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Old 04-07-2020, 05:10   #1
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On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

I'm on my second hard installed nav computer. The first one was an Atom box and I got rid of it because (a) it was a bit slow and resource-poor; and (b) the clock failed.


The second one is a Beelink with a Pentium Silver which has been in all respects a very satisfactory computer, plenty fast enough, decent resources, slot for internal SSD drive, dual HDMI, whole bunch of USB3.0 slots, nice metal case -- in short, just a nice computer for a bargain price.



But now the clock in this one has failed as well


What is common in both cases is that I have been feeding 12v computers with 13.6v power. I suppose this has been killing the clocks. My bad. All the more my bad since I've already got a 12v dropper powering my monitor. Why didn't I just wire them together?


OK, so now what to do. I don't want to toss it and replace because my oeSENC charts are married to the hardware, and some of them on the second license so no more.



Does anyone know whether I can replace the system clock with some kind of USB unit, or with software which reads GPS time? Grateful for any ideas.
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Old 04-07-2020, 05:37   #2
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

You are talking about the real-time clock?

What is the symptom, the clock resets when the computer does? Or do you actually get an os error about the clock device?

The RTC units typically have some battery to keep time when power is removed, perhaps it’s that battery that doesn’t like the higher voltage. Usually it’s a lithium coin cell. Maybe replace it?

What OS? Looks like there are options for running the os real-time clock off gps. This looks like they are running their network time service on Linux off some tick you get from GPS:

https://gpsd.gitlab.io/gpsd/gpsd-tim...ice-howto.html

But I’m not sure they are actually getting time of day from it or just using some evenly spaced pulse train from the GPS to improve accuracy. If it’s the latter, it doesn’t solve the ‘but I just booted up and don’t even know what day it is’ problem.

Looks like there’s also (Turnkey?) gizmos that read the rf broadcasts of some atomic clock:

https://www.atomicclockrugbymsf.co.uk/atomic-clock.html

Or you might want to get some kinda nice regulated dc-dc power supply to give the machine an honest 12V. EDIT: you already know this.
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Old 04-07-2020, 05:40   #3
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

The clock itself failed and not the coin back up battery? Usually it’s the battery. I’ve not seen a clock fail.
I doubt voltage killed it but do think a reducer / converter is a good idea. I have one to power my Satellite TV system as it would shut down occasionally when the bank was hit with a large load. I now have a little box that if you feed it voltage from 8 to 40V, it outputs 13.8V. Many or most 12V products are actually meant to be operated off of 14V.
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Old 04-07-2020, 06:53   #4
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

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, or with software which reads GPS time? Grateful for any ideas.
The fantasically useful signalk can do that for you. Though as you are on windows, not linux, it means jumping through a few hoops to set the system timedate.
Installing signalk is easy, then node red and a host of other useful software tools are available.
https://github.com/SignalK/signalk-server-windows

On linux you just install and enable the set-time app, on windows node-red can do it for you but it means a bit of javascript. Just tried it by hand and it seems to work fine, take the gps timedate, do some formatting and set the system with a time command and date command. then it will every time the computer starts up, maybe with a little timer first to let it all boot up.
Then you also get everything else signalk can do for you, logging to a database is absolute gold dust!! So why do the satellites visible seems to alter cyclically every day?

Imagine seeing every bit if data like that.
I could rustle up some node-red to do the time/date if you go for it, easy to install, just paste & click.

Though checking the intenral clock battery would be a good idea as well....
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Old 04-07-2020, 09:04   #5
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

Thanks to all for the various bits of good advice, and good questions.


I presume it's not the battery since the clock runs out of synch when the computer is running continuously. Or is that an unjustified presumption?


I guess it wouldn't be that much trouble to just replace it just in case.


I see the logic that it might be the battery rather than other bits which would be nuked by higher voltage.


Concerning my OS: Yes, it's Win10. I hate windows plenty, and I am an old Unix guy, so Linux is close to my heart, but I decided not to use Linux for this purpose because of the potential brain damage from dealing with drivers for a lot of different connected devices. I can only imagine how many days of faffing around coule be wasted trying to get a Pactor modem working on Linux


But SignalK and Node Red? Well, that actually sounds really good. I think I will give that a try.



There are some other things SignalK could be useful for, for my use case. I'm going to be acquiring an Airmar DX900+ speed log to replace my dead CS4500, which outputs some N2K sentences which no instrument can read (e.g. "nautical leeway"), and which offers a bluetooth connection as well. I am going to be building polars for racing and will need to work a lot more deeply with my instrument data, so this may be my time to dive into SignalK. Thanks, Conachair.
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Old 04-07-2020, 09:53   #6
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

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But SignalK and Node Red? Well, that actually sounds really good. I think I will give that a try.



There are some other things SignalK could be useful for, for my use case. I'm going to be acquiring an Airmar DX900+ speed log to replace my dead CS4500, which outputs some N2K sentences which no instrument can read (e.g. "nautical leeway"), and which offers a bluetooth connection as well. I am going to be building polars for racing and will need to work a lot more deeply with my instrument data, so this may be my time to dive into SignalK. Thanks, Conachair.
If your clock is drifting badly when running then may well be a bit more complex than a duff battery...
anyway - probably makes some sense to keep it synched up to gps time. Node-red will do it, this on a laptop takes time from a gps running on a Raspberry Pi and sets the system clock date to that after setting to a dummy date - so it can work, system clock is bottom right. Node red comes built into signalk, one mouse click in the app store tab to download and install. >>


Though not heard of any nmea being lltransmitted over bluetooth so might need a fiddle to get that talking over bluetooth though won't that be on the n2k network anyway? USB/CAN adaptor should get everything n2k into the computer.
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Old 04-07-2020, 10:34   #7
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

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Originally Posted by conachair View Post
If your clock is drifting badly when running then may well be a bit more complex than a duff battery...
anyway - probably makes some sense to keep it synched up to gps time. Node-red will do it, this on a laptop takes time from a gps running on a Raspberry Pi and sets the system clock date to that after setting to a dummy date - so it can work, system clock is bottom right. Node red comes built into signalk, one mouse click in the app store tab to download and install. >>

Though not heard of any nmea being lltransmitted over bluetooth so might need a fiddle to get that talking over bluetooth though won't that be on the n2k network anyway? USB/CAN adaptor should get everything n2k into the computer.

I do have a USB/CAN adaptor -- the Actisense NGT. OK, this sounds like it will be fun.


But you say I will need some hack to make this work in Windows?
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Old 04-07-2020, 11:27   #8
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

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I do have a USB/CAN adaptor -- the Actisense NGT. OK, this sounds like it will be fun.


But you say I will need some hack to make this work in Windows?
Never played with N2K but should work, signalk is good at getting at data. The hack was if you wanted to get the data sent over bluetooth.

If you're away from the boat with a laptop you can still have a play with signalk, there's a very good simulator in the app store and as a chrome app so watch a boat move around in opencpn with various data created in signalk.
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Old 04-07-2020, 11:41   #9
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

If the memory battery goes dead, the clock will not function correctly even with the computer on, just like an IPad or phone etc won’t work with a dead battery, even if the are plugged into the charger.
I thought they would but just changed batteries on a dead IPad and my Garmin inReach, neither would work on external power until I changed the battery.

On a computer I do not believe the memory battery is ever connected to the power supply, in other words it wouldn’t see the 12V, in fact I don’t think anything in the computer beyond the power supply sees the input voltage. So the only thing that incorrect input voltage would smoke is the power supply.
Computer Mother boards etc usually use 5V or 3.3V I beleve?
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Old 04-07-2020, 11:44   #10
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

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If the memory battery goes dead, the clock will not function correctly even with the computer on, just like an IPad or phone etc wonít work with a dead battery, even if the are plugged into the charger.
I thought they would but just changed batteries on a dead IPad and my Garmin inReach, neither would work on external power until I changed the battery.

On a computer I do not believe the memory battery is ever connected to the power supply, in other words it wouldnít see the 12V, in fact I donít think anything in the computer beyond the power supply sees the input voltage. So the only thing that incorrect input voltage would smoke is the power supply.
Computer Mother boards etc usually use 5V or 3.3V I beleve?

Sounds reasonable. But if that's all true, then why would I have nuked TWO different system clocks?
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Old 04-07-2020, 13:59   #11
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

Just open it up and replace the CMOS battery usually a quarter sized battery you can get at any drug store or store that sells batteries.
Then when you boot up reset the Windows date and time and you are good to go. If need be interrupt the BIOS or UEFI during startup Hit F1 or Del Key depending on your system and set it in the BIOS utility.

Usually ypu can 3 to 5 yrs or so out of one of these but in hot boats the battery life can be shorter.
I have a little 12v line conditioner that I purchased online and it keeps the voltage swings more even so if voltage in varies the voltage out stays more even.
I think this was the link for the item. https://www.jameco.com/z/ERDN20-12-M...e_2304399.html
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Old 04-07-2020, 16:16   #12
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

An explanation for the two failures is that you clearly like to buy a lot of computer for very little money. The manufacturers arenít making much profit so they may have saved a penny or two by installing the cheapest battery they could source.
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Old 04-07-2020, 17:00   #13
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

I am really suspicious that both cases were just dead clock batteries - replacing every few years is just normal maintenance. But they would rather sell you a new computer... I hope you didn't throw away the first computer for want of a coin cell.

You should try Linux. Modern distros like Mint act very much like the Windows UI, only better and faster. For Mac fans the Elementary distro will seem familiar. Resorting to the terminal is usually not needed but often useful. These days most installs come with the drivers for common devices, and often support devices that M$ and Apple have pulled support for.

Trying Linux is easy. I recommend trying the latest Mint Cinnamon (or Mint XFCE if you like that DE); download the .iso from the site, then install on a fast USB flash drive with Unetbootin (a utility for creating bootable drives on USB flash drives in Windows). Be sure to check the persistent memory box and use the extra space on the drive for storage - otherwise everything resets on restart and work is lost. You can use any external drive, or re-partition your storage, but the flash drive is great for testing. It will be slow due to the USB i/f (use 3.0 if possible) but you can check the drivers this way.

Greg
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Old 05-07-2020, 06:15   #14
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

On board oscillators in PCs are typically 500 ppm accuracy, and they drift with temperature changes. Not much you can do about that hardware. To keep time of day accurate, you will need to sync your computer with a time source, such as GPS.
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Old 05-07-2020, 06:27   #15
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Re: On Board Computer Clock Failure v2

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I am really suspicious that both cases were just dead clock batteries - replacing every few years is just normal maintenance. But they would rather sell you a new computer... I hope you didn't throw away the first computer for want of a coin cell.

You should try Linux. Modern distros like Mint act very much like the Windows UI, only better and faster. For Mac fans the Elementary distro will seem familiar. Resorting to the terminal is usually not needed but often useful. These days most installs come with the drivers for common devices, and often support devices that M$ and Apple have pulled support for.

Trying Linux is easy. I recommend trying the latest Mint Cinnamon (or Mint XFCE if you like that DE); download the .iso from the site, then install on a fast USB flash drive with Unetbootin (a utility for creating bootable drives on USB flash drives in Windows). Be sure to check the persistent memory box and use the extra space on the drive for storage - otherwise everything resets on restart and work is lost. You can use any external drive, or re-partition your storage, but the flash drive is great for testing. It will be slow due to the USB i/f (use 3.0 if possible) but you can check the drivers this way.

Greg

I've always been tempted by Linux, as a mild hater of Windows and an old Unix guy. But I stop myself. Windows works OK on this box and I just have so many projects I'm not willing to spend a day or two or three trying to get drivers to work right, as every single friend of mine without exception has been through, even for ordinary home or office use, not for this use which requires a lot of specialized drivers, where there is significant risk that I will fail entirely to get one or another device to work correctly. Just not going to go there -- it's a black hole for my time, which I can't afford.
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