How can I control a PC from an Android tablet please?

By lists ·
I have an oldish Dell laptop running XP on my boat. It is used as the navigation computer and displays charts giving current position on the chart plus useful information. Some requires me to click on a target on the chart to get additional information, an example is a potential collision with a ship given by what is called AIS data. To save going below every time I hear the alarm I would like to see the PC screnn and click on it using a Tablet, probably an Android Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. I have looked hard for suitable software but most seems to assume both machines are on Internet. I would like to use a Bluetooth connection but could fit a wireless router to give a LAN with WiFi. Any suggestions as to what I could use please?

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All Answers

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Beyond the 'why this is not a good idea' answer

by robo_dev In reply to How can I control a PC fr ...

Such that my opinion is that relying on a WiFi connection to avoid something quite fatal like an impact with a cargo ship....well that would make me nervous. I assume this app is not actually used for steering and so forth?

On the PC, load up ThinVNC, this is a remote-control application that uses HTML5, so you can use the browser on any device to remote control your PC.

There is also an Android-VNC-Viewer, which would allow you to remote-control a PC running a VNC application such as UltraVNC. UltraVNC has been around a very long time and it's a very stable product. I use it to control/view my home CCTV cameras over my iPhone (with viewer app called MohcaVNC for iPhone).

The only tricky part, is if you need audio between the two devices, that would not work with VNC.

I would doubt that BlueTooth would have sufficient range, and most applications require the use of TCP/IP networking which the vast majority of BlueTooth devices do not support...thus you really need to use WiFi.

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Reponse To Answer

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Beyond the 'why this is n ...

I'm with you on not trusting Bluetooth or WiFi in this case. Why not use CAT-5 cross-over cable? Or why not just bring the laptop topside with you?

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by lists In reply to How can I control a PC fr ...

Many thanks for your help. Worry not about hitting a ship, I make the decision using the information available! I don't want the laptop on deck as there are several cables and it is fairly securely mounted. Bluetooth range required is about 3m so might work. The real problem is my knees don't like going up and down at frequent intervals now! I have dug out a Belkin cable router which should provide wireless if I need it. I will play with the VNC's thanks, all the ones I looked at now seemed expensive. I do have some old versions in my computer dated 2005 but guessed they would not be very current and not android of course.

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My view

by dcolbert Contributor In reply to How can I control a PC fr ...

Enable remote administration on XP if you haven't already - then connect via an Android RDP client (there are several available in the Android Market).

Obviously your Android tablet is unlikely to support a Cat-5 wired connection, so WiFi is going to have to be it - but it doesn't sound like this is real-time critical if right now you're walking up and down stairs to check out the updates. I doubt you'll be subject to a lot of war-driving attacks on your WiFi AP either - so being hacked doesn't seem like a major concern. WiFi should be fine - maybe do a site assessment to figure out what channel has the least noise and interference from other nautical radio sources.

PocketCloud and the 2X Client are the two RDP clients I use. The 2X Client has the advantage in my experience. Either way, I'd test it out first before you try it out on the water - the bigger concerns I would have is with remote access to a desktop OS from a mobile OS thin-client. It has limitations because you're accessing a full PC with mouse and keyboard designed interface from something where you're supposed to get around with your fingers.

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Reponse To Answer

by lists In reply to My view

Thanks very much for these comments. I had decided it was best to connect the laptop to a wireless router by Cat-5 and the tablet by WiFi. Being many miles from potential hackers does reduce attacks. Main problem I have found with interference is when a friend ignored my request to put his phone remote from the Autopilot, everything else on board is in receive mode so the router might cause similar problems, I will put it well away from the instruments. As the boat is just outside our house I can play as much as I like.The only thing I have to do on the laptop is screen taps so the lack of a keyboard is not a problem, mainly tap to select an AIS target and get its details.

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Reponse To Answer

by CharlieSpencer In reply to My view

lists, check the documentation on the wireless router. You should be able to configure it so it will only acknowledge communications from the devices you want it to. You could lock it down so it would only work with your tablet.

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Any volunteers here to sail to Tahiti to test this out :)

by robo_dev In reply to How can I control a PC fr ...

Reminds me of when a friend in IT had to setup a mobile-data system on a corporate Learjet. He spent two days having the pilot fly him back and forth in the sky to no place in particular.

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Reponse To Answer

by lists In reply to Any volunteers here to sa ...

Richer than me. All I have is is a 36ft sailing boat which my wife says has far too much electronics! It did take me once on my own from inside the Solent (which is between the Isle of Wight and mainland England, past the island of Alderney and to the harbour (St Petr Port) on the island of Guernsey. I took over there to take it in and tie up!

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Reponse To Answer

by OH Smeg Moderator In reply to Any volunteers here to sa ...

UM I don't know a 36 Footer can take you most places in reasonable comfort.

However if you want to see a lot of Electronics you should look on one of the Ocean Racers they are stacked with Electronics, so much so you don't want any water getting into the bilges.


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