Portable Low Power Computers – and the winner is….

Portable Low Power Computers – and the winner is….

September 14, 2018 2 By mark

So, a little background to this post can be found here http://m0iax.com/2018/07/17/man-portable-computing-for-amateur-radio/

Ive been looking for the best solution for low power portable computing for Amateur Radio for a while, and Ive spent a bit of money on it, and it turns out I already had the best option.

I got a small portable windows computer, the GPD Pocket, which is a noice little machine and runs windows and has its own screen like a mini-laptop. which is great as there is a lot of amateur radio software written for window. The negative point for this computer is the screen is difficult to see in very bright sunlight, and it only has one USB port.

I also got a LattePanda single board computer. this board is slightly bigger than the more well known raspberry pi but its designed to run windows. plus points are much the same as the GPD Pocket as it runs windows. The negative point being that although it is powered from a USB port it needs quite a bit of power to run.

So the winner is <drumroll> the computer that I had right from the start. The Raspberry Pi 3B+. I did spend a little more money (GBP40ish) on a “PiJuice” hat which provides battery back up and a clock which is desirable but not essential.

It uses low power so I can power it from a USB phone charger. There is plenty of software available for it, not as much as windows but I haven’t found an amateur radio digital mode yet that it cant handle. Its very small and light, so small that you could easily carry a spare one in your pocket just in case something goes horribly wrong. It uses an SD card has a hard drive so you can easily carry a spare one with a backup of your OS and installed programs on it just in case something goes horribly wrong. And at the time of writing they cost about GBP32 so if something does go horribly wrong replacing it is very inexpensive!

The raspberry pi has become my goto computer for Amateur Radio, and a few other little projects I have. its low price and small form factor with great performance for its cost and size put it way ahead of the others.

If you are wondering, for the LattePanda and Raspberry Pi screen I have a portable monitor (powered by USB) or I use my iPad/Phone to connect via VNC to view. Both the LattePanda and the Raspberry Pi are set up to create an ad-hoc wifi network if none is available so I can connect the iPad via that, or of course I can share the iPad/iPhone 4G connection and allow the computers to connect to that which enables internet time sync and reporting to PSKReporter/APRS-IS etc.