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post #1 of 30 Old 03-15-2007 Thread Starter
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On Board Computers

Who Uses on board computers? Are they laptops or desktops? If they're desktops are the adapted to run off of 12v dc or do they still run off 110v ac?

We have both a laptop and a desktop and are just wondering which to move on board, or if we should move them both on board.

Thanks

Mike


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post #2 of 30 Old 03-15-2007
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Desktops tend to take up a lot of space and aren't all that power efficient on a boat with a 12VDC power system. Laptops are much better—easier to stow, easier to use and easier to power and protect.

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post #3 of 30 Old 03-15-2007
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I use a laptop, but there are also 12v computers available, in smaller housings for marine use.

John
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Free, is the heart, that lives not, in fear.
Full, is the spirit, that thinks not, of falling.
True, is the soul, that hesitates not, to give.
Alive, is the one, that believes, in love.
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post #4 of 30 Old 03-15-2007
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Laptop - without question. The only downfall is the price compared to a desktop, they run hot and humidity will kill it.
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post #5 of 30 Old 03-15-2007
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Ive got a laptop that ive been useing onboard for over a year now. Its an Apple Powerbook 1ghz 12'' model. Its been taken back and forth in a dingy, dropped in the boat, almost dropped overboard and almost every other bad thing possible.
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post #6 of 30 Old 03-17-2007
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Consider the usage

If all you want is a computer then any laptop that runs on 12 V will work fine.
If you want to do the navigation thing and bring it up on deck then a sunlight readable screen is in order and some weather proofing is advisable. I have used a plastic bag like you get groceries in with great success. A couple of big rubber bands to keep all the excess out of the way and the plastic close to the screen and keyboard and you are set.
If however you are sailing in the open ocean or just sailing in hot (>90F) weather areas you really need to look at a computer designed for such things. I've managed to fry 2 so far, one with salt water splashing on the keys when the kid was washing down the deck with the nav station window open and another one to heat exhaustion. She just got real hot, the fan came on and then "pop" no screen image.
Panasonic (and others) makes them and they are expensive but they do chug right along in the rain and 120F heat.
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post #7 of 30 Old 03-17-2007
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roosaw-

Most modern computers use 15-18 VDC, rather than just 12 VDC. The plastic bag idea is not a very good one, as most modern computers depend on airflow and fans to keep their temperatures in the operating range. Putting it in a plastic bag is a pretty effective way to fry the MB and CPU.

Most notebook computers with a daylight-readable transreflective screen are ruggedized models of one sort or another. The most well known ones are probably the Panasonic Toughbooks...but you pay a significant price premium to own one.

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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
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—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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post #8 of 30 Old 03-17-2007
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panasonic toughbooks are excellent machines but expensive. We're installing a computer with no moving parts in our boat. I wish I knew more about it but my brother is the dorkbox expert. The idea being that because it will creat very little heat it can be sealed in a air tight box with a heatsink on the outside. The whole unit is coming in at under $1000 including a 12" LCD. It's all 12VDC and uses very little power. I'll admit it's not too powerful but for email, music, some navingation, and movies it's all we need. Something to look in to anyway.
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post #9 of 30 Old 03-17-2007
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I would have to second the option of Panasonic Toughbook. Yes they are more expensive but worth it considering how many computers you would go through due to the tough marine environment. They are Military spec out for tough waterproof, dust, and bang-up-ability. I am always hearing from fellow cruisers and me trying to fix their computers after a failure. Never fixed a Panasonic from a hardware failure standpoint. I have fried a few computers myself just spilling my Coffee on the keyboard on ordinary laptops, I need to get one of those child dribble cups on of these days.

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post #10 of 30 Old 03-17-2007
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Hi
I use a computer built with a mini-itx mother board. Size is about the same as the box containing Windows XP. Runs directly from 12 volts, does not require a fan as power consumption is about 18watts total. Screen is lcd 12" and consumes 6watts at 12 volts. Performance is adequate for internet, DVD player and navigation etc. Cost about Ł500 in the UK. You can buy waterproof keyboards but I prefer a wireless keyboard and mouse. (I carry a spare - just in case. Advantage over a laptop is less power and uses standard parts (hard disc, dvd drive, memory etc.) so repairs/upgrades are not expensive.
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