We have been running a desktop computer on our boat for 4 years now. We use it as an entertainment center (Music, video, internet, DVD
, CD and TV when we have cable), work, and Navigation center. We have it connected to a 24" Dell Flat panel display, that is mounted on a swing arm. We use a wireless keyboard and mouse.
Currently we are using AC through our inverter
for power. I have purchased a DC-DC power supply and will install that in the near future. This will eliminate the need for a UPS (Battery backup, which we also had aboard). The ships batteries will be all the battery
backup we'd need.
We have the computer built into a panel near the nav station. This looks great, it is flush mounted and the back is accessible through a cabinet on the other side. The issue with mounting it like this is one of heat. When we leave the cabinet close, it does not get enough air circulation and after about a half hour we start getting CPU heat warnings. I have purchased a water cooling
system that will eliminate this problem. This is somewhat overkill because I can really just open the cabinet door and problem is solved
We have the audio output going to a 6 channel car amplifier. This powers 4 speakers right now. Two in the salon
, two in the cockpit
. I have a request to mount two more out on the bow for music
on the tramps. This is another one of those, future projects.
We run a program call Raynav on this computer, that lets us connect into our Raymarine seatalk
buss. This means we can get navigation and instrument settings at the nav-station. We can plot our course and control the autopilot
with this program also. Great for those rainy or cold evenings when your plotting the next days course. Don't have to sit outside at helm
. We don't have the Radar
option connected yet, another one of those future projects. The Raynav navigation system was probably what drove me to installing the desktop. It has some many bells and whistles with the corresponding need for lots of connections that it was going to make connecting it all to a laptop impractical. After I was committed so many other things just became so possible.
All in all, it has worked GREAT. No problems but the heat and when I switch from shore to inverter power or back I lose power to the machine and this caused a reboot. I solved
this with the UPS, but the better solution is the DC-DC power supply. It is more power efficient than the AC-DC power supply currently installed. The nice thing is I can upgrade components as I need. (Power supply, water cooling
, and keyboard so far)
Please note however that this did not eliminate the need for a laptop computer while we were cruising! We use the laptop for Skype and making calls to home. Often the only way to get WiFi
is to go to an internet cafe or somewhere the WiFi on the boat won't reach. The laptop provides this portability. Oh, did I mention the wireless router that allows the laptop(s) to connect to the built in...