MV's Computer Filters

Ideas, advice, tips, and tricks regarding the building and creation of mutant vehicles in Black Rock City
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peachandpapa
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MV's Computer Filters

Post by peachandpapa » Wed May 14, 2014 12:52 pm

For the first time our MV's visuals will be run by a laptop computer. If the computer fails, so does our MV. Does anyone have any experience/ideas on keeping the dust out of a computer on the playa?
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Token
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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by Token » Wed May 14, 2014 3:41 pm

Perfect application for a raspberry pi or similar fanless micro pc. Or even one of the tablets provided it has the I/O you need.

Dust is even worse on an MV cuz it makes plenty of it.

Some suggestions:

Get one of those rubber roll-up keyboards that are 100% sealed.
Create a filter material block as a laptop stand if it has bottom vents. Add more for side vents/intake. Remove laptop in camp and blow out as much dust.
Bring a spare laptop.
Get a bushel of compressed air cans. Use them regularly.

If you are running primarily at night, might be cool enough to build some kind of box with a few filters and some forced air convection (fans).

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Captain Goddammit
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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by Captain Goddammit » Wed May 14, 2014 4:55 pm

I keep my electronics in a cabinet inside my MV and they stay pretty clean. I like putting things in ziplock bags too, with duct tape to seal where cables come through.
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peachandpapa
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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by peachandpapa » Thu May 15, 2014 1:48 pm

Token & Capt thank you for the replies. Unfortunately I cannot use a tablet for the applications we're using. The box idea with the filters/fans and giving the machine a daily scrubbing sounds like the plan!
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forty_eight
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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by forty_eight » Thu May 15, 2014 1:57 pm

Captain Goddammit wrote:I keep my electronics in a cabinet inside my MV and they stay pretty clean. I like putting things in ziplock bags too, with duct tape to seal where cables come through.
I'm not electrically inclined ... do ziplocks increase the risk of static?

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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by Captain Goddammit » Thu May 15, 2014 3:08 pm

48_love wrote: I'm not electrically inclined ... do ziplocks increase the risk of static?
Nothing has blown up with too much loss of life and property yet.
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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by forty_eight » Thu May 15, 2014 4:11 pm

rofl

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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by trilobyte » Thu May 15, 2014 4:52 pm

I'm giving this a nudge over to the Transportation board, since that's a better fit for general preparation questions. The year-specific board is intended more for announcements and updates on specific projects for that year's event. Feel free to post a new thread over there telling us all about your project. Names, pics, details, dreams, intentions, etc... Sometimes reading about other people's kickass stuff helps inspire us to get moving on our own playa projects :)

As for specific answers, there's already been some great stuff said. Here are a few extra things...

Heat is your enemy. Since the dust coats and insulates anything it gets on, it's your enemy too (in the long-term, the corrosive nature of the dust is also a problem, but let's just worry about you getting through the week).

Some kind of ziploc or sealed bag only really works for storage. A separate closed compartment to shield it from the sun (during daytimes, even when it's turned off) and the wind are essential. There needs to be airflow (the laptop needs it for cooling), but you want to make sure it's got something to filter the air.

If you're spec'ing the machine, I'd recommend SSD over spinning HDD. You can get a smaller SSD for not a whole lot of money to swap out an HDD on an existing machine, there are a few advantages. SSD's don't have moving parts, so are less susceptible to failures and damages associated with a bumping/bouncing vehicle. They also don't run as hot, and for bonus points (which you may not need for the project) load things really fast.

Consider getting (or bringing) a spare power supply. When a power supply gets too hot, it fails and stops working... so having an extra on hand could end up saving you.

Get a few cans of compressed air. Once or twice a day, when the weather's clear, pull the lappy out of it's safe place and use liberal amounts of compressed air to blow all the dust out of the machine. Air intakes and exhaust, keyboard, ports, you name it.

Some kind of laptop stand is a good idea. Normally people buy them to put the lappy on a slight angle on the desk, but the other thing they do is lift the back end up a bit so air can pass through and the machine runs a little cooler. If you don't already have one you can probably make something easily enough, and then use velcro or some other solution to hold it in place on the stand.

While there's a lot to be said for cheap (aka disposable) laptops, you do get what you pay for. Low end machines are made with lower end components, and not designed for more than a couple hours use at a time doing light duty computing (surfing and email), in normal environments. If you've got a solid machine for the project, use that and take good care of it (with tips I've shared plus whatever else you come up with).

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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by Captain Goddammit » Thu May 15, 2014 5:42 pm

Since he said it was for controlling lighting effects, I'm going on the assumption it will only be used at night.
Assuming that, I think sun and heat won't be problems, I think dust protection will be the biggie.
If your system doesn't require a particularly expensive laptop, I would bring a spare. MV-ing has taught me to bring spare everything. Especially critical if-this-one-thing-fails-we're-screwed parts.
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unjonharley
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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by unjonharley » Thu May 15, 2014 5:48 pm

It only takes a few min. to fry a disc (walkman) player in the sun..

Been there did that more than once..
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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by peachandpapa » Fri May 16, 2014 2:12 pm

Trilo, thanks for the hot tips. Our MV is a night time only machine so, hopefully, heat should not be a problem. As you mentioned, our biggest concern is the corrosive dust. We have found some keyboard and screen skins but there is nothing on the market specifically to keep dust out of the fan/intake ports.
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Rice
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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by Rice » Sun May 18, 2014 12:23 pm

One other thing no one has mentioned is moisture. It does not always rain during the burn, but when it does - electronics usually have a bad time (considering that Playa dust is also kinda conductive if it is moist).

Bring something water proof to protect the laptop if it rains. Do not try to keep it on, just power the thing off and get it protected ASAUP.
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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by Badger13 » Tue Jun 03, 2014 1:17 pm

Tanking from the Tent in a Tent idea for cooling . . .

Idea : Get an x86 case and pack it with 80mm or 120mm fans all aimed to on Exhaust and work to keep the dust and heat out. On the inlet side filter/foam mesh that can easily be cleaned / changed.

DC fans running solar/battery with a controller. . . .

Laptop is placed in side the case while running and then back to storage when not needed. Also, the case can be sealed up pretty tight with weather stripping onsite /as needed.

its not a hardened solution but might fit the bill . .

Ideas. . .
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Captain Goddammit
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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by Captain Goddammit » Tue Jun 03, 2014 1:35 pm

Here's what I'd do if I were using a computer aboard my MV.
Get a cheap external keyboard and display. Let them get playa trashed and keep the laptop tucked away out of the elements.
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Re: MV's Computer Filters

Post by maladroit » Tue Jun 03, 2014 3:04 pm

Anecdotal experience...a friend uses a Macbook to DJ on his MV and doesn't protect it in any way. No problems. I brought a Macbook to program our art structure last year and used it for a few hours in a dust storm with no ill effects (using it right now in fact). Other electronics were coated in dust and continued to function.

I think that if you can accept the possibility of the computer dying shortly after it returns someplace humid, it'll probably last through the week. Your biggest problems on playa are going to be switches, keys, slide pots, anything that requires a mechanical contact to be made. Once you get back, take it apart and use a lot of compressed air until no more dust comes out.

I'll agree that some sort of fanless/passive cooled computer would be better. They are really popular for home theater systems.

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