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Thread: Anybody run a ruggedized laptop or notebook as a chart plotter?

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Default Anybody run a ruggedized laptop or notebook as a chart plotter?

    There are quite a few used "military" grade ruggedized laptops on flea pay for pretty reasonable prices, some include a gps unit and charts. Curious if anyone is running one. It's a much less expensive way to get a big screen plotter, not to mention you can watch dvd's in the evening or play tunes on it.

    I'll let you know how my $250 gamble plays out.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    That's going to work for you, For Sure
    and as you say, it's a much cheaper way to get a really nice big screen plotter,
    with DVD side benefits

    I've been using a regular Dell Laptop or Desktop for the Main Navigation machine for a while, Never had one go down yet,
    (not even ruggedized, tho running a slower boat than you, and it's all Foam Padding and bungied, in tight)

    Also, the quality of Charting available on the software programs is Far Better than most small boat plotters

    I think you gambled, and Won, on that deal

    Did yours come with a GPS unit ? I've always interfaced to a separate GPS, which would run the cost a little higher,
    but it's easy to do,
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member TWB's Avatar
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    If lookin fancy and rugged, I recommend a Panasonic Toughbook. Ive used them for years. The CF-19s are badass with a swivel and touch screen.
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    Are you able to keep the screen viewable in sunlight? I tried a HP laptop and the screen was too dark in daylight/sunlight.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    I've only had one laptop, and I made a Screen Shade, out of the top of a trashcan lid
    hard to describe without a pic, but it was one of those indoor kind that have a self closing lid
    I took some scissors to it, made a nice hood for the laptop

    Other than that my Desktop Monitors have worked well,
    it kind of depends on your wheelhouse scenario, but I know what you are thinking
    you could construct something out of cardboard too,(maybe look a bit hokey)
    Wish I had a pic of the Laptop hood I made, it was perfect

    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Nice wheelhouse setup. The purpose of the orange plexiglass?

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    It was there when I bought the boat, and I've wondered the original purpose myself

    it may be that it makes shelving out of the window sills, but I think it was mean to be something
    absorbing Sun Reflection off the surface ?? or cooling it from the sky ??

    It looks Orange but is actually more of a light sunscreen color
    It works good for shelves for sunglasses, etc. (Grin)

    It is a super nice little wheelhouse, really comfortable, not too bright unless the sun is setting or rising low on the horizon
    figured I'd show that so you realize why there's little problems with my screen view

    Realizing most sport boat types actually have quite a bit more bright light hitting their low mounted electronics than I do

    I'm trying to find a pic of the Laptop Hood I made,...might come up with it yet
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Whatever its purpose, looks like it fits in with the whole scheme of things. Nice.

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    Computers work great so long as you take care of them. All of the commercial boats in Southeast have at least one computer. Nobeltec was a very popular program but has fallen on its face with anything version 10 and up. Coastal Explorer works great. Linked here is a competent free software product. http://opencpn.org/ocpn/ If you need a GPS I've found these to be VERY reliable for smaller boats. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ls_o06_s00_i00

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    Rather compelling idea, what about bathymetric charts...?
    I did not see that function listed on the open CPN site..
    Also it appears it does not support NMEA 2000, so if one wanted to use a NMEA 2000 for fuel management it would require another system? Is this true?
    “Nothing worth doing is easy”
    TR

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    I don't know if there is a NMEA 2000 interface available for laptops, something to look into. The guy I'm getting the laptop from does this as a hobby refurbing used ruggedized laptops/netbooks to use for navigation. It comes with gps reciever and 2 charts of your choice, he uses the NOAA charts the data is available free from NOAA but you need software to use the data. If you want gps data for your fuel burn, you could get the smallest possible NMEA 2000 plotter and use it as a backup to the laptop and be out less money than a large marine plotter, have redundant gps/plotter and a computer to do whatever you'd want with a computer including playing tunes and movies.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    Back when we could afford to keep and run a 41' trawler, i bought a laptop (compaq i think, way outdated now) and connected it to a raytheon gps and 12 volt power plug. We used the maptech system and it all worked together just wonderfully. Just used a bungie to hold it on the helm but it endured some might rough seas crossing the gulf when we brought the boat up from WA and was trouble free. Enjoyed passing the time playing solitare on those long days. Have maptech and all the charts between AK and WA on it if anybody is interested. Believe the batteries are nfg, but we always used it wired to the boat system. Bud
    Wasilla

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    I haven't played with the opencpn program much so I can't say a lot about it. Coastal Explorer is another great choice. $399.00 for the program and the charts. It is NMEA2000 compatible. But as with ALL NMEA2000 devices...the standards are, well, not quite 100% adheard to. So there will be some issues when you mix any devices. I would stay away from Nobeltec. Since Furuno bought them they have gone down hill. And they are expensive. Bathy...do you just want contours or do you want to record? Recording is much more expensive. Nobeltec is the only product under the 2000.00 mark now that will do it(as best I know.) The 'good' bathy recorder setup will cost you $7000.00 - $10,000.00. Then there is a good chance you'll need to upgrade your sounder too.

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    Member Akgramps's Avatar
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    Recording would be great, but way out of my league financially speaking..I am not the most tech savvy guy, but I assume you could use Garmins G2 vision cards on a laptop....?
    “Nothing worth doing is easy”
    TR

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    I use my standard Toshiba laptop on friends boats and as you mentioned it's nice to watch a movie or download cameras, vid cams and such....fun to see the days events at the end of the day over dinner or something.


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    Member Gerberman's Avatar
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    I use my Toshiba mounted in a RAM holder, it is an arm that has a spring loaded plate that holds the laptop, I use a remote monitor, and a wireless mouse. I have been using the Nobeltec program since it was $399.00, I have gotten a few of the upgrades, but do not use it enough to invest in the new systems. I also have a Raymarine 12" on board with depth sounder, radar, and gps. I hope to see how your system works for you.

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    Member Roger's Avatar
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    I bought the Panasonic tough-book CF also I have to turn the screen 360 so it sits on the dash of the boat but works great and I downloaded the marine software for it
    PEOPLE SAY I HAVE A.D.D I DON'T UNDERSTA.....OH LOOK A MOOSE !!!

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KasitsnaBay View Post
    Are you able to keep the screen viewable in sunlight? I tried a HP laptop and the screen was too dark in daylight/sunlight.
    Hey, guess what, I found a pic of the Trash Can lid sunscreen I had cobbled together for the first laptop I had in a wheelhouse
    mentioned in post #5

    Figured I had better post it up,....just as,..... "TrashCan Lid Sunscreen," sounds so Hokey,...
    maybe you'll think it was,...but it really worked well.

    and after spending a winter in Halifax and Seattle having that boat built,...yes, I was being cheap,...
    actually, I think I made it on the fly, cruising the new boat up through Southeast, and just left it on there for quite a while,
    because it worked

    as you can see this wheelhouse had some serious visibility and light beaming through the windows,
    in stark contrast to the boat I have now

    So, here it is, for your entertainment,...



    It was held together with Gangion Twine across the back,
    and the entire laptop is on one of those Ram Mounts others have mentioned,...Those are Excellent and well worth finding

    Since I'm in the Archives, I'll throw a couple others in for fun




    and a few, to make my Sportfishing buddies happy,....Yeah, we targeted these guys,...



    But it was out the Aleutians Quite a ways,...not off the Homer Spit,....

    Running around Loaded to the Gills,...Oh So Fun,...



    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Sponsor potbuilder's Avatar
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    Is that one of those Gaski hulls ??

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by potbuilder View Post
    Is that one of those Gaski hulls ??
    Yes it is, quite an eye for boats you have there Steve,
    I jumped on that way back, had one built in Halifax Nova Scotia, the hull anyway, then finished it out in Seattle
    I did add some custom adjustments, like extending the house aft a little

    Pretty Darn impressive hull for stability,....a True, Low Rider, and Very Tough
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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