[aprssig] Re: NEW laptop for APRS with a Serial Port?

Stephen H. Smith wa8lmf2 at aol.com
Mon Apr 14 21:33:14 EDT 2008

>          <http://www.toughbook-europe.com/ENG/notebook_cf-19.aspx>
> <http://www.toughbook-europe.com/media/CF-19mk2_GB_210x297_iso.pdf>
>          7 3
>          Earl
> KD5XB -- Earl Needham
> Clovis, New Mexico DM84jk
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/cw_bugs
> Quoting from the Coast Guard: ZUT

You don't have to go to Europe to get Panasonic Toughbooks!   You can 
get them from the American heartland in Nebraska from

    <http://toughonline.com  >

The "semi-rugged" versions of Toughbooks (i.e. not waterproof)  are 
widely sold to utilities and police departments as mobile data 
terminals.  The fully-rugged versions in massive cast sealed cases with 
rubber corner bumpers are used by the thousands by the U.S. military in 
Humvees and other vehicles.

I have a semi-rugged CF-5151 as my mobile APRS machine. This one model 
is a 1.4 GHz CoreDuo with 80 GB HDD, 1GB RAM, WiFi, DVD-RW drive, modem, 
15" conventional XGA 1024x768 screen, 4 USB 2 ports --and-- a real 
serial port.  .    It's housed in an all-metal diecast case (no plastic) 
and has a very aggressive cooling system.  (It runs in a closed car at 
160 degs F with no problems.)  It also has a battery management mode for 
constant charging high temp operation.  In a manner similar to the 
Toyota Prius battery management, it never charges the battery above 85% 
and never discharges below about 25% which greatly increases the battery 
life.  The machine will run for about 2.5-3 hours on a charged battery. 
   I find this machine (aside from it's rugged characteristics) is a 
very optimum combination of size, weight, screen size and features for a 
general-use traveling computer.

Normally, I run GPSgate, UIview, MapPoint and TopoUSA on it 
simultaneously.     I actually prefer the more conservative 1024x768 
screen this machine has over the much hyped 1200x1024 SXGAor 1600x1200 
UXGA screens. The map images  are larger and more readable in the car 
than they would be with the "bleeding edge" higher-res screens.

This machine was $1500 and came with a no-nonsense bullet-proof 
warranty.   When I dropped it and broke the display about three months 
ago, I called Panasonic. They immediately sent out a prepaid return 
carton via DHL overnight.  Arrived in the morning at 10:00 AM.  Packed 
the machine in a very clever shockpadded assembly and had DHL pick it up 
at 2:30 PM the same day.  Two days later, it was back with a brand new 
screen at absolutely no charge -- not even shipping!!

You can see this machine in my mobile installation at:


This machine cost about $600 more than a typical consumer machine of 
similar capabilities but it more than paid for the difference the first 
time it broke. (Besides having a real serial port)  And no consumer 
machine would run at 160 degrees!


Stephen H. Smith    wa8lmf (at) aol.com
EchoLink Node:      14400    [Think bottom of the 2M band]
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