[CQ-Contest] new hamshack computer

Michael Adams mda at n1en.org
Tue Nov 22 21:19:07 EST 2022

Over the summer, I joined the Mac family when I was looking for a lightweight laptop with decent power, good battery life, and the ability to charge off USB-C.   I got it because my work laptop is so locked down as to be unusable for personal communications, and my current Windows laptop and its power brick are rather bulky, and its battery life sucks.  (It’s a "gaming laptop" -- lots of memory, lots of power, great graphics...all at the expense of a high power draw.)

There are a lot of things I like about the Mac, but after a couple of experiences of using it with a transceiver when operating portable....I'm not a fan of the ham software I've used so far with it.

Perhaps that's more a reflection of my being used to the ham software available on PCs, and not having taken the time to climb the learning curve for the relevant Mac applications.  But I'm thinking about going portable for a QSO party in the spring, and I've started to contemplate the logistics about lugging my Windows laptop for that adventure, so I can use N1MM.

My $0.02 worth for the original question -- For "just a shack computer": 
* an i5 or an i7 processor (or whatever the AMD equivalent is), speed mostly irrelevant
* at least 16GB RAM (you could probably make do with 8 if you never multitask)
* solid state drive, size determined by other uses (probably minimum 500GB)
* minimum 1 HDMI/DP port if you have an ultrawide monitor; 2 such ports if you're using normal-width monitors
* if you need it and get a desktop, add a real serial port, either by PCI card, or if the motherboard supports it, cabling the port directly into the appropriate socket on the MB
* extra sound interface (a good USB fob is probably sufficient) for interface with the transceiver

If you splurge, my preference would be for extra money to go towards extra RAM first....but that's a reflection of my bias towards running too many programs on a computer at once.

The most recent Windows machine I bought for ham purposes was an impulse buy of a small (5"x4.5"x1.5") no-name PC off Amazon: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0977YQT3K   I got it for less than $300 a year ago.   I was uncertain about buying an unknown Chinese brand machine, but at that price it seemed like an acceptable gamble for a project toy.

It's not my shack computer, but it is running my cluster node, some home automation tasks, and I've done some Office work on it as well without issue.  I expect it'd be fine for most ordinary shack purposes.  It's advertised as being able to be mounted on the back of a monitor (saving desk space/reducing desk clutter), but I'd be a little concerned about doing that if the monitor tends to run warm.

I haven't looked to see if there are newer/better such machines available on the market; I imagine there might be.  I wouldn't be terribly surprised if some of those had discounted prices on Friday.   Just read through the reviews before buying, to reduce the risk of investing in a lemon.

Michael Adams | mda at n1en.org

-----Original Message-----
From: CQ-Contest <cq-contest-bounces+mda=n1en.org at contesting.com> On Behalf Of Gary J Ferdinand
Sent: Tuesday, 22 November, 2022 16:03
To: af5cc at fidmail.com
Cc: Gerry Hull <vy1aaa at vy1ja.ca>; Ron Notarius W3WN <wn3vaw at verizon.net>; CQ-Contest at contesting.com
Subject: Re: [CQ-Contest] new hamshack computer

I’d get a Mac of appropriate size :)

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