[aprssig] Cheap laptops

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Thu Apr 12 14:01:09 CDT 2007

> > It should be noted that since EVERYONE owns a laptop...
> Hmmm ... what planet are *you* on where "EVERYONE owns a 
> laptop..."??

I cannot imagine packet or satellite active hams without at
least a clunker laptop.  I've seen them at Hamfests for at least
10 years for $5 to $10 or less.   Sure, none of them are the
latest and greatest light-speed bazillions of gigabytes, but as
long as they had a serial port, a keyboard and a display, then
they were just fine for packet or satellite.  Everything back to
a 286 can run Satellite tracking programs or packet.  They make
great assets in any shack.

In fact, I have even used them without displays, and just
plugged in an old monitor.  That way, they are simply small
keyboards that take up minimum desk space, run on flea power,
and are handy for many apps...  I use them so that they take the
summer lightening strokes and not the family PC.  When it
smokes, put in another one.

APRSdos can even run from a single bootable floppy so laptops
with bad HD drives are even useable.  So can Instantrack, one of
the most venerable AMSAT tracking programs available.  Though I
stopped using them mobile back in about 1999 when the Kenwoods
came out, because the front panel of the kenowood gave me most
of what I needed without all the bulk.

For $5 or even for free, I cannot imagine a better ham radio
investment for someone that does packet, APRS, or satellites, or
other routine needs than an old laptop that has a serial port.
Sure, it wont run any of the latest state-of-the-art memory
intensive apps, but then, some tools don't need all that for
some simple tasks.

Just one perspective.  Though I will get hammerd hard by the
geeks on this sig who use all the latest stuff...

Bob, Wb4APR

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