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Old 10-04-2011, 10:06 PM   #1
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Laptops On Board

How are those of you who untilize laptops for chart plotting actually powering the laptop. By this I mean, are you using an invertor and the A/C power pack or are you using an automotive style power adapter?

I am about to provide the necessary installation set up for my older Toshiba laptop at the helm and am concerned about how warm the A/C power adapter gets after a couple of hours.

If you are using an automotive power cord do they run warm as well?

Thanks for any and all information and discussion on the topic.

John* MV Penta

Sidney, BC
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Old 10-04-2011, 10:50 PM   #2
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RE: Laptops On Board

I have a Mac and Toughbook on our boat, both run off a 12 volt adapters that plug into a lighter plug running of the ships 12 volt supply. Neither one gets warm let alone hot.
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Old 10-05-2011, 04:30 AM   #3
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RE: Laptops On Board

Inverter and 110v power pack. No problems.
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:39 AM   #4
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RE: Laptops On Board

Same here... inverter and 110v power. Works fine.
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Old 10-05-2011, 01:00 PM   #5
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RE: Laptops On Board

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Penta wrote:
How are those of you who untilize laptops for chart plotting actually powering the laptop. By this I mean, are you using an invertor and the A/C power pack or are you using an automotive style power adapter?
I use a MacBook on the boat and usually power it with a stand-alone automotive-type inverter plugged into a cigarette-lighter type receptacle.* I do this because I believe this consumes a bit less battery power than running the boat's inverter, which is a Heart Freedom 25.* However I have run the laptop via a 120 vac outlet on the boat and the Heart inverter with no problems.

I don't use the laptop for navigation, only writing.* Since the engine(s) will be running when you are navigating, battery drain over time will not be an issue.* So if it is more convenient (or less messy wires-wise) to plug your navigation laptop into a nearby AC outlet and power it with the boat's inverter I would be inclined go that route.
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Old 10-05-2011, 01:06 PM   #6
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RE: Laptops On Board

A very small inverter plugged into car adapter(cigarette lighter plug gizmo). Works fine...last long time!
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Old 10-05-2011, 02:01 PM   #7
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RE: Laptops On Board

We have been using a DC to DC converter, http://www.powerstream.com/dcdc.htm for years now and this is the most efficient way to power a laptop other than direct AC. I am not sure why you are concerned with the heat even with AC. Our brick gets warm but never hot. Chuck

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Old 10-05-2011, 04:10 PM   #8
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RE: Laptops On Board

I have a 12V 3-outlet power strip at the fwd counter with a small 200W (or so) inverter to provide the laptop with 110V. It works great with no heat buildup and no problems. I run an Acer netbook with 7 hr battery life so I can unplug for extended periods without consequence.

My only problem is that the counter collects so much clutter that eventually, I have trouble seeing the laptop!!* I guess I need a bigger boat.
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Old 10-05-2011, 05:14 PM   #9
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RE: Laptops On Board

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FlyWright wrote:
My only problem is that the counter collects so much clutter that eventually, I have trouble seeing the laptop!!* I guess I need a bigger boat.
*Might be a wee bit less expensive to buy a bigger laptop.......
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Old 10-05-2011, 06:24 PM   #10
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RE: Laptops On Board

I run my nav laptop off the big inverter. Its a Dell - they're known for hot power bricks but it hasn't set us on fire. Yet. (It doesn't seem to run excessively hot)
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Old 10-05-2011, 08:26 PM   #11
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Laptops On Board

I'm trying to build a case with the Admiral here, Marin. Your logical solutions are just not helping. ;-)

BTW, I just ordered your book, Flying a Floatplane, today. After I read it, I'll be passing it along to my uncle who might be in the market for a Beaver on floats soon. I look forward to the learning from you.




-- Edited by FlyWright on Wednesday 5th of October 2011 08:32:10 PM
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:15 PM   #12
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RE: Laptops On Board

While this thread has to do with powering a laptop, the concern was expressed about the heat that some systems create.

Can't put my cursor on it right now, but a large yacht was lost to fire a couple of years ago in the Desolation Sound area that was blamed on a laptop charger.

Maybe someone can find the event?

Anyway, good laptop management should also include turning chargers/inverters off when batteries are full
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Old 10-05-2011, 11:22 PM   #13
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RE: Laptops On Board

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FlyWright wrote:
I'm trying to build a case with the Admiral here, Marin. Your logical solutions are just not helping. ;-)

BTW, I just ordered your book, Flying a Floatplane, today. After I read it, I'll be passing it along to my uncle who might be in the market for a Beaver on floats soon. I look forward to the learning from you.
*Sorry.* If you buy a larger PC laptop you will go through months of agony trying to overcome all the quirks and errors in the Microsoft Kids' latest attempt at an operating system.* Your new laptop will not be compatible with any of the normal navigation applications, forcing you to purchase a wide variety of new,* very expensive software.* This plus the unreliability of just about anything made by Microsoft these days pretty much guarantees that your new laptop will lock up just as you are starting to negotiate a tricky bit of water, and you'll go aground incurring a lot of damage and a massive repair bill.

The far better route, it is now obvious, is to retain your tried and true current laptop which will not put you on the rocks and solve the clutter and ensuing visual clutter problem by acquiring a larger boat so the clutter can be properly stowed.* Given the agony, uncertainty, and expense a new laptop will force upon you, a new boat is by far the less expensive option.* Just don't buy an Apple or this entire train of*logic goes right out the window.

I'm surprised there are still copies of "Flying A Floatplane" around.* Unless you bought a used one.* The first edition came out in 1985 (I think), the second edition (my favorite) came out in 1990 (I think) and the third edition came out some five years later.* McGraw Hill took it out of print sometime in the early 2000s because they kept jacking the price up until they overpriced it for the market.

My later book, "Success on the Step: Flying with Kenmore Air," came out several years ago and continues to be available.* It's the story of Kenmore Air (Harbor), the most successful seaplane company in the world.* Regardless of who wrote it, it's a great story about a remarkable and unique company.* It's as much a business success story as an aviation story.
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Old 10-06-2011, 04:54 AM   #14
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Laptops On Board

Maybe the best solution then, instead of buying a bigger boat to house the equipment, (although I'm sure Marin was talking tongue in cheek there), is just to buy a new or near new purpose built GPS unit designed for the job. Although costing more than a domestic solution, they are designed for the marine environment, and are fairly bullet proof, and they are securely mounted. You actually don't need a huge screen. I get by with a 5 inch Lowrance perfectly well, and it does everything its bigger brothers do.* I don't fancy seeing my MacBook flung across the pilot-house, I love it too much.


-- Edited by Peter B on Thursday 6th of October 2011 04:59:29 AM
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Old 10-06-2011, 08:03 AM   #15
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RE: Laptops On Board

Quote:
Peter B wrote:
Maybe the best solution then, is just to buy a new or near new purpose built GPS unit designed for the job.

* * * * That would be and has been my choice. I'll probably catch some heat for this next statement but I think using a laptop for just about everything onboard is much like a Swiss Army knife. Looks great, has a lot of different uses, is small but when one needs to depend on it for a life or death task, it falls short. A stand alone plotter or even a good combo unit will pay back in spades. Coupled to your AP, you can have your mate man the helm while you are down below with a hot cup of coffee, sending & receiving your e-mails on the laptop.
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Old 10-06-2011, 10:54 AM   #16
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RE: Laptops On Board

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SeaHorse II wrote:*I'll probably catch some heat for this next statement but I think using a laptop for just about everything onboard is much like a Swiss Army knife.
Not from me, you won't. Dedicated chart plotters are computers, too, obviously.* But they're built to do one thing--- plot and follow your course.* Layering a plotter application on top of an operating system--- and in the case of PCs a really crappy operating system--- seems to me to simpy double the chances of a failure.* I recall reading on T&T the woes of laptop-based navigators who bemoaned things like having to search forever in multiple layers of menus just to find out how to increase or decrease the brightness of a plotter applicaion display or how to change the size of on-screen icons.* Or having the computer lock up and having to reboot the system.* And, of course, this always occurred at the worst possible moment.

I work constantly with very complex applications layered on top of an operating system when I'm editing and doing effects.* While the applications we use are the standard of the industry and well-proven, they still freeze, lock up, or "has quit unexpectedly" on a frequent enough basis to be annoying. Most of the problems (our engineer tells me) are issues with the operating system, not the applications themselves.

So no way am I going to open myself to the same potential for problems with the navigation systems on our boat.* In the 13 years we've had our boat we have never experienced a single failure, lockup, reboot, you name it, with our dedicated C-Map plotters.
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Old 10-06-2011, 11:37 AM   #17
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Laptops On Board

Most of the problems (our engineer tells me) are issues with the operating system, not the applications themselves.

__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________

I'd say your engineer is covering up his poor coding techniques and incompetence by blaming the operating system. The computer I am typing this on is a one year old DELL running Windows 7 and is rock solid. I turn it on in the morning and turn it off when I go to bed. In the one year I have owned it, I don't recall even one instance where I had to reboot. Maybe you are still using Windows 95 Marin, as is your engineer.
*
*
On my boat, I am running Vista with Coastal Explorer (CE) and I have similar reliability. I use CE for route planning because it is so much easier to use than my Furuno NavNet VX2. Going though multiple layers of menus more accurately describes the Furuno VX2 than CE. The computer on the boat is used as a stand alone backup system with its own GPS. It saved my bacon on one of my trips when we went through a particularly complicated pass named Venn Passage leaving Prince Rupert, BC bound for Ketchikan. The Furuno chart I was relying on just went into a cross hatch like it does when on an unsupported scale. Nothing I did could get the chart to come back so thank god the computer running CE was right there.
*
*
My experience. New computers running the newest Microsoft operating systems are so much more reliably than those in the past there really is no comparison.
*
*
Ron


-- Edited by windmist on Thursday 6th of October 2011 11:40:47 AM
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Old 10-06-2011, 12:09 PM   #18
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RE: Laptops On Board

Many of us use our laptops as a backup to our smaller chartplotters and a larger display alternative to our older eyes. I also like the 3D bottom contours my Maptech software provides. My Garmin 276C is always running at whichever helm I'm manning but it's a small screen. I also have another Garmin GPS that feeds another laptop, but I rarely use that and just keep it available as a spare. (I'm very fond of redundancy!)
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Old 10-06-2011, 12:15 PM   #19
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RE: Laptops On Board

My Windows 7 Dell running Nobeltec is on its 5th trouble free season* Ron, my Furuno NN3 picks up Venn passage OK on 2010 loaded in Canada*charts. I've updated to 2011 using US loaded charts - it will be interesting to see if any Furuno hiccups appear going to Alaska next year.

I also have an older*Raymarine plotter (70/80 series) using NT chips. It is a real dinosaur unit as compared to*laptop based Nobeltec programs. I've used IPad charts and they are OK, but without a mouse and keyboard it is not as good as a laptop when it comes to laying out the next day's trip.
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Old 10-06-2011, 12:50 PM   #20
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RE: Laptops On Board

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windmist wrote:
Most of the problems (our engineer tells me) are issues with the operating system, not the applications themselves.

__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ _________________

I'd say your engineer is covering up his poor coding techniques and incompetence by blaming the operating system.


-
Our engineer is a maintenance engineer.* He's not a computer programer.* His job is to keep things running.* The applications we are running cost some $20k-$30k and they are the standard of the industry.* They were originally designed for Macs and on those computers they are trouble-free.* But industry pressures forced them to develop versions for MS operating systems and that''s when the problems began.

We used to use Macs but my employer in its infinite wisdom decided to standardize on PCs across the company for all non-design functions (by design I mean airplane and tooling design).* It's been a giant headache ever since.* Microsoft, which started out making pretty good applications, has long since lost that ability.* And their operating systems are absolute rubbish these days in terms of reliability.* A Microsoft operating system is probably the single, most universally hated thing at my company today.

When our edit system crashes it's not the end of the world.* You shut everything down, power it back up, and restart the computers.* You lose fifteen minutes of your life but that's all.* But on my boat there is no way in hell that I'm going to layer a critical function like navigation on top of the garbage that Microsoft puts out these days.
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