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Old 05-06-2017, 06:51   #31
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

Have you considered buying a Raspberry Pi? While I don't use it on my boat, I do have OpenCPN loaded on one. It will boot from the HDMI port, and the power consumption is minuscule. The entire OS and application server runs on a MicroSD card that is easy to backup/copy for safety. Plus, I would favor Debian over Windows for stability.

The best part is that they only cost a few bucks: http://www.mcmelectronics.com/conten...S/raspberry-pi
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Old 05-06-2017, 07:51   #32
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

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Originally Posted by Sunsetrider View Post
Is anyone familiar with the Intel NUC at $230?
https://www.cnet.com/news/intel-nuc6...e-celeron-nuc/
My "big" computer is a Lenovo ThinkCentre Mini which is similar. I run two screens on an extended desktop. On short sails on my boat and on delivery I use my laptop. For longer cruises I move the ThinkCentre to the boat (with both screens). I use a DC-DC converter for 19 VDC power to both the laptop and the ThinkCentre. My experience with cheap converters is that they are electrically noisy. This is often a problem for HF/SSB and sometimes for VHF. I have found that factory accessories are better than the cheap stuff. It's worth another $15.

My biggest issue with the NUC is Win 10. There are lots of reasons that have been discussed over and over that Win 10 is not ready for prime time in mission critical applications. I recommend Win 7 Pro to my customers. I have a surcharge for Win 10 since there is so much more work to make it suitable for long-range, long-term cruising.

My biggest issue with my setup is the small inverter for screens. I know there are 12 VDC displays but I haven't been able to justify the cost.

Quote:
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I have a lot less problem with electronics deterioration on board than it seems many do.
For long-term cruisers and liveaboards dust is a bigger problem than damp. Every time you move there is airborne dust. Pull a Kleenex from a box? Dust. Run your fingers through your hair? Dust. Slide down the settee? Dust.

I open up my computer once and sometimes twice a year to vacuum them out. It's amazing how much builds up. Get the dust out and heat is reduced which extends life. If you have rotating drives you should clean your computers more often.

Fanless devices are less vulnerable but still dust builds up in ports and drifts around. Buy some pentalobe drivers and take your tablets apart and clean them. You'll be amazed at the dust bunnies in there.
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Old 05-06-2017, 08:26   #33
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

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Originally Posted by Larry Florida View Post
My 1984 30 footer has a radio and old Radar as its only electronics. I'm looking into adding a chart plotter. Is (or can) the laptop replace a chart plotter and other marine electronics?
Yes, we have several old 10" Netbooks that're loaded with freely available programs & charts (Open-CPN and CM93 charts probably the best known) along with a plug-in GPS Dongle and working off 12 volts with a 12-19V convertor thingy. I'm no expert/techie, but get onto eBay and you could be up and running for $100-150, throw in another $100 for a VHF antenna splitter & an AIS engine and you've an AIS reciever too
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Old 05-06-2017, 08:46   #34
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

Do I need a buck converter if I'm using a 'car charger' for my laptop?
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Old 05-06-2017, 08:58   #35
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

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Do I need a buck converter if I'm using a 'car charger' for my laptop?
No.

That's what the car charger IS.
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Old 05-06-2017, 09:05   #36
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

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. . . My biggest issue with my setup is the small inverter for screens. I know there are 12 VDC displays but I haven't been able to justify the cost.. .
To solve this, I went to an home electronics warehouse store and bought a screen with DC power. Voltage not important (mine is 19v IIRC). I power it with a DROK variable power supply. Works perfectly, and no noise on HF. I threw away the included power brick.

I have a whole-boat Victron inverter, so AC power is not really a problem -- the inverter is on most of the time anyway. But I just don't like having built-in electronics plugged into wall sockets, and I hate the idea of turning DC to AC and back to DC, even if the losses are fairly trivial in the big picture. It just seems more elegant to wire them up to the DC system.
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Old 05-06-2017, 09:24   #37
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

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No.

That's what the car charger IS.


I've been told I should use a dc to dc converter to clean up signal but assumed the cable did that.
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Old 05-06-2017, 09:42   #38
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

The reply I posted using the tablet app didn't seem to work, so I'll try once more.

I built a Raspberry Pi server for OpenCPN last year, and I find that it works great. It will certainly load the HDMI driver at boot, so you don't need to worrying about using a television as an external monitor. The server uses a MicroSD card for its HDD, which makes it easy to backup/copy in case you experience a failure (just pop in the backup and you're up-and-running.) The power usage is minuscule. Raspian is a Debian OS variant that is intuitive and a lot more stable than Windows (a lot skinnier, too.) If you don't like seeing it, you can simply boot straight in to OpenCPN.

At $35, you don't have to worry about the harsh environment, and there are a lot of cool kits for customizing it. I bought a GPS antenna that connects directly to the board.

Best of luck.
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Old 05-06-2017, 12:07   #39
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I have a whole-boat Victron inverter, so AC power is not really a problem -- the inverter is on most of the time anyway. But I just don't like having built-in electronics plugged into wall sockets, and I hate the idea of turning DC to AC and back to DC, even if the losses are fairly trivial in the big picture. It just seems more elegant to wire them up to the DC system.
We're on exactly the same page. I tell myself I can fall back to the laptop display for DC only. I'm probably fooling myself. *grin* Seriously I have the whole-boat inverter and a couple of small hardwired appliance inverters. No cigarette lighter plugs.

As long as I'm hauling displays back and forth I probably won't get much farther than I am. Too many other things on the project list.
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Old 06-06-2017, 15:19   #40
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

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Originally Posted by Auspicious
I open up my computer once and sometimes twice a year to vacuum them out. It's amazing how much builds up. Get the dust out and heat is reduced which extends life. If you have rotating drives you should clean your computers more often.

Fanless devices are less vulnerable but still dust builds up in ports and drifts around. Buy some pentalobe drivers and take your tablets apart and clean them. You'll be amazed at the dust bunnies in there.

Dust also collects and concentrates moisture thus enhancing the effect of the marine environment. Good dust filtration is a must for any computer enclosure.
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Old 06-06-2017, 15:24   #41
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

[QUOTE=barnakiel;2406890]I found most older equipment dies of age anyways.

Hey...Don't we all?
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Old 07-06-2017, 02:55   #42
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

Quote:
Originally Posted by _m_miles View Post
Have you considered buying a Raspberry Pi? While I don't use it on my boat, I do have OpenCPN loaded on one. It will boot from the HDMI port, and the power consumption is minuscule. The entire OS and application server runs on a MicroSD card that is easy to backup/copy for safety. Plus, I would favor Debian over Windows for stability.

The best part is that they only cost a few bucks: Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Boards and Accessories | MCM Electronics
I really like the idea of those, but I want to run some Windows applications, and I don't really want to fiddle with Linux. One thing I want to do with the ship's computers is to show videos, and the drivers and so forth for Linux are really labor-intensive, and that's not what I want to put my time into.

This thread has made me think and I've now come full circle back to throwing away the old laptops (maybe taking the SSD drives out of them), and buying one of these:

NEO Z83-4 | Minix

It's only $200, it's brand new, it will do 4k video, has USB3, has two video ports (displayport and HDMI, both of which I can use), is fanless, very low power consumption, and in short is just about perfect as a ship's computer. For only $200. It would be really perfect if it were SEALED, but I guess you can't have everything.

I think I'll mount this above my nav table's dedicated laptop drawer -- in a bracket or something. THEN, I'll keep a keyboard in the laptop drawer. All the cables can go neatly behind the nav table out of sight but accessible by lifting one salon seatback.

The last time I looked at Intel NUC's, a reasonable specification was about $500 and you still had to buy some components for it (it was a "bare bones" box). Now $200 for a complete machine with operating system is a different ball game. Only problem is that bloody Win10, which puts me right back in the driver hell I was avoiding by declining Linux, plus all the other drawbacks of Win10. I hope I can downgrade it to 8.1.
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Old 07-06-2017, 03:27   #43
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

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I really like the idea of those, but I want to run some Windows applications, and I don't really want to fiddle with Linux.
One big plus of Pi's is just how cheap and easy it is to add sensors especially with the openplotter image. Waterproof DS1820 thermometers cost less than a beer - 5pcs DS18B20 Waterproof Sensor Digital thermometer Thermal Probe Arduino UK | eBay
Easy to wire with a few wago connectors and a glue gun and very useful indeed. I can tell when the cooling water">engine cooling water needs a little top up just by it running a few degrees warmer. Same with pressure, less than a couple of pounds you can have accurate pressure recorded, displayed in opencpn and recorded automatically every time you make a konni logbook entry. All available on any gadget which can view a web page. As they are so cheap and low power it can be considered as an add on rather than the sole boat computer. (certainly on this forum where most seem to have big boats with big budgets )
Cheap extremely accurate voltage sensors available as well , next on my list.
Also multiplexing nmea & creating signalk all fairly straightforward.

Confused by the drivers comment - I've never had to go further than plug in a monitor and it works, can't think of any drivers where it was any more than plug and play. Though not that many things attached, some usb/serial, arduinos, signalink soundcard for the ham radio to get weatherfax (Pi can do that as well) but not once had to fiddle about trying to get a driver to work.

Note - Image below is created by Node-red, an absolutely fantastic program for getting to anything going in or out of a computer and manipulating the data, like sort of graphic programming , loads of help and cut and paste examples online so you don't need to learn much. Available for windows as well.


There must be ways to get all these useful sensors talking to laptops, but with a raspberry pi all the pins are there waiting.

Monitor required for the initial setup then you can access the Pi headless over wifi, it has wifi built in. Or add a high gain usb wifi dongle if you want it to be a wifi repeater.

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Old 07-06-2017, 03:36   #44
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

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One big plus of Pi's is just how cheap and easy it is to add sensors especially with the openplotter image. Waterproof DS1820 thermometers cost less than a beer - 5pcs DS18B20 Waterproof Sensor Digital thermometer Thermal Probe Arduino UK | eBay
Easy to wire with a few wago connectors and a glue gun and very useful indeed. I can tell when the engine cooling water needs a little top up just by it running a few degrees warmer. Same with pressure, less than a couple of pounds you can have accurate pressure recorded, displayed in opencpn and recorded automatically every time you make a konni logbook entry. All available on any gadget which can view a web page. As they are so cheap and low power it can be considered as an add on rather than the sole boat computer. (certainly on this forum where most seem to have big boats with big budgets )
Cheap extremely accurate voltage sensors available as well , next on my list.
Also multiplexing nmea & creating signalk all fairly straightforward.

Confused by the drivers comment - I've never had to go further than plug in a monitor and it works, can't think of any drivers where it was any more than plug and play. Though not that many things attached, some usb/serial, arduinos, signalink soundcard for the ham radio to get weatherfax (Pi can do that as well) but not once had to fiddle about trying to get a driver to work.

Note - Image below is created by Node-red, an absolutely fantastic program for getting to anything going in or out of a computer and manipulating the data, like sort of graphic programming , loads of help and cut and paste examples online so you don't need to learn much. Available for windows as well.


There must be ways to get all these useful sensors talking to laptops, but with a raspberry pi all the pins are there waiting.

Monitor required for the initial setup then you can access the Pi headless over wifi, it has wifi built in. Or add a high gain usb wifi dongle if you want it to be a wifi repeater.

I think playing with one of these would be great fun. Maybe next year if I have more time.

I connect a lot of equipment which requires drivers, and it's always a headache with Linux. Even video playback is a PITA. My business computers are Windows, my office network is Microsoft, and I'm pretty much locked into that ecosystem.

As to SENSORS -- I like to have this data on the N2K network, not on the ship's computer, which doesn't have weatherproof daylight visible monitors abovedecks. So far I have:

1. Yanmar engine harness
2. Maretron temperature box, monitoring six different temps.
3. Maretron fuel flow system.
4. Maretron ultrasonic tank level sensors.

Weather data comes from the WSO100 and is used in various ways.

I can display all this data anywhere on the boat -- I have a DSM250, six Tritons, and two Zeuses which can be remote controlled from an Android tablet (and which have screens to display absolutely any kind of data from the network).

Hoping to add more, gradually, but I want this on the main N2K network.
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Old 07-06-2017, 04:59   #45
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Re: Repurposing Old Laptop for Ship's Computer

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post

As to SENSORS -- I like to have this data on the N2K network, not on the ship's computer, which doesn't have weatherproof daylight visible monitors abovedecks. So far I have:

1. Yanmar engine harness
2. Maretron temperature box, monitoring six different temps.
3. Maretron fuel flow system.
4. Maretron ultrasonic tank level sensors.

Weather data comes from the WSO100 and is used in various ways.

I can display all this data anywhere on the boat -- I have a DSM250, six Tritons, and two Zeuses which can be remote controlled from an Android tablet (and which have screens to display absolutely any kind of data from the network).

Hoping to add more, gradually, but I want this on the main N2K network.
That's not a boat , that's an electronics showroom


I have a depth/log in the cockpit, plus a Vhf ram mic - that's it up top. Less to break

All sensor data goes through the Pi, signalk is a bonus here for sensors which have no 0183 or 2k sentences.
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