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Old 03-26-2008, 07:58 AM   #15
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My understanding may be flawed but.....I recently bought an ASUS laptop because two computer repair shops told me they see very few of them in for repairs. Also, I was told that ASUS are made by Mac in the Mac factory and this is could explain their toughness and reliability.

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Old 03-26-2008, 08:21 AM   #16
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My understanding may be flawed but.....I recently bought an ASUS laptop because two computer repair shops told me they see very few of them in for repairs. Also, I was told that ASUS are made by Mac in the Mac factory and this is could explain their toughness and reliability.

David
Thanks David, I'll keep that in mind. A good laptop here costs about $600-$800. My son had a Mac he paid over $3000. I've always heard they are better for graphics. He did alot of video editing though.

I've never heard of ASUS but will look them up. By the way, are you traveling now?

Thanks again!
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Old 03-26-2008, 01:08 PM   #17
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Someone here said that Macs are a lot more expensive than PCs. This is not true - if you compare EQUAL hardware. Recent independent tests showed that the new generation Intel Macs was the fastest machines to run windows applications on too.(!)

But what if one doesn't need a 'fancy' computer?

- Go for a simple PC and run Linux OS (Ubuntu for example) I have no personal experience how it works with Nav & Charts software though. Perhaps someone else can fill in here...?

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Old 03-27-2008, 06:59 AM   #18
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I bought a 2nd hand Panasonic Toughbook on Ebay. Seems to run all of the nav software, has a touchscreen and has all of the right ports (serial for NMEA, USB, etc) for connecting to the on board equipment. One day it will have a beer fridge temperature monitor and some gadgets attached for working the anchor winch and other relays/switches from the nav area, but right now it does the job admirably.
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:02 PM   #19
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Speaking as someone who has both a Mac and a PC on the boat...

The permanent computer is a small PC with a Via small form factor motherboard in a Norex(sp) box.... first one lasted about 6 years before the USB ports went blind.. I built a new one for $600 Australian ( not counting the LCD screen which is still original). Its not much bigger than a laptop and has the advantage that you can fix it yourself. Lots of info here http://www.mini-itx.com/store/info.asp Some of the projects are also worth a look http://www.mini-itx.com/projects/howto/ (I have another mini computer at home that I built inside a Penfolds Grange Hermitage box..... one of the wooden 6 bottle ones...)

I reckon this is a better way to go than a laptop as you can have the guts of the thing somewhere well sheltered with just the screen and a wireless keyboard at the chart table. However a mate of mine swears by old laptops he picks up for about $100 ...he always has a couple...if one dies you just bin it and start using the next one.

That said all this unit does for me is electronic charts and sailmail.

My laptop is a MacBook.... they aren't that expensive $1100 US will get you a MacBook and when you look at what you get that's pretty good value. I use it for every thing else... including storing photos and even showing DVDs on the boat. It can also run Windows under Boot Camp and therefore all the PC programs, sailmail, electronic charts etc etc can be run

I've never had problems with condensation on the boat and even though I now avoid the tropics my ICOM 735 HF which was bought new in Cyprus in about 1992 only died last year. A non marinised ham radio it was clean as a whistle inside and its departure was simply due to an age related fault common to all 735s of that age .. even those that live in the desert.
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Old 03-28-2008, 06:23 AM   #20
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Very informative! I do like the disposable laptop idea.

Thanks
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Old 03-28-2008, 09:16 AM   #21
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Very informative! I do like the disposable laptop idea.

Thanks
Yep, its not as if you need warp speed to run electronic charts and sailmail.

The Mac is great, comes with wifi so when in town I just take it up the road to a cafe to get on line.

Free wifi seems to be the norm down here in Patagonia in cafes and hotels.
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Old 03-28-2008, 11:47 PM   #22
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To add to the environmental nature of cruising and the need to back up data.

A free programme that does this very easily :-

link
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Old 03-29-2008, 06:11 AM   #23
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Again I want to thank everyone for their replies. It is nice to know this information is here for the asking.
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Old 03-31-2008, 07:09 PM   #24
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I am no expert on the workings of computers, but have lived and worked onboard for 12 years, first starting with a small tower. It was inconvenient. It was also old, so it did not take a lot of thought before I talked myself into my first Dell. I do a lot of work that has me checking client’s links from my machine. I therefore have no firewall set up and find that the Microsoft based machines get murdered with all the bad thing on the internet. I was very frustrated after about a 2 year loosing war and was talked into trying a Mac. I am on my second one and it is about 4 years old. The problems I was having do not effect the Mac. That makes me very happy.

The lap top is very convenient for carrying around in port to find places to use the internet. This has been important in finding weather windows as well as allowing me to continue work and my sailing lifestyle. Non of my screens work well in strong sun light, therefore, I rarely take it from the saloon. It runs about 12 hours a day.

The computer sits on the cart table which is across from the galley and is exposed to cooking pollution. I keep the screen and keyboard clean with a static brush. I did catch my wife once using a lightly damp cloth she had just used to dust the TV on the computer. I was afraid of moisture from that process and forbid that form of dusting. I do drink my coffee near the machine and have been lucky enough to have not spilled any since back in the days I occupied an office.

I do put the computer and the rest of my portable electronics in the Force 10 oven during lightning storms. This has caused my biggest fear of my wife warming up the oven for something not knowing I had stashed the electronic in there. That would truly fry the equipment.

I would think that if your run a laptop for an hour or so a day, the heat of the machine would keep the moisture or any mildew out of the system.

My lengthy two cents. Maybe I have just been lucky.
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Old 03-31-2008, 07:45 PM   #25
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I would think that if your run a laptop for an hour or so a day, the heat of the machine would keep the moisture or any mildew out of the system.
Many years ago, as a mere cadet, a radio oficer of much experience recommended me never to turn off electrcal gear on an un-airconditioned ship (and ours was not). He maintained that the equipment was then less prone to failure as:

1. It was kept more or less at a constant temperature which was good for the electrickery stuff

2. The heat produced kept the moisture at bay.

Now that was a large cargo - passenger liner with any amount of electical power but the principal is the same in a yacht. Just that the power might not be available but if it is then it is worth thinking about, although I have also heard that a hard disk, when runing, is more likely to receive damage due to the vesesl's motion than if the computer is turned off. Anyone know about that?

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Old 03-31-2008, 08:29 PM   #26
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I have almost never put my computer away during an electrical storm, though I will usually turn it off and unplug it. No problems, ever, with the computer. We were hit by lightning, a direct hit to the top of our mast, vaporizing the VHF antenna there, and frying the wind speed indicator and our depth sounder. Fried something in the SSB radio, the VHF radio was no longer working.

Neither GPS was damaged in any way - neither the hand-held nor the Magellan plugged into the 12V house system, and neither was the computer or its hard drive compromised.

I think that in some ways the rigging of your boat is a Faraday cage, and your worry is from stray current running to your electronics through your ground. So those devices that are plugged in are vulnerable, those that aren't connected to the boat power are not. The depthsounder transducer was probably damaged by the huge current in the water.

Since lightning goes to ground, and when you're floating ground is the water, there must be huge current potential there.

Lightning, though, is so frightening.
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Old 04-02-2008, 04:04 PM   #27
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Lightening is not good. We could do a whole other thread on the subject. I wonder about prices. Shop hard and you can find good prices on a Mac. Usually there latest and greatest is expensive, but look at what you really need. Might not find one for $600, but you can get closer then the new super thin Mac that is out.

I believe JeanneP is right about keeping all your electronics running. I have 800+ amp hours of power. I have enough problem keeping above the 50% and refrigeration let alone keep the circuit on to the flat screen TV (Now there is an energy hog), the home theater system, VCR and the computer peripheries. Usually all those systems get turned on at least once a day. All produce enough heat to keep them dry. I have been living on board for 12 years and have not had any moisture problems to date. Electrical Management, another thread for another time.
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Old 04-04-2008, 05:31 AM   #28
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A small form factor computer is more flexible because you can add regular sized components yourself. We have a Shuttle SFF that will be the heart of our cruising boat navigation and any other systems. We also have a little tiny Sony Vaio notebook computer (505 series) that I got on Ebay a number of years ago and it keeps on going and going. I use it in the car, take it ot the dusty boatyard, take it out sailing on the other boat (where it runs a little mouse sized GPS) really totally abuse it and it keeps on working. The SFF is dual boot Linux and Windows, as is the notebook. You can now pretty much run all the windows software under Linux (we have Debian Linux) using something called WINE or using VMWare.

Note on power useage--the SFF uses quite a bit of power, as much or more than a regular tower case computer we have.

Note on LCD screens, Samsung makes some great fold up ones and Shuttle has a very portable one, too.

Esoteric note on IMB keyboards of many years ago...In response to previous post by J...IBM in the late 1980's developed a really strange system employing robotics to manufacture their keyboards for ALL IBM computers. The system made it such that no IBM key could be reattached to the keyboard if it fell off. Really stupid thing. I'm sure they changed it at some time to be more like other keyboards that were repairable, but I knew about this IBM thing because I was getting my engineering degree in the late 1980's and took a robotics class from a fellow on loan from IBM to the school and he told us how "not" to design things for robotics without thinking about the people who would have to do the repairs.
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