I need to purchase a ground station computer to run Mission Planner.
Looking for suggestions for a screen that is viewable in full sunlight. Most that I have seen are using a glossy screen that causes too much reflection. I have seen a couple matte screens on business class computers, but they didn't have much brightness. Maybe an external monitor is the way to go, if I can find a good one.
I'm sure someone here has been down this road before.

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I second this request, I have been using a Dell 17" power hungry laptop, with a glossy screen that is awful in sunlight, or indeed daylight! I think matt screen laptop is the way to go. I'd avoid using an extra screen though, the less you can carry the better. Interested to see what people have to say on the matter...

Agreed, my ground station is useless in the sun... :(

This is the one I use for my CGS with 2 batteries 


maybe too expensive (around 4K$) for you but so far its the best rugged laptop I ever own.

Very nice indeed, that's a tad on the pricey side fo rme! What do you think would be the minimum spec for a second hand panasonic toughbook? Would something like this be okay?

I've seen previous posts that recommend a Panasonic Toughbook for its sunlight viewable screen. Also good battery life, and tough, obviously.

CanberraUAV published a trick to make their regular laptops sunlight viewable by removing the plastic lid (to let light in the back). However they still have pics of their setup with big screen shades, so perhaps it isn't enough.

In my experience having the laptop plugged in (to a car cigarette lighter in the field for example) makes a big difference to the brightness. By default my laptop dims the brightness when running on battery. This is user selectable, but if I haven't got a power supply I prefer battery life over brightness.

We have been using IBM Thinkpad T42 and T43 with 14.1" matt screens, resolution 1024x768 and 1400x1050 respectively. Both have been a pain to use outdoors - even under a cloudy sky, it has been very hard to spot the pointer to actually navigate on the screen. I believe that even a glossy screen of new cheap models would be better.

Recently, we have purchased Panasonic Toughbook CF19. It is a huge difference, mainly because of the ne transreflexive technology used - the display is claimed to produce 6500nits under direct sunlight (that is in passive mode - backlight turned off). That is much more than all the other rugged notebooks (e.g. Toughbook CF31 has 1200 nits of active illumination).

This works perfectly, however the viewing angle for this configuration is a bit limited...you have to point the screen into the sun to actually take advantage of the transreflexive coating. Otherwise, you have to turn the backlight on (up to 500nits of active illumination) ... which provides perfect readability from all angles and under all conditions. It eats battery though.

Another nice feature is the ability to use the CF19 as a tablet. And it is much lighter than the full-size rugged pieces (such as CF31, B300, E6400XFR).


For start, you can find a test of rugged machines here:


We have also looked into the semi-rugged segment (e.g. Toughbook 53, C2; Dell E6420ATG), which features approximately half of the price-tag of the rugged segment. However the manufacturers operate with declarations such as "outdoor-light-enabled-screen" instead of hard numbers, therefore we decided to opt for the CF19. Generally, the higher the resolution of the screen, the harder it is to illuminate (because of the smaller pixel-pitch).

@Richard: I would go for the second-hand toughbook, it should be powerful enough to support the APM.

for the second hand laptop , usually the battery life is really short so try buy a new one to avoid surprise in the field.

I think most screens can  be 'saved' by adding a matte screen protector sticker.  That is what I recommend for most tablet users of Andropilot.

A tent!

I have a laptop shade/hood thing and it works wonders

snaps on to the screen and it was like $25. 

it will also work on future laptops!

The Pixel Qi display is an interesting solution to the daylight readability problem...



There are laptops available with the display but they seem to be rather expensive.

The stand alone display from adafruit might be a way to get it into a groundstation setup.

I have a sunbook that is a Samsung laptop with the pixelqi screen in it.

In bright sun it turns black and white, but 100% easily readable. 

You can buy the laptop and then buy the screen, or buy one already assembled...


Not involved with the company, just a happy user.

Cheers for the info chaps, think i'll go for a Panasonic Toughbook CF-19 Mk2, looks like I can get one for about £400 second hand. And with a new battery I should get about 7 hours on a single charge. The only thing that would be good is to have a water resistant USB connection between the toughbook and the 3dr. I have built a water resistant case for the 3dr radio. Being in the UK i normally fly in the rain!


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