Friday, August 20, 2010

Conversion Details and Final Specs

The base unit is an Acer one AO531h netbook with WWAN modem and the 6 cell extended battery. This is the same unit sold with a data contract at AT&T although this particular unit was a refurb that most likely only had a bad webcam which is why they were returned to AT&T and Acer. So the basic specs are the same except for a few subtractions and additions.

Items Removed:

1. Webcam assembly
2. Keyboard (Which can be replaced if needed)
3.  Touchpad and controller (Like the keyboard it's not accessible in normal use)
4. VGA connector (Replaced with an SMA jack)
5. Ethernet connector  (Replaced with SMA jack

Items added:

1. Touchscreen Kit
2. Bluetooth transceiver (USB Bluetooth dongle stripped and mounted in the provided mount and hardwired to the Bluetooth Port on the motherboard)
3. Wireless Mouse receiver (Another stripped out USB dongle mounted where the touchpad controller used to be)
4. Antenna Jack (SMA) for GPS antennas
5. Antenna Jack (SMA) for Cellular WWAN modem
6. Memory upgraded to 2 GB
7. Windows 7 OS (Without a keyboard with the hardwired Fn key there was no way to control the backlight in XP even with the Tablet PC extensions so Win7 was my best option and properly set up seems just as fast as XP )
8. Power supply circuit modified to run off 12-13.8 VDC **without** battery installed, no noisy auto adapter needed lowering average power consumption to 10 watts or less
9. Four switches added to the front bezel, Power, Bluetooth, WWAN, WLAN wired in parallel with the existing switches which are all still functional

Outboard items mainly wired into my boat:

1. USB Hub in console
2. Rubber industrial grade USB keyboard in console
3. Serial to USB converter in console for serial NMEA depth output of the Garmin 300C fishfinder
4. GPS antenna(s)
5. Cellular 1900MHz Edge band antenna(s)
6 USB port mount in front of console
7. Tough Tray II and Ram Mount mounting hardware
8. PC Shade hood for better daylight visability of the LCD screen
9. Bluetooth headset for Voice Control

GPS related software:

1. Ozi Explorer v 3.95.5k
2. Map Merge for OziExplorer
3. Depths2Ozi
4. Fugawi Marine ENC v 4.5
5. Dr Depth v4.5

Next up some pictures of the unit in the boat and the boat electrical setup

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Netbook To Chartplotter V 1.0

First a few pictures then I'll go into the final details

They don't make a touchscreen kit for this particular Acer One model (AO531h) and it is so slim there was really no place to put the touchscreen controller. Since the keyboard was essentially worthless now with the screen flipped like a Tablet PC I removed it and put the touchscreen controller in there. I got a 3-in-1 screen protector, microfiber cloth and mousepad to cushion the LCD screen and chassis when it's in the boat Ram Mount.

The Tough Tray II Ram Mount, wireless mouse and Bluetooth headset for voice control

I was able to just flip the screen and wiring to get it to convert to a Tablet PC for use in my boat without the battery but the battery would bind a bit on the LCD screen when fully closed stressing it so I had to remove a little unnecessary plastic and then covered with quality electrical tape (3M Temflex 1700)

For field GIS type of work like mapping a yet to be flooded lake they are building north of Davenport I can pop in the battery pack, flip the screen 180 degrees and add my custom Cellular data modem and GPS antennas (which I'll detail in a later post along with the antennas I've made for my boat) and I can walk the area and map out all the manmade and natural structure that will eventually be underwater. If I need to I can access Google Earth, Bing and other online map services or any other information I might need after I get into the field

Here's a couple of pics with the unit in the Ram Mount like how I use it in my boat. It's running OziExplorer and Depths2Ozi showing some depth readings I took on a photomap I made at the outlet end of the Lake Odessa wildlife preserve in late July when I couldn't get on the river due to a late season flood

That should be enough to chew on for one post, I'll detail the system in my next post and then have some pictures of the setup in the boat along with the boat's electrical/electronics package

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Both projects have been completed since late June, I've just been too busy with other projects and trying to enjoy the summer (despite the record levels of rainfall and heat) to gather everything together and do an update. But since all this rain has kept me off the river lately I've had a chance to catch up and get my home improvement projects done.

Here's a couple of quick pictures of the netbook to chartplotter project,  the first is when I was roughing in the electrical system in my boat, the second picture is from late June on one of it's first trips out

I should have a bunch of pictures and details by the end of the weekend.  I'll stick mainly to the Netbook to Chartplotter but will throw in a few pics of the boat project since the two actually are part of one big project