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Old 24-04-2010, 20:19   #16
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Originally Posted by chris blair View Post
I tried looking for a stabilizer of some kind and couldn't find any at a reasonable price but this would be a way to go if somebody knows a source for such an animal.
Mini-box has a wide input, DC/DC converter with selectable outputs including 12 vdc.
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Old 24-04-2010, 20:31   #17
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Originally Posted by chris blair View Post
Otya, 12 v won't work with most mini itx power
Chris
Chris Thanks for the tip.

I probably wouldn't directly connect to the house battery system anyway (for fear of frying comp) but neither would I want to connect via inverter types which waste power -some 20% or so as can be noted by feeling the pws case temp (I'm assuming the available 12v wide input volt types you mention are of similar design).
Up to now I have used a 240v power inverter supplying the manufs 240v plug pack but of course this is double wastage ~~20% on 20%.

I realize amount of inefficiency I am talking about is small but it does add up if over 24/7. Perhaps use small capacity 12v batteries electrically swapped over - use one - charge other. Yeah even this approach is flawed as those batteries still have self discharge rate -there goes at least another 2%- but I like the extra redundancy it affords.

Sorry for getting a little off topic but we'd install desktops if it wasnt for the power issue.
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Old 25-04-2010, 03:51   #18
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Here's a PSU option (wide input 6-26v) on the UK/EU market (no affiliation). They also have some 12v screens etc.

picoPSU-60-WI 6-26V DC/DC (60 Watt)
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Old 25-04-2010, 05:05   #19
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I just recently setup a micro computer for OpenCPN here is what I went with. Feel free to google any of these things I included part numbers. This setup was overkill it cost around $600 not counting Operating system. I did a lot of deal hunting collecting parts for about 2 months when I saw something I needed on sale.


ZOTAC IONITX-F-E Intel Atom 330 (1.6GHz, dual-core) NVIDIA ION Mini ITX Motherboard/CPU Combo
Why this motherboard?
I went mini ITX for the size I chose this particular motherboard for a couple reasons:
  1. No Fan heat sink (less moving parts)
  2. multiple monitor capability (DVI,D-Sub,HDMI, and VGA outputs)
  3. On board Graphics chipset was hoping would help load charts faster ( NVIDIA GeForce 9400)
  4. 4gb Ram capability
  5. A Ton of USB ports
  6. ATOM processor has lots of horsepower in a very small low energy package
In retrospect this MB was overkill I could have gotten away with a cheaper one but at least this will allow me to use it for other things down the road.
OCZ Agility Series OCZSSD2-1AGT60G 2.5" 60GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Why This Hard Drive?
  1. Solid State Drive (again no moving parts)
  2. Very fast boot up
  3. 60G was plenty for an operating system, OpenCPN, and all my charts along with drivers
No regrets on this HD I love it but would shop around for a good deal I got this brand because it was on sale and had a decent rebate I think any SSD will do but I would not go any lower than 60G if using Windows had I installed Linux I would have been able to get away with a 30G for much cheaper.
OCZ SLI-Ready Dual Channel 4096MB PC6400 DDR2 800MHz Memory
Why this RAM?
Nothing Special here feel free to shop around for a good deal on RAM. I got what was on sale and I could have easily gotten away with 2G of ram 4G is definitely overkill.
M3-ATX-HV, 95w output, 6v to 34v wide input Intelligent Automotive DC-DC Car PC Power Supply
Why this Power Supply?
  1. Small
  2. No moving parts
  3. A ton of settings through dip switches
  4. DC
I love this little thing but I needed a 20pin power extender cable in my case to get it to fit. Though it is tiny it was pressing against one of my RAM chips and I wasn't comfortable with that. I was able to relocate it within the case to a spot I felt it fit better. This little thing has a ton of great settings to turn off and on at certain times after the ignition is turned on or off and much more.
M350 Universal enclosure mini-ITX BLACK case
Why this case?
Nothing particular here any case would have worked but this one is not to expensive is easy to mount, small, and has great air flow for cooling.
Shark. Model SHK840 8" Touch Screen LCD
Why this Monitor?
  1. Touchscreen!
  2. Cost, these are very inexpensive
  3. VGA hookup is easy, USB hookup for Touchscreen is easy
In retrospect I should have gone with the 10” for $50 more but I was afraid it would take up to much space. I was wrong the 8” is nice but 10” would have been great. These are available from several on line vendors they are cheap made in china but for my purpose was perfect. I have had 2 (without touchscreens) in my car for 2 years now and have not had any issues. I do not have glare issues in my cabin so this was fine for my purposes and the touchscreen works great with OpenCPN
BU-353: GlobalSat BU-353 WaterProof USB GPS Receiver (SiRF Star III)
Gotta have this! This GPS was easy to setup but I guess any would do. It would not be a very good nav computer without one of these
Windows 7 Ultimate OS
Why this OS?
I only went with Windows 7 because I had an extra Win7 Key. Had I not had a key I would have gone Linux and still may. I can throw a computer together in 5 minutes but I am a horrible programmer so I tend to lean towards windows more than I should I still may put in Linux it would have had an even faster boot up time and taken up much less HD space.
Other Hardware and Software:
jWIN Bluetooth Adapter JB-TH10159010301
any bluetooth dongle will do here. They are about 10-20 dollars and give you the ability to hook up a plethora of wireless devices including extra keyboard and mouse when needed
4 Port USB Hub
again the ability to plug in any number of things including an keyboard and mouse have this run to the navigation table I can also charge the iphone and any other USB chargeable items
Hippo Pro
Great little Iphone app it runs five bucks and gives the ability to use your iphones computer and touchscreen to control your computers mouse cursor and type. This needs a wireless network to work so can't really use it at sea unless you set up as an adhoc server on the computer but was great for setting the system up instead of using a bulky keyboard or the useless Windows7 touchscreen keyboard.
PicoPSU-80
little 80w Power Supply that u can run on AC I only used this when I was setting the system up at home but if you wish to go AC instead of DC this thing is perfect
40x40x10mm Fan
as much as I wanted to stay away from any moving parts the setup got a little to hot for me it was probably fine but adding this small fan helped air flow and does not draw much power at all so was worth it for the much cooler running temperature.


Now with the Motherboard I used I can easily run a DVI cable to the flybridge should I ever choose to invest in an exterior LCD. I also ran an HDMI cable to my 19” LCD TV so when I have the generator kicking and I want to view OpenCPN on the TV for chart plotting I can. Also should I choose to use a portable external HD I have a media center ready to go.


This setup with CPU and 8” touchscreen LCD runs only 30- 40 watts at 0.42 amps according to the KillaWatt meter I hooked it up to.


Sorry for such a long winded first post hope it helps point some of you in the right direction.
My thanks too for such a thorough post. I have a very similar system I built over a year ago. I went with the very much cheaper Intel board (around $80) and it doesn't have the better graphics but they're more than adequate for the chart plotter. I'm curious about the Hippo Pro. Does it only need a local network? I have a Craddle Point broadband router we use for internet in US waters via our Verizon card. It also has a network for the boat that I use to update software on the computer (I added a cheap AP to the box) so could I use this network to control the computer from my iphone? It would be great if this could be used for control since the wireless mouse has limited range.



Regards,
Chris
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Old 25-04-2010, 12:26   #20
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Hey I went the other way: I mounted a 23" LCD monitor to a bulkhead down below. It is quite visible from the cockpit while sailing and protected from the elements; since it's inside and in the shade I can read it even in very bright sunlight. it also only cost about $180 control is done with a cheap wireless keyboard/mouse.

also, 12v from the battery more often then not isn't 12v. A simple circuit with a big transistor, a capacitor and a zener diode can stabilize it at 12v for your netbook or other sensitive electronics. it doesn't have to cost more then $5.

@Chris
If the mouse range isn't enough you must have a bigger boat then I do :P I use my ipod touch to control my livingroom pc though and have thought about adding that feature to my boat.
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Old 25-04-2010, 13:28   #21
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What I ended up using is a mobile PC setup out of a police car.
I found my whole setup, with 12VDC PC and 12" sunlight readable monitor for $200 + shipping on ebay. You can still find them if you search for "MOBILE VU L3"

I posted some pictures on the original OpenCPN thread here:
OpenCPN - Page 24 - Cruisers & Sailing Forums
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Old 25-04-2010, 13:28   #22
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Hi Steve,

Like your idea for the 23" monitor. Did you set it up for 12V power? What model?

Also would like to see the diagram for the 12V stabilizer circuit.

Thanks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnson_steve View Post
Hey I went the other way: I mounted a 23" LCD monitor to a bulkhead down below. It is quite visible from the cockpit while sailing and protected from the elements; since it's inside and in the shade I can read it even in very bright sunlight. it also only cost about $180 control is done with a cheap wireless keyboard/mouse.

also, 12v from the battery more often then not isn't 12v. A simple circuit with a big transistor, a capacitor and a zener diode can stabilize it at 12v for your netbook or other sensitive electronics. it doesn't have to cost more then $5.

@Chris
If the mouse range isn't enough you must have a bigger boat then I do :P I use my ipod touch to control my livingroom pc though and have thought about adding that feature to my boat.
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Old 25-04-2010, 17:05   #23
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WAECO makes decent "12" to 12 Volt stabilizers.

b.
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Old 25-04-2010, 18:27   #24
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computer and monitor

I bought a Polywell computer. It came with 2GB RAM and 250GB disk. It is designed to run directly on a 12V automotive supply. It has no fan and you can barely hear the disk spin. I have it connected to a Dell G2410 24-inch LED backlit LCD monitor. The monitor is spec'ed at 20W max power draw. Unfortunately, it wants AC input. I intend to crack it open an solder connections to the DC side of the power supply but have not done that yet. The monitor works well in sunlight.

I am it the process of buying boat so none of this has been moved aboard yet. I have not determined how or where I will mount the monitor.

I also found a computer called a FIT-PC that looked like it would be very good for boat use.
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Old 26-04-2010, 05:05   #25
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I intend to crack it open an solder connections to the DC side of the power supply but have not done that yet.
I tried to do that, it's difficult on mine (BENQ G922HDL) because it wants three different voltages internally (for the backlight and controller I guess). I decided to leave it at AC on the inverter for the time being, being LED it doesn't use a lot, and the inverters are supposedly 95% efficient these days?

If you can get one with an external AC adaptor (-> 12 volt) you want to get that, there were some a while ago & disappeared, my guess is they didn't want to undermine their market for extortionate 12 v in-vehicle monitors.
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Old 26-04-2010, 13:36   #26
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For a laptop, I found a AC/DC charger. The link below is much more money than the one I got, but right now I can't find it. I'll look when I get home, if it's not on my boat, that is.

iGo everywhereMAX at MicroCenter

I got mine at MicroCenter, but it would appear they don't carry it anymore.

When I looked at the specs on mine, it was much more efficient when hooked up 12v than AC. EDIT: It also gains you more, because it gets the inverter out of the equation.

It includes cords for 12v input, 110v input, and various output plugs.

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Old 28-04-2010, 12:45   #27
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I have been putting lots of time into this issue too.

The best computer I have found on the market is the FitPC2i. It runs at less than 9W. Nice for an always on sailing yacht computer. It is also wide voltage input from scratch, so it doesn't need external stabilizer.

The Atom Z530 based unit are not so fast though. A solution based on the more recent N450 CPU should provide much better performance at almost the same power consumption. My best current candidate here is the AIMB-212. This board is only specified to take +/-10% on the 12V though, so an external stabilizer is needed.

Note that those stabilizers usually run at 80-87% efficiency, which means your power draw increases. I have been trying to find some unit that could switch between a straight battery connection when the voltage is within acceptable limits, and then switch to a stabilizer when it is out of range, but I have found nothing suitable.

All "Sunlight Readable" displays are expensive and consume hideous amounts of power. Transflective displays are better, but hard to come by except as integrated in a few rare laptop models. The REALLY promising technology is the Pixel Qi display, but it is kind of late to market, even if the company is now saying a DoItYourself display kit is in the works and will "be available soon"... That display will be easily readable in full sunlight while consuming around 3 Watts. Yum.
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Old 29-04-2010, 11:25   #28
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I have the monitor hooked up to a 400w inverter I already had on the boat. Power consumption isn't as big of a concern for me; I have solar panels on my companion way hood. I'll dig up the circuit I use as a stabilizer and post it here. I don't have an efficiency rating for it, but it will only burn off the excess voltage as heat so if the battery is at or below 12v (or whatever you use for the threshold) power usage would be minimal, but the higher the voltage gets the less efficient it gets.
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Old 30-04-2010, 05:32   #29
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I am using a VDCtech 12v LCD TV with DVT and the HDMI input, sunlight readable? well yes, provided its not stupidly direct, and in the shade...15" is the size...
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Old 03-05-2010, 18:11   #30
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I use a panasonic cf-29 touchscreen toughbook, works without vent!! but only one usb-port, so you may need a hub. works stable directly connected to 12v.
available second hand for ~300 to 500 $. new price some years ago about 10x more.



if you have the cash , look for the newer cf-30
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