Computers in eggs :) - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-24-2013, 11:52 AM   #1
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Computers in eggs :)

I've been building computers for years, and my passion for system design seems to have overlapped with my low-wattage, off the grid egg dream.

If anyone needs help choosing or designing a computer for anything from basic web browsing/office use, media/movies, or gaming (the toughest to get to a wattage that's solar friendly, but entirely possible) pm me and I can offer some guidance. Just let me know what you'll need it to do, and how solar dependent you'll be. Systems can be built with very small, highly efficient DC power supplies for 12v systems... no need to take that inverter efficiency loss!

EDIT: Any advice or service I can offer is always free
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Old 05-24-2013, 01:55 PM   #2
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That sounds like a great offer, Mike. Thanks.

I think some open discussion here would be welcomed by many members, as I am sure there is a broad level of computer understanding amongst the tribe. Always lots to learn with computers these days.
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Old 05-24-2013, 03:10 PM   #3
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I would like to hear what we can do differently in regards to choosing a consumer lap top or ipad for example to reduce charging consumption if anything? Is there are brand of lap top that draws less than another - what should we look for?
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Old 05-24-2013, 03:37 PM   #4
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My son treated me to a Raspberry Pi class last weekend...including a free computer!

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$35! Comes with embedded Linux and has a host of options. I'm thinking of getting a GPS chip and camera and setting the thing to auto-log our journeys .

Our standard computer for the Scamp is a little Sony Vaio Netbook. Lots of videos and music on it. I use a soundbar to kick it up.

All in all, netbook type computers are the way to go if you want some decent screen size AND low power. I'm not going to get into religion here (Apple vs. Windows), but in terms of bang-for-the-book a low-cost Windows machine is best. You can pick up one-generation-old Win7 machines at some pretty good prices at MicroCenter: http://www.microcenter.com/ .
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Old 05-24-2013, 03:42 PM   #5
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I'd love to hear some of your ideas, Mike. Ever play with anything like CuBox or Raspberry Pi? I think it'd be cool to have a small PC built right in to not only handle media and light computing, but to incorporate sensors for all the systems. If the weather ever actually warms up again, I'll get to start designing my add-ons to the Scamp. Hope to maybe run into you around the state and get an eyeball on some good ideas!
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Old 05-24-2013, 03:46 PM   #6
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LOL, Gary, guess we're thinking along the same lines. My son wants a RP to program games for, I'd rather have the GPS and a bunch of other sensors. I like the CuBox simply because it already runs straight Android, because although we're all comfortable with Linux, I think Android would be easier to integrate with our phones to share data or alerts from the RV.
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Old 05-24-2013, 03:46 PM   #7
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An iPad will take care of anything I need. No hard core gaming, but there are TONS of games to keep you occupied. It's 4G, so it picks up its own internet when no wifi is available. It connects back to my computer at home (and at work), so all of my music and movies are available to me. It's also a GPS, a camera, video camera, etc. It takes up next to no room, and charges off the 12v port in the camper, the 12v port in the car, or my solar panel. Tied to an iPhone, you can even use it as a wireless video camera to help you hitch up or back into your campsite!

Also, you can tether other devices (laptops, etc.) to it wirelessly to share its internet connection. Verizon does not charge extra for iPad tethering like some other companies do.
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Old 05-24-2013, 03:52 PM   #8
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My son works at Cray Computer...which makes the fastest computers in the world. His "play" computer there where he tests stuff out is one of the 50th fastest in the whole world. He was at home today and giggled as he told me he logged into his supercomputer with his micro-micro-micro computer. Fun!
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Old 05-24-2013, 04:05 PM   #9
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I have a Mac Mini in my Egg and with TV Monitor and Wireless Keyboard/Mouse I can do almost anything I need or want in MAC OS or Windows and I can even do a lot of things that I don't want to too!

The Mini is perfect as it is so small,efficient and quiet.
I keep a couple of tiny Hard Drives loaded with Movies and TV shows with me and I can Airplay from an iPhone and iPad to the Mini to share Music and Video.

I also use Mini's for Automation every day and there is really no limit to what they can do.

I also have been playing around with R.P. and what a neat platform for Linux and imbedded systems!

Now this is roughing it!
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Old 05-24-2013, 05:26 PM   #10
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Ed, what's the power requirements for a mini?

I just love the thought of what these little devices can do. Wish we had them 10 years ago, would've made some of my projects a lot easier!
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Old 05-24-2013, 05:35 PM   #11
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@ Carol, if you're looking for a true laptop style mobile device with a keyboard, fusedlight nailed it with the netbook suggestion. They sacrifice the raw horsepower of your typical laptop for a much smaller size, cheaper price, and most importantly for solar users or campers away from shore power, decreased power draw. If you need a little more horsepower, an AMD Trinity (dual core) based laptop walks a pretty great line in terms of performance vs wattage requirements... still a good bit more draw than the netbooks though.

One quick and painless way to decrease charging inefficiency is to utilize a charger that's designed for 12v. Most laptops have car chargers sold seperately. Unfortunately, this isn't always a univeral fit from laptop to laptop. If you take a peek at your laptop's power supply, it will tell you the output voltage and amperage. You'll need a 12v input charger with the same output voltage. This is a better route to go than converting from your 12v batteries to 110 via an inverter, back down to whatever your laptop needs (mine is 19.5v)

How you use your device can have a pretty huge impact on power draw too. Only turn wifi, gps, and bluetooth on when you need it... radio signals take a chunk of power to be used. Getting familiar with your windows power scheme (if using windows) is worth the effort. Most computers are idle far more than they are being used.

@ Fusedlight and KevinPete... The Pi is awesome. Unless Linux is an immediate no-go for someone, it fits the bill of solar usage perfectly. It will be my go-to for most of my usage... everything but gaming. I'll have to run a seperate rig for that... in that one, the pico-psu is my new friend.

Also, I never came across the Cubox before, and I'm already swooning a bit. Any experience with it? It is everything it appears to be from my two minutes of hasty research? Because it looks like it will be taking Pi's spot as the jewel of my eye in terms of low wattage electronic goodness.
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:46 PM   #12
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Mike, no paws-on yet, but soon. There are several devices out there for a range of prices and purposes, some that work more-or-less out of the box, and a few that would be great for building right into a panel. Check out Miniand, Gumstix, and Cotton Candy.

I've been playing with Arduino to control my garden irrigation, lights, and security. My tomatoes text me when they're thirsty now! (Then the controller waters them). Nice when I'm out of town, I can call someone to check and see if there's a problem or the tanks are empty. I haven't gotten level sensors for the tanks yet. I love all this stuff, but a lot of the sensors are spendy.

Probably start out in the Scamp with an older laptop for now, still want a DVD drive available. Will probably get a CuBox Pro later in the summer, so by next spring I can have it all ready to go.
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:51 PM   #13
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Thanks Micheal, my laptop I am afraid has an Intel Pentium processor will have to look at that when I replace it but I do have a 12 volt charger for it that I use in the trailer and car as needed although I dont often bring a laptop on trips of less than a couple of weeks anymore (use it mostly for processing photos only these days).

I have a Iphone as well as an Ipad - actually just got a new IPad min - got it free using an air miles loyalty points like it better than the Ipad due to its size - fits in the purse or in the bikes pouch while out looking for free wifi. With the mini no need to carry along a separate e-reader to cut down on book space in the trailer. I havent a clue as to what it eats for power when charging but the battery does seem to last fairly well and I do make sure I turn off all the apps running in the back ground on the phone when traveling as I do have a data plan on the phone and I know it eats up battery power when roaming. LOL actually only found about the double click trick on the Iphone & Ipad a short time again although I have had an IPhone for a number of years and thought I know how to shut every thing down properly Was surprised at how much stays running that I thought I had closed down. LOL
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinPete View Post
Ed, what's the power requirements for a mini?

I just love the thought of what these little devices can do. Wish we had them 10 years ago, would've made some of my projects a lot easier!
The original Mini run on 19v supplies at around 5a max but they are easy to run on all sorts of small inverters and small supplies and there are Car PC supplies for them too.

The newer and current Mini runs on 12v right out of the box(sort of) and are a lot more powerful but with a lower draw too.

I am more interested in them on shore power really and when boon docking I rarely watch movies anyway but I also carry a Mac portable everywhere too if I need a real low power device.
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