Great article on Computer Navigation in the September 07 issue.
I have to disagree on one thing, the processing power that they recommend you look for.
In a true marine computer, you don't want any vents or fans to bring in the salt air.
This will corrode the motherboard and devices inside. So, the faster processor you get,
the more heat it generates and that has to be dissipated in some way.
That is the problem with using laptops and desktop computers on board, they don't last
very long. I noticed they mentioned SeaPC in the Nav Computer list. SeaPC uses a large
heat sink on the back of the unit to dissipate the heat and keep the unit cool. Its a closed
and sealed case to protect the inside components. So, in my opinion that would be the best
way to go. Like they mentioned, you don't really need alot of processing power to run Navigation software. It might be a little more expensive, but you're not replacing a laptop
every year or two either due to corrosion.
So, what is wrong with using a laptop? I used a cheap HP for years as our primary Nav system using Fugawi software - its photo graces a back issue of CW! I still have it and it does still work fine. We now use a Panasonic Toughbook laptop which is waterproof, dust proof, etc. In addition to that we have a Panasonic tablet, which wirelessly takes over the main PC and allows us to sit anywhere on deck while the actual PC is protected below where it is dry. We have it configured for several laptops, so we always have backup. both the tablet ans the laptop are built to mil specs, and work great. we have more on this on our website: coastalboating.net
Our current laptop is going strong after three years now and the one before lasted about 5 years, oh and we still have it as a back up. The laptop gives us a great deal more flexability than any chartplotter or other electronic option.
To follow our adventures,
see the boat and her crew,
and other great cruising information
go to http://sea-trek.blogspot.com/
We wrote a whole section on Computer@Sea, including a section on is one computer enough?
We have taken 22,000 photos and hours of video that can't be loaded on the navigation laptop because it's too slow with no enough memory, but it does the navigation job quite nicely and uses very little power.
Most computers/software expects you to have a direct connection to the internet. Let me tell you those are hard to find in the middle of the South Pacific, Indonesia and the Red Sea (we had to travel two hours to find an internet cafe in Sudan).
BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP. If your computer dies you lose, navigation, communication and weather (email) and all your photos/journals etc. Lets face it a computer at sea is not exactly the safest environment!!
Some other sections include:
Prepare to Unplug
Proven Backup Plan
No Internet Connection?
Extending WiFi Range
Internet Cafe Cautions
Google Earth @ Sea
Enjoy .. and it's Free!!