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Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

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  • #16
    Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

    this sounds like one of those "great ideas.......................on paper". I'm not convinced it would be very pratically applied. the laptop hard drive is going to be susceptible to shock while on plane. It could very well cause the OS to crash at the least, and damage the hard drive at worst. The laptop would need to be secured when under way. The screen doesn't do well in sunlight. The laptop battery has a relatively short life, and it will be a larger drain on battery if you run it off of an inverter than normal marine electronics. You have the challenge of finding a way to interface the GPS software with the laptop (not that hard anymore) as well as the fish finder. Find a way to power the fish finder itself. Avoid tripping over cables for the laptop if you are running from an inverter and, in general, keep from knocking it over. If you secure it you need to be able to reasonably see where you're going as still keep the laptop out of the way.

    Sometimes an inexpensive idea becomes an expensive idea. More often, an inexpensive idea tends to be worth about what it cost. I'm sure it can be done. I'm not discouraging you, just trying to point out some potential downsides.

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    • #17
      Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

      If I were to pursue something like this, I'd look very seriously at something like the Panasonic ToughBook and make sure I got SSD instead of a regular hard drive with spinning platters. Other than that, most of what you want could probably be done with some off-the-shelf software for GPS & smart wiring/mounting.

      I do agree that screens in the sunlight tend to be hard to read, though some laptops are better at this than others. I'd definitely want a power-source, but you can get 12v auto/plane power supplies for laptops, so that's not really a big deal. You could use an inverter also.

      I still like the idea of the iPad with Navionics on it, though. No clumsy keyboard. If you're really inventive, you could hack away at an Android powered tablet running Linux & make your own transducer drivers, etc. & it'd be cheap (money-wise, not time-wise).
      Benjamin Krein
      Floats: 2008 Four Winns H200
      Restoration: 1980 19' Century 190 Restoration
      Tows: 2005 Nissan Titan SE

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      • #18
        Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

        Found a sonar module for you.
        http://www.cruzpro.co.nz/pcff80.html
        ....

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        • #19
          Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

          Using the Panasonic Toughbook series laptops would be the way to go as they have a hard drive shock absorber built into the hard drive caddy, as stated earlier, it would be best still to switch to a solid state hard drive.

          As far as Navionics goes, I use it on my Android phone and it works great, combine that with my simple Humminbird 550, and it's more than enough for use in my 16ft bowrider here on Minnesota's lakes.
          1985 Baretta Vanguard 16ft & 1984 Evinrude 75hp O/B

          ****Running your motor without water is like peeing into the wind, it's a stupid impulse that is going to be a mess later****

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          • #20
            Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

            External power won't cut it the signal sent from the ff is 600 to 1kw. Simply adding a power source with more current than USB won't cut it.

            Now maybe using one of the black box sonar modules with nema 2000 and a network translation interface would work. Possibly a router with custom firmware ....

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            • #21
              Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

              I like this idea. I actually ran across this post because I had a brainstorm to build a transducer that had bluetooth capability and then having a mounted ipad that had an app with gps navigation/fish finder/depth finder all in one. The possibilities are pretty endless and I'm surprised none of the big manufacturers have picked up on this yet. I'm a programmer and could tackle the ipad app pretty easily but as for the sonar end of things this is a whole different creature.

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              • #22
                Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

                I have to concur with what several others have stated: Between the lack of being waterproof, shockproof and having a screen made to read in direct sunlight, the odds of this working on an open boat aren't good.
                Larger cruiser cabin boats have been using computers (usually desktops, from the ones I've seen) for charting for years. But the enclosed cabin takes care of the waterproof issue and the reading the screen issue, while the sheer size of these boats greatly lessens the shock issue.

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                • #23
                  Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

                  I've been thinking I'd like a way to set up a computer to precisely map some of my favorite fishing lakes. They're relatively small, so the commercial fish map folks haven't bothered.

                  One thing I'm sure of, though, is that a laptop would not stand up to the punishment in a boat. They do, however, make equipment that can stand the water, the shock, and temperature extremes. We use them in machine shops for various functions.

                  Thanks to all for the helpful links.

                  John

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                  • #24
                    Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

                    If you ever do make something, it'd be really awesome if you shared it. Open source is a great way to get help from a broad community of really smart people to make a project come together. I'm sure there's some electronics gurus out there that could prototype something in no time and some really smart coders that could write the software for it. It'd make a great community DIY project, IMO, and one I'd be VERY interested in being part of.
                    Benjamin Krein
                    Floats: 2008 Four Winns H200
                    Restoration: 1980 19' Century 190 Restoration
                    Tows: 2005 Nissan Titan SE

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                    • #25
                      Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

                      Re: Ipad as chartplotter/fishfinder.


                      Having a 64g 3g ipad I was looking for an app to do exactly what you are talking about. I was thinking of puting it in a waterproof case with a mounting bracket. One ipad could serve many functions on a boat including radio and comunication device. Also having the app and hardware link up with an Iphone it would work on smaller boats as well. I know I dont want to spend $800 on a chartplotter/gps when it would be possible to plug and play with a smartphone or tablet.

                      Looking forward to someone following through with this idea!!!!

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by dingbat View Post
                        Re: Laptop as Fishfinder/GPS???

                        Found a sonar module for you.
                        http://www.cruzpro.co.nz/pcff80.html

                        I used a similar single beam transducer solution from Cruzpro.co.nz for a couple of years and it worked very well. But they stopped supporting windows PC operating systems after Windows XP. I keep the PC in the cabin, it was designed for the medical field and is water and shock resistant, besides I have it mounted on a stand that acts as a shock absorber. I switched to a product called Seaclear which works fine as a chart plotter. I still have the transducer installed from the cruzpro device, and may switch back to it if Cruzpro updates their software. Here are some pictures that show the installation and lots more. https://www.slideshare.net/drsingeto...st-photo-album I made my own weather proof monitor, based on a case from a device that came out in the 70's called Navigator PC. The only issue is seeing the monitor in very bright sunlight. My idea is to make a kind of cowl, from flaps that velcro around the outside of the monitor. Stay tuned...

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                        • #27
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                          A supported solution may be better than a non-supported product. Not very many still use XP.

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