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Crazyeights

Laptop or Netbook setup for shop

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Hello,

 

My boss owns 3 shops and is very hands off (nearing retirement). Sometimes I end up working at more than one location carting 100 lbs of labor estimating guides, manuals, not to mention tools, scan tools, ect around in the back of my Subaru. I do general repair foreign and domestic - no collision repair.

 

I was thinking if I had all my estimating software, labor guides, scan tool software ect setup on a netbook or inexpensive laptop it would make my life MUCH easier. Any software I buy or use has to be strictly above board. I don't want/can't use anything that isn't legit, but I also don't need the latest versions either.

 

Where can I find 3-5 year old CD-Rom (electronic) versions of labor guides, scan software, ect? I will be paying for this stuff myself so cost is a concern. Right now I own an old MTG-2500 Snap On scanner but the software I have is getting REALLY old.

 

Thanks a million for any suggestions.

 

Jeff

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Well it depends on exactly what you want to go for.

 

Is an iPad/tablet an option for you? Light wieght, LONG battery life, great ebooks app that reads PDF's very well, tons of apps available. You would still need your scanning tools, but you could get rid of all your books and that sort of thing. I have a laptop at home, and I use my iPhone more than it to do almost everything I need, including reading FSM's and that sort of thing. I rarely use my laptop anymore.

 

The thing about netbooks is that they are limited on ports, which if you wanted a computer to replace your scan tools and your books, you would need to make sure that you have several different types of ports available, especially for older cars. So I would stay away from a "netbook" and just focus on a laptop if a iPad/tablet won't work for your needs. Laptops are cheap enough now days that you can get one with options for not too much more than a netbook.

 

HTH!

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Laptop.

 

You will need storage space local to the device to store reference documents, files, part numbers, instructions, install and removal torque specs, etc.....

 

Or you could go with net book, and get a notebook paper binder and write that stuff down in it with a pen.

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I suggest that you look for something build to withstand dirt and getting bumped around, like a Toughbook or Thinkpad or something. It will cost you more up front but a shop environment is going to significantly shorten the lifespan of a consumer-grade laptop, especially one that costs less to begin with (you get what you pay for). It's better than having to pay for a replacement computer unexpectedly. Also invest in some backup software like Cobian so you're covered if it gets stolen or damaged. Good luck!

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Sounds like a laptop might be the way to go then. I need to start looking into what is available software wise. Thanks!

 

What I use is a Panasonic Toughbook,main reason is they have a serial port that is needed for many automotive applications,they also live in a workshop enviroment.

The model I use in the shop is a CF52 semi rugged business model and at Rallies a CF 19 full rugged.Thge CF52 is widescreen and decent speed so is a good choice for what you are looking to use it for as the full rugged models are small screens and not what you want to use all the time.

Dell also have a similar model to the CF52 that at least in Australia are used by Snap On Dealers maybe the same in the USA.

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If you find any info on a flat rate estimating guide for auto repair let me know. Been trying to find one for a while.

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this might be of interest to you..http://www.thinkgeek.com/electronics/cell-phone/e915/ ipad to obd ll connector idk how good it works but miight be interesting

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I use a Panasonic Toughbook cf-29 I would highly recommend any of the tough books. You can pick them up used Cheap. They are the same laptops you see in police cars. They are a bit heavy, but built like a tank. youtube toughbook.

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Thats what the Subaru scan tool is interfaced with now and has been for a few years. Worked great but its still fragile.

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If you are saying the tough book is fragile, we are talking about different laptops. I have seen trucks drive over them, tossed in a tub of water, go through a house fire and melt and still work. Tough book is also used by the troops over seas, police and fire departments, Unbreakable no, fragile..no way. Watch this video,

 

I guess it depends what model you are using in the shop.

 

 

 

This one too...

 

 

Edited by Rpm90001

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Toughbooks come in different levels of ruggedness. I have had one fully ruggedized (CF-28) and a semi-rugged (CF73). There might also be a step down from semi-rugged as well, that leaves off the port caps and carry handle entirely. The fully rugged have the fully sealed body, metal hinged port caps/doors, sealed keyboards, the works. The semi rugged had rubber port caps and was not fully sealed, i.e no sealed keyboard and had an opening for heat exhaust. The lighter duty ones are also significantly thinner and lighter weight - still far better than any plastic laptop.

 

I bought all of mine on eBay, that's where I was able to find the best pricess. I fully recommend the Toughbooks for shop use if you can find a good deal - I also always bought ones with a serial port for backwards compatibility with older instruments and programmers as well, fwiw. If you don't mind the small screens, any cheap netbook is also a consideration, I have used my wife's in the garage on many occasions, its small size and 'disposability' were key factors. ;)

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I got a great deal on mine, I bought a chineese generator that did not run for $40 put a $12 coil in it to get it running. Posted my $52 generator on craigs list looking to trade for laptop. Traded for a cf-29 in great condition! Nice machine. I have it in the garage all the time, all myy manuals are PDF. The guy I got it from bought a pallet of 80 of them from a cable company auction.

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Any idea on tech ref materials or labor guide software for foreign and domestic? Perhaps they are all subscription based and on the web these days?

 

Although I may get back to my main shop soon - I have brought my big roll away home and locked it up where it's safe. I am trying to put together a nearly complete and much more portable solution for tools like several smaller boxes organized first by metric and standard and then perhaps by job type. I have access to an Interro PDA 2100a 4 channel lab scope and it's been a great learning tool. Finally I can see accurate patterns on injectors, crank and cam sensors, ect. The Interro portable 5 gas is great too. Unfortunately I don't own those.

Edited by Crazyeights

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Any idea on tech ref materials or labor guide software for foreign and domestic? Perhaps they are all subscription based and on the web these days?

 

All Data or Mitchell on demand are about the only two out there. Personally I prefer All Data over and above Mitchell. All Data has a great shop management program as well.

 

Then there's the new Snap On stuff, where you can be at the car doing a diag, yet look up all the TSB's, flow charts, labor estimates, and how-to pages all from the same lap top and never have to leave the car to look different stuff up....it costs about 10k though.

 

I would figure your boss having three shops and you being a tech would already know about the above mentioned items.

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Ya, you would think so wouldn't ya:rolleyes: Our All-Data is an old CD-Rom based machine that hasn't been updated in years. Just trying to make the most out of what "I" can come up with myself.

 

Happy New Year everyone!

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