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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Toughbook Update

I have been experimenting this spring and summer with using a Panasonic Toughbook as my primary computer both in the field and in the office.  I started experimenting with it in March, but did not feel really comfortable with using it in the field until May 1.  My colleague, Kelly Robertson bought 2 of them on E-bay and equipped them with the field version of Farmworks.  I loaded Global Mapper Version 12 on mine.  Since May 1 I have used the Toughbook in the field every day.  I had some issues with it banging a bit, so I padded it with some hot water pipe insulation that cost me $1.35 at the lumber yard.  The padding cuts down on vibration.  I did Re-tape it with Duct Tape more than once to keep it functioning.  I have found the Toughbook has lived up to its name very well.  It has taken a lot of abuse and shows no sign of any problems.  I did also buy a screen protector for it to protect it from scratching.  Unfortunately I rubbed some of the antiglare coating off the screen when I cleaned it up to install the screen protector.  So far that has not been a real problem. 

The visibility of the screen is very good when I set the lines to be 3 pixels thick and labeled polygons with bold type.  I use a white background and black lines.  The one thing I have not done well with Global Mapper is recording tracks.  It works, but not as easily as the Archer equipped with Farmworks.  That is one reason to load Farmworks on the Toughbook instead of Global Mapper.  I prefer Global Mapper over Farmworks for other uses however so it is a tossup.  I do not sample with the aerials turned on because of visibility, but I still like having them with me in the field and I can turn them on as needed.  I use the 2005 black and white digital ortho's as my primary aerial.  When I am in the field, I am as close as the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot to being able to download anything I do not have.   I do like having a full-blown PC in the field.  I plan to continue using this as long as it lasts.  I will probably replace it with a similar set-up.
Toughbook mounted on the 4 wheeler.  Note the padding.

Toughbook with Garmin 10 bluetooth GPS receiver.  I have used a Win-Tec GPS receiver too. 

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