Computers on tour

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New Member
Ok I notice some people tour with a pc. I'd be interested in this. What type of PC (laptop I assume) and how do you get the power and the internet connections?? How do you pack it on the bike?


New Member
On our bikes!
Bigtallfatbloke said:
Ok I notice some people tour with a pc. I'd be interested in this. What type of PC (laptop I assume) and how do you get the power and the internet connections?? How do you pack it on the bike?

Our research before we left revealed lots of people who had problems with their laptops from all the bumping on the bike, so we bought a Panasonic from their toughbook series. It wasn't cheap but they are designed to take knocks and vibrations and can be very light as well. We added some further "insulation" with a custom made bag from SF Bags (online if you Google).

The battery on our CF-W4 model lasts quite a few hours, maybe 4-5?? Certainly if we are only writing journals and editing a few pictures every night, we can make it go a week without recharging.

If we stay in just one campsite, then we can recharge there. Otherwise, we've started to see power spots in the oddest places! Outside supermarkets, in shopping malls, in parking lots. If we are desperate, we just stop and charge it while we read a book or get groceries for a while. It doesn't come down to that very often though.

We can access the internet through wifi or with a cable where there are connections but this really varies from country to country. Hungary, for example, had wifi free in almost every campground!! In Italy, there was no free wifi and some internet cafes charged up to 9 euros an hour for access. Outrageous. We mostly don't bother connecting with our computer. Instead we put our journals and photos on a USB stick and just upload everything when we get to an internet cafe.
DEpends what you need it for.

I use a DEll Axim PDA protected in an "otterbox"


This has all the basic of MS Office as well as web browsing, email and the likes.

Memory is by compact flash or SD card and is limited only by the size and number of cards.

I run Memory Map for route planning, and otherwise use the built in packages for other purposes.

In the UK the number of free access points for wireless connection means that you can access the internet in most places every couple of days.

I have never felt the need for the bulk and weight of the PC as I can manage with the PDA
The other extreme is Steve Roberts Behemoth who definitely took a computer on tour!

His package was:

* Macintosh 68K (control GUI and primary workspace)
* Bicycle Control Processor (FORTH 68HC11)
* Ampro 286 DOS platform for CAD system
* Toshiba 1000 repackaged laptop for scrolling FAQ
* 80 MB hard disk space
* Audapter speech synthesizer
* Speech recognition board
* Trimble GPS satellite navigation receiver
* Audio and serial crosspoint switch networks (homebrew)
* PacComm packet TNC (VHF datacomm)
* MFJ 1278 for AMTOR (HF datacomm)
* Diagnostic tools (LED matrix, DPM, etc)
* Handlebar keyboard processor
* Ultrasonic head mouse controller
* Icom 2-meter transceiver; dedicated Larsen half-wave antenna on seat
* Radiation monitor
* Cordless phone and answering machine on RJ-11 bus
* Folding 6-segment aluminum console
* Fiberglass fairing

RUMP (white enclosure behind seat)

* Stereo System (Blaupunkt speakers, Yamaha 18W amp)
* 10 GHz Microwave motion sensor (security)
* UNGO physical motion sensor (security)
* Rump Control Processor (FORTH 68HC11)
* Audio crosspoint network, bussed to console
* Ampro DOS core module for heads-up display
* LED taillight switch-mode controller (including turn signal logic)
* Single LED taillight cluster
* Motorola 9600-baud packet modem for backpack link
* 7-liter helmet-cooling tank and pump
* Personal accessory storage
* Air compressor for pneumatic system
* 15 amp-hour sealed lead-acid battery (1 of 3)

Brain-Interface Unit (Helmet)

* Reflection Technology Private Eye display
* Ultrasonic head-mouse sensors
* Helmet lights (2)
* Life Support Systems heat exchanger for head cooling
* Setcom headset with boom microphone
* Rear-view mirror on gimbaled mount
* Jacks for stereo ear-insert headphones

SPARCpack (aluminum case atop RUMP)

* Sun SPARCstation IPC with 12MB RAM and 424 MB disk
* Sharp Color active-matrix display
* Motorola 9600-baud packet modem
* 10-watt solar panel


* 72-watt Solarex photovoltaic array (4.8 Amps at 12V)
* Qualcomm OmniTRACS satellite terminal
* Ham Radio station:
o Icom 725 for HF
o Yaesu 290/790 for VHF and UHF
o AEA Television transceiver
o Audio filtration and Magic Notch
o Antenna management and SWR/power meters
o Automatic CW keyer
o Outbacker folding dipole antenna on fiberglass mast
o Dual-band VHF/UHF antenna
* Oki cellular phone, repackaged and integrated
* Telebit CellBlazer high-speed modem
* Telular Celjack RJ-11 interface
* Credit card verifier for on-the-road sales
* Trailer Control Processor (FORTH 68HC11)
* Audio crosspoint network, bussed to console
* Bike power management hardware
* Two 15 amp-hour sealed lead-acid batteries
* Security system pager
* Canon BubbleJet printer
* Fluke digital multimeter
* Mobile R&D lab, tools, parts, etc.
* Makita battery charger (for drill and flashlight)
* Microfiche documentation and CD library
* Camping, video, camera, personal gear
* Fiberglass-over-cardboard composite structure
* High-brightness LED taillight clusters

But then again at a suggested $1.2 million dollar price tag for the machine, it is probably won't be within the budget of most tourers


Senior Member
What Cunobelin said. Go for a PDA with a large 640*320 display, wireless networkinging and probably a folding keyboard for blogging (bout the same size as a PDA). You can connect either via wireless hotspots or mobile phone if in the middle of nowhere. An external battery pack or solar charger might be useful.

A proper laptop containing a mechanical harddisk can still suffer on the road and really isn't necessary. Very small, light laptops are stupidly expensive and still clumsy when packed into a suitable protective case.


New Member
Bourne End, UK
As an experiment, I did take my Sony VIAO ultra portable with me once. It has excellent battery life and weighs less than a kilo, so I thought it would be good for communicating with my Garmin GPS (PDAs cant do this), sorting each days photos, updating the blog etc.

I carried the length of Germany and it never came out of its protective sleeve, I just couldn't be arsed at the end of the day and didn't feel like drawing attention toe the fact I had it with me.

However, ultra-portables needn't be mega expensive I did toy with they idea of this one for less then £500, but remembered Germany and stuck with a pen and paper.
Garmin GPS do communicate fully with PDAs.

Garmin Serial interface
CF Card serial interface
Null Modem

You may even find your PDA has an accessory Serial lead.

In the GPS world USB is a relatively new concept, and many of the simpler ones still use serial.

Both my Etrex and foretrex use Serial.

In my experience it was easier and more "future proof" to set up the PC and PDA to use Serial than to find a GPS with USB
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