Field Computer

A rugged laptop that will survive fieldwork. Cold, rain, dust. Everything in the environment that I dislike, but sometimes have to cope with

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For a project at work we bought 7 CT-Mini sensors from Valeport which came in nice, black, waterproof hard-cases. As the sensors were all used in a permanent installation I was left with 7 cases. The model appeared to be a Nanuk 910, which has a really nice compact form factor which would make it ideal for a rugged portable computer. And since I also just harvested a 14" screen from an old laptop this seems very possible, at reasonable costs.

The project has to start from the Nanuk 910 hard-case, and a LP141WX screen from an old Toshiba laptop since that is what I have available. And the goal will be to make a portable computer that will rugged enough for work in the field, which may include working in the cold or when it's raining. So it will have to be waterproof, not only when the case is closed (that's simple, since that is what the case is designed for) but also when it is open and operational.

It must support Wifi and Bluetooth. Connections must include a charging plug and possibly 2 USB.

Since it will only be used for basic tasks (configuration and checking of instruments in the field, makeing some notes) , the computer itself does not have to be extremely powerful and the whole system should run from a rechargeable battery for at least 6 hours.

Yes, it's a lot like all the 'cyberdecks' like this:

or this one:

Both look very fancy, but would probably not survive a decent rain shower.

  • The display driver arrived. What next?

    Cees Meijer04/16/2022 at 18:29 0 comments

    There it is, straight from China. And it fits.

    Well.. Except for the backlight connector. That does not match the one thats on the display. It looks similar, but has a slightly different shape.

    Looks like the connector on the display is polarized, but as far as I know CCFL backlight runs from high voltage AC, so the polarity should not matter.

    So now it's time to consider other details, like the computing platform. I'll use the Raspberry Pi 4 for that. Mainly because I already have one, and it seems more than capable for everyday needs.

    Next comes the keyboard. As this also has to be waterproof I first considered a 'medical' type keyboard. These are usually completely sealed and washable. Unfortunately they are also rather expensive. A cheaper option is the logitech K380, for which a silicone cover is available:

    Won't save it if it completely floods, but seems quite adequate for stopping the occasional rain.

    NOTE: The silicone cover seems only availble for the US version of the K380. The model sold in Europe has a different 'Enter' Key !

    Another option would be to use a flexible silicone keyboard. These are also widely available and very cheap. The only drawback is that they are always full size, including a electronics 'block' on one side, so they will not fit my formfactor.

    Neither of these keyboards has backlight, so if I want to use my computer in the dark there will have to be some kind of external light source.

    Then the power supply. The display requires 12V DC. The Raspberry Pi will need 5V. So the choice will be either to use a 5V USB powerbank and a booster to generate 12V, or have a 12V battery and regulate that down to 5V for the PI. Or maybe just use two separate batteries, but that will make the charging a bit more complicated.

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Nazwa wrote 08/24/2022 at 12:24 point

You are planning add solar panel power

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teraz wrote 08/13/2022 at 17:10 point

how long this device work in one charge? a week , a month?

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Cees Meijer wrote 08/21/2022 at 18:19 point

Good question. But I think two days (continuous) is probably the max, or I'll have to use a bigger case, and lot of batteries....

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teraz wrote 08/24/2022 at 12:26 point

meibe decrease memory speed or turn off some element( ethernet, usb etc. add mechanical switch like in pinephone)

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