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Old 03-08-2012, 17:03   #1
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Need Some Advice on 12V Corrosion and Macbook

Hi all, new to the forum

I'm off to Turkey at the end of August, sailing from Marmaris. First time sailing turkey and very excited. However, I would really like to take my new Macbook Pro with me, but I have two primary concerns; namely power and corrosion.

Since I'm taking quite a bit of camera gear with me (two stills camera and two GoPros) I really do need something to back up the footage and stills onto.

1. I guess the first and most important question is really probably whether I should take the laptop at all. I've read on a lot of sailing forums out there that humidity build-up can seriously corrode internal components.

I don't plan to take the computer outside at all, and I'll only use it safely within the berth when backing up footage. I am considering buying the following to minimise humidity and corrosion damage:

a) Waterproof, sealable bag Aqua-Quest 100% Waterproof Laptop Computer Case - Padded Protective Sleeve - Netbook Notebook Cover - Fits 15" & Smaller - Red & Black Color: Amazon.co.uk: Sports & Outdoors

b) Silica gel pouches

What do you think? Will I be okay? Has anyone else out there had any major issues with laptops on board? We'll only be out for a week, but I guess I'm a little paranoid after buying this expensive little machine.

2. Right, power: We're sailing on a Lagoon 400 Cat. Here is the information they provide regarding electrics:

• 12 V backlit electrical panel on port side of salon
• LCD display with: voltmeter, Amp-meter, water level gauge, diesel level gauge, low voltage alarm for batteries
• 2 house batteries: 12V - 140 Ah
• Battery switches:
- House bank: under bed in aft port cabin
- Engine start: under bed in aft port & starboard cabin
• LED lights

I've searched a bunch of forums and it is still not clear to me exactly what I need to do to enable effective charging/powering of my Macbook.

It seems to me that the Cat has the usual 12V supply, which I guess would mean I'd use a 12V inverter like this one:

Ring Automotive RINV150 12V DC / 240V AC 150W Powersource Inverter / Single Socket: Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories

Once the inverter is plugged in, does this mean I can just plug in my Macbook and begin charging? I was only considering charging whilst docked and using shore power.

I had my Dell Studio on board a monohull in Croatia last year and I just plugged it in normally (no converter, just an adaptor) and everything worked, as far as I can tell.

I'd really, really appreciate it if somebody could give me some advice on this one

Cheers

Al
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Old 03-08-2012, 21:28   #2
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Re: Need some advice on 12V, corrosion and Macbook

Our two Macbook Pros have been in constant use for 5 years in a tropical, salty, humid boat environment with no problems or corrosion. Mac circuit boards have conformal coating, the hard drive is sealed and the USB and other ports have gold plated connectors. Our computers are never kept in a bag or other controlled environment and are always sitting out in the boat. We take them to shore occasionally. For power, you can get a DC charger adapter from some sources (pricey) or just use a small portable inverter like you linked to and plug the AC charger into it. You will need access to a 12V socket for that. The boat may have a house inverter which would let you charge from the boats AC outlets.

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Old 03-08-2012, 21:40   #3
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You'll need a "pure" sinewave inverter if you want to use AC chargers. Regarding backing up, bring some 64GB thumb drives and copy your files to those as well as your computer. Stick the thumb drives in some zip lock bags. I have a similar set up to you (go pros and my cannon). Keeping everything charges is a big part of the deal.
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Old 03-08-2012, 21:57   #4
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Re: Need some advice on 12V, corrosion and Macbook

Quote:
Originally Posted by aljazz View Post
Hi all, new to the forum

I'm off to Turkey at the end of August, sailing from Marmaris. First time sailing turkey and very excited. However, I would really like to take my new Macbook Pro with me, but I have two primary concerns; namely power and corrosion.

Since I'm taking quite a bit of camera gear with me (two stills camera and two GoPros) I really do need something to back up the footage and stills onto.

1. I guess the first and most important question is really probably whether I should take the laptop at all. I've read on a lot of sailing forums out there that humidity build-up can seriously corrode internal components.

I don't plan to take the computer outside at all, and I'll only use it safely within the berth when backing up footage. I am considering buying the following to minimise humidity and corrosion damage:

a) Waterproof, sealable bag Aqua-Quest 100% Waterproof Laptop Computer Case - Padded Protective Sleeve - Netbook Notebook Cover - Fits 15" & Smaller - Red & Black Color: Amazon.co.uk: Sports & Outdoors

b) Silica gel pouches

What do you think? Will I be okay? Has anyone else out there had any major issues with laptops on board? We'll only be out for a week, but I guess I'm a little paranoid after buying this expensive little machine.

2. Right, power: We're sailing on a Lagoon 400 Cat. Here is the information they provide regarding electrics:

• 12 V backlit electrical panel on port side of salon
• LCD display with: voltmeter, Amp-meter, water level gauge, diesel level gauge, low voltage alarm for batteries
• 2 house batteries: 12V - 140 Ah
• Battery switches:
- House bank: under bed in aft port cabin
- Engine start: under bed in aft port & starboard cabin
• LED lights

I've searched a bunch of forums and it is still not clear to me exactly what I need to do to enable effective charging/powering of my Macbook.

It seems to me that the Cat has the usual 12V supply, which I guess would mean I'd use a 12V inverter like this one:

Ring Automotive RINV150 12V DC / 240V AC 150W Powersource Inverter / Single Socket: Amazon.co.uk: Computers & Accessories

Once the inverter is plugged in, does this mean I can just plug in my Macbook and begin charging? I was only considering charging whilst docked and using shore power.

I had my Dell Studio on board a monohull in Croatia last year and I just plugged it in normally (no converter, just an adaptor) and everything worked, as far as I can tell.

I'd really, really appreciate it if somebody could give me some advice on this one

Cheers

Al

Having just completed 6 years in the Caribbean I averaged one PC Laptop/yr. Expensive; although, not all due to corrosion, mechanical damage & sea water penetration also took their toll. Reading the thread here perhaps I too should have purchased a Mac~?
A Pelican Case is good at $200 plus. My wife built our own water proof case finally and haven't had to buy a new Laptop this year~~Yet.
Regarding Power, I have a 2500kw Inverter and a 500w Inverter. I also used a 300w adapter for the 12v socket. All worked fine.
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Old 03-08-2012, 22:13   #5
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Re: Need some advice on 12V, corrosion and Macbook

We have a MacBook Pro -- 3 years in the Western Caribbean, 2 years in SW Florida & the Exumas/Bahamas. We charge it with our not pure sign wave inverter and a surge protector. We have no waterproof case, it sits out on the nav desk most of the time - until this year we used it for navigation (via bootcamp & Nobeltec VNS) as well as writing, Sailmail/Winlink e-mail via SSB/Pactor III modem, backing up photos -- I use a Canon Rebel XSi, entry level but still important to me -- seems similar to what you're thinking -- except for lots longer than a week. Good luck, take some great photos!
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Old 04-08-2012, 00:55   #6
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Re: Need some advice on 12V, corrosion and Macbook

Welcome to the forum.
There is no need to have any special precautions using the equipment indoors on a boat that size.
We run lap tops full time with a normal life expectancy. No bags or waterproof covers.

The only thing to watch is is boat hatches (windows) are in the roof. If you leave one open with your computer underneath and it rains or there is a wave it will be damaged. Even closed hatches do ocassionaly leak on some boats so keep and operate the computers away from the hatches. This is not difficult to do. Just like in house you would not put you computer on a window sill.

The boat will almost certainly have an inverter. this converts the 12v to 240 or 110 just like a household socket. Any inverter is fine. You will need a relevant plug adaptor, just like you would in any country. Ask the owner what types of plug sockets he has. For a European boat it is likely to two round holes. It will also probably be 240 or 220v. Computers plug adaptors are generally fine with this, but you might want to check other things you may want to operate particularly if you are coming from 110v.

Some boats have power limitations so the skipper may ask you to try and limit the computer time, but an hour or so a day will certainly be fine and many boats have enough power that you will be able to use the computer as much as you like.

Have a great trip.
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Old 04-08-2012, 03:31   #7
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Re: Need some advice on 12V, corrosion and Macbook

Wow, overwhelmed by the response. Thank you all for some really useful info!

@colemj & @ noelex 77: That's very interesting about the in-house inverter. I guess the first thing I need to do is confirm whether the boat has its own inverter and what AC sockets are available.

@rebel heart: I assume that if I use the boat's own inverter this will by default be a pure sine wave inverter? Pure sine wave inverters seem to go for about 200 bucks so I'd like to avoid buying one if possible.

It's nice to hear that Macs seem quite hardy out at sea... providing one keeps the sea spray and physical bumps to a minimum.

Once again, thanks for all the useful info. By far the most comprehensive forum on corrosion/damage and power that I've been able to find!

I think I'll still invest in a waterproof case for my Mac, just in case, and I have Otterboxes for my other kit.
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:02   #8
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Re: Need some advice on 12V, corrosion and Macbook

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, aljazz.

Hope you enjoy your cruise, and share lots of photos, after.
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:11   #9
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Re: Need some advice on 12V, corrosion and Macbook

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Originally Posted by aljazz View Post
@rebel heart: I assume that if I use the boat's own inverter this will by default be a pure sine wave inverter? Pure sine wave inverters seem to go for about 200 bucks so I'd like to avoid buying one if possible.
.
About half of crusing boats have pure sine wave inverters (the best kind) the other half have modified square wave inverters.
Computer power supplies will generally run fine on a non pure sine wave inverter.
My nieces MacBook pro (about 2years old) ran fine on my modified square wave inverter. She has stayed on the boat a couple of times for up to a month at time. We have full Internet access on board so with Facebook email, work and reviewing photos she was using the computer a few hours a day, so it was a good test, specific to your model.

In theory on a non pure sine wave inverter, the switch mode power supply (not the computer just the white box that plugs into the wall) will get slightly hotter, so make sure it's not in sun and has adequate airflow, but generally even these precautions are unnecessary.
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Old 04-08-2012, 04:56   #10
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Re: Need some advice on 12V, corrosion and Macbook

@neolex 77 That's great news. So even if the have a modified sine inverter it shouldn't be the end of the world, but will check with them.

Will be sure to upload some photos from the trip!

Also, another thing I've been contemplating (apologies, didn't know if this needed a new thread); I'm also thinking of rigging a hammock, since I'm coming on board without an official birth, and I do like my hammocks. My first thought would be to rig the hammock between the mast and the forestay.

After reading some other forums, I'm not too worried about the stress points on the wires, but does anyone have a recommendation for a portable hammock and where you've rigged your personal hammocks?

Cheers!
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Old 04-08-2012, 05:24   #11
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Re: Need some advice on 12V, corrosion and Macbook

Lots of boats have hammocks, so check before bringing yours, but if you want to take your own we have one made in parachute silk that bunches up to a small handbag size and is only light.
It was made by an little lady in a Greek village, but I am sure you can buy similar elsewhere.

They are commonly rigged between the mast and forestay.
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:03   #12
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Re: Need some advice on 12V, corrosion and Macbook

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Having just completed 6 years in the Caribbean I averaged one PC Laptop/yr. Expensive; although, not all due to corrosion, mechanical damage & sea water penetration also took their toll. Reading the thread here perhaps I too should have purchased a Mac~?
i'm not in the laptop repair business but i interact with people who are /have been and yep macs are generally made very well but they arent the only option (that being said i'm writing this on my mb air after 12 hours of coding on it).

apart from buying into the top 10% of performance specs to a fair degree you get what you pay for, for example a similar specced dell could cost from $800-$1800-. chassis, motherboard quality, keyboard, efficient cpu's all add up.

i laptop per year is really poor but then 10 years ago i had a very expensive xxx (it really doesnt matter, every brand has at least one every few years) which had an entire web site dedicated to its failings
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:36   #13
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I've been running my MacBook Air on board no worries for several months. I bought an adapted plug that has 12volt pin one end and the Macmagnetic charge pin at the other. Bought through a UK online company for under 30 quid All good.
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Old 04-08-2012, 09:49   #14
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Re: Need some advice on 12V, corrosion and Macbook

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You'll need a "pure" sinewave inverter if you want to use AC chargers. Regarding backing up, bring some 64GB thumb drives and copy your files to those as well as your computer. Stick the thumb drives in some zip lock bags. I have a similar set up to you (go pros and my cannon). Keeping everything charges is a big part of the deal.
Not necessarily. Depends on the charger and device you're trying to run off the inverter. A few are picky but most small device chargers I've used don't seem to care.

I had a years old, cheapest you can buy at the auto parts store, square wave with lots of spikes and harmonics (I looked at the output on an oscilloscope just to see how bad it looked) inverter I used on a three week trip. Managed to charge a Dell laptop, another laptop (crew's so don't recall the brand) three cell phones and a couple of miscellaneous gadgets and all were quite happy, took full charges, didn't overheat and still worked when we got home.

That being said I prefer pure sine wave and now have a nice, Victron inverter that will be my main AC source away from a dock. But will still keep a couple of small junkers for small stuff.
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Old 04-08-2012, 10:13   #15
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Re: Need some advice on 12V, corrosion and Macbook

You are only paranoid if no one is out to get you.

The pouch and silica gel are good ideas. If for no other reason than they ensure you won't have condensation forming in, or dripping on, the computer. Odds of that being a problem? Small. But a pouch and some gel make good cheap insurance.

As does a $100 1TB USB drive, to plug into the computer so your files are backed up totally OFF the computer. After all, laptops and drives fail, even on land, in offices.
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