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Old 02-19-2014, 01:42 PM   #29
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I just ordered a bluetooth VMSpc unit. Whoever told you they were not being sold is either uninformed or trying to dump his old inventory. And I bought the Dell Venue 8 Pro. Great combination.

Why not use Bluetooth? That way my Venue 8 can be charged all the time with no worries about battery life. And there will only be one wire to the Venue, a power cord. So why are you guys down on Bluetooth?

The Venue 8 Pro runs Windows, so I will get the full version of VMSpc. Advantages of the tablet are size, weight, and touchscreen. For the small price of around $200 at Staples, I don't see the logic in using a laptop of any kind.
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Old 02-19-2014, 03:48 PM   #30
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I should have posted sooner, but I am retired, and I can’t (won’t) do more than one thing a day. ;-) That being said, I wanted to report back on my results with the Dell Venue8 Pro and VMSPC on my 500 mile trip. (From Yuma to Johnson Valley, Ca and back –lots of really rough roads getting to the location in JV)

It was a complete success. It worked better than I had hoped. The display is easy to read in full daylight, the older RS-232 serial JIB works perfectly with the Bluetooth adapter, and the Bluetooth connects flawlessly to the tablet. Using Bluetooth solves the problem of getting data into the tablet and getting external power. It is an easy and cheap way to do the interface. Not the only way, but it was the best way for me. (Especially since I already had the serial JIB.) I have read articles on the internet about powering the tablet and using USB simultaneously, and I even got it working, but the Bluetooth solution is an easier – no fuss way to do it – in my opinion.

The RAM mount I got is perfect, too. It holds the tablet in its case and doesn’t vibrate much and holds its viewing angle perfectly. (I had lots of problems with the 7" monitor both vibrating and staying at the correct viewing angle)

So if you’re looking for a really clean way to view VMSPC, I recommend my solution in the OP.

Best regards to all, and to all that posted – thanks for your input and suggestions. I find the greatest ideas reading the threads on this forum.

Don
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Old 02-19-2014, 04:07 PM   #31
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I guess I should add a note about USB/Power. It appears that the Venue8 Pro is designed not to be able to use USB and charge at the same time. There is a sensing circuit on the USB connector that looks for a short on the data pair, and if it's there, and there's power on the power pair, it charges. If there's not a short on the data lines, it expects data and does not charge. I have no idea why they designed it that way, but that's the way it is. If you put a momentary short on the data pins when the charging cable is connected and then remove the short, it will charge and do data simultaneously. I have confirmed this for myself.
While making a cable to do this is not difficult, I felt the Bluetooth solution was easier and more foolproof. IMHO.
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Old 02-19-2014, 07:02 PM   #32
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Don: Which BT adapter did you buy? Don't they require some sort of power?

Thanks
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Old 02-20-2014, 07:24 AM   #33
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Looks like a slick way to do it. Thanks for the info , pictures , and idea.
I also have the old serial port JIB. Have been using a laptop , but your tablet solution is much cleaner.
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Old 02-20-2014, 09:51 AM   #34
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Moisheh:

Here's the link to the BT adapter:Bluetooth Embedded to RS232 Serial Adapter Communication Module Mini USB | eBay

There's a picture of it in the original post.

It comes with a rechargeable battery, but you need to supply a mini USB cable to power/charge it. I use a cigarette lighter cell-phone charger, which works fine.

Don
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Old 02-20-2014, 04:50 PM   #35
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Don
Do you have a cover or case on the tablet so it fits better in the RAM mount, I just tried mine without any cover and it doesn't want to stay in place.

Thanks
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Old 02-23-2014, 08:05 AM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DennisZ View Post
I just bought one of the Dell Venue 8 Pro's at Staples today, they are on sale for $229.95 and you get a $25 Staples gift card by mail in addition to that.
Figures! I had gone ahead and ordered one from Office Depot's $249 sale (plus an additional $10 off coupon I had from their WorkLife Rewards loyalty program.) I could've waited for the sale at Staples and saved myself the frustration of having to call Office Depot to adjust my bill - this is the second time I've ordered something on sale from them, yet they bill me the full price! A 10 minute phone call fixed it, but it shouldn't have been necessary.

I've played with Windows 8 on the tablet, and my first impressions are that it's not nearly as usable and refined as using an iPad:
  • Most controls are tiny and difficult to hit accurately with your finger
  • most screens can't zoom in to make it easier to manipulate those tiny controls
  • The on-screen keyboard doesn't open automatically when entering a text field (you have to tap the keyboard icon on the bottom of the screen)
  • The on-screen keyboard doesn't close automatically when exiting a text field (you have to tap the X button to dismiss it)
  • The on-screen keyboard doesn't have a tab or "next" button, you have to tap on the next text field on the screen (which might be below the keyboard so you have to scroll the screen first)
  • and many other complaints about overall usability and convenience (but that's not really germane to this thread and this post...)

But the tablet does have one big advantage over the iPad: it runs VMSpc!

While Windows does have some features to make it usable with a touch screen, it really does need a mouse and keyboard to make it reasonably efficient. (I guess that's why it seems that all of the commercials about Windows tablets show people constantly attaching and detaching portable keyboards!) To that end, I ordered one of these: Rii 02+ Mini Bluetooth Wireless Touch Keyboard Mouse + Laser + Backlight CN49



It's tiny, but it works! Not as good as a desktop full size keyboard and mouse, but much better than trying to use just the touch screen. It's small and portable, and can be kept by the drawer up front by the driver's seat. All for $15.99 with no tax and free shipping. Hard to beat that! It ships direct from overseas, but is still only took a few days - ordered it Tuesday noon, had it in my mailbox on Saturday. Not bad when you consider that Amazon's free shipping from just a few states away can sometimes take two weeks.

I've come up with an initial screen layout that has just about every gauge on it. I'll have to play with it for a couple trips to see which ones have useful information, and what I will want to rearrange. If there's interest, I'll post about the layout at that point. I had trouble getting a good layout with my little Acer netbook, as all of the gauges had a thick white border which limited the amount of useful screen space. Interestingly, while not as bad as on the Acer screen, this tablet also has more of a border than my regular computer. I initially made up the screen layout on my desk, and when I moved it to the tablet I had to re-do some of it because the borders changed making things smaller. In this picture of a closeup of the exact same layout, ignore the differences in the (poor) photo quality, look instead at the white borders around each of the fields and note how it eats up some of the precious screen space: (On the netbook, the borders were more than twice as thick than the tablet!)



So I've got the tablet and installed VMSpc, and I've got the keyboard/mouse. Now all I have to do is get the VMSpc JIB, and a Ram mount. Oh yeah, and I have to dig the motorhome out of the snow bank and get it on the road soon - the first dog show of the season is only a few weeks away...
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Old 02-23-2014, 08:38 AM   #37
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What great posts!! JeepTJ: Did you install that Bluetooth adapter in some sort of case? I would be afraid of damage. Thanks
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Old 02-23-2014, 08:48 AM   #38
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Just to save you a little more time, the mount that the OP used is to big for the tablet without some kind of cover. I did find a mount that should work fine, it is the same mount except it has end pieces that are smaller and should fit the tablet perfectly, still waiting for my new ends. The part number RAM-HOL-tab-smu. You should be able to find them a lot of places, the one I used is GPSCITY.com.

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Old 02-23-2014, 09:07 AM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DennisZ View Post
Adam
Just to save you a little more time, the mount that the OP used is to big for the tablet without some kind of cover. I did find a mount that should work fine, it is the same mount except it has end pieces that are smaller and should fit the tablet perfectly, still waiting for my new ends. The part number RAM-HOL-tab-smu.
Thanks! I was just returning from the Ram Mount page, with the URL for that exact mount on my clipboard. I had noticed your prior post about the poor fit without a case, and was going to ask if anyone had experience with that mount. I'm going to wait until you get yours and report about the fit before I order one. No point in both of us being guinea pigs! :wink:

I plan on dedicating this tablet to the motorhome, and it will spend 99.9% of its life in that Ram mount. So I don't think I need a cover for it and don't want the extra bulk.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:09 AM   #40
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On a side note, I just remounted my 8" HP laptop in my new coach in the same position/location I had it in the Monaco. (Old Monaco photo).



I fired up the program and it didn't work....I called SilverLeaf and they had me change com ports. After that it was really slow, only showed half of the trans info and several of the gauges would quit and then come back.

I bought mine about five years ago and the JIB box has been upgraded since then. Apparently, my older model couldn't read the faster information being produced by my 2013 engine. SilverLeaf told me to send it back and they'll update it. Great service and I can't wait to get it back.

I used it on my first trip before I returned it. Most of the gauges worked and for the first time......I saw my new 450 HP ISL hit 423 HP (I know it's only estimated).
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Old 02-23-2014, 05:09 PM   #41
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It will be about 2 to 3 weeks before I get the new end pieces, they are on backorder, but the complete mounts should be available, I just didn't want to spend the extra bucks. I won't be able to use it for the next month or so anyhow.

Dennis
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Old 02-23-2014, 07:24 PM   #42
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Dennis, there's no rush, I've got way too much stuff to do these days. I probably won't get to it before then, but if I get the time and get impatient, I'll order it. If not, I'll wait to see what you post. I've been trying to figure out a setup I can live with for years now, another month or two wont make a difference.
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