If only I’d thought of that…

Readers may remember that last year I fitted a PC system to Karisma and detailed the process, including the choice of mini-PC, plus all the accessory parts (where to source a monitor, power supply, VESA mounts and so on) in a popular post on this blog. In order to give guidance to others thinking of doing something similar, I also started a thread to detail the work on the YBW.com forum.

Now in October’s copy of Practical Boat Owner, one of the forum contributors has written an article on- building a PC system on his boat, and the kit list he uses (and suggests to his readers) is the one I first used and detailed, both in the blog post and the public forum thread.


Now, of course I wrote an open post which was intended to tip people off with hints of how to get an onboard computer system together, so I am really pleased that other people are doing it, and the author of the PBO article is not the only person I know of who followed my advice, which is great. It’s fantastic that it’s written up in PBO, and I’m not even bothered that the author will have profited by writing it up (I understand PBO pay a couple of hundred quid for an article, enough for a dinner out, but it’s hardly work for a profiteer).

What I’m uncomfortable about is that I would never, ever, write up what is fundamentally somebody else’s method for solving a problem without attributing it fairly to them. In truth, the author did make a couple of post-hocter tweaks- later trying out a different monitor and mini-PC- but only after exactly replicating my suggested kit, all of which he details in the article. He does mention that ‘a thread on the forum started him thinking’, and that he is ‘indebted’ to ‘a forum contributor’ for suggesting which mini-PC to use, but all the rest of the gear he mentions you’ll need- the power supply, monitor, keyboard and mouse, even the little maplin plug adaptors you need to get it all working together- were found not by his own initiative but rather by just clicking on the links to them that I’d given in my original blog post and thread. All of them. To me, that’s a bit more than being inspired by what I wrote; it should be fairly attributed to it, and it’s not.

A simple private message on the PBO forum (‘hey, I followed your advice for that PC project. I added a couple of changes but it’s basically the system you suggested. I really enjoyed doing it, do you mind if I write it up in PBO?’) is all that was needed, and would be exactly what I would have done. It’s not a big deal, but it is simple courtesy, especially when a complete stranger has seemingly done a lot to help you out.

Postscript: Ironically, much of the kit listed in this article has proven problematic during the last year in which I’ve owned it: as this article’s author keeps his boat in Turkey, he perhaps hasn’t had as much up-time with the system as I have to find out about that. In particular I wouldn’t now recommend the power supply, because it absolutely will not work with, and might well damage, the latest version of the mini-PC itself. An update on that can be found here. Anybody following the recommendation to put the two together will now find it won’t work; an update I’d’ve happily given the author if he had contacted me.


2 thoughts on “If only I’d thought of that…

  1. Fascinating read, both this and your original post, which this led me too. Would love to install a similar setup on Calstar, though I’m not sure where we’d put the VDU as we don’t have a fixed chart table and not much room on the bulkheads. Our current electronics are limited to a Raymarine tiller pilot, a couple of tablets, a couple of mobile phones and an entry level chart plotter that exists mainly to feed GPS coordinates to the DSC VHF. Oh, and a laptop that lives mostly in the laptop bag and a Garmin wrist watch. All very disparate, lots of redundancy for the GPS (as long as the satellites don’t get switched off) but hardly coherent design!

    Congratulations on your Holms Race result, by the way. 15th place is very respectable, especially on a day where most of the 47 boats that started didn’t finish 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers Bill. In truth the onboard PC has been a lot of trouble in some ways- always trying to update itself when you want to slip lines, that sort of thing, and I had a bit of bad luck with the original second hand monitor burning out. It’s mostly there for weather forecasts and also to run a polars program called PolAuto, which reminds me that I meant to write a blog post about that ages ago! I’m pleased with the result in the Holms race, but Jen tells me I’m too competitive (!) because I spent most of the night banging on about how next year I will start 20 minutes later and have a spinnaker 😀 think we might have the racing bug now. We have loads of great pics and our crew Martin made an awesome gopro video so I’ll put another blog up on that one today.


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