Saturday, December 12, 2009

Project Synopsis

This is a project to turn a Netbook into a touchscreen chartplotter with Internet access. Some parts of this project will be specific to the Acer One Netbook on the ZG8 frame. Many parts will apply to all brands of netbooks, especially operating system and software enhancements. I choose an AO531h for several reasons. First and foremost it has a built-in modem for cellular internet access out on the water. It also came with the 6 cell battery for longer runtime. This particular was a refurbished unit so I got these extras for the price of a basic unit. The warranty is limited to 90 days instead of year but since I'll be voiding the warranty when I start doing the touchscreen and other hacks that's not a big deal.

Preliminary plans include enabling the internal GPS built into the modem, adding a touchscreen, turning it into a tablet style, adding Bluetooth and adding SMA jacks for external antennas for the 3G internet access and GPS. Other possible plans are adding an internal BroadCom Mini PCI-e HD Decoder and external USB HDTV tuner. Operating system enhancements will be added to take advantage of the touchscreen, in XP this will includes several apps ported over from XP Tablet PC, Vista, and Win7 Editions. I may also make a Ubantu Linux based OS but that's looking less and less likely for reasons I will get into for a couple of days

I expect to start out mainly with getting the GPS working and software/OS enhancements so during slow times I may discuss making custom GPS enabled maps for fishing. My fishfinder (Garmin 300C) includes a NMEA depth output which I'll use with the Netbook and I'll show some maps with depths plotted and even some that are 3D representations of bottom structure.

Until next time, keep your lines tight and your hooks baited ....

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