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post #22 of Old 10-19-2009
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I like to tinker so my system is in a constant state of "not done yet", but the truth is it will never be done, I just add to it as I have the time, change things, etc. Everybody has hobbies, and one of my hobbies is my boat's computer system.

Originally Posted by nailbunnySPU View Post
Now that's what I'm talking about! I'm really intrigued by these itx setups, i've done an ac itx box before, but i'm intimidated by running wiring to support it.
It's easy, all you need is the right dc-to-dc power supply and then it is a two wire (positive and ground) hookup to your electrical system.

What nano itx board are you using?
You'll want to use a Via board.

Via website

Here is one of the low power pico-ITX boards showing the bottom with the memory card slot (the white thing), vga port (bottom), ethernet (beside vga), and the IDE hard drive connector (left). It also has ATA drive connectors, of course. This is the same board I use, but I'd have to look up the model number for you if you want it, EPIA-(something or other). Just search on nano ITX because there are only like 3 models, and one of those is the fanless version which is the one that I don't have (but would like!).

What kind of dc dc power supply did you use?
Do a search on Car PC or Car Computer and you'll get leads, there are a few sites out there selling power supplies for these things. Here is one such site.

The power supplies are all used the same way - they give you the connectors on one side to hook to the board, and then on the other side you just wire it into your 12vdc system, simple as that! The most complicated thing you'll probably have to do is decide what fuse protection you want for the power supply.

Here is a good list of power supplies from the above site - Link. The one I use is similar to the M2-ATX-HV, except has a lot less power available, but it looks a lot like that. Again I could look it up if you really care, but they all work basically the same, it just has an ATX connector from the power supply over to the main board and the board itself as a small conversion cable that takes the ATX connector and converts it into a much smaller connector that connects to the actual ITX board. The power supply also gives you your hard drive power connections.

What hard/soft-ware do you use to run your sensors?
Well, now we get into the complicated bit, because I have all kinds of things wired up. Most of the simple sensors go through a DIY PIC board that passes information to the processor via serial. Most of the devices that are hooked up serial go through a USB to serial conversion device and end up being USB at the processor. Some of the devices are one-wire devices that also end up being serial which is then converted to USB. Software is all custom but relies on underlying open source code when available.

What do you mean by radios?
AIS radio is serial with external antenna, Icom is hooked up via a CI-V which is also a serial connection w/ a cable going to the radio, weather satellite receiver is wired up via some hardware I built and audio to a USB audio device, NavTex receiver is serial, etc, it depends on the radio how it is hooked up. Any radio that has its own processor for decoding the signal is a serial connection, and any radio that has to be decoded via the sound card is hooked up to a USB sound device.

Sounds like you have the optimum setup for running off battery. For the time being I'm resigned to the fact that I have shore power every night, so I'm thinking about getting a beefy laptop like this beast: - TOSHIBA Qosmio X505-Q850 NoteBook Intel Core i7 720QM 18.4" 6GB Memory DDR3 1066 320GB HDD + 64GB SSD HDD BD Combo NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250M - Laptops / Notebooks and calling it a day.

I'm still interested in a 12v only system that could serve as low wattage entertainment and as a monitor to show me that it hasn't burned sank or exploded over the internet to me while i'm away.
I'm doing some of this too, I can hook pretty much any sensor (analog or digital) up to the processor via my DIY PIC processor board, and that is expandable, but mostly I use the ITX board as a data logger for things like weather information (anemometer, temperature, humidity, etc ..).

Do you know a place to find 12v monitors?
I just went to a place that sells a lot of monitors, a big computer store, and started looking at them all until I found one that had a round connector plugged into it instead of an A/C power cord. Once you find that, then all you need to know is what voltage it is, and that is written on the A/C brick that they sell with it, then you replace that with a dc-to-dc power supply that can provide enough amps to run it, which is easy and available at any radio shack.

The easy way to do all of this is to buy a netbook for 300$us, get a screwdriver, and take the screen out. Then mount the screen somewhere, mount the rest of the computer near the screen (the cables will be short), then wire the thing into your 12vdc system and attach an external keyboard, mouse, etc, to it. Then get yourself a serial to USB conversion device and start wiring stuff up to it. You can even get devices that allow you to hook digital and analog sensors up, converting the signals to serial, and then it all becomes a software problem ...

What are you pretending not to know ?

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