more power than the MINIX. It could easily handle the extra load of the SDR / WFAX programs.

Under the same conditions, the “Intense” used almost twice the power of the MINIX. It had even more spare CPU cycles than the laptop, and handled everything I threw at it.
It's difficult to compare different systems, even those with the same CPU "family" Installed. For example, the i7 is available in many variants that consume vastly different amounts of power between the lowest and highest spec. Then start introducing system boards, displays and peripherals...

And this is the conundrum in an application with a limited supply of the stuff. Atom/Celeron processors are low power and are great for the the basics, but suck big time at the more intensive tasks.
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Old 09-03-2018, 22:13   #39
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

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I am still on the lookout for an affordable modern laptop or tablet that's splashproof, shock-resistant and sunlight-readable, so any tips on those would be appreciated. Until then, I regard most laptops and tablets as navigation backups only.
Here there's a Panasonic Toughbook CF-31 that's splashproof, shock resistant and sunlight readable. It has Windows 7 on it, with OCpn and WinFast Navigator. Toughbooks are a current Panasonic product, so you can readily get things like batteries for them.

You can read about which Toughbook models are sunlight readable here....

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toughbook

I got it on eBay.
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Old 09-03-2018, 22:40   #40
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

Posters here talk of using 12v chargers and inverters, and they get hot. Consider that these things put out either square waves (deadly to electronics) or pure sine waves. In general, it's transformers that can't handle square waves very well, they get hot or even melt down.

We look forward to discussion...
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Old 10-03-2018, 06:27   #41
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

Today, I hooked up an older Nuc i3 to my boat's navigation station. Even though it's supposed to run on 19 vdc it is quite happy running straight off the 12 volt supply. Coupled to a 12" 12vdc wide-screen monitor, the whole setup draws, on average, around 2 amps. The i3 is surprisingly very adept at performing most tasks.

I think this would be a perfect setup for many applications.
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Old 10-03-2018, 07:09   #42
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

We have one small cheap computer no frills that is used for bill paying ONLY. We never open e-mail or surf the web download any programs except a good anti virus and firewall. While not perfect we feel it is more secure for doing finances.
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Old 10-03-2018, 08:10   #43
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

Anyone else using their boat computer to monitor the boat as well?
Seem the raspberry pi & openplotter is the only system that's made any real effort in that direction with the ease to hook up cheap temp, pressure, voltage etc sensors. Maybe not that relevant for a weekend boat but very useful for more live-aboard off the grid boats. No one else seems to have implemented signalk either, display option there just keep getting better.
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Old 10-03-2018, 12:39   #44
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

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Anyone else using their boat computer to monitor the boat as well?
Seem the raspberry pi & openplotter is the only system that's made any real effort in that direction with the ease to hook up cheap temp, pressure, voltage etc sensors. Maybe not that relevant for a weekend boat but very useful for more live-aboard off the grid boats. No one else seems to have implemented signalk either, display option there just keep getting better.
Actually, it's very relevant for the weekend boat. It would be helpful to know whether the battery is charged/charging, or the bilge pump is running frequently, before I head down for an outing. Or to get early warning of fire or unauthorized entry.

There are some full-featured boat monitoring and tracking options out there but they cost more than a few hundred, and have monitoring costs of around $30 monthly.

I'm looking around for some cheaper options such as something based on the Raspberry Pi or Arduino.
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Old 10-03-2018, 12:51   #45
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Re: Laptop computer aboard

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Originally Posted by Lake-Effect View Post
Actually, it's very relevant for the weekend boat. It would be helpful to know whether the battery is charged/charging, or the bilge pump is running frequently, before I head down for an outing. Or to get early warning of fire or unauthorized entry.

There are some full-featured boat monitoring and tracking options out there but they cost more than a few hundred, and have monitoring costs of around $30 monthly.

I'm looking around for some cheaper options such as something based on the Raspberry Pi or Arduino.
Pi will do it with minimal set up. Then add some web access somehow and get alarms via email or watch whats going on minute by minute sending messages over MQTT. No need for any port forwarding fiddling, not far from plug and play.
Wiring would be the biggest part, though even then you can use a ESP8266 to send to the Pi, or even straight to the web without the Pi. No programming, load easyesp & it's all webpage based setup. Really cheap way to go but without the added power of the Pi & openplotter.
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