I replaced our 240V PC with an Advantech embedded fanless 12V unit last year. I was up to my 3rd 240V PC and was not happy with there performance nor longevity. Running the Mastervolt Inverter
just for the computer was also a waste of power.
The Advantech units are available online and are cheap
. Mine was about $400. They are not home PC's. They are industrial computers
designed to work in extreme conditions. The unit I installed has an atom processor and a 500Gb flashdrive for it's hard drive. There are no moving parts
and it is not effected by heat so I have yet to experience a crash.
Unlike newer PC's they are industrial units so are supplied with multiple RS 232 serial ports
and USB Ports
. My unit was provided with Windows XP Pro as most industries still prefer it for machinery control rather than the newer game
oriented operating systems. The company also can provides 12V LED industrial screens as framed and unframed units. They can be touch controlled or USB Bluetooth operated. I don't think there is a more robust configuration for onboard navigational use.
I have set the unit up to be our main onboard computing and navigation
system. The screen
can be opened into the companionway
and is then visible from the helm
I had more than enough RS 232 serial
ports to input AIS
, Nav instruments, GPS
, VHF Radio
and Depth sounder
through an NMEA 0183
feed. As the RS232
plugs are easy to wire the only hole I needed to drill through the bulkhead was the diameter of the small multi-strand data cable. The plugs were then attached to multiple leads from a data terminal box. In all I only needed one +ve lead from each sender and I used a common -ve. The RS 232 sockets meant it was easier and much cheaper to connect than expensive serial to USB converter cables
The system is wifi
linked to the net via a 10" Samsung tablet so live grib file downloads etc can be input-ed to opencpn
whilst in the cockpit
if I have internet
I use a bluetooth mouse and onscreen keyboard to input data and control opencpn
whilst in the cockpit
sailing. When I am planning a route
etc, I plug
in a conventional keyboard and sit in the saloon
to input data..
I also installed a new Raymarine
E7D plotter/radar last year. We use it whilst passaging, however as soon as we near land or multiple AIS
targets appear the nav system's 19" screen
becomes invaluable. I have found that I often turn on opencpn then leave the computer running, however turn off the screen to conserve power. If I need the bigger screen I simply push one button on the screen and instantly have opencpn and a track as a cross reference for the much smaller and hard to read E7D.
The embedded computer is screwed to the bulkhead in it's own cabinet above the engine
room. It is also bluetooth linked to HP printer in the same cupboard.
The contact page for Advantech is
I hope this helps. Computers
and laptops were a constant source of annoyance until I built this system.
Spirit of Sobraon
Home Page - www.sobraon.com