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Old 13-12-2012, 16:32   #31
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Re: Which Embedded Computer?

From a purely technical point of view, ARM-based systems are the best for low power - hence the near-total domination of the tablet and smartphone markets. Unfortunately some of the critical cruising programs are not available for ARM. Airmail is one of the biggest sticking points for me as it is only available for Windows on x86. WINE allows it to work with Linux or Mac on x86, but not ARM. Other programs like the Actisense NMEA Reader are only x86. So until one could get a good x86 emulator for ARM, which with WINE would allow Windows programs to execute, I feel stuck with the x86/AMD64 architecture.

A mini-ITX computer can be built with an AMD Fusion chip for about $250. It would take almost half that to replace the motherboard/CPU/memory, which is a bargain IMHO.

My main axe is a 6 year old C2D MacBook Pro (17"). So yes, a Mac mini could do the job nicely. Except that the power consumption is too high, the price is up there, and many programs would still have to run in WINE to get them working. Not a lot of point for an embedded system.

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Old 13-12-2012, 16:39   #32
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Re: Which Embedded Computer?

As far as messing about trying to clean up the software on a netbook, I don't think it is worth the effort. In the end you still have the worst malware of all installed: Windows. Just wipe the disk and install Linux. Or if you are not overly committed to the world's intellectual property laws and you simply must have Windows you can wipe the disk and install a pirated copy of Windows which won't require you to beg M$ for permission to change your configuration. Or buy a Windows install disk, which will allow you to upgrade to new versions for less than if you kept the original Windows install.

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Old 13-12-2012, 17:31   #33
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Re: Which Embedded Computer?

I made (put together)...



...the one above 2 years ago. I use it on both boats and at home (on a 12 volt power-supply).

The man reason for building it was for low power consumption (about 10 watts--computer alone) and to use for a chartplotter with OpenCPN and SeaClearII. To make it easy to use in that manner I found a motherboard with...



....serial ports and a number of USB ports. The case is just big enough for a DVD drive and also one 1/2 high board if I ever needed one.

The computer alone in idle mode with the 16 inch monitor on has a combined draw of 1.8 amps and about 2.2 amps when the hard disk is being accessed. When the router and Bullet 2HP radio (for WiFi) are turned on the amps go to about 2.4 amps without the hard disk being accessed and about 2.8 with it, so max. wattage is about 33 1/2 watts.

For WiFi I use a Bullet 2HP radio which has worked out to 4+ miles.

It doesn't have the fastest processor, but fast enough for all that I do and I like it since with the 320 gig drive I have all of our web-site and everything else we have in the way of pictures and programs and don't have to transfer the data back and forth between computers going from home to the boats. On the road I do use a laptop though.

The build is here along with the long distance WiFi stuff....

Compurer-Chart Plotter-Navigation Index

Total build cost of the computer was $491 and ...

http://purplesagetradingpost.com/sum...artPlot-6.html

... I'm happy with that as it has a lot of advantages over our 2 laptops and any other laptops I see out there power wise and function wise for how we are using it.

=======================================

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdxsailordiver View Post
This is the Motherboard and processor that I am using to build my second boat computer. It has on board 8- 19 volt supply. I have found it for $100.
Intel DN2800MT Dual Core Atom N2800 Mini-ITX Motherboard | Cedarview
Tim
Thanks for the link. That looks like it might make a good upgrade for our system. If someone is building, that built-in power supply running off a wide 12 volt range will save them $50-$80 vs. the power supply I had to buy to do the same thing. I am wondering if the mother board would be noticeably faster than what we have, 1.86 vs. 1.6 Ghz? It is a dual core, but all of the software I run is old stuff that probably wouldn't take advantage of the dual core??

In another year or so I'll probably build another and try to find a faster processor that is also low on power needs,

Sum
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Old 13-12-2012, 17:52   #34
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Re: Which Embedded Computer?

"I really prefer that my boat computer stays fixed to the boat and doesn't go on journeys to shore. "
So, you'd abandon the poor thing and let it drown rather than take it along in the life boat? :-)

Of course you can always buy a low-priced OS retail and wipe the netbook instead of cleaning it out. Either way. The problem with an embedded system, is that you have to get out tools and UNembed it, before you can satisfy your anger and throw it overboard. :-)
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Old 13-12-2012, 18:00   #35
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Re: Which Embedded Computer?

OTOH not being able to throw it over in a pique of anger might save a bit of money...
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Old 13-12-2012, 18:05   #36
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Re: Which Embedded Computer?

Pretty much anything benefits from a dual core processor. As long as the OS can handle it then the OS tends to use one core while the second core is used for apps (mucho simplified). It is only when you go to more cores - typically quad core - that the old software won't be able to benefit. The application has to be programmed for threading to use parallel cores. But that is why Intel has developed "turbo" mode; in that case unused cores are shut down and the remaining ones are clocked faster to increase output (heat being the limiting factor).

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Old 13-12-2012, 18:57   #37
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I'd start get rid of anything Microsoft, In a few years well all be trying to remember who they used to be and mixing them up with CP/M . Goodnight and god bless Mr gates. The boat has left the dock and you ain't on it.

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Old 13-12-2012, 21:10   #38
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Re: Which Embedded Computer?

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Originally Posted by JRM View Post
Why not have the cake and eat it too. Lots of netbooks will drive external monitors, and the resolutions are better, too. Wireless keyboard and mouse, or USB, and you're good to go. And, you can take it up into the cockpit if so inclined.

JRM
Well if you're going to that amount of bother then why not just stick a miniITX somewhere. Which is what I did not so long ago. Very slow by todays standards but draws 0.8A and the motherboard cost 20 off ebay - via epia 5000. CF card as a hard drive, no moving parts. Whole lot maybe 100 Nice to have a proper serial port as well. Mini usb keyboard and usb wireless mouse as you say and the chart table's clear again, one cable to the keyboard. (Plus a mess of wires and a raspberry pi which won't zoom into cm93 without crashing. )

And if that packs up there's always the laptop.
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Old 14-12-2012, 05:34   #39
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Re: Which Embedded Computer?

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Very slow by todays standards
mini-itx is available with dual core i7, very fast by todays standards, The heatsinks though are a bummer.

Dave
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Old 14-12-2012, 07:19   #40
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Re: Which Embedded Computer?

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mini-itx is available with dual core i7, very fast by todays standards, The heatsinks though are a bummer.

Dave
Not for twenty quid and 8w it ain't
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Old 18-12-2012, 17:06   #41
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Re: Which Embedded Computer?

OK, well I think I've solved this one.

I like this mini-ITX computers a lot, and it would be great to have an embedded one. But I decided that this proliferation of computers is not such a good thing. I have a laptop for work, a desktop for work, another desktop at home, a media computer at home, and an IPad! It's getting ridiculous, and the thing is that all these machines have to have software updates and in general have a fairly short life before you have to chuck them and buy something else. It doesn't really make sense to spend nearly $2000 on an embedded computer which will only be used when I'm sailing when I have so many other machines.

I have quite a good laptop I use for work -- a Sony Z. I have a docking station for it which I never use. So I think I will simply mount the docking station in the boat and install a monitor on a stalk in front of the nav table and use my work laptop. The docking station has all the ports to make all the permanent connections and so all I have to do is slip the laptop into the nav table and connect it with one connector, and voila, I have an on-board computer. A compact wireless keyboard will be the perfect compliment to that.

That way I don't leave the computer on board when I'm not sailing, I have my charts with me all the time, and my nav programs, in case I want to do some passage planning on a plane sometime, and the computer gets upgraded every time I do it anyway for work purposes.

Yeah, I think I've hit on the right solution. I wonder if anyone else is doing this?
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Old 18-12-2012, 17:31   #42
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Re: Which Embedded Computer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
... It doesn't really make sense to spend nearly $2000 on an embedded computer which will only be used when I'm sailing when I have so many other machines..
Don't see why it has to cost $2000. We have under $600 in ours which includes the monitor and keyboard/mouse. I use this computer on either boat and at home on a 12 volt powersupply. Takes 3-4 minutes to setup (use a laptop on the road). I like it as I have everything I work on either on the boat or at home. I have a desktop at home, but never use it anymore.

Quote:
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.... I have a docking station for it which I never use. So I think I will simply mount the docking station in the boat and install a monitor on a stalk in front of the nav table and use my work laptop. The docking station has all the ports to make all the permanent connections and so all I have to do is slip the laptop into the nav table and connect it with one connector, and voila, I have an on-board computer. A compact wireless keyboard will be the perfect compliment to that..
We do something similar with the wife's laptop except in reverse. She uses it as a laptop on the road/boat and at home it is setup like a desktop, but no need for a docking station. It sits off to the side of her work area and has a VGA cord plugged in and a printer cable plugged into a USB port. The keyboard and mouse are wireless. The VGA cord goes to a 21 inch monitor at home (20 watts that we might also take to the boat as it runs off 12 volts direct -- on a 110/12 volt brick at home). Works great and as you said she now has all of her files and internet favorites any place she goes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
....Yeah, I think I've hit on the right solution. I wonder if anyone else is doing this?
The only real negative I see to it is that your laptop probably uses considerably more elect. than an embedded computer would, but that might not be a problem for you. It wouldn't be a problem with us on the Endeavour with 480 watts, but on the Mac with 180 watts of solar (now 200) we need to make everything as efficient as possible to...



Macgregor 26S Outside Mods page 13

.... cut down on running the gen-set.

Sounds like you have a solution for yourself . Let us know a year from now how it is going,

Sum
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