Off Road Notebook Computer

Navigation tools including maps, compass, GPS, computers, software, and other forms of navigation.
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DaveK
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Off Road Notebook Computer

#1

Post by DaveK » Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:53 pm

I am in the process of piecing the necessary equipment together for an off road navigation system in my vehicle. For those who may not be familiar with mapping, there are US maps created by the USGS (United States Geologic Survey), commonly known as Topographic (topo) maps. They are by far the most detailed maps of the US that are available today. Not surprising, given the fact that our tax dollars funded the process and when you have a very large budget, you can do great things.

These topo maps are now being sold by National Geographic in a computer mapping program which allows a type of "live tracking". On a computer screen, which displays the topo map, you can hook up your gps and have your position and track displayed on the actual topo map.

Now the hard part. When the pavement ends, the ride gets rough. All that bouncing and jarring seems to take its toll on the mechanical parts of a computer, viz., the conventional hard drive. So, I am building my own lap top, just for use off road, by buying a used 12 inch screen computer, preferably with a trashed hard drive which I intend to replace with a solid state unit. I need some help on info on these units and advice on where to go next.
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Re: Off Road Notebook Computer

#2

Post by Hardluck » Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:58 pm

You're other option of course is to buy a used rugged pc from ebay. I purchased a Compaq tr3000 milspec rugged tabletpc off of ebay for $450. Its vibration, dust, and water resistant. My plan is to mount it via a RAM mount in my FJ. If you go this route, be prepared to spend more money on a new battery (the one I got would only hold a charge for 15 min) and the 12v adapter. Both are pretty pricey.

Another option for maps is Oziexplorer. I've used the demo version and its pretty cool. I think Lance has been using it extensively.
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Re: Off Road Notebook Computer

#3

Post by OLLIE » Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:54 pm

Frogeye has a laptop which he mounts in his rig. It's a Dell 610 I believe. Runs Delorme in it which runs the TOPO sofware you are talking about Dave. His has seen some serious abuse and has had no ill effects. Sucks for any passengers though. Takes up most of the passenger seat. Your tank might have more room. :lol:
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Re: Off Road Notebook Computer

#4

Post by NotAMog » Fri Apr 18, 2008 8:43 pm

I've been running a VIA EPIA SP8000 motherboard in a VOOM2 PC case in my rig for about a year now with zero problems. It's important to use a laptop hard drive as 3 1/2" desktop drives can not handle the rigors of off road driving.

The power supply is an M2-ATX-HV from http://www.logicsupply.com" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;. This is a dedicated mobile power supply and it can work on 6V to 32v. My rig has a 24v system so I could power it directly but I'm going through a 24v to 12v DC to DC converter since the monitor and "11meter" radio require 12 volts anyway. It connects to a constantly hot positive wire and a switched positive wire. When the ignition key is turned on the power supply senses the voltage and brings up the computer after a few seconds to avoid bringing it up while the engine is starting. When the ignition key is turned off the power supply initiates a clean shutdown.

For a monitor I use a Xenarc 700TSV. This monitor has a touch screen which I've very useful. I've never really needed the keyboard on the road. This monitor is a good choice for mobile applications as it does not require regulated power like may others.

An interesting posability for a dedicated mobile computer that I ran across recently is this -

http://www.logicsupply.com/products/artigo" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

For a laptop there is also the Asus eeepc -

http://eeepc.asus.com/global/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I'd be interested to find how how well these work as a mobile PC from anyone who as tried it. The eeepc has a big advantage in that it uses all solid state storage. I'd also be interested in knowing if it can run with the lid closed.
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Re: Off Road Notebook Computer

#5

Post by SteveS » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:53 am

Hardluck wrote:You're other option of course is to buy a used rugged pc .....

Another option for maps is Oziexplorer. I've used the demo version and its pretty cool. I think Lance has been using it extensively.
I starter running an onboard computer sometime in 02 or 03. It was an older laptop with Win 97 and I was limited to moving map software, I ran Delorme Topo.

Some say a ‘rugged’ laptop is need for backcountry travel. I’ve been on over 50 trips with a basic laptop and not had one computer mis-hap. I have seen failure with the hinges on the screen. If you can afford the extra $$s then a ‘rugged’ laptop it’s fine, BUT either way carry the paper maps and compass as back-up when technology goes Ka-Put.

I like to ‘dock’ my laptop, and use my fold down monitor, thumb ball, and roll-up keyboard.

Late 04 or early 05 I got a new computer with XP and jumped right into Ozi Explorer.

Topo works very good for most back country driving. I won’t get into the GPS makers offering, because a laptop offers uses beyond 90% of dash mounted GPS units.

Delorme and Nat Geo type programs are very proprietary based and not easy to overlay or add outside vendor maps or information. But both are very ‘load, plug & play’ friendly.

Ozi Explorer offers all kinds of expansion . I run the USGS 7.5 min maps (free since your Taxes paid to make them, like DK has already said) for the detail. It used to be the 7.5 maps where useless to the vehicle power explorer, you moved across them so fast you had to carry a lot of paper. Now that it’s on a computer, a few GB holds the whole state of California.

I have the USDS Mine location file for Cali., which is an overlay for Ozi. This is something like 30,000 mines in the state. I do a lot of desert exploring and see many mines. I find it very handy to have names and other data at the click of the mouse.

I have some of the freebie maps government agency’s handout, with the local info. Thesecan be adjusted so I can see my exact location as I move across that map. The one for the San Rafael Swell was most handy.

I can load satellite and aerial maps, and do all the way-point downloads like the proprietary maps, but I don’t have to pay for upgrades.

I would like to add Ozi is not a simple plug & play system, out of the box.

If the Ramrod at this site doesn’t care I can post a link to and outfit that sells maps and overlays for the western USA, that are ready to load and go, they are stitched together, sized and named for easy use. Of course some can do all of this for free, since the info is paid by tax $$s.

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Re: Off Road Notebook Computer

#6

Post by SteveS » Wed Apr 30, 2008 10:03 am

A little side note.

I also have Delorme Street Atlas loaded. It’s not very good off highway, but worked good on big city freeways to route around traffic tie-ups.

In 06 I upgraded my onboard computer to have internet on the fly. Now for traffic I just log onto one of the local traffic reports and adjust my route(s) as needed. This works much better and has many other uses. 8-)

I know everyone knows this, but I’ll say it anyway. DO NOT use a computer while driving. It could lead to injury or death for the person doing it or others.

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Re: Off Road Notebook Computer

#7

Post by DaveK » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:26 pm

Well, it's been a long trip but the end is finally in sight. My idea of doing a solid state hard drive, while still very appealing, proved to be a little ahead of its time. The thought of having a disk drive with no moving parts, seemed like a perfect match for offroading, but the current crop of equipment makers don't seem to share my zeal, at least at this time.

So with my visions of a SSD fading, I opted for the next best thing - a Panasonic fully rugged laptop, ( with a 2 year parts and labor warranty.) 12 inch screen, built like a tank, and more than capable of running the mapping programs I intend to run. I will be able to run USGS Topo maps (National Geo.) and Garmin's Map Source Topo as well as N-Route, all of which are compatible with my GPS. I can't wait to get lost!

OK, it took a while to get going but here it is. Garmin 276C, loaded with Garmin's Topo connected to a Panasonic laptop running Nat. Geo's USGS Topo! With automatic tracking, you can create a track of where you have been as well as where you are and with the detail of the USGS TOPO maps, you have some of the most detailed and accurate maps available. One of the advantages of this system is that you can run both mapping programs (NG and Garmin) at the same time, you can download all waypoints from the 276 to the hard drive, you can create routes with the PC and up load them to the 276 and you can create waypoints on the PC and up load them to the 276. With version 4 of TOPO!, 3d views are available as is shaded relief and a road highlighter.
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DaveK
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Re: Off Road Notebook Computer

#8

Post by OLLIE » Sat May 03, 2008 7:38 pm

DaveK wrote: I can't wait to get lost!
I think I found out today that that won't take much time... :D
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Re: Off Road Notebook Computer

#9

Post by DaveK » Sun May 04, 2008 12:00 am

Geesh! Ya make a guy back down a mountain road for three miles and all he can do is complain!
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Re: Off Road Notebook Computer

#10

Post by FlyingWil » Thu May 08, 2008 4:02 pm

Have you looked into running Ozi?

Another note... MP3Car forums might be a good place to look for parts and components...
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