Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Computer Upgrades

The original Fujitsu LT C500 is getting called on to do more these days.

I added a Cingular PCMCIA AirCard and the service and performance have been outstanding. I'm seeing over 1 meg connection speed all over the south Sound with no dropouts. The advertised cost is $60 per month. The real cost is a bit over $70 with taxes and all the usual add-on fees. Still worth it to me. PDANet on the Treo is still backup and I also can do WiFi at various marinas.

I used WiFi last summer in Friday Harbor, Victoria, and Port Townsend through Broadband Express. When it worked it was fine but there were several times I had to call support to get it going. I finally gave up on it and went back to PDANet on the Treo. Broadband Express has also been promising "fall 2007 install" at my home marina for quite some time.

Turns out the LT C500 has a built in CompactFlash slot. I picked up a 16 gig CF card on eBay for $50. That's the same size as the built in hard disk so I effectively doubled storage capacity. It just looks like the D: drive to Windows. So far I'm just using the solid state disk for recovery and log data.

I picked up the two-DVD set of "Raster & Vector Charts for United States Waters" from Managing the Waterway.com and now have an enormous library of publications and all NOAA charts on the CF card as well.

I've been fooling with getting HF weatherfax and NavTex messages into the computer using SeaTTY connected to a Sony 7600GR SW receiver but haven't been able to tune in any stations so far inland. The SeaTTY software looks good though.

With all this computing going on I bought a second LT C500 on eBay for $150. It's essentially a "hot spare" in that it has everything installed and ready to go. I don't keep it powered up, however. Maybe a plan would be to switch computers every month or so to make sure the spare is good.

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