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Old 02-28-2019, 05:32 PM   #1
Island Girl
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Default For Electronics Wizards

I want to remotely access a computer or tablet at my camp during the winter. The camp will not be heated. My router and webcams work perfectly all winter long.


What kind of computer or tablet would function best and not blow up or have the capacitors blow or the hard drive.


I would prefer using an old windows laptop since Windows is easy for my. My second choice in an iPad 2.


What will happen to these if I keep them plugged into power and turned on all winter. Will a regular hard drive stop functioning. Will capacitors pop? Will the screens freeze and stop the computer/tablet from working?


I know the specs for these devices are in the 20s F. I want to know what happens at lower temps. Will the devices somehow overheat and cause a fire?


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Old 02-28-2019, 05:56 PM   #2
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Default transfer the files?

Depending on what it is that you are trying to access on the camp computer, maybe there is a different answer....maybe transfer the files to a computer that you have at your primary residence? If it is a cloud application, it can be accessed from any computer.
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Old 02-28-2019, 06:12 PM   #3
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My initial thought is you shouldn’t worry about capacitors or overheating. Low temps keep things cool. With regard to hard drive on an old laptop I think it depends on how much use it has on it. All hard drives have a life (how many times it spins and does a read/write cycle) and it will be on 24/7. I also don’t think screen failure will cause the unit to shut down. You might want to invest in a good UPS (uninteruptable power supply) to manage power outages and power spikes.

Be interested in knowing what you are thinking about doing that you need to remotely access a camp computer during the winter.


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Old 02-28-2019, 06:14 PM   #4
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Default Router

Sometimes I want to access my router, change webcam settings, etc. this is not essential just nice to have.
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Old 02-28-2019, 06:40 PM   #5
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If you're feeling adventurous you could get a little Rasberry Pi PC and install an operating system like NOOBS or Ubuntu (my favorite) on it. Then you could SSH to your router, webcam, etc. It doesn't require a screen once you've got it setup and running. It's not very complicated. About 50 bucks.

I've left my old junker Dell (work) laptop in my car continuously for years and it never seemed to be bothered by the cold. In fact they love being cold. I'm sure it was subject to below zero temps many times. I couldn't kill the thing. I wouldn't be concerned about leaving an old laptop running all winter. I'd just set the hard drive to spin down after inactivity. If you're worried about it bursting into flames, just stick it inside the oven. I've got old laptops stacked up like cord wood.

Last edited by welch-time; 02-28-2019 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 02-28-2019, 06:41 PM   #6
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I would not worry about capacitors. If you are concerned with the hdd just use an ssd instead. You could set it up with GoToMyPC or something similar and be able to logon from anywhere.

Use something with an led screen, not lcd.
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Old 02-28-2019, 06:41 PM   #7
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Post Commercial or Ruggedized

Hi Island Girl,

There are a couple of ways to go about this:

Use a standard computer or ipad:

These are typically designed with components to meet commercial temperatures (0 degrees to 85 degrees C). So you won't see a manufacture specifying a wider range than that for your typical home computers. That all being said, there is a lot of discussion on the net about operation below the specification:
  • If the computer is left operating there is heat generated which will keep some components at a higher temperature than ambient.
  • The cold temperature issues that are most talked about with a computer are condensation (not an issue if the computer is just left running), disk drive lubricants and electrolytic capacitors.
  • From what I have read, IPADs will lose touch screen operation and potentially have battery charging issues at low temperatures.

There are extended temperature laptops designed to meet MIL-STD-810G operating temperatures
  • Most MIL-STD-810G devices will operate down to -30 C to -40 C.
  • You can buy a used Panasonic Tuffbook for about $700 https://www.tuffbooks4less.com/panas...iABEgJmdPD_BwE
  • There are some ruggedized tablets but they typically only have about a -10C low end operating temperature guarantee.

So, you can give a commercial grade computer a shot and see if it works. Alternatively, you can look for a reasonably priced ruggedized computer which will meet the temperature requirements.

Last edited by jetskier; 02-28-2019 at 06:45 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 02-28-2019, 09:03 PM   #8
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Most routers and webcams support administration remotely, not requiring a client computer on the local network. Have you looked into this? You may not need to set up a computer on your local network and remote to it to manage these. Just a thought.
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Old 03-01-2019, 09:17 AM   #9
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Default Old Laptop

I've been using an old Dell laptop for 10 years now and it survived quite well in an unheated camp. Its on 24x7 and it plugged into a UPS that helps with the quick power outages. Otherwise, it requires a manual press of the power button. As long as its running its generating enough heat for itself. But even when its been off for a couple of weeks due to a power outage it comes right back. Having an SSD drive would probably help even more since its less moving parts.

I also use a free version of Teamviewer to remote access the laptop.
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Old 03-01-2019, 09:27 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Island Girl View Post
Sometimes I want to access my router, change webcam settings, etc. this is not essential just nice to have.
You don't really need a computer running at your cottage.

Depending on your router you can usually enable remote administration and access the router directly from the internet. All routers I've encountered have that feature but it is usually disabled by default.

Once you've logged in to your router just setup port forwarding to your webcam and other devices you want to access remotely. Let's say your outside IP is 123.456.7.890. You can tell your router to send any traffic for 123.456.7.890:6767 (6767 is the port number you assign) to 192.168.1.111 (for example) on your local network. If that is setup you can reach the login screen for your webcam through a simple link on your remote computer.

I manage the WeirsCAM, Anchor Marine CAM and Flightcraft CAM through port forwarding on their routers. I have bookmarks to all 3 cams and routers so I can access their login pages remotely with one click on a remote computer.

If you do setup port forwarding or remote admin on your router make sure your login pages have complex passwords in case someone on the internet stumbles into your login page.
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Old 03-01-2019, 10:33 AM   #11
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Great advice webmaster!


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Old 03-01-2019, 07:00 PM   #12
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Thanks for all the replies. I used to know this stuff in a previous life.
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Old 03-01-2019, 07:44 PM   #13
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If you go the PC route.

I think any pc would generate enough of it's own heat to keep from freezing; maybe put it inside a large box or a small closet to contain the warmth. Another consideration is to set up the pc to turn back on by itself if there is a power loss.
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Old 03-07-2019, 12:27 PM   #14
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Most laptops or PCs would be fine, even in an unheated space.

Throw a machine you like in there, put Teamviewer on it, and you're pretty much done.

Yes, there are both easier options from a technical perspective, and more robust/flexible options, but there is power in sticking with what you know
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