Author Topic: Building a computer for a boat  (Read 113 times)

schrama

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Building a computer for a boat
« on: November 30, 2018, 01:19:22 PM »
Hi everyone,

I'd like to build a computer for around $1000 excluding peripherals and I need some help/advice.

USE:
I'm a commercial fisherman up in Alaska, and I need a computer for my boat (44 foot with a cabin). I'm looking to upgrade the electronics, and a great base for all the new furuno components is a decently fast computer that is primarily dedicated to Nobeltec TZ professional software. https://mytimezero.com/tz-professional. This software runs a gps with charts, and is capable of mapping out the ocean floor in 3d, as well as displaying fish in 3d. It also acts as a hub for many furuno components... like satellite weather, marine radio with AIS, engine diagnostics, radar etc., and can overlap data on your chart in real time. It also lets you display all this information on multiple screens at different locations in the boat.

here are the system requirements:
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The following system requirements must be fulfilled to run TZ Navigator v3:
Microsoft® Windows® 7 SP1, or Windows® 8.1 or Windows® 10
CPU 1.5 GHz
4GB of RAM
Video Board:
Minimum - Intel HD Graphic Chipset
Recommended - Dedicated Video Board with 1 GB VRAM or Intel HD 4th generation or above
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 600 or higher (1280 x 800 or above recommended)
Hard Disk: 30 GB of free space
USB or Serial Port for connecting instruments via NMEA0183, Actisense USB NGT-1 for connecting instruments via NMEA2000 or 100 Base-T Network Adapter for Furuno Ethernet Sensors
-----------------------------------------------------------------

In addition to nobeltec, it would be great if it could play movies and music, deal with video and pictures etc, and it won't be connected to the internet.

BUILD?:
So i'm looking for a build that's: affordable $1000 range, smaller, And most important - reliable

The best sample i've found is the $1000 ITX gaming build here on TBG. All the components, some upgraded, are in my amazon cart for just under 1000$
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AMD Ryzen 5 2600 Processor with Wraith Stealth Cooler - YD2600BBAFBOX

Samsung 860 EVO 1TB 2.5 Inch SATA III Internal SSD (MZ-76E1T0B/AM) & Corsair Dual SSD Mounting Bracket 3.5" Bundle

Samsung 970 EVO 500GB - NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 SSD (MZ-V7E500BW)

MSI Performance Gaming AMD Ryzen 1st and 2nd Gen AM4 Mini-ITX Motherboard (B450I Gaming Plus AC)

Gigabyte Geforce GTX 1050 Ti OC Low Profile 4GB GDDR5 128 Bit PCI-E Graphic Card (GV-N105TOC-4GL)

CORSAIR SF Series, SF450, 450 Watt, SFX, 80+ Gold Certified, Fully Modular Power Supply

SilverStone Technology Milo 9 ML09B Cases ML09B

Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4 DRAM 3200MHz C16 Desktop Memory Kit - Black (CMK16GX4M2B3200C16)


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https://techbuyersguru.com/1000-ultra-slim-itx-gaming-htpc-build-0
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However,

There are a handful of custom computer shops that build fanless heat sink cased, vibration resistant computers, which are very expensive for anything with horsepower, but claim to be bomb proof...  They also seem to have much more in connectivity options. And my boat does have a diesel engine that produces some vibration, and on occasion the weather can get nasty and the boat gets tossed around a bit...


... So i'm hesitant, are there components out there that would be more resilient or more geared towards its dedicated use for around the same price point?  Should I be looking at something other than the ITX framework? Most of the advice I can find on building computers are builds specifically for gaming, or graphic design/video. But anything describing "mobile" builds, i'm left feeling unsure of the performance and the compatibility of the components.

- I should also mention my experience level is somewhere between beginner and intermediate. I built a nice I7 4-5 years ago, but I haven't been looking into computer builds since.

Thanks so much for any advice or ideas in advance




 
« Last Edit: November 30, 2018, 01:28:50 PM by schrama »

J35Bowman

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Re: Building a computer for a boat
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2018, 04:23:55 PM »
As a guy who works on boats for a living, I’m shocked more boatowners don’t opt for a full computer to interface with the electronics. I’m normally a rigger, but I occasionally do a repo run for a local outfit. I always take my laptop on those repo runs, upgraded with a SSD and running OpenCPN with a USB GPS antenna.

The mini-STX computer I built a year ago for HTPC duty would be an ideal starting point for an onboard computer, but it is unfortunately a dead-end platform. The next step up in size is mini-ITX. As you well know, size on a boat is paramount. The smaller, the better. Here are my thoughts on this build:


I see no reason to splurge for a NVMe drive. You don’t need the throughput speeds of the PCIe interface, and it won’t boot any faster than the SATA SSD will. Just get a large SATA drive, preferably in the M.2 form factor for ease of build. Do you really need more than 1TB?

I’m assuming the computer will be in a cabinet, with limited airflow. You will probably want to upgrade the cooler. I don’t know if the Noctua L12S-AM4 will fit in the SilverStone ML09, but that’s the best potential cooler I can think of. That’s a question for Ari.

Given the abuses this computer will go through on Alaskan waters, I’d definitely stay away from spinning drives.

schrama

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Re: Building a computer for a boat
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2018, 07:31:28 PM »
Thanks J35bowman,

As you mentioned, size is a big issue. That's definitely why you see a lot of laptops.

I suppose my reasoning for the two drives was in part being enamored by how cheap they seemed since the last time I looked, and partly just following suit with two drives suggested in the TBG build.

I also dive commercially and use underwater video cameras to survey areas. I don't record anything currently, but having 1TB SSD dedicated to storage has a degree of "future proofing" that I like the more I think about it. The underwater drone market is catching on a bit, and I imagine I could be recording for business as well as for fun with one of those at some point. But you're right, I don't need it for what I described, and 500 gb to run the software is probably overkill. I'll definitely consider a change there.

Thanks for the advice on the fan. Cooling seems like an issue because most likely the computer will live in a confined space. Dust and grime can also be an issue in those spaces. i'm hoping I can get by with fewer fans, because that's less moving parts that can get jostled in rough weather and cause problems.

I'm not entirely sure where the computer will go at this point. I may be rebuilding some interior of the cabin this winter, in which case I can plan a bit for it and give it a clean home. But if I don't do that work, it can either go in an enclosed space under the steering wheel, or velcro'd to a shelf where the current computer lives.

Maybe theres a case thats just a little more suited for a bigger fan and my application.


thanks again for your comments




Ari Altman

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Re: Building a computer for a boat
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2018, 09:21:16 PM »
Welcome to the forum, schrama. What luck that fellow forum member J35Bowman also works on a boat!

I agree with him and you that ITX is the best form factor. Here are the changes I'd make to your system to tailor it to your needs:

(1) RAM: drop the DDR4-3200 RAM, as it's potentially incompatible with the Ryzen platform. Much better to stick with DDR4-2666 with this build. You'll find the link in the guide.

(2) Cooler: As J35 Bowman mentioned, a great cooler is going to make a huge difference, and in fact the Noctua NH-L12S does fit. How do I know? Because I reviewed the ML09 case on TBG using that very cooler!



As you can see, it's a very tight fit, but it will work, and the robust fan on it will withstand the vibration and jostling of a boat at sea much better than the stock AMD cooler. Note that use of the NH-L12S will require removal of the stock SilverStone case fan, but that would be true even with the Ryzen's stock cooler.

(3) SSD: I agree with J35Bowman that you'll be fine without the second SSD, but if you'd like the best of both worlds at a great price, pick up the brand-new XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB PCIe drive. It will give you 1TB of ultra-fast storage, and you can still add additional 2.5" drives later if you need them for data storage. By the way, that bundle you listed with the Corsair mounting bracket is an anachronism - I know Amazon always recommends it to shoppers, but not a single PC case released in the past five years needs that ancient adapter!

What's really great about this build is that thanks to the power supply's zero-fan mode, there's only one moving part in the entire thing, and it's the over-engineered Noctua CPU fan. Moving parts are the ones susceptible to vibration, so knowing that this system is nearly "solid-state" will give you some assurance that it won't fail when things get bumpy!

schrama

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Re: Building a computer for a boat
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2018, 01:56:36 PM »
Thanks Ari!

I think this build will work out great!  A day later and I'm already on the right track.

I was wondering about one more thing - I was looking back through the components and realized I have a different motherboard in there(MSI gaming). Did I get that from an older version of the build maybe? Anyway, i'm assuming the gigabyte motherboard will be most compatible?

Also, it would be pretty cool if you came up with a build or two for this subject down the road... boats, vehicles, vibration resistant, space efficient, reliable cooling, all with affordable consumer parts. i'll be sure to add some images of the end result. So helpful, thanks again everyone.


Ari Altman

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Re: Building a computer for a boat
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2018, 02:14:50 PM »
The gigabyte board sold out during black Friday shopping, but is back now. I like it more than the MSI overall.

I'll give the heavy duty build some thought. Truth is that going compact isn't all that conducive to going ultra duty. Smaller heatsinks mean a greater necessity for fans, often of the small, buzzy, unreliable variety. The ultimate all conditions PC would have to be fanless, which means big. But since this would also appeal to silent computing fans, there's a good sized target market for it.

By the way, I forgot about the fan in the GPU for your build,  which I do believe will be running all the time. Given how small the heatsink is in the low profile version of the GTX 1050 Ti, that's the tradeoff, as described above.  Larger video cards can shut off fans during idle times.

schrama

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Re: Building a computer for a boat
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2018, 05:53:57 PM »
I did another search and came across this company.

https://www.hdplex.com/

I'm not sure that it's convincing me to change directions here, but seems to offer a foundation for a totally passive and reliable build..

Ari Altman

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Re: Building a computer for a boat
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2018, 06:43:53 PM »
I did another search and came across this company.

https://www.hdplex.com/

I'm not sure that it's convincing me to change directions here, but seems to offer a foundation for a totally passive and reliable build..

Interesting stuff, although not surprisingly very expensive, and the ITX chassis can't fit a dual-slot video card like the 1050 Ti. It couldn't handle the heat anyway. If you want to go in this direction, use a Ryzen 5 2400G with built in graphics. Actually could be a good solution for the other case as well.