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Author Topic: Going low-ish power from today  (Read 3439 times)
Outtasight
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« on: June 19, 2010, 04:09:53 PM »

Finally got my 2.50 car boot laptop configured to take over the 24x7 duties of the main PC.

This old PIII 500MHz HP laptop is a bit beat up (massive hole in the case where it was dropped, missing battery, missing key on the keyboard, slightly dodgy right mouse button...) but it seems to go ok and for 2.50 with a 40GB hard disk, who's gonna complain?

The machine runs XP quite well as it has 512Mb RAM and with the addition of a car boot USB adapter card and USB to Ethernet adapter (you can find anything for 1 at a car boot sale Cheesy) it's ready for duty.

I actually added an old 320GB external drive to hold the fileserver data and transferred my solar logging & heater controls to this machine, along with the CCTV recorder software and Mailwasher filter for my spam-prone mailboxes.  It had a pretty jet-plane noisy CPU fan but installing a very good power management utility (SpeedswitchXP - http://www.diefer.de/speedswitchxp/) means I can keep the CPU throttled down to 180-350MHz most of the time so the fan never has to come on.

With the display off and the external drive busy it consumes about 28W of solar power or about 35W with the display on.  The PC it supplants runs at about 110W idle and 130W with the disks running and the display on.

The old PC was a hard load to try and run 24x7 on solar as it chomps 2.6kWh per day but the 0.7kWh required for the laptop should be easier to source from solar for most of the year.
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http://solarbodge.blogspot.com/
3.58kWp & 800Ah LiFeYPO4 off-grid(ish). See 'Cobbled together PV in W.Sussex' (in "Show Us Yours")
tony.
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« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2010, 05:11:26 PM »

where do you get these hi tech car boot sales.
mine is full of tat.

regards

tony
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Outtasight
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2010, 11:41:35 PM »

We go to several "mega" sales in our area.  Being in the countryside you get these huge sales in fields.  I rarely have to buy anything new these days.  The winters are a drag as the boot sales close down.

It gets better though... Since my experiment with the XP machine, I got an upgrade Cheesy

The XP machine was a bit short of steam to run all the file serving and CCTV recording and it made the jet fighter noise quite a lot after running for a few hours with the CCTV recorder on.  Then I struck mucky brass at another car boot!  A Vista laptop for 21.  Well, the laptop was 20 but was in bad shape.  It had the usual missing key from the keyboard (rather more annoyingly the backspace key so I have to use the arrow and delete keys instead) and someone had bashed it with a hammer on the touch pad left mouse button so it was mashed in and had loose bits rattling inside.  It also had no battery and no power supply.

For a server, I don't need the battery and as luck would have it I found a matching power supply at another stall for 1.  The good thing about clone Chinese laptops is they all use the same generic 19V power supply these days so it's easy to find one.

I didn't have to worry about the lack of any software either as although the OS was trashed by corruption (viruses) and the machine didn't have it's original CDs, it did have the hidden recovery partition on the hard disk and I could just re-image the thing back to factory settings and it was good to go.  I could even burn a new recovery DVD from the re-imaged machine in case I have a hard disk failure later!

I took the machine to bits to get at the mouse pad and luckily all the bits were still floating around in there.  With a lot of turning the machine upside and sideways and shaking it all the requisite bits fell out on to a clean bit a paper and with some small screwdrivers and tweezers and superglue I managed to reconstruct the left mouse button and switch.  It's still working now a couple of weeks later but I bought a USB mouse (also from a boot sale for 50p) to save wearing out the probably fragile button on the pad.

Probably another reason the machine was on the scrap heap is that it only had 1Gb of memory and had a couple of annoying dead pixels on the display.  The pixels I can live with but Vista needs more than 1Gb to do much useful.  Unfortunately my prayers were answered a couple of days later...  My wife's laptop blew up big style (over heating from the cat fur that had been sucked into the fan intake!!!).  With that machine dead, I had to buy her a new machine but could at least salvage the 2Gb DIMM from the dead machine.  The car boot machine can't actually use more than 2Gb of RAM so I had to take out the original 1Gb but for the price of 21.50 I have a quite usable Vista laptop.

This one is a Celeron M 1.86GHz job and throttled down to 75% speed, it happily can record the security camera and do browsing and other stuff all at the same time but consumes about the same power (28-35W) as the much slower HP machine did.

The only problem has been getting my old Win98 data logging laptop to see the file shares on the new Vista machine.  MS broke the backwards compatibility of Vista by changing the way in which file shares are secured.  You can still get Win98 machines to connect to a Vista / Win7 share but you have to install an update on the Win98 machine and hack the registry of both the Win98 and Vista machines to get it to work.  If you need the gory details you can find them on my blog here:

http://solarbodge.blogspot.com/2010/07/make-windows-98-see-vista-win7-shares.html
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http://solarbodge.blogspot.com/
3.58kWp & 800Ah LiFeYPO4 off-grid(ish). See 'Cobbled together PV in W.Sussex' (in "Show Us Yours")
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