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Old 11-21-2017, 06:48 PM   #1
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Marine Computer for Navigation.

I currently have a "Paxcom" Computer for navigation, video monitor and Airmar windstation, etc. This was a installed by the PO with Coastal Explorer, etc. Nothing is wrong with it per se, except it is older (8 years) and it has a Windows XP operating system. It is not connected to the internet except when I need to update charts and the Coastal Explorer software. I want to continue the PC route for navigation, with a dedicated under the helm computer, with keyboard, mouse and helm monitor. Paxcom is still operating. It's a small company in Seattle, that has commercial fishermen and tow boat operators as clients. Quite frankly, I think it's owner operated, so very small.

The CE software displays depth, GPS course and wind speed, and I presume that inputs are received by NMEA 0183, although I have not traced all wiring. Preferences:
  1. The current computer is 12 VDC, and I would prefer to stay with that arrangement, although would also like the provision for an AC power source when I take the unit home to update charts and software.
  2. Windows Operating system. Either Windows 7 or 10. I have heard that Windows 10 is buggy.
  3. Solid State "Hard drive" for storage.
  4. Have heard good things about the Nemo Gateway and wonder if it is applicable in this installation?
  5. WIFI/wireless capable.
  6. Capacity to continue with the features I have, with window for video camera feed (aft looking camera). Display of apparent and true wind and depth on the screen.
  7. At this time, I am not interested in a radar overlay on the chart plotter.
I'm looking for ideas and recommendations for makes, models, dealers, and possible installation ideas.

Thanks!

Jim
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Old 11-21-2017, 07:03 PM   #2
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Sounds like you should look into an IPad Pro with gps and load it with Navionics software. We have used the system described with great success. We have done this alongside our original navigation laptop system and have found the IPad Pro and Navionics a great combination. You can then take the IPAD and use it as a computer to surf, take photos or videos and certainly download the latest additions to Navionics. It’s so portable.
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Old 11-21-2017, 07:17 PM   #3
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Jim

Two years ago when my Dell running XP had its tenth birthday I went with a Lenovo solid state running Windows 7. Is Paxcom price competitive with the normal suspects?

Dependent upon how many gizmos you want to hook up be sure you have plenty of ports and USB drives. The Lenovo is set up to display on normal monitors and the Samsung TV. Can't see you're wanting to do anything that isn't "standard."
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Old 11-21-2017, 07:33 PM   #4
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Nemo is a great way to get all you boat data into the computer in a simple and reliable way.

I haven't used them, but the Intel NUC brick computers are pretty popular with boaters. They are small, inexpensive, low power, and would be a nice match for the Nemo. I think they are available in 12VDC, but I'm not certain. For home power, you should be able to get an inexpensive AC to 12VDC power supply.

The solid state drive is a good idea too. I'm frankly amazed that rotating drives work as well as the do on boat. But the SSDs are a perfect fit for a boat that is vibrating and shaking, plus they are lower power.

Another alternative to the Intel NUC would be a Mac Mini, but it would be AC powered so you would need to run your inverter, or add a small dedicated one. You could run windows directly using bootcamp, or run OSx and Windows together at the same time with Fusion or Parallels.
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Old 11-21-2017, 07:47 PM   #5
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Jim:
I originally set up my laptop to run CAPN software with my old Garmin Gps feeding through a serial port. The laptop itself died and was replaced with a unit running Vista, but as it didn't have a serial port, I had to add a serial to USB adapter. I converted that one to run directly off the 12v, but found out the hard way that I had a polarity mismatch between the computer and the GPS, so fried the Serial to USB adapter. Went back to running off the inverter, using the computer's own AC to DC conversion. That worked well for several years, but the old Vista laptop is long in the tooth, so 2 yrs ago I bought a Windows 7 laptop, with the widest (18" corner to corner) screen I could find. Still running the old CAPN Nav program and I am totally happy with it. My old CHS charts are still a lot better than the Navionics charts in my phone and the C-Map charts in the Humminbird I use on the dinghy. I have added information to the charts as I have come across it, using the "add a mark" function.
My computer is a Toshiba from London Drugs, who I keep going back to, as they have all you will ever need and knowledgeable staff.
I don't have a spot large enough for this computer on the dash, so it sits on a rubber anti-slip sheet and balances on a too small bit of counter above the galley steps. Even in the blow that caused me to abort crossing the Gulf a couple of weeks ago, it didn't move. With its large screen, I can sit on the helm seat, about 5 feet away and still have a great view of the real chart. I use a mouse to control the zoom from there.
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:14 PM   #6
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I would go with a laptop. Easy to run power off the inverter (and keeps going when power is switched, etc). Easy to take home to connect to the internet and update.

There are various windows tablet computer options, like the one I'm typing on, a Surface Pro 4. You can have a remote (bluetooth) keyboard/mouse setup if that works better with your helm.

The concept "windows 10 is buggy" is just plain BS, ignore that.

Here is a good article written by a photographer that switched from Macbook Pro's to Microsoft Surface Book 2. His requirements are much more demanding than any mariner.

Once you have a touchscreen laptop/tablet, you'll never go back.
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:15 PM   #7
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I think I’ve seen them at the Seattle boat show. They may be able to upgrade you to Windows 7, their site says they still sell it with their new systems.

Paxcom Marine Computers
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:35 PM   #8
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Island Time Computers will build you a custom 12 VDC system. They also sell 12 VDC monitors.

Marine PC Products
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Old 11-21-2017, 08:45 PM   #9
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Jim,
I have a similar configuration. I have a Casetronic C299 case that I had built to my specs.


I had help from Welcome to ITXDepot.com - All Mini ITX case who built the computer and offered help in the configuration. I'm also running CE, I have 2 hard drives, a 80 gb SSHD has the win7 OS and all the program files, and a 500 gb conventional drive for data and files. I did a specially slipstreamed win7 install to cut out a lot of the unneeded crap that's included with the OS.

It's 12VDC powered, and the power supply utilizes a remote switch mounted on the console that powers up and shuts down the computer without having to actually access the computer. It's mounted behind the console, and also has console-mounted USB ports so access with flash drives, keyboard and backup is all easy access. I can access the DVD drive if needed. I have a router so internet is via ethernet, no on board wifi. But I can use a USB wireless device. The computer can be equipped with a wifi card, but in my case it wasn't really needed. I also have a 110V brick adapter to power it from 110V, they're easily available and inexpensive, just need to make sure it's a high enough wattage. The on-board 12VDC power supply handles any variation in voltage, never have had a problem with

I run a 19" Argonaut monitor on the console, great display. I have a mix of other nav gear, the AP is Raymarine, Furuno Chartplotter/Radar, Furuno PB150, GPS, AIS, a SeaTalk-NMEA interface, all that ties in to an Actisense NDC-4 multiplexer, and links to the computer via USB. It also has a serial port for NMEA talker to the AP. I"m sure the Nemo would be a great way to interface, I don't have any N2K gear, so the Actisense works perfect for my application.

One prop for the ITXDepot folks- I had a spec that I liked, but they reviewed it and recommended some changes - one was an alternate motherboard that was much lower wattage than my original choice, so they were very helpful in making sure my configuration was optimal. Good experience all round.
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Old 11-22-2017, 12:39 AM   #10
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I have been running laptops in boats with Coastal Explorer for more than 10 years. On three different systems I have use a 12VDC laptop power supply to eliminate having to run an inverter. In last couple of years I have used a USB monitor as a remote display with wireless keyboards and a wireless trackball. Last year I added the NEMO adapter and now running Windows 10, it is a very stable system. I haven't found Windows 10 to be buggy at all. I recently installed an SSD and that is probably the single best thing you can do to a laptop. My 8 year old Dell Latitude is as fast as my new Acer.

I also do something most people don't recommend. My primary navigation computer is my work computer and my home computer. I run antivirus and a firewall and haven't run into a problem in more than 10 years doing the same thing. I also keep an up to date spare computer (the 8 year old Dell) ready on the boat to take over in the event of a problem. I have toyed with the idea of a purpose built 12VDC computer, but laptops are too easy and more versatile.

Tom
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Old 11-22-2017, 08:20 AM   #11
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I run a Windows 10 laptop with open cpm and a gps puck that connects via hard wire or bluetooth.
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Old 11-22-2017, 08:27 AM   #12
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JDCAVE,

I would STRONGLY recommend the Ipad Pro, if you want to stay with a computer.

But before that, I could argue just to get a REAL marine chart plotter. They are pretty much bullet proof, have much better displays and have all the nav features you want.

And use the Ipad for backup, planning, video monitoring, etc.

I'm NOT a Windows fan, yes they are unstable and a PITA. Both of my Windows machines have way more problems than the Ipad.

And whatever you get be SURE it has a daylight readable screen. The Ipad is barely good enough.
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Old 11-22-2017, 10:45 AM   #13
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Doesn't everybody know that if you put the term “MARINE” in front of ANYTHING you automatically increase the price by 3 to 5 Times?
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Old 11-22-2017, 11:28 AM   #14
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I'm not a fan of Mac for it's lack of compatibility with some of the "open" stuff, which is important when you're trying to get a little outside the box in uses like this.

Windows 10 is not so buggy but rather just a lot of draw on your processor to have all those flashy, fluid tiles moving around. my i3 core laptop can hardly keep from tripping over itself. I'd go for an i5 processor (or up) and then it's not a problem. A little more gumption helps with the chart handling anyway (they are HUGE photos sometimes).

Twisted has the right idea with a NUC. Nice and compact, economical, customizable to what you want to do.

Keep us posted on what you end up with and how you like it
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Old 11-22-2017, 11:40 AM   #15
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One thing to keep in mind when you look at laptops versus a desktop. Typically the CPUs for laptops are low power chips to extend battery life between charges. The Intels of the world do this by reducing the number of cores and the effective speed of the CPU. A desktop i5 will have 4 cores where a laptop will have 2 cores. The CPU speed might be as much as a gigahertz slower with the laptop version.

The point is you won't get the same CPU performance with a laptop as a desktop but if you only run CE, you might not need the additional performance.
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Old 11-22-2017, 11:42 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seevee View Post
JDCAVE,


But before that, I could argue just to get a REAL marine chart plotter. They are pretty much bullet proof, have much better displays and have all the nav features you want.

And use the Ipad for backup, planning, video monitoring, etc.

And whatever you get be SURE it has a daylight readable screen. The Ipad is barely good enough.
This.
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Old 11-22-2017, 11:47 AM   #17
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I'm zeroing in on the NUC.
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Old 11-22-2017, 12:20 PM   #18
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If you really want to get something "marine grade" and robust, have a look at the Comark line:

http://comarkcorp.com/automation-sol...mmerial-marine

Might be worth giving them a call. Gonna be some bucks because it is top flight stuff.
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Old 11-22-2017, 12:24 PM   #19
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Thanks all. This is the feedback that I was looking for! I already have an iPad Pro with iNavX and the CHS Charts, but it does not have all the functionality I currently have on my shipboard system which has everything I want in my heads up display (see below). My only concern is the computer is getting long in the tooth and it is running slower with the last upgrade of the CE software (Version 3.1.17086). I will likely upgrade to the latest paid update of CE with a new computer. I would prefer a cube or box to replace my current unit, rather than a laptop or tablet. My monitor is excellent and has a few more years of life left, I hope, given the high cost of marine monitors!

I talked to Paxcom last February, and he was surprised but pleased to hear that my unit is still going strong. He said that he still sold some units with XP quite recently, but switched entirely to Windows 7. He did not feel Windows 10 to be reliable at the time I talked to him. He said he could build a new unit for about $2k USD, but that was a year ago or so so options and prices have likely changed.

Computers for marine operations are built to withstand mechanical shock. TT: you and I have discussed the potential of a NUC, but I’m not sure if my programming abilities are up to the task, and also the operating system that might be required. Do you have any further update on this option since we last talked about it? It looks like I can load a Windows OS onto it:
https://www.howtogeek.com/231978/htg-explains-what-is-a-nuc-pc-and-should-you-get-one/

Steve: Thanks for that suggestion. I will look into ITXDepot. I will also look into Island Time computing, although they are on the other side of the continent. I certainly think the Nemo gateway makes sense for me if it removes some of the headaches and particularly if I go with a NUCs as they may be “port limited”. I also think the SSHD is a smart option, although I don’t have any issues with the HD in my current unit.

Jim
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Old 11-22-2017, 01:47 PM   #20
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I ran CE on a Windows 10 Toshiba laptop for 2016 and 2017 trips up & down the Inside passage. No problems other than the occasional unwanted restart.
I did disable the touch screen because people kept inadvertently "poking it".
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