New to the forum so please excuse me if I break any rules etc!
I have a user who's looking to set up a machine to capture sonar data over the winter period. He has a steel container large enough to hold the computer and external storage, but we're worried about what might happen under harsh temperature conditions. Dell ruggedised laptops have been suggested.. also Panasonic toughbooks. There was a question as to whether we would be better off just using a desktop pc.
The machine will be expected to capture data unattended for around a week between check-ups. At this time the external (usb) storage will be swapped over and the capture data will be taken away. We've discussed using solid state disks for the data capture, but there are arguments both for and against this (finite writes, capacity, etc..) so still in the air.
Just wondering if anybody has experience of similar outdoor projects that have braved cold winters.. would especially appreciate any experiences with ruggedised laptops and your recommendations!
I've used these guys to make systems to do exactly what you are discussing... i think the most important thing you need to look at is having a small enclosure heater to ensure the enclosure stays dry and not suffer condensation. the PC will deal with pretty much any amount of cold you can throw at it, but if it gets damp its game over!
jamesfed: I'll have to have a bit more of a look at the software/hardware he's using for capture to see if the E350 or an atom would cut it.. but I was thinking along these lines also - this will be crucial in getting the pricing right.. This is a trial over this winter period and could lead to a further couple of years investigation if it's successful.. I'm sure everyone here knows how university budgets get cut! (yes even the well planned ones too )
Oaktech: A fair point! At these temps condensation could be a real issue - we don't want to risk frying the equipment!