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Old 29-01-2022, 05:25   #1
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Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

Just to clarify my needs; My boat is a 7m trimarran with an open cockpit. I only do coastal passages on the east coast of Australia, but like visiting offshore reef and cays. My primary navigation tool is a Raymarine A50D. It is well dated now but still doing a fine job. Back up, is a Samsung Tab A tablet, running Navionics. This too, functions well but is subject to spray/rain with no bimini.
I want to run the full featured version of windows OpenCPN. Find the Android version a bit restrictive.
Also, and probably most importantly, I want to have SAS Planet installed so that I can download satelite images of the reef to overlay into Open CPN. This will not run in Android.
As this is only going to be used for the 10% of the time that I am visiting the reef, I don't need the latest and greatest.
What 2nd hand laptop would you recommend for my needs?
I will leave the device in the cabin, so its away from rain and spray, plus be able to power if required and not a better chance of reading the screen out of the full sun.
Is 4MB of RAM going to be sufficient? Need something that I can put into sleep mode as I am power limited with a single 120AH battery, single 200W solar and outboard for charging.
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Old 29-01-2022, 05:42   #2
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

I once had a similar sized cat and did coastal sail it over few 1000's of miles.
It was a fast but relatively wet boat.

My experience was that a "normal" laptop did not last under these conditions.
Humidity and condensation kill them.
A Panasonic toughbook was the ideal solution in the end.

These ruggified waterproof industrial laptops are available on Ebay for reasonable prices, there are also many similar products available now, often military surplus.

A waterproof mouse is helpful as is the use of wireless connected peripherals such as GPS and AIS.

I highly recommend a laptop over a tablet, because you can control it with mouse and keyboard if your hands are wet. Some tablets do not like this.
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Old 29-01-2022, 05:43   #3
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

I'm sure there are others, but I use a Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga. They are tough little (10" screen) touchscreen laptops/tablets with solid state hard drives and reinforced cases. They were designed for school children. They are available refurbished at low cost. I'm typing on one now, my wife has one, and there's one on the boat.

My Lenovo is not really adequate for serious graphics stuff. For PhotoShop and Illustrator I use a small desktop with a big monitor. My wife finds hers limiting when she deals with very large databases. For OpenCPN, writing, Cruiser's Net, reading the newspaper, and Amazon, it does just fine.
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Old 29-01-2022, 13:36   #4
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
I'm sure there are others, but I use a Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga. They are tough little (10" screen) touchscreen laptops/tablets with solid state hard drives and reinforced cases. They were designed for school children. They are available refurbished at low cost. I'm typing on one now, my wife has one, and there's one on the boat.

My Lenovo is not really adequate for serious graphics stuff. For PhotoShop and Illustrator I use a small desktop with a big monitor. My wife finds hers limiting when she deals with very large databases. For OpenCPN, writing, Cruiser's Net, reading the newspaper, and Amazon, it does just fine.
Not sure if they would survive long on a small wet boat.
Aluminum casings tend to corrode and, it's not waterproof at all.

On a bigger boat I'm sure they are great.
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Old 30-01-2022, 13:42   #5
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

Thinkpads like the x1 carbon are usually mil spec tested. Mine has performed admirably 24/7 in salt water environment. Its also very light, carbon fiber does not corrode and I csn power it off 12v with s usb c adapter. Five stars.
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Old 30-01-2022, 15:03   #6
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

I have a 20 year old Panasonic Toughbook CF-29. Originally had Windows 2000 or some such. Installed W7 but it was really struggling with it. Ended up not being able to use it due to slowness, etc. If your Open CPN version works on W2000 that would be great. Otherwise the cost of upgrading older Toughbook's hardware to suit current windows would be cost prohibitive. As well as getting the latest Toughbook model. Other than that those Thoughbooks are the best choice IMO.
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Old 30-01-2022, 18:08   #7
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

Hello Franziska,

Background; I just installed a 1 terabit sold state HD in my Panasonic 31 Tough book which I intend to upgrade it, for use as my boats' navigation computer. The OS is Windows 7 Pro. Problem is Windows 10 slows the computer down, had it removed and reinstalled Windows 7 again.

Now I'm about to install Open CPN. What interests me is your recommendations.

If you could give me links or brands of the following, so I can source them....from your suggestions as to the following statement; waterproof mouse, wireless connected peripherals and adding GPS and AIS.

I have both on board GPS is Furuno GPS DGPS model GP37 and AIS
Vespermarine old model working as a transceiver. Do you have any experience or brand recommendations as, I suspect, I will need a different brand of GPS And AIS to blue tooth information into my computer?


Thanks for your input. (Kryg) - Krygowski SV Skoiern IV.





Quote:
Originally Posted by Franziska View Post
I once had a similar sized cat and did coastal sail it over few 1000's of miles.
It was a fast but relatively wet boat.

My experience was that a "normal" laptop did not last under these conditions.
Humidity and condensation kill them.
A Panasonic toughbook was the ideal solution in the end.

These ruggified waterproof industrial laptops are available on Ebay for reasonable prices, there are also many similar products available now, often military surplus.

A waterproof mouse is helpful as is the use of wireless connected peripherals such as GPS and AIS.

I highly recommend a laptop over a tablet, because you can control it with mouse and keyboard if your hands are wet. Some tablets do not like this.
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Old 31-01-2022, 02:16   #8
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

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Originally Posted by kryg View Post
Hello Franziska,

Background; I just installed a 1 terabit sold state HD in my Panasonic 31 Tough book which I intend to upgrade it, for use as my boats' navigation computer. The OS is Windows 7 Pro. Problem is Windows 10 slows the computer down, had it removed and reinstalled Windows 7 again.

Now I'm about to install Open CPN. What interests me is your recommendations.

If you could give me links or brands of the following, so I can source them....from your suggestions as to the following statement; waterproof mouse, wireless connected peripherals and adding GPS and AIS.

I have both on board GPS is Furuno GPS DGPS model GP37 and AIS
Vespermarine old model working as a transceiver. Do you have any experience or brand recommendations as, I suspect, I will need a different brand of GPS And AIS to blue tooth information into my computer?


Thanks for your input. (Kryg) - Krygowski SV Skoiern IV.
Hi, regarding this I'm afraid you have to Google.

Waterproof mice and keyboards are available in abundance for very little money.

A good wireless solution is an industrial style router onboard and have your data feed into this. The reason I suggest wireless is two fold.

For one you can use several redundant devices to receive the data.
Secondly you can hard wire all your data sources into that router in a reasonable waterproof manner.
Than its less likely that the ports on your computer will corrode and fail if you can keep their covers on and receive wireless.

Instead of a router you could also use one of the NMEA interfaces from Actisense or else, they collect the data from instruments like AIS, GPS and other and send it out as Wi-Fi signal.

Panasonic has built many types of Toughbooks over the years, so there are also models which run from XP to Win11 to choose from.
Just make sure it's a model which has ideally ip67 or ip68 waterproofing if you are on a wet/humid boat.
Some of them, geared more towards hard business travel use, are ruggedized but not waterproofed.

Btw. nowadays there are also a lot of other ruggedized industrial laptops available. New, used or military surplus. Plenty of choice.

Hope that helps.
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Old 31-01-2022, 02:49   #9
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

Thanks, Franziska,


Your reply and suggestions are helpful, it is appreciated. The Tough book I have is the one original develop for the outdoors, possibly military if one is to believe the promo. Keyboard and computer is waterproof. I never thought there would be a waterproof mouse, till you made the reference to such a possibility.

I like your advice and will see how best learn as well as follows your advice. In my life experiences, getting hardware and software to talk to one another is a challenge.



Happy Navigational Experiences.



Kryg SV Skoiern IV









Quote:
Originally Posted by Franziska View Post
Hi, regarding this I'm afraid you have to Google.

Waterproof mice and keyboards are available in abundance for very little money.

A good wireless solution is an industrial style router onboard and have your data feed into this. The reason I suggest wireless is two fold.

For one you can use several redundant devices to receive the data.
Secondly you can hard wire all your data sources into that router in a reasonable waterproof manner.
Than its less likely that the ports on your computer will corrode and fail if you can keep their covers on and receive wireless.

Instead of a router you could also use one of the NMEA interfaces from Actisense or else, they collect the data from instruments like AIS, GPS and other and send it out as Wi-Fi signal.

Panasonic has built many types of Toughbooks over the years, so there are also models which run from XP to Win11 to choose from.
Just make sure it's a model which has ideally ip67 or ip68 waterproofing if you are on a wet/humid boat.
Some of them, geared more towards hard business travel use, are ruggedized but not waterproofed.

Btw. nowadays there are also a lot of other ruggedized industrial laptops available. New, used or military surplus. Plenty of choice.

Hope that helps.
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Old 31-01-2022, 03:00   #10
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

"... In my life experiences, getting hardware and software to talk to one another is a challenge..."

Oh how much I can relate to this, it's always a major pain if one is not a software engineer or coder.

Good luck & save travels.
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Old 31-01-2022, 04:11   #11
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

A refurbished Dell Latitude laptop that I bought in 2013 that is dedicated to the boat for SSB comm/wx is still going just fine.
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Old 01-02-2022, 13:54   #12
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

Hi SailerBoy, 2 weeks ago I ordered a 10.1 inch tablet 1000 Nits, window 10 PRO, full water proof/dust proof/drop proof. I should receive it about any day right now from UPS, matter of fact it should be in right now, but I am patient to see it and test with OpenCPN. It is to be use on my sailboat like of what you required. This unit for around US$600.00. I did made intense research for many week and found this one. It got lots of IO's, of course GPS on it. I will let you known.
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Old 01-02-2022, 14:39   #13
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

Keep it simple and basic.

There is little point on looking for a special machine for the basic task you have in mind. Almost any PC will do the job. The salt water environment is not such a scary thing.

We have been running basic Dell laptops for 22 years. We upgrade occasionally but the oldest one we have now is from 2014 and it is still my favorite machine. It is running Win7. The problem is that it is running out of disk space.

We just bought a new Dell with 2TB solid state drive and Window10

It sits full time on the nav station, runs on ships power through a small inverter. and connects to several peripherals including AIS, Lowrance Chart Plotter, Mouse, Pactor modem, printer, etc, with a simple USB hub. For near shore Internet connection we have a USB Wifi antenna and also a USB cell phone modem.

OpenCPN runs fine on either of these machines.

Our solution is slighty more than you need perhaps
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Old 01-02-2022, 15:23   #14
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

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Keep it simple and basic.



There is little point on looking for a special machine for the basic task you have in mind. Almost any PC will do the job. The salt water environment is not such a scary thing.



We have been running basic Dell laptops for 22 years. We upgrade occasionally but the oldest one we have now is from 2014 and it is still my favorite machine. It is running Win7. The problem is that it is running out of disk space.



We just bought a new Dell with 2TB solid state drive and Window10



It sits full time on the nav station, runs on ships power through a small inverter. and connects to several peripherals including AIS, Lowrance Chart Plotter, Mouse, Pactor modem, printer, etc, with a simple USB hub. For near shore Internet connection we have a USB Wifi antenna and also a USB cell phone modem.



OpenCPN runs fine on either of these machines.



Our solution is slighty more than you need perhaps
He has an 7m trimaran which is probably a very wet boat even on the inside (condensation, wet oilskins & hands...) at speed, hence I recommend the waterproof PC.

Still I agree the spec need not be super high to run OpenCPN on it.

I had an 8m racing cat at a time and standard laptops did not like the humidity at all.
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Old 01-02-2022, 15:44   #15
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Re: Recommendations for Windows laptop for OpenCPN

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franziska View Post
He has an 7m trimaran which is probably a very wet boat even on the inside (condensation, wet oilskins & hands...) at speed, hence I recommend the waterproof PC.

Still I agree the spec need not be super high to run OpenCPN on it.

I had an 8m racing cat at a time and standard laptops did not like the humidity at all.

Agreed, a different operating environment from a larger and dryer (interior) boat.

But at the cost of a waterproof PC (not of just a waterproof case for a regular tablet) why not just buy a cheap chart plotter? Lots of units integrated with fish finders for the trailerable launch fishing types.

As an aside, my Navionics chart card shows similar detail in most places compared to my iSailor chart (Transas) and the official Australian oeSENC chart for Australia in OpenCPN. But only the Navionics chart shows all of the Gordon River (Tasmania) and the actual reef outlines at Bait Reef (Queensland). Thatís just two examples. So the suitability of the tool matters as well.

Though of course, using MBTiles or KAP files in OpenCPN provides satellite photos in a plotter environment, which the MFD cannot AFAIK. Thatís a killer feature on its own (in clear water at least).
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