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post #1 of 9 Old 02-20-2009 Thread Starter
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Using a laptop while underway

I've been setting up my laptop (17" display) to download weather via my ham radio and to do navigation planning with SeaClear II. All works great sitting here at the slip or sailing in the bay, but I'm wondering how this will work underway.
What experiences do you folks have using a laptop at the nav station while underway at sea? I wonder whether I need to try to find a way to secure the laptop to the chart table. Seems like a bad idea to just sit her on the chart table and count on gravity to keep her in place.

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post #2 of 9 Old 02-20-2009
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get a 17 inch tv with monitor inputs, then a wireless ( blue tooth) mouse and key board. put the monitor on a swing arm so it cam swing around to the companion way. you now have a tv and you can sit in the cockpit with the mouse and/or keyboard and swing the monitor out. then just strap the laptop where ever it fits well
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post #3 of 9 Old 02-20-2009
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Modify the chart table with peg holes to fit the laptop and add a velcro strap-down for those "oh, crap!" rail dippings.

But the above idea's probably better, and you could bolt in a mini-ITX PC and dispense with the laptop underway altogether. The mini-ITX could go half a dozen places that are safe and dry and leave your chart table for charts.

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post #4 of 9 Old 02-20-2009
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I have a webbing strap mounted at my Navstation that I slip the laptop under so that it prevents the computer moving no matter what the boat does. It fits just above the keyboard at the base of the screen. The thin webbing allows me to close the laptop to put it in powersave mode or when its turned off.

Most of the time, I use the laptop more as a planning tool than navigation device. That said, the large format chart presentation can reduce the stress of figuring out a tricky creek or harbor entrance, but I usually will bring the lap top to the cockpit if I need to use it for that. I have another GPS at the helm that I use for most navigation needs but sometimes the paperlike chart presentation of SeaClear is nice to have available. I do have paper charts but its easier to hit zoom than to find my "cheaters" (reading glasses). lol

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post #5 of 9 Old 02-20-2009
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I mounted a swing arm at the chart table. The laptop sits too low to view properly, causing neck strain. The arm raises the laptop screen up to proper eye level. I then use a wireless keyboard & mouse on the table. The laptop is secured to the arm and allows easier access to the storage under the lift top table.
But I haven't answered your question...I use a plotter at the helm! I have a radar; laptop software to feed a radar image is more expensive than the plotter! Plus the plotter is much more viewable in daylight and better suited for the elements. More durable & reliable too. The laptop with seaclear is for backup or planning. Eventually I might figure out how to load routes from seaclear to the plotter but I doubt it. It can be done with CF cards.
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post #6 of 9 Old 02-20-2009
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Velcro works well too.

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post #7 of 9 Old 02-20-2009
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The cross hatched rubber non-skid stuff you buy in rolls for a buck each at the Dollar Store is amazing! Kept our laptop in place for the last three summers.

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post #8 of 9 Old 02-20-2009
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How you manage your notebook on a chart table depends on how far/long you are going to be sailing.

If you're doing a long enough voyage to require paper charts, put some velcro on the bottom of the chart to stick it to the chart table then velcro the notebook to the top of the chart. You'll need strong charts.

Just kidding - the best has already been said - wireless network, remote mouse, keyboard and monitor. Then your notebook can be kept in a safe dry place and (bonus) you can still use the chart table.


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post #9 of 9 Old 02-20-2009
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Our PC is mounted on a RAM arm that's attached to the nav. station table shown in the photo below.



The PC isn't shown, but it goes on the RAM "tough tray" shown below....



.....which is attached to the "arm" shown below....



.....which is screwed to the back left corner of the chart table. The "tough tray" holds the PC securely, but it can be moved using the adjustments on the "arm". The RAM unit gets the PC off the surface of the chart table, a real advantage when space is limited. I've been very satisfied with how it works.

The RAM hardware is not cheap, but neither is the PC you're trying to protect. Info on the various components can be found at RAM Mounting Systems, Inc.. It's not the easiest site to navigate, but if you keep at it you'll find the components you need.
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