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post #9 of Old 12-19-2004
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GPS & Computer

Gord and the group:

"I have no idea what the nature of salt-laden air is (aerosol, solute, whatever), no how, or if, you could effectively filter it."

A bit more on this: I was referring to the inherent presence of salt in the ''sea fog'' that surrounds boats at times, especially in rough conditions and/or warmer climates when the finite amount of moisture the air is able to contain (along with its contaminants) increases significantly. A small yacht at sea can''t escape this, and I suspect (just my reasoning here...) that filtration systems won''t solve the problem without severely restricting the ventilation of the computer boards and/or becoming increasingly complex. Moreover, moving to more complex ventilation systems (such as the nifty exhibit you referenced) just increases complexity, space and cost, taking us in a direction opposite from the goal of replacing a laptop with a desktop in the first place.

It is a bit of a conundrum in my mind. But one thing I like about desktop installations is the ability to spray all the boards, connector slots, etc. with a conductive preservative of some kind. That would help to combat the effects of the salty environment on the computer, I would think.

It would seem that one of the real long-term benefits of moving to a desktop unit - especially for longer term, offshore voyaging in small yachts - is that you can now replace the most vulnerable, failure prone peripherals at relatively low cost and usually with relative ease. As an example of this, I''ve had to deal with two keyboard replacements on laptops; what a joy it would be to just replace a $20 keyboard. Similarly, I''ve watched multiple crews struggle with LCD screen problems on laptops once the screen-to-laptop connector/cable link fails; it appears there''s no real cost effective solution to this. Meanwhile, our flat screen screen (used for DVDs) cost only a bit more than $200 USD and is larger to boot.

Giving the desktop unit a good home (ventilation, protection from moisture, shock-absorption, easy access to ports & slots, etc.) and using easily replaced peripherals at the nav station seems like the way to go...but I lack real-world experience with this option to date, and I haven''t found this too often on smaller offshore boats (which makes me wonder a bit...).

Now that I think about this, it''s worthy of a thread of its own on a relevant BB or two.

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