[aprssig] Re: NEW laptop for APRS with a Serial Port?
Stephen H. Smith
wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Mon Apr 14 20:33:14 CDT 2008
> 7 3
> KD5XB -- Earl Needham
> Clovis, New Mexico DM84jk
> Quoting from the Coast Guard: ZUT
You don't have to go to Europe to get Panasonic Toughbooks! You can
get them from the American heartland in Nebraska from
The "semi-rugged" versions of Toughbooks (i.e. not waterproof) are
widely sold to utilities and police departments as mobile data
terminals. The fully-rugged versions in massive cast sealed cases with
rubber corner bumpers are used by the thousands by the U.S. military in
Humvees and other vehicles.
I have a semi-rugged CF-5151 as my mobile APRS machine. This one model
is a 1.4 GHz CoreDuo with 80 GB HDD, 1GB RAM, WiFi, DVD-RW drive, modem,
15" conventional XGA 1024x768 screen, 4 USB 2 ports --and-- a real
serial port. . It's housed in an all-metal diecast case (no plastic)
and has a very aggressive cooling system. (It runs in a closed car at
160 degs F with no problems.) It also has a battery management mode for
constant charging high temp operation. In a manner similar to the
Toyota Prius battery management, it never charges the battery above 85%
and never discharges below about 25% which greatly increases the battery
life. The machine will run for about 2.5-3 hours on a charged battery.
I find this machine (aside from it's rugged characteristics) is a
very optimum combination of size, weight, screen size and features for a
general-use traveling computer.
Normally, I run GPSgate, UIview, MapPoint and TopoUSA on it
simultaneously. I actually prefer the more conservative 1024x768
screen this machine has over the much hyped 1200x1024 SXGAor 1600x1200
UXGA screens. The map images are larger and more readable in the car
than they would be with the "bleeding edge" higher-res screens.
This machine was $1500 and came with a no-nonsense bullet-proof
warranty. When I dropped it and broke the display about three months
ago, I called Panasonic. They immediately sent out a prepaid return
carton via DHL overnight. Arrived in the morning at 10:00 AM. Packed
the machine in a very clever shockpadded assembly and had DHL pick it up
at 2:30 PM the same day. Two days later, it was back with a brand new
screen at absolutely no charge -- not even shipping!!
You can see this machine in my mobile installation at:
This machine cost about $600 more than a typical consumer machine of
similar capabilities but it more than paid for the difference the first
time it broke. (Besides having a real serial port) And no consumer
machine would run at 160 degrees!
Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf (at) aol.com
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