Technical help- Shaking a laptop to bits

Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 12:17
ThreadID: 24904 Views:2642 Replies:7 FollowUps:9
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Tested out the GPS/touchscreen combo on the weekend doing some geocaching, and came across yet another hurdle. The laptop itself I have suspended from a headrest (wooden brace held by headrest uprights and velcro loop straps hanging down from the wood to hold the lappy) and is relatively secured. The issue I have is I need to move away from the conventional spinning Hard disk to solid state memory because the corrugations and my driving style are sprouting bad sectors all over the disk and making it run like a pig.

Has anyone got their PC booting from solid state memory? I have the option to boot from USB, but Im wondering if there are other cheap options available. I have seen 2Gb PCMCIA cards, which I could load a linux OS to, but I'm concerned about the data speed between the storage media and PC. Also, I only have USB1 ports on the lappy, and have had to resort to a PCMCIA USB2 adaptor to get faster speeds, which I havent been able to boot successfully from.

I read a post a while back with a user booting I think knoppix linux on CD- how did you get the Natmap rasters and oziexplorer to run when booting off the CD?

I am after ANY info on the setup you have if its a little unordinary....
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Reply By: Member - Chrispy (NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 12:33

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 12:33
Ben - been thinking about this myself. Maybe a solid state 2.5" disk?
AnswerID: 121294

Follow Up By: BenSpoon - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:36

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:36
good call.
I hadn't seen those commercially available before. Im a bit worried about the price of them though- Have emailed, waiting on a reply.
A different brand is charging around $1 a Mb, and some a little cheaper... I'm reconsidering my desire for a 80Gb now.

A complete replacement would also sort the issue of safe storage for the conventional HDD when on corrugations. Just a shame I only bought a new disk a month back.

I like the look of their SANs.... just gotta get a little rack mounted in the boot....
FollowupID: 376367

Follow Up By: Member - Chrispy (NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:40

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:40
LOL! 19" 12RU boot-mount rack!

Larfin' !
FollowupID: 376369

Reply By: Member - Marquis F (NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 12:40

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 12:40
Not sure about PCMCIA, but USB you can.

Go into your bios and check to see if you can boot from PCMCIA and check the PCMCIA device supports booting an OS (util software may be required).
AnswerID: 121295

Reply By: Member - Sam (NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:26

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:26
There are USB key's that are bootable. About 1 GIG i think. Although you would possibly need one or two of them for anything useful. Transend make a few models (one up to 4GB)
AnswerID: 121305

Follow Up By: BenSpoon - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:43

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:43
Sam, FYI- all USB keys (and CD's, and floppys etc) can be bootable, its how you set them and your computer up that decides if they are or not though.
Looks like I might be settling on one of them- They seem to be the most cost effective option at the moment. I just dont like the idea of them getting shaken out of their plugs and making the computer crash.

FollowupID: 376370

Follow Up By: Member - Sam (NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:44

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:44
I should have mentioned that the Transend 4GB model is under $500 from memory. There are a few available from
FollowupID: 376371

Follow Up By: Member - Sam (NSW) - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:49

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:49
I know all USB mass storage devices can be bootable. The key word is 'can' though. I have come across numerous USB devices that have not worked as they should have due to them not conforming 100% with the USB standards. Not being critical, merely warning that there are some dodgy products out there. Same goes for some firewire units too.
FollowupID: 376372

Reply By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:42

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 14:42
I think the bootable CD is a good way to go.

Have you though about putting stacks of ram in the machine and setting the HDD to power save after say 1 minute. Once the HDD is asleep it parks doesn't it? If you've loaded everything you need into ram surley there wouldn't be a need to wake the HDD up?

Don't know if it would work or not, just chucking some ideas up in the air...

Actually there's an idea, set a RAM drive up (can you still do that with XP?). That way you could still record tracks etc as well, have a batch file that copies Ozi and everything accross to the RAM drive on bootup, then sleep the HDD.
AnswerID: 121309

Follow Up By: BenSpoon - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 15:06

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 15:06
RamDisk in xp.
Thought about it, but it still doesnt rule out the high chance of platters getting scratched up. A good idea though.
The other drama I can see is the movement of the rasters on Ozi- I understand it caches the map as you go, and needs to frequently access the raster image from its source.

I will try the power save set to 1 min this arvo and see what it does. Not sure whether it will spin up and power down the disk every minute, or only as needed. I may get a dodgy outcome either way as I only have 512Mb in it.
Cheers Jeff
FollowupID: 376379

Follow Up By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 15:11

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 15:11
Yeah you'd need to have a couple of gig of ram, the lappy probally doesn't support it. If you had a couple of gig, you could copy the rasters to the RAM disk and then make the swap file also on the ram disk, the only problem would then be the excessive amount of time to do this... You'd never want to turn the bugger off!! LMAO.

FollowupID: 376380

Reply By: Member - t0me (WA) - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 19:19

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 19:19
How about buying a PDA, running the OZI (or what have you) on that. Connect up to your Lappy when doing anything to the maps.


Better suspension method for the lappy with some shock absorbing built in. Its the hard jarring thats doing the damage. Probably the cheapest option too.

If its got USB2 then external would be ok you could then give that some shock absorbing.

I've used Compact Flash and PCMCIA for small linux based firewalls/router (etc) machines but its only any good where speed isn't an issue and I reackon after trying to run your OS and software through one for any length of time you'd get sick of how slow it would be. CD wouldn't be too much faster. You'd have to use DVD to get the capacity you're gonna need for the OS, APPS, and Maps I reackon.

AnswerID: 121353

Follow Up By: BenSpoon - Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 19:42

Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 at 19:42
im a tightarse. Thats basically the only reason I didnt go with the PDA. I nabbed my old man's GPS and already have a lappy. Also when I drag a car full of mates crammed in together with no leg room, easily firing up a few hours of the simpsons and southpark always picks things up a bit.

I was looking at ways around shock absorbtion because Im hard pressed to find something small that will support it on all the x,yand z axis. As it was it took us long time to come across somewhere safe to put it.

I tried a CF card, but it gave me the same conclusion you found. I wasnt sure if it was the adaptor or the PCMCIA speed though.

Sounds like USB gets another vote.
FollowupID: 376445

Follow Up By: Utemad - Thursday, Jul 21, 2005 at 14:45

Thursday, Jul 21, 2005 at 14:45
The PDA idea isn't as expensive as you think. I set myself up on Ebay with a 2nd hand PDA ($140), CF GPS ($125) and a 1 gig SD card ($100). I have since bought a cheap suction mount for under $10 and made a power cable for under $20.

Depending on the PDA you get you can connect your existing GPS and you don't need a 1gig SD card if you only load the maps you need for that trip as either a smaller one or none at all will suffice.

Not very expensive if your already looking at $400 or more for some sort of solid state memory setup. As a bonus a TFT screen is easier to see in sunlight too.

However when I used to use my laptop in my ute I can't say I experienced any of the problems you are having.
FollowupID: 376569

Reply By: Groove - Thursday, Jul 21, 2005 at 16:56

Thursday, Jul 21, 2005 at 16:56
I thought this would be a problem for me as I have a laptop sitting under the drivers seat of my GU.

It sits on a plywood slide (like a fridge slide) so I can get it in and out and sits on a bed of medium density foam (from clarke rubber). A strap over the top holds it in place.

I have done some serious corrugations (including cape york) with this setup without a problem, its been there for over 12 months now. Run diagnostics on the disk regularly because I thought I might have problems but its just not happening.

Perhaps alternative mounting strategies may work.

Also I have seen from time to time at a local computer market near me Military spec laptops. There is a stand at the market that sells second hand laptops reasonable priced. They are dust proof, splash proof etc etc. They dont have them all the time but they do exist.

AnswerID: 121467

Reply By: Glenno - Saturday, Jul 23, 2005 at 22:11

Saturday, Jul 23, 2005 at 22:11
I looked up the Seagate website and the notebook drive
These drives can sustain 800G's of non operating shock, and 250G's of operating shock.

Someone with some more knowledge than me would know what kind of bump or pothole would generate over 250G's


AnswerID: 121784

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