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Old 27-02-2014, 13:59   #1
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Questions I have been asked.

1. Since having a desktop PC onboard invites trouble for the PC, due to the salt sea air, etc., what do people do who live at or near a marina and use standard desktop computers , seeing that they also must be affected by the sea air ?

2. Is there finally a simple answer to how to protect an onboard desktop PC ? (Please don't suggest getting a Laptop or IPad etc. The guy asking me this question already has them.)
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Old 27-02-2014, 14:47   #2
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Re: Questions I have been asked.

Not quit the answer your looking for but i have been running a desktop pc in my car for about 15 years and found hard drives to last less than a year. I switched to laptop drives thinking they were made to be dropped of tables and they seem to last about a year. But it is not in a waterproof case and the cars t-tops leak water and i live in washington so the worst possible conditions. Only thing worse would be to install it on my boat....and i prolly will do that anyway but inside a pelican case. I just figure $70 a year for a new drive is the price to pay for all the things you can do with a pc in your car,or boat.

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Old 27-02-2014, 14:50   #3
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Re: Questions I have been asked.

use a cheap laptop and cover it nightly and replace it often.
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Old 27-02-2014, 14:52   #4
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Re: Questions I have been asked.

Also forgo to mention that i now have one of those removable harddrive caddys that goes in a drive bay. Now i take the hd out of the car and keep it in the warm dry house.

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Old 27-02-2014, 15:08   #5
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Re: Questions I have been asked.

Have you considered a SSD?
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Old 27-02-2014, 15:42   #6
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Re: Questions I have been asked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wambam View Post
1. Since having a desktop PC onboard invites trouble for the PC, due to the salt sea air, etc., what do people do who live at or near a marina and use standard desktop computers , seeing that they also must be affected by the sea air ?

2. Is there finally a simple answer to how to protect an onboard desktop PC ? (Please don't suggest getting a Laptop or IPad etc. The guy asking me this question already has them.)
No, there is not a simple answer. It's about environment. If it is kept in an area that much of the time is not temperature and humidity controlled and it's regularly exposed to extremes, then the risk is high. If you're living aboard and running heat and air conditioning then much less. I would recommend covering it when not in use. But I'd also recommend constant backups to either portable drives or to the Cloud. I do know one person who has a fan by their desktop and keeps it always on and swears that it helps, but a sample of one isn't going to convince me.

Second issue is the bouncing around and jarring while underway. Not much to do here either. Just put in a position for the least possible motion and protect against falling.

You can probably get a desktop pc built that has better boards and drives and the case is more protective so it might last twice as long but it's also going to cost you twice as much.
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Old 27-02-2014, 16:00   #7
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Re: Questions I have been asked.

Boeshields T-9, developed by Boeing who spray it on all the electronics of their planes.

WE opened up our computers, radar antenna, radar display, windlass motor, autopilot electronics, engine wiring harness and sprayed it all including contacts and circuit boards with T-9. We also sprayed everything metal in the engine compartment. Not a single spot of corrosion in a total of 3yrs cruising in salt water.
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Old 27-02-2014, 16:02   #8
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Re: Questions I have been asked.

I didnt think it was the environment but the power situation.

Desk Top computers need 110 or 220 volts all the time where laptops and i-useless-pads have batteries in them that can charge on 12 volts.

If you have an inverter and can produce the electricity for your hours on a desk top I would say buy one!

My laptops last 2 years on the boat... But its a Beneteau so it doesn't leak.
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Old 27-02-2014, 16:53   #9
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Re: Questions I have been asked.

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I didnt think it was the environment but the power situation.

Desk Top computers need 110 or 220 volts all the time where laptops and i-useless-pads have batteries in them that can charge on 12 volts.
Not only that, but the desktops are much more vulnerable to electrical fluctuations (spikes or interrupts in the electric current). Laptops are much better protected from this because the battery acts like a buffer. I guess that's not an issue if you are always plugged into shore power though.

However, laptops are so cheap nowadays - I saw one at Wal-Mart for less than 200 dollars. Given the fact that they take up more space and have greater energy needs, why on earth would anyone want to keep a desktop computer on a boat?
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Old 27-02-2014, 17:22   #10
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Re: Questions I have been asked.

My power supply is a M4ATX made for mobile computing. It takes 7 to 32 volts "fluctuation". It will step 7 volts up to 12 so the computer does not flinch during engine sartup even on low batts. It also will shut down the pc if the voltage falls below 11 for more than a minute or so. Bout $100. On ebay.

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Old 27-02-2014, 18:18   #11
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Re: Questions I have been asked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boatpoker View Post
Boeshields T-9, developed by Boeing who spray it on all the electronics of their planes.

WE opened up our computers, radar antenna, radar display, windlass motor, autopilot electronics, engine wiring harness and sprayed it all including contacts and circuit boards with T-9. We also sprayed everything metal in the engine compartment. Not a single spot of corrosion in a total of 3yrs cruising in salt water.
Yep, best solution. I've stripped down stuff like TV's and audio units to the circuit boards, masked bits that shouldn't be coated and then sprayed everything with electric motor varnish in the past.

One of the problems with computer motherboards to be aware of is that they can have lamellar sandwich circuit boards (like plywood) resulting in multiple internal copper tracks. This type of construction when combined with seriously skinny copper tracks makes them extremely susceptible to electrolysis corrosion in a high humidity environment.

If power is plentiful, a super simple solution is to keep them powered up and never turn them off. I've got desktop computers located in some horrid industrial environments that have been running for something like 10 years that have never been shut down except during power outages. These units rarely suffer major failures.

And with hard drives, the very first thing I would do is replace a mechanical hard drive with an SSD unit. These tend to be much faster than mechanical drives anyway and will provide a noticeable performance increase on the system. I notice a lot of new higher end notebook computers are now being supplied with twin drives - an SSD for the OS for performance and a mechanical unit for storage. Once the cost of high capacity SSD drops, the mechanical drive will go the way of the CRT monitor.
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Old 27-02-2014, 18:23   #12
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Re: Questions I have been asked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
I didnt think it was the environment but the power situation.

Desk Top computers need 110 or 220 volts all the time where laptops and i-useless-pads have batteries in them that can charge on 12 volts.

If you have an inverter and can produce the electricity for your hours on a desk top I would say buy one!

My laptops last 2 years on the boat... But its a Beneteau so it doesn't leak.
I would agree with you about the power being a bigger problem. I overlooked that just thinking he was at the dock with good power. But even a relatively minor variation can impact one. I would definitely hope it's on a protector but a UPS would perhaps help. It would have to be a top end one though to keep consistency.
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Old 27-02-2014, 18:39   #13
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Re: Questions I have been asked.

They might be better off with something like one of these:

Products

They are complete PCs in miniature; all run straight off 10-15V unregulated DC, and they're all fanless. Something around $500, IIRC.

Should be relatively easy to mount them somewhere away from splashes, being very compact.
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Old 27-02-2014, 18:44   #14
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Re: Questions I have been asked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Troup View Post
They might be better off with something like one of these:

Products

They are complete PCs in miniature; all run straight off 10-15V unregulated DC, and they're all fanless. Something around $500, IIRC.

Should be relatively easy to mount them somewhere away from splashes, being very compact.
I'm assuming the reason they are insisting on desktops is size.

Now, that said, we are huge desktop fans but not on the water. There are lap tops now with larger monitors and keyboards. We even use tablets and keyboards. And when we really want to see things larger we connect to our television monitors. There was a time that I would never choose a laptop for heavy use, but they've changed so much over the years.
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Old 27-02-2014, 19:35   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
I didnt think it was the environment but the power situation.

Desk Top computers need 110 or 220 volts all the time where laptops and i-useless-pads have batteries in them that can charge on 12 volts.

If you have an inverter and can produce the electricity for your hours on a desk top I would say buy one!

My laptops last 2 years on the boat... But its a Beneteau so it doesn't leak.
My I-useless-pad is going on 4 years in the saltwater environment and still doing fine? Money well spent.
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