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Outdoor Computer Cases?

Cliff posted more than 14 years ago | from the getting-the-PC-out-of-the-cubicle dept.

Hardware 192

danci asks: "I'm building a wireless network in a local community using Wavelan/IEEE cards. I'd like to avoid purchasing Wavelan access point so I'll try to use Linux instead. So I'd like to build some rather small but robust machines that should be able to survive summer, winter, snow, rain and most other weather conditions while being mounted on the antenna mast (or at least as near as possible - cable length heavily decreases range). So I guess what I wanna know is whether there are any weather proof, computer (PC) cases available out there. Or some other, low-cost solution (don't want to build a house around all that)." This would be too cool. Just imagine, a series of computers mounted to telephone poles with wireless network cards...

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Marine computers (1)

pvente (89848) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456429)

Look at some of the sailing/cruising magazines (some have web sites). There are several makers of hermetically sealed computers to keep out the salt-filled air - which is deadly. I'm not sure they are waterproof however ....

Out door cases.. this practical? (1)

nealrs (75987) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456430)

Hmm. Idont know. An outdoor case while seemigly attractive... doesent seem incredibly feaible. You would need a compleatly sealed case and power supply and all that fun stuff. But even beyond that, wireless technologies are still painfully slow compared to what most land lines offer. I suppose you could encase the entire thing in a plastic box... and run some conduit down the pole for power cabling... but you probably thought of that already. You could ask wavelan too, although they probably wouldn't tell you. In any case, i personally think its kind of like shooting yourself in the foot. I also dont have a tremendous knowledge about wireless networking. If you can seal the case, and make it small enough to fit on the pole though, by all means let linux rule and the peons drool.-n-rs-

Use cases for other applications (3)

jellicle (29746) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456431)

I'm thinking something along the lines of this:

http://www.tisch-env.com/pq200.html

People have already a put a lot of effort into building weather-proof, battery- and solar-powered cases which can hang on telephone poles for applications such as environmental monitoring. They hang them along highways (some of them have a hook on top to hang from a telephone pole and come with a big forked stick to facilitate getting them down from the pole), then you come back in a month to check what sort of pollution is being produced. Don't reinvent the wheel here, talk to one of those companies and see about getting some cases, maybe with power supplies included but without the environmental equipment.
--
Michael Sims-michael at slashdot.org

cool, but (2)

GC (19160) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456432)

Just imagine, a series of computers mounted to telephone poles with wireless network cards...

And a nice pick for any passing burglar :)

It would be way-cool, but then why not use the telephone wires...?

Re:Marine computers (1)

Psiren (6145) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456433)

Well, surely if its hermetically sealed it is waterproof. Nothing gets in or out. IF it keeps air out I'd be suprised if it doesn't do the same to water.

duh (1)

Zurk (37028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456434)

just wrap the things in plastic - put a plastic bag and wrapping to fully enclose the case and get waterproof cables (should be available in most outdoor stores). Also try and use a chip that runs cool..something like a cyrix MII with power saving modes and you should be ok. Getting a ruggedised laptop is another way or a mil spec machine.

Dolch (1)

BitPoet (40070) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456435)

Take a look at Dolch. They make some pretty tough machines (some are even bulletproof)

www.dolch.com

Ok Macgyver... (2)

softsign (120322) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456436)

You're asking for a lot... Not only do you want to bring a PC outside, you want to mount it on an antenna mast? It's a lightning magnet. Even without lightning strikes, you're dealing with a lot of static electricity. If that doesn't kill your PC, chances are the variances in temperature and humidity would.

Having said that, it still sounds cool.

I have to wonder though, if your only concern is cable length, why don't you just install a signal repeater or cable driver of some kind outside and bring the PC indoors somewhere?

A cable driver is a lot less expensive than a PC... =)

Air circulation (1)

greenfly (40953) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456437)

How do you protect a case from the elements while still providing enough air circulation to keep the processors happy?

That would be bad if you spent all the money on sealing a case only to have the processor burn up on you in the summer heat.

What about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456438)

Outdoor case? Near antenna masts? Ok, what about lightning?

Re:Marine computers (1)

pvente (89848) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456439)

You're right, of course, but I was thinking more along the lines of the external connectors and any effect water may have on them.

heat? (1)

DGregory (74435) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456440)

By sealing it up, you're not letting much air pass through, and the thing will eventually heat up (depending on how big the case is). Especially if it's outside and you don't live in Alaska. I don't think that succeeding in this venture of yours will be cheap. I can't imagine that the boat equipment that someone mentioned before runs so fast that it generates a lot of heat... for this to be cheap/feasible you will probably be stuck with sealing up a slow computer.

Re:Marine computers (2)

radja (58949) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456441)

If it can keep out saltfilled air, it can definately keep out water. It's probably not even just the salt that is the problem in a marine environment, but the combination of salt and water. Almost nothing is as good as those two together in corroding just about anything that will corrode in under a week. But once you get salt in, you have a problem... the stuff is incredibly hygroscopic (It attracts water like fresh dogshit attracts flies). Also, sea-salt is not a pure substance by far, but a mixture, and several of the "salt" crystals will contain quite a bit of water in their lattice. to cut it short: in a marine environment, salt equals moisture, and the quick demise of all computers.

//rdj

Don't forget the effects of temperature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456442)

You'll probably want to look at some of the industrial PC suppliers. I used to get a catalog in the mail with all kinds of resistant PC and accesories, but I'm afraid I can't remember the name.

You'll probably want to elimnate all mechanical components (i.e. hard-disks) unles you can somehow limit the temperature in the enclosure.

Re:Ok Macgyver... (2)

Laith (21370) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456443)

The problem with installing a signal repeater is mostly that they don't work on recieve lines.

The length of the cable in question has a direct relationship to how well a signal can be recieved by the tranciever assembly.

Untill that signal is picked up there can not be any use of signal repeaters.

also a signal repeater will
1) slow down the data rate (not much but some)
2) introduce more noise in the signal for each repeater used.

CASE I found on dogpile.com (1)

Father (118609) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456444)

World's Toughest Computer Case by Pelican This case is unbelievable -- watertight, airtight, crushproof, dustproof, shock resistant, and attractive enough to use as an everyday attache. Includes a lid organizer that, like a regular briefcase, holds papers, pens, cell phone, etc. There's... www.landfallnav.com Might not exactly be what you ae looking for.

There are some PC/104 things that might suit (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456445)

One of the PC/104 companies makes a line of boards that come with aluminum frames. You just stack up a p/s, m/b, and whatever periperals you want, and you end up with an aluminum cube intended to be bolted into an industrial setting.

I looked at these with the idea of setting one up by my pool so as to have music, but the cost for non-mass-market stuff like this tends to be prohibitive. It's also not clear that you can get a PC/104 format wireless ethernet board.

Grant Taylor [picante.com]

Embedded computing, amateur radio, etc. (2)

Tekmage (17375) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456446)

The two primary resources I'd recommend looking into are:

- Embedded Computing [embedded.com]
- ARRL [arrl.org]
- RAC [www.rac.ca]

...those are just some starting points. Embedded computing applications have the hardware designed for rugged environments, and amateur radio is a handy technical resource for do-it-yourself electronics. Remote relay stations are the norm, not to mention other extremes [amsat.org] .

Search engines are your friends, particularly Google [google.com] .

de VE3SLG

How about embedded applications... (3)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456447)

Here's an idea - use one of the embedded versions of Linux to run an ultra-small server - (/. has run several articles on this including one about the Worlds Smallest Server) - and use a standard industrial box to enclose the whole thing. Digi-Key or Resource Electronics or just about anybody has those.

Since we're talking about a wireless network you're probably not going to get off cheap but you can almost certainly manage to produce something stable and with a long up-time that's affordable.

Tough Notebooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456448)

Dolch [dolch.com] and Panasonic [panasonic.com] both offer "rugged" portables, though I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for.

TEMPERATURE will get you. (2)

rdmiller3 (29465) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456449)

You won't just need a weatherproof case, you'll need a computer which can take the temperature extremes.

No desktop type components are going to handle outdoor temperatures in any but the most mild climates (read, SEATTLE). Working with pole-mounted equipment design myself, I was surprised to find that even military-grade components may not be up to the task.

You'll at least need mil-spec components for the harsh environment you're describing.

Ruggedized PCs. (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456450)

Check out the embedded computing folks... They've been putting together tiny PCs for years. Check out stuff in the PC104 form factor... should be fairly easy to find a system and ruggedized case, because they're used a lot in avionics, industrial control, and a bazillion other "non-tradional" roles.

Problems you'll run into are weather fluctuations (hot in the summer, cold in the winter), humidity/condensate, direct sunlight does nasty things to some plastics, birds, squirrels (and other rodents) like to chew on cables, the list goes on and on.

And just a thought to keep in mind as you work on this... Lightning strikes really, really suck. Especially if what gets hit is hooked to your home network with a cable. And even more so if it's plugged into the same electrical circuit as your other household electronics.

Should look into Military Stuff (2)

HighLordofNothing (91424) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456451)

You really should look into going to some Military Surplus sales (that is if you are in the US). When I was in the Military we had some old field computers called YUK's. Which is an acronym for something or the other. They were just 386 and 486 at the time but damn were they sturdy. If you could get your hands on one of them you could try to replace the mother board and CPU with a faster one and go from there. They are very distinctive computeres, they are all green and come in cases about 3 feet square. The case opens up and the computer sits inside with about a foot of padding on all sides.

Some questions about the application (5)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456452)

I'm not sure why you need to put the computer out on the mast. Care to explain that (other than it being cheaper to have one case than two cases), danci?

My point: GHz RF has high losses in cables, but typical data rates have much more managable losses. If you can split the RF sections from the rest of the system, you can still put the electronics in a temperature-controlled environment while keeping the antenna cable short. (This assumes that the RF section will function under temperature extremes, which it may not. Test things in an environment chamber before you rely on them.)

I'm not familiar with Wavelan cards, but I'm going to make a guess here that they have both the digital and the RF sections on a single internal bus card and you don't have the option of splitting the system. In this case I would examine better transmission lines. One old technology I'm aware of is Goubeau line (I think that spelling is correct, Georg Goubeau is listed as being on the faculty at the University of Jena in Germany, specializing in the generation and propagation of EM waves). Goubeau line uses a pair of "launchers" to take a signal propagating on a coaxial cable and allow it to travel in the neighborhood of a bare wire; this nearly eliminates dielectric losses. While you'd need coax for any runs indoors, you could use Goubeau line to go from the outside wall wall to the top of your mast. I'd suggest using a flexible standoff/tensioner on the mast to keep the wire taut, and avoid the use of spacers. If you have a tower, I'd try running the line right up the middle.

Niggling issues like dealing with icing always rear their ugly heads. You may wish to design your antenna so that it is always at DC ground and have a big honking transformer to throw some low-voltage AC up and down your wire. This would let you melt ice and snow off it. If the Wavelan card provides signal-quality reporting you could even have your computer operate the heater as needed.

--

embedded systems are designed for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456453)

You will be better off just purchasing access points because they are designed for one purpose and will be more reliable in the long run. You have to look at cost to maintainence ratios, and a standard PC just won't do any justice. I would also look at the stats on the access point vs card, the access point may have better sensitivity and higher erp. -- Tom Wojciaczyk

Re:Ok Macgyver... (1)

Cramer (69040) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456454)

There are 486's in obit (periodically.) They get hit by much worse things and still function. As long as it's not grounded, lightening isn't a big problem -- you've obviously never seen a demonstration of a Farrade cage.

HOWEVER, I'm not suggesting one take a desktop PC and strap it to the mast. What you need is an industrial computer -- computers designed for environments where humans could not survive (for long.) Those things are not cheap.

The best (cheapest) bet is single board computer (SBC.) Maybe even one of the "computer on a SIMM" creatures assuming you can attach the wavelan to it, etc.

Try a laptop... (1)

javatips (66293) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456455)

First, standard computer board will not tolerated the temperature difference and all the static charge caused by environmental factors. You need an industrial strenght board to sustain outside conditions.

Second, the best 'cheap' solution would be to use a laptop computer put in a multi-layer box (multiple layer will give you better insulation). You have to find a way to let the air flow at a good rate while keeping dust, water, snow, etc outside.

Why the latop is a good 'cheap' solution, they are made to sustain high temperature change (at least when they are off), they can systain a certain amount of humidity and they are designed to consume less power and release less heat.

I hate to point this out (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456456)

But cable length is only an issue with cable,no Fiber. Like one of the other posters said, dont reinvent the wheel if your distances are short,say less than a mile, why not run fiber optic. If not why look to the design of Phone switches. their water proof and similer in design to what you are looking for

I have a better idea... (1)

Cramer (69040) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456457)

Why stick a computer on the mast? BreezeCom makes radio-to-ethernet boxes you can hang on the mast. Then it's just a matter of pulling 10bT to the computer up to 200m away.

I've used these things before and they work great. I bridged the ethernet between two buildings 4miles apart at 1Mb/s -- of course there was a long range directional antenna at both ends.

I dont know about Wavelan... (2)

True Dork (8000) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456458)

but Breezecom has some products you might want to look at. I've never used these specific ones, but I love Breecom's stuff. You DID say low cost, which this not, but some things to do have to pay for, and having a PC out in the elements isnt going to be easy. Check out http://www.breezecom.com/Products/Antennas/ant_acc ess_overview.htm and look at the ODB1 box and the PI-CAT5. The PI-CAT5 actually runs the 5 volts it needs to run the access point over the cat 5 as well as the data. This makes the distance you can run the cables much much longer.

just wondering... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456459)

People are shooting in all directions here, so...

Wouldn't it be cheaper to mount only the net card to the post, in a nice case, and use a long flat cable connected to an indoors machine? Would noise still be a problem?

There are lots of factors to consider (0)

BobTheTomato (121482) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456460)

Finding all weather sealed computer cases are the least of your concerns. They are fairly easy to find, especially if you decide to use a SBC instead of a traditional AT or ATX motherboard. (The slot covers are very difficult to seal on AT/ATX). Do a web search on SBC to find a plethora of single board computer manufacturers. You will probably want to get something in a PC/104+ form factor instead of a backplane based form factor. Look into the D38999 series of mil-spec connectors for bringing connections out of the box. http://www.amphenol-aerospace.com/DEFAULT.HTM Don't forget to chose your components wisely. Get industrial temperature range (-40 to 80C) components where possible, and especially if you intend to use a traditional hard drive. A flash drive is better if you can afford it. Spinning up a mechanical drive when it is too cold can destroy it. Finally, put some thought into heat dissapation. For outdoor applications it is best to have a sealed box, which means no cooling fans. If you can, choose a low power consumption motherboard. (say a recent 486 class machine.) By all means, get a case that has large cooling fins on it, as that is the ONLY way that you'll ever get heat out of the box. Good luck.

two words (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456461)

duct tape. Lotsa duct tape.

There are lots of factors to consider (5)

BobTheTomato (121482) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456462)

Finding all weather sealed computer cases are the least of your concerns. They are fairly easy to find, especially if you decide to use a SBC instead of a traditional AT or ATX motherboard. (The slot covers are very difficult to seal on AT/ATX). Do a web search on SBC to find a plethora of single board computer manufacturers. You will probably want to get something in a PC/104+ form factor instead of a backplane based form factor.

Look into the D38999 series of mil-spec connectors for bringing connections out of the box.

http://www.amphenol-aerospace.com/DEFAULT.HTM

Don't forget to chose your components wisely. Get industrial temperature range (-40 to 80C) components where possible, and especially if you intend to use a traditional hard drive. A flash drive is better if you can afford it. Spinning up a mechanical drive when it is too cold can destroy it.

Finally, put some thought into heat dissapation. For outdoor applications it is best to have a sealed box, which means no cooling fans. If you can, choose a low power consumption motherboard. (say a recent 486 class machine.) By all means, get a case that has large cooling fins on it, as that is the ONLY way that you'll ever get heat out of the box.

Good luck.

Airport (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456463)

Why reinvent the wheel? Apple has the easy to use Airport station which delivers 11Mbs and supports like 10 simultaneous connections. Just wrap some sandwich baggies aroound those suckers and string them around your community like Christamas lights. What could be easier? Although I don't know if there is any LinuxPPC support for that technology yet?

speaking of Wavelan... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456464)

how the hell do you get the Wavelan to work under RedHat 6.1???

I have read through some extremely thorough websites devoted to Wavelan and Linux integration, but the process is considerably less fun (for a newbie at least) than, say, learning assembly language or sticking a needle in your eye.

First I have to get PCMCIA card services working through an ISA adapter, then install drivers and recompile my kernel! Are you kidding me! Redhat support offers no help on getting card services working and neither my O'Reilly Running Linux or Red Hat Unleased book has useful info.

This sucks.

I did get Samba up and running but a solid wireless network is my holy grail. I guess it is time to reinstall Win98 so I can use my cool toys.

*sigh*

Linux is great but has a long way to go.

Just venting here.

Industrial PC's (4)

G27 Radio (78394) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456465)

Environmental Specs:

Operating Temperature: 0 to 50 degrees C (32 to 122 deg. F)
Non-operating Temperature: 0 to 60 degrees C (32 to 140 deg. F)
Shipping Temperature: -40 to 60 degrees C (-40 to 140 deg. F)
Relative Humidity: 5 to 95% non-condensing
Wet Bulb: 29.4 degrees C (85 deg. F)
Altitude (operating): 0 to 7000 feet (0 to 2134 meters)
(non-operating): 0 to 15000 feet (0 to 4575 meters)
Electrical - 100-125VAC and 200-245VAC switchable
BTU Output (as-shipped): 200 BTU/hour
(maximum config.): 1417 BTU/hour)
Shock: 30G, 3ms duration
Vibration: 0.67G RMS random from 5Hz to 500Hz
Particulate Protection: Dust and dripping water resistant -


...additional info here...there are also different units available... [cutler-computer.com]

We used to use a similar types of machines as data collection units for slot machines. The PC's ran 24/7, year in and year out, in poorly ventilated cabinets in an incredibly dusty and dirty area--no moisture to deal with though... Very reliable. The question is will the machine generate enough BTU's (in the spec) to keep it warm during the winter...and will it stay cool enough during the summer.

Visit Home Depot Or Any Electrical Supply Store (2)

InitZero (14837) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456466)

Get an external electrical box. You know, the kind you'd hang on the outside of your house. They are waterproof and have all the cable ins and outs that you would ever need. Since they are sold in high-volume, they are less expensive than something built to milspec or specifically designed for computers.

Of course, the electrical boxes probably won't hold a generic PC without a bit of modification. Since the box will be headless and without floppy drives, keyboard, etc., you're probably better off just mounting the motherboard in the unit on its own.

That said, your greatest concern is going to be lightening, not water. If you wire the boxes with copper, you're making it an easy run from the mast to the wiring closet. For external applications, you *MUST* use fiber as it does not conduct electricity. (This, of couse, assumes that you don't want to fry your networking hardware. If you're okay with that, copper works great and is less expensive.)

InitZero

Check out Sky Computers. (2)

cyberassasin (4943) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456467)

These guys build PPC supercomputers. They make some pretty sweet machines. These ones are especially interesting.

Sky Rugged Computers [sky.com]

You may want ot just give them a call and see what they do?

Anyways, sweet machines.....


No Access Point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456468)

I'm not familiar with the brand you are using, so I may be wrong, but the thing I believe you are missing is that the Access Point is usually a key part of the system in a wireless network. All the other NIC's talk to it, not to each other, so using nothing but NIC's probably will not work. Again, I could be wrong...

Outdoor cases (5)

reaper (10065) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456469)

I think I can help you.

I'm currently working on an outdoor pc system designed to basically work in man holes (15 feet fully submersible for prolonged periods, dust/water proof). What you need (and this is only one solution, but it is cheap) is a single board computer, power supply, NEMA 4 rated enclosure, and applicable glands to bring the wires out. Basically you mount everything inside your box (generally made from fiberglass, aluminum or some type of plastic), install the glands (watertight cable feed throughs), and mount this baby.

JumpTec [jumptec.com] has some of the systems you could use, and more importantly has an IDE flash disk that makes all this easy to do without a hard disk. Also Win Systems [winsystems.com] is a pretty popular place to get PC/104 embedded systems.

As for the case, Hoffman [hoffmanonline.com] has all the enclosures you could ever need (unless you're working in man holes).

Some people have recomended Dolche, but I'd avoid them as they are way expensive. More useful for interactive systems.

good luck

Easy Solution! (And a commercial solution too!) (1)

Dan Guisinger (15506) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456470)

This can easily be done in my opinion. Build the case from plexy glass or other plastic materials....make sure the power supply is inside along with some copper tubing for your cooling system as you are going to need to liquid cool if you aren't going to have air flow. Next, you need to bring the cooling tubes out of the case and build a radiator with some fans blowing across it....this part doesn't have to be very protected from the elements....then paint the thing with liquid rubber of sorts to seal it. Of course, an easier solution would be to go to a company like Fibertron....they sell several outdoor cabinets used for fiber optics equipment which are sealed from the elements. Another option would be get a tube that the computer can fit in (would have to be rather big, y/n? hehe), cap the top and mount the board at the top...run all cables out the bottom and give a few feet of extra space at the bottom...chances that the elements easily find their way up that is much less and its a very inexpensive route. -Dan Guisinger

Re:just wondering... (1)

BobTheTomato (121482) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456471)

Putting just the net card on the post probably wouldn't work very well (Yes, that's because of noise on the bus).

However, if the base station computer was inside and had an Ethernet adapter (10base2 would be best, but 10baseT would work too), then a wireless Ethernet bridge could be mounted on the pole with a cable running to the inside.

NEMA enclosures (5)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456472)

I think what you want are called "NEMA enclosures" [nema.org] in the industrial environment. Sealed boxes. You pick a level [protech1.com] suitable for an outdoor wet/freezing location.

Parvus has several [parvus.com] for the PC/104 [controlled.com] size, as does Tri-M [emjembedded.com] . Digital has some [digital.com] for their products.

There are plenty of generic NEMA enclosures available, up to walk-in size.

Remember you may need a heater or cooler. There are standalone devices, although I also have seen one PC/104 card with thermostats [rtdusa.com] .

Re:Ok Macgyver... (2)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456473)

A cable driver is a lot less expensive than a PC... =)
Unfortunately, a remote power RF amplifier with receving preamplifier and automatic T/R switch isn't quite as simple, or as available, as a cable driver.
--

Tupperware (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456474)

I've never tried putting it in direct rain, but we used to install computers into Sawmills and we would seal them in big tupperware containers...

Why an "enclosure"? (2)

hey! (33014) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456475)

OK, if you count the time to build the enclosure, you are probably not saving any money unless you are doing LOTS of em.

Maybe you need to think of something other than an "enclosure". What you want is a box that keeps the elements off your computer. Something like a very small shed with a pitched roof.

I would suggest a small dog house would be about the right size, and relatively cheap too. There are some very cheap plastic ones on the market but they'd be harder to modify to make secure. Something like this [blythewoodworks.com] might be good, and fairly attractive. Just get a piece of plywood and screw it down over the door. The main problem is that these are rather large, although this offers room for a UPS and a circuit breaker box.

Of course, if you are planning on putting these on roofts or utility poles, this might be a little big and kind of ugly. Perhaps a large bird house [blythewoodworks.com] . Take a martin house, plug up all the holes, and use a sawzall to cut out the internal dividers. If you can scavenge used laptops or use something like a netwinder you can get down to a regular sized birdhouse. These would have the advantage of not being an eyesore. I would take some silicone caulk to the joints, however.

Wavelan Access point - Apple Airport (1)

kooshvt (86122) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456476)

I don't know about weatherproof cases, however you did mention that you were not interested in using the Wavelan Access point. I have heard that the Apple Airport is compatible with 802.11 cards that use 2.4 GHz DSSS such as the Wavelan card. The Appple airport [apple.com] only costs $300 and includes a built in modem. I have received the Airport and I have ordered the Wavelan cards and am waiting for them to come in to test it out. The Airport does not allow HTTP configuration such as other access points and is only configurable by an Apple Computer AFAIK, however, the default configuration should be to assign IP addresses via DHCP so no configuration should be required as long as you have your network setup to use DHCP.

Anyway the Wavelan cards should be in soon. Email me with your address and I'll let you know the status of my tests with the Wavlan cards.
----------------

Re:Marine computers (1)

JimMcc (31079) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456477)

Unfortunately marinized computers are horifically expensive. Expect to pay $3k-$4k US for a low end configuration. They actually make laptops look like a price performance bargain.

I would also guess that marinized computers wouldn't fit the bill from a size and feature perspective either. If you're going to be putting something up on a pole you'll want it reasonably small. Most of the marinized systems I've seen are roughly the size of the old Compaq luggable (oops, I've dated myself.)

I would expect a single board computer with a PCI adapter slot would be a better solution. You should be able to be readily mount this in a much smaller water proof container.

The next issue to resolve would be the heat dispersion. Since you'll have no air circulation you'll have serious heat buildup problems.

Oh yes, I forgot... (2)

hey! (33014) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456478)

The best part is if you went with the birdhouse idea, you could call your network "martin.net".

Start with the Housing Code in your area (1)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456479)


I would start by visiting my local planning office to see what sort of weather you can expect in your area. How much rain, snow, how hot, how cold and how long for each extreme.

Then I would go to a building store and see what materials are there. For a computer case size object, its really cheap. In fact I would ask one of the guys there, since they would have a good idea of the weather extremes.

Next I would worry about fan exhausts, power supply, lighting and animals making new homes. :)

Underclock a fast CPU? (2)

Wee (17189) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456480)

I suppose that you could keep things cooler if you severely underclocked a fast CPU. But the minute you add a HDD, SCSI adapter, whatever, things start to heat up again. And then ventilation/filtration is a problem.

You might have to go with the "little house" concept: put an otherwise normal PC inside an outdoor enclosure made for that purpose. I'm thinking of the kind that they use for cellular equipment [electrorack.com] . But that ain't going to be cheap.

-B

Just get Wavelan access points (3)

PapaZit (33585) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456481)

While saving a few bucks is admirable, the simple truth is that the wavelan access points were already designed to solve all of these problems and more.

If you're doing something that's non-profit (or otherwise capable of generating good PR for Lucent), give them a call and see if you can get a discount.

Otherwise, you're going to end up spending more money in the long-term on maintainence and replacement (like someone said, PCs on a phone pole would be a tempting theft target) that you would on the more expensive equipment.

Re:CASE I found on dogpile.com (1)

hrieke (126185) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456482)

Ah, Pelican makes cases for carring things, not putting them up on a pole somewhere...
Accually I own four of them for my cameras, and yes, they are as good as they claim.

Why not waveguide? (2)

runlevel0 (114804) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456483)

Putting a computer on the mast is not a great idea. Although it can be done, it costs quite a bit for a reliable solution.

Depending on the frequency that the wavelan cards use, you can use something the microwave industry has used for decades: Waveguide. Basically a small duct with a transducer on one end that passes the signal through the waveguide on a shielded path. The waveguide is usually sized to the frequency of the transducer. Check some of the microwave ham radio pages out there. Waveguide is usually used in the 10ghz+ spectrum.

Another approach is to use a mast mounted amplifier and pre-amplifier and use a short run of 50 ohm hardline. This is what a lot of ham radio users use for high performance antenna arrays in the uhf and microwave spectrum. Basically, you keep your computer in your home, and run a length of hardline to the mast mounted amp/preamp. The signal losses incurred by the cable are overrun by the mast mounted goodies. By doing this, you can mount your antenna directly to the amp/preamp and have no loss.

Hope this helps!!
runlevel0 has been reached...

Some Suggestions... (3)

walnut (78312) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456484)

We do a lot of utility work... in the sort of places no one really wants to think about (under New York City) We don't use traditional PCs, but we do use traditional pc parts (or at least traditional boards, usually with a few specailty boards. You could probably mount traditional pc parts (including the power supply) in one of the industrial cases [stahlin.com] we use - with the understanding of a couple of things... you can't run a hot processor, you have to have massive heat sinks and it takes a lot of testing and time to do it right... Think "low-end Linux box" not "quake machine."

The cases (er cabinets) we buy are pretty darn rugged (i.e. waterproof, very heat resistant, pretty resistant to shock, etc).

Now keep in mind, all external openings (for cords and etc) need to be tapped and all internal components need to be mounted in some way.

Well here's a plug for the people we buy from:
Contact information
Stahlin Fiberglass (a Division of ROBROY Industries)
Belding Division
Belding, Michigan 48809

Phone (616)794-0700

However, that's just for a PC... I hadn't even considered a monitor. If you're expecting to put in a monitor and stuff like that... it gets a lot more expensive and difficult... now what you're talking is purchasing industrial grade PCs...

Now you might be talking purchasing something from Xycom Automation [xycom.com] . But, most of these are also flat/touchscreens ($$cha-ching$$) and once again come preloaded with DOS/95/NT. I don't know about Linux drivers for those... However if you look around enough you will find a lot of machinery does run with some form of *NIX (to avoid the reliability problems of MS)

Well, that's about the best I can do for you...

Re:Birdhouse (2)

loki7 (11496) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456485)

It would be particularly cool if you didn't seal up all of the holes, and let some birds share the house with your computer. I'm sure some feathered family would appreciate a bird house with central heating.

/peter

cases-cases (3)

pneurk (122261) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456486)

We use the Super Duty laptop cases sold by cases-cases [cases-cases.com] to lug around our laptops in a marine environment. They definately hold up to abuse, and are comletely air/water tight.

This would be more of a "you like, uhh, put your PC into this box thing" kind of a solution, and it will probably be a little bulky. You would still have to look at temperature, and lightning problems (plastic case tho, so it might be ok).

Try food processing systems (1)

cmuncey (66980) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456487)

The idea of using marine systems is fine - but you might do better by checking the yellow pages (digital or tree-based) for companies that manufacture or sell equipment for food processing facilities. USDA-FSIS requires all equipment in the main processing areas in, for example, meat processinng plants to be completely washable, often using hot caustic solutions.

Four years ago I worked for a major poultry producer and one of my projects was putting in case scaling and labeling systems in the plants. Instead of the expensive PLC based systems that everyone else pitched to us, our vendor had developed PC LAN based systems that were faster, cheaper, and more flexible. The trick was to use cheap PCs inside moderately expensive stainless steel (or in some cases fiberglass) boxes. There are established standards and components for these systems (the namees of which I cannot remember this morning) and you can get a lot of the pieces off the shelf. The external connectors were MILSPEC Amphenol type, and the monitor (when we needed it) was inside the box and visible through a sealed plexiglas window. The boxes had thick rubber seals and big stainless steel clips to keep them closed. They were not too small, so the air could circulate some, and the environment these were kept in varied from 27 to 40 degrees F.

One of the neater components was the Dragon keyboard that was first developed for artillery control units - its a keyboard with a very thin sheet of flexible stainless steel over it which you press the keys through. Not something to code with all day . . .

Re:Ok Macgyver... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456488)

Actually, I believe NASA is upgrading the control center on the hubble space telescope either this mission or next scheduled maintenance. They are going to upgrade to a 486 computer.

One word: (2)

Primitive (128393) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456489)

Tupperware

I use it whenever I don't have a case handy. Only problem is ventilation on those air tight burp-seal tops.

That's IT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456490)

Put the damn thing in a garbage bag and staple it to the top of a utility pole! Get some 2' wire ties, and just run the cables down the pole. Power? Ask a homeowner close by if you could run an extension cord in his/her front door. Why spend $$$$?!?

Re:Birdhouse (2)

hey! (33014) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456491)

Well, I once had mice in a 3b2/400.

As far as birds are concerned, I finished a loft over my garage to use as a computer room but didn't adequately seal the ventilation holes in my soffits. I got a family of starlings nesting in my insulation. The Dad found a way into my loft one day and shitted all over my keyboards, monitors and computers. I sealed up the inside hole, and would have let them stay, but after consulting with the local audobon, I learned that they would attract insects. I waited until I didn't hear the babies any more, and sealed the hole up and destoyed the nest.

Unfortunately, the birds had had another brood and I discovered five chicks after I boarded up the hole and I had to drown them. Five starling chicks are no great loss to the world, but on the whole I'd have rather lived with the insects.

I guess this is not entirely off topic, because if you put a computer outside, you'll have to provide ventilation, and if you provide anything with a hole of 3/4 of an inch or larger that is not coverd with a well secured metal mesh, you will get bats and birds nesting. Insects shouldn't be too much of a problem if you keep a fine mesh over the holes and don't allow the wood to rot.




Farrade cage (1)

HiroProtagonist (56728) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456492)

Farrade cage

Ok, you mentioned it, what is it, & where can I find more information?

I did a search on Google, but it didn't come up with anything.

Just from the context of the post I have an idea of what it might be, but I want to know for sure.

Ideas (2)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456493)

Go with mil-spec gear if possible. If you can't afford it or really want to do it yourself, heres some ideas.

Get a sealed plastic case. Computer intended or not. If it isn't specifically for computers get it bigger than you need, and rig some shock absorbing pieces in. An idea I've seen is some military field computers have pieces of rubber in the 8 corners.

Cut holes that are just barely big enough to let necesary(and only necasary) cables through. Seal them up with that clearish rubbery stuff(can't remember what its called). Electrical tape might work, but I wouldn't rely on it.

Lightning is a big potential problem. Unless you have a lightning rod with a superconucting cable, lightning will kill your computer. Make sure the antenna has a ground attached, preferably above the cable connect, using the lowest resistance cable you can afford. This may cause the lightning to travel down that rather than into your computer. Still, find out the maximum jolt your computer can take, and get a fuse that blows out somewhere between 80% and 90% of that. You will still lose connectivity, but rather than having to replace the whole computer you will just have to replace the fuse.

Everyone thinks cooling would be difficult. Not really. You may want to look into a water based cooling system. They can keep your CPU extremely cold. Condensation can be a problem though, be careful about that. And don't screw up putting it together. The result of a mistake setting up a computers water cooler is obvious. Another option is setting up a big fan and ducting air in through plastic or rubber tubes, or even PVC pipes. HAve a top one that blows cool air in and a fan in the bottom that sucks hot air out. Through ducting you can keep the case cooled and airtight/watertight. The hard drive could be a problem. Bad things can happen at low temperatures trying to get a motor running. Primarily, get the drive with the greatest temperature tolerance you can afford. And among your options there, get the one with the best g-force tolerance you can find. No matter what this thing will be taking some shocks especially in a storm. Turning off all powersave options, or at least the ones that relate to the hard drive, may help keep the hard drive from getting too cold.

All in all an ambitious project... but certainly feasible.

Re:speaking of Wavelan... (2)

bram (490) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456494)

how the hell do you get the Wavelan to work under RedHat 6.1???

Check out the Wireless Lan HOWTO at : linux.grmbl.be/wlan/ [grmbl.be]
--

Heat problems.... (1)

mhaertel (39264) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456495)

I would suggest talking to Kryo Tech. They have some low end cooling setups that would cover the temperature problems. www.kryotech.com Then all you would have to do is place the case inside a sealed, locking box. My question is, what are you gonna do for the Keyboard, mouse and monitor? Your users need to have access to the keyboard and mouse, I suppose you can put a plexi glass window on the front of the monitor. My main concern would be vandalism and theft. If you put 1500 dollars worth of computer equipment out on the side walk, it's gonna disapear.

One Word: LNA (2)

QuantumHack (58048) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456496)

OK, if you're a programmer, putting a computer on a mast sounds like a good idea. (Temperature will KILL it, BTW.) To an RF engineer, it sounds like what we really need here is a low noise amplifier/power amplifier combination. The LNA will reduce the noise-polluting (i.e., increased noise figure) effect of the long antenna cable, and the power amplifier will boost the transmitted power back up the Part 15 limit. This sounds like something Wavelan or other wireless LAN outfits should put together.

SCADA Systems... (2)

soup (6299) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456497)

I worked with SCADA systems where we had to mount the computer within a metal cabinet with a hermetically sealed door (which was bolted down in, IIRC, 4 places).

While these puppies can't be cheap, there must be a mass-market (or close to mass) considering that the cable companies and power companies need these.

And, hey, my experiences were 20 years ago.

These cabinets would've been big enough to handle PCs, BTW, though I'd worry about heat distribution (you're not gonna want to use a P-III, Athlon, Alpha or whatnot...).

Of course, you could go into business building these puppies in such a way that the CPU heat-sinks directly to the case...

Faraday cage (2)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456498)

That's because he mis-spelled it. Think Michael Faraday, as in the guy after whom the farad is named.
--

Outdoor Computer Cases? (2)

Jason Schoon (128385) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456499)

There is a solution already done that is exactly what you are looking for, but it may be a higher cost than you are expecting. The company where I work, Intermec, makes wireless networking products for manufacturers and warehouses primarily. We have a product known as the Universal Access Point that was designed and tested for extreme environments. These access points can now use Lucent 802.11 radios. You can check out the specs and get more information at: http://www.intermec.com

A low-tech solution (1)

br0ken_ (92162) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456500)

My (scuba) diving club has given up on "waterproof" electrical hardware (we're talking radios, GPSs, etc) for use on our inflatables because most of it just isn't. Instead, we now buy non-waterproof gear and keep it in sealed (big plastic clamp, nothing wimpy) transparent bags.

My point is that you can probably make it waterproof fairly simply after you've packaged it all up - you don't necessarily need the case to be environment-proof.

The "bag" idea also means it's easier to replace damaged housings; they'll get broken whatever they're made of.

--
Tim.

Submerging the computer in mineral spirits? (2)

Thag (8436) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456501)

People keep talking about problems with heat dissipation. One possible solution to this might be to submerge the entire computer in mineral spirits. I saw a picture of a computer that was set up this way once, in order to provide cooling for overclocking (sorry, can't find the URL, but search Ars Technica [arstechnica.com] for a link). Mineral spirits are nonconducting, and have been used in electrical transformers. If you put the computer in a ridged metal box, you should get okay heat transference from the box to the outside. You could even put heat sinks on the outside of the box if need be.

I don't knwo what this would do for other environmental issues like cold or moisture.

I have no idea if this would work, but I thought it might be helpful, and it shouldn't be too expensive.

Jon

Re:How about embedded applications... (2)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456502)

Here's the URLs I should have provided in the first place:

http://slashdot.org/articles/99/07/31/1654210.sh tml

and my favorite:

http://wearables.stanford.edu/

(Pardon me for not making them links - I'm hadicapped at work [drum roll] I use Microsoft.)


Re:Farrade cage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456503)

Farraday

Bullshtuff, just do it. (2)

gukin (14148) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456504)

I've got a NEMA enclosure with a 40 Mhz. 486, hard disk running some serial devices. It's mounted on a telephone pole and has run reliably for years. The only failure I've had was the power supply and the CMOS battery. We built a sheet metal "shade" for the enclosure but in 100 F heat the inside temperature never went above 140 and it's never failed due to cold. It is in Northern New Mexico so it gets a pretty wide range of temperatures.

As for modern equipment, a lightly loaded AMD k6-2 with a heat sink will probably do the job forever; just don't build any kernels on the damn thing during a heat wave.

Re:One Word: LNA (2)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456505)

The problem with that is noise and control. To keep from swamping your receiver with noise, you may have to bias your power amplifier off when not sending. Then your problem is to get the thing on quickly enough when it's time to transmit. If you can't get your amplifier re-biased and operating fast enough to get the packet preamble on the air (or worse, switch on abruptly and cause splatter) you'll have problems getting receivers to recognize your packets. Getting these things to work as a system can be a real hassle, and there are a lot of details that have to be just right.
--

Re:cool, but (2)

mattdm (1931) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456506)

Because you want to have internet access from your laptop without dragging a cord after you?

--

Conductive Heaters (2)

reality-bytes (119275) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456507)

You *will* need at least one conductive heater per box, they won't survive winter without them, (the heaters prevent internal condensation)
As for casings, RS Components sell rated-seal enclosures for (fairly) reasonable prices, but at least you get a warranty for any leaks :)

otc: Wouldn't you be better off using line of sight optical networking? - is that possible?

Re:Farrade cage (1)

Snewf (128414) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456508)

Farraday Cage. The bags that PC components come in work on this principle. The static collects on the outside of the bag and your static sensitive components are nice and unstaticy inside.

Re:cool, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456509)

Or any schmuck with a BB gun or such.

Possible Product... (1)

jtroutman (121577) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456510)

I don't know what kind of budget you have to keep to, but yachtsoft.com has "marinized" laptops. Their Argonaut can take having water poured directly on the keyboard. They are compact and rugged, yet still have the functionality of a real computer.

Simple: use NEMA 4 cases (2)

gherlein (34676) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456511)

Get a catalog from Graingers or similar - look at the cases made by Hoffman and their competition. Specifically look at the NEMA 4 rated boxes... those will survive nasty conditions. I built boxes that did essentially what you describe and they lived for years on power poles.

Note: you have to be concerned about heat, since if you add a fan hole you are no longer watertight. Use low-power parts and you are probably fine. One nice aspect of keeping the inside a littel warmer is that you limit condensation inside. Use light colored boxes (or better, unpainted silver) to reflect as much sunlight as you can to limit heat in the summer. It's smart to put a 1/4 pound bag of dessicant inside too - eats up moisture that you do not want condensing out on your PC.

Note: you are going to have issues with getting space on poles. Talk to the power and phone utily first - they may donate space, but there are rules about how the box can get mounted - you have to honor the "climb space" so that repair guys can work, etc.

Note: use silicon goop around your antenna through-hole - even if you use good rubber gaskets. The gaskets never hold, and the silicon goop is good insurance. Plan on inspecting yearly and replacing the outside goop layer... it deteriorates in the sun and heat.

Best of luck! Write me if you need more info.

INSIDE the case. Don't expect to run fast CPUs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456512)

Due to the necessity of having a sealed case (to keep out water, dust, etc., heat dissipation will be a problem. Don't dream even for a second of running Pentiums or Athlons. You'll need a CPU that can get by w/o a heatsink (the fastest x86 architecture CPU I saw that needed no heatsink was a 33MHz 486dx). Direct conduction to the outer case will be your only way to cool.

[Sidenote: Do teh x86 chipmakers even *try* to design CPUs that don't need heatsinks anymore?]

The case must also be sealed with some silica gel packets inside to prevent condensation from forming in cold weather.

For really cold sub zero weather, you have to worry about the oil on hard drive mechinisms becoming thick gelling up. and may need a heater inside the case.

For super hot weather 120F/50C you may be SOL unless you can keep your case shaded as metal exposed to sun can reacj 150F/160F easily.

Perhaps the best solution is to bury the case underground (with heating for sub zero weather in winter). Resistance to corrosion is now an issue. This will keep the case cooler in hot months too. (Living in the deserts of Nevada, I have to worry about temps ranging from -15F in winter to 115F in summer.) Good luck.

Re:Farrade cage (2)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456513)

A Faraday Cage is simple.

Have you ever heard that the best place to be
during an electrical storm is your car (assuming
its not fiberglass)?

Basically the idea is that electricity travels
around the outside surface of a structure. (at
least static electrictiy does or AC with REALLY
HIGH frequency). So...

If you have a large metal box around something..
and you ground th ebox...then lightning can strike
the box and ground out...and never have any effect
on the inside of the box.

I have seen a person inside a metal cage rub their
hand along the inside of the ALL METAL bars while
it was being struck by lightning from a huge
Van DeGraff generator (the original Van DeGraff
actually).

The Faraday Cage also inhibits all electrical
signals. It is the reason that computer cases are
shielded...its a small faraday's cage to keep
RF inside the box.

Remember "The Jar" from Enemy of the State?
Faradays Cage

An interesting note...on the Van deGraff generator
at the Museam of Science in Boston, Van De Graff
himself had his office INSIDE one of the
discharge globes at one point. Since Static
electricity gathers on the outside of the globe
being inside is perfectly safe.

Almost... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456514)

Watertight and cool running satisfies summer/southern conditions.

How well insulated does it need to be?
Is cooling going to be the only problem, or will there be a need for heating? ( "Forecasts are for temperature reaching a high of -3 F and lows in the -40s F for the next several days" Yes, that happens)

I suspect there are different answers for different regions. Although the idea is not to "build a house" for it, that may be the best choice in the nastiest places. I know of a radio repeater system that requires 4WD vehicles and good hike to get to...in nice weather. The answer was to build a "house" with a small furnace and a luggable tank of LP gas.. to keep things just warm enough through winter. Not warm. Warm enough. You still need to wear a good coat in there, but the electronics work.

And in the Deep South or closer to the equator I expect there'd be an equally valid yet much different solution for the problems there.

Re:CASE I found on dogpile.com (1)

Ctrl-Z (28806) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456515)

But can it stand up to Mr. T?
The site doesn't say whether or not it's helluva tough.

Re:Ok Macgyver... (1)

aetius2 (96018) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456516)

By default, the computer on the mast would be grounded -- power connections. :( I suppose you could figure out a solar array...

Re:Don't forget the effects of temperature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456517)

You'll probably want to elimnate all mechanical components (i.e. hard-disks) unles you can somehow limit the temperature in the enclosure. You could use flashdisks instead of regular hard-disks, they generate much less heat than mechanical disks.

Re:cool, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456518)

So now we need an armoured computer too? ;-)

Alternate solution (2)

.@. (21735) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456519)

The Apple AirPort. I've been hacking on this for a few days now with my notebook running SuSE 6.2 and a WaveLAN Gold.

The AirPort is cheap ($299), encased in plastic already, is in reality just a WaveLAN IEEE card with 56K modem and 10^T ports, acts as a DHCP server and NATting bridge, and is SNMP configurable/monitorable. And it has a small footprint and comes with mounting hardware.

I'm currently working on figuring out how to reprovision one of these things using only SNMP calls, so I can code up a quick app under Linux to do the job (it currently can only be provisioned using a Mac and their provided software).

With WaveLAN Gold cards (128-bit encrypted streams, 11MBit) selling for $200 these days, it's an attractive solution.

Re:How about embedded applications... (1)

Ralph Bearpark (2819) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456520)

Pardon me for not making them links - I'm hadicapped at work [drum roll] I use Microsoft.)

So do I ... what's the problem? Here are your darn Slashdot [slashdot.org] and Stanford [stanford.edu] links.

(Mutter, mutter, young people today don't know their HTML tags, or what?)

Regards, Ralph.

underwater laptops (1)

grendy (128418) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456521)

...am I the only one that has dreamed about irc'ing from underwater? Someone needs to come out with some waterproof laptop...call it the h2oBook or something. Think of all the poor marine researchers stuck underwater for long stretches of time, cataloging fish, watching the coral grow and other such tasks. Its about time someone started to hit this market up....and hey, wouldn't you love to be online from the bottom of your pool with a webcam for all to see?

Small weatherproof computer (2)

halliburton (116075) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456522)

If you could reduce the size and power requirements then it is much easier to build an armored enclosure. While searching for Cool Stuff for my Palm Pilot I ran across this site:

http://www.uclinux.org/simm/

.. it's a single-board PC running a Motorola Dragonball processor, 2M of Flash and 8M of RAM, Serial and Ethernet controllers, and 18-pins of general purpose IO, some of which can be used to drive an LCD display. All this is packaged on a little 30-pin SIMM module, and consumes 3.3 volts. The Dragonball CPU is what powers the Pilot.

It could run off rechargables, and have a really small power supply to connect to the grid (or even a small solar array would be more than enough to keep a set of rechargables topped off for a few days of cloudy operation).

Oh yeah, it runs Linux. Although it is very limited, at 8M RAM, it may be all you need. The only problem you need to solve is getting wireless to work with the board (maybe some of those unused I/O pins?).

Something that small could be totally encased in polycarbonate - that would eliminate any worry about condensation. Imagine the whole thing, solar panel on top, circuitry on the bottom, encased in a solid block of polycarbonate! Wonder what the MTBF of that puppy would be?

(guess the rechargables would have to be external, unless they come up with the NiEternity battery)..

Look at a bank. (1)

SyscoKid (78729) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456523)

The ATM machines are probable the best to use for this applications. Just back up truck, attach the chain and let 'er rip. Oh you can try to conact the company that makes the ATM's...

WaveLan in Practice (1)

aetius2 (96018) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456524)

In the white paper on the WaveLan site they mention that Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh is actually implementing a WaveLan system across their campus. I'd talk to them before you do anything. Anyone from CMU's IT department care to comment?

WaveLan white paper [wavelan.com]

Aetius

re: Industrial PCs (1)

doggo (34827) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456525)

This may be off-topic, but did you guys see this!?

http://www.cutler-computer.com/xtralite.htm

Now, if we can just boot Linux on it...so much for the Visor!

D'oh! My next computer!

mips? (1)

Xtacy (12950) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456526)

what about using a mips processor (like the netwinder), from what i hear they use VERY little power consumption, dont need a fan etc etc...

Just a thought

Fastest Wireless in the world CHEAP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1456527)

The company name is ISPW, S.A. 506 280 8860. I had purchased a internet high speed linux box (THANATOS) and some software from them for multipoint to point wireless connectivity for my network here in Orlando. I have been using it about 3 months and my internet is fast, very, very , very fast. we have some friends that have hooked up 2 miles away and are receiving approximately 600 to 800 kbps wireless, and downloading at upto 170k continuosly. We download 4meg mp3's in less than a minute wirelessly. I think for the price of one wavepoint from LUCENT and being able to hook up people upto 80 miles away (depends on antenna and amplifier) it would be cheaper then a computer on every telephone pole and easier.

Re:underwater laptops (1)

DeanPentcheff (103656) | more than 14 years ago | (#1456528)

As one of those marine researchers... I gotta tell you, the main problem is not getting the computer waterproofed, but setting up a support system so that you can type. Think about it: gravity is a wonderful thing. Both for keeping the laptop there and for keeping _you_ there while you type. Realistically, we tend to create specialized single-function devices for diver operation. If it can be done with a single switch (magnetic, usually), that's the way we go. But, that's not to say that if someone offered me an underwater laptop, I wouldn't take it!
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