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Integrated navigation system.

Allan

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17 Mar 2004
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Bristol
Recently I went to a talk at the cruising association by a guy from Digitalyacht. There were a number of interesting things discussed but it mostly got me thinking of nav systems.
If starting from scratch I would have a waterproofed tablet in the cockpit and something like a laptop or large tablet at the chart table. Both would run Navionics or similar. I have been wondering if its possible to have them linked, maybe by Bluetooth. The main reason would be to connect an AIS transponder to the lower one and view the input on the upper one. Does anyone know if this is possible?
Allan
 

GHA

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Hopefully somewhere warm
Recently I went to a talk at the cruising association by a guy from Digitalyacht. There were a number of interesting things discussed but it mostly got me thinking of nav systems.
If starting from scratch I would have a waterproofed tablet in the cockpit and something like a laptop or large tablet at the chart table. Both would run Navionics or similar. I have been wondering if its possible to have them linked, maybe by Bluetooth. The main reason would be to connect an AIS transponder to the lower one and view the input on the upper one. Does anyone know if this is possible?
Allan
Easy with a Raspberry Pi if you're happy with OpenCPN. Which is a superb charting prog, but charts can be an issue.
http://www.sailoog.com/en/openplotter
I use a sony xperia in the cockpit running both opencpn for android and navionics. The Pi transmits ais & GPS over wifi to the Pi. Works a treat, really good having the excellent opencpn AIS display in the cockpit.
 

pmagowan

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7 Sep 2009
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Northern Ireland
There are some propriatary systems that would do this and, as above, you can DIY with rasp pi or other basic computers. I would tend to go fot the proper plotter in the cockpit being that it will be fully waterproof with a screen that is visible in direct sunlight and can be used when wet. I would keep the tablets for below or on your person in a protective cover. Down below I would go more for a larger screen laptop or even integrated monitor at the chart table. There is no good reason why everything should not talk and even be visible from remote locations.
 

Allan

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Bristol
I've been giving it a little more thought and I'm wondering if I could do something with a standard network. I know very little about such things but I'm wondering if I can have navionics or similar running on a laptop and us it via a tablet connected via WiFi? All well beyond my knowledge level!
Allan
 

st599

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9 Jan 2006
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Alternatively, you could run OpenCPN on any PC, and share its desktop over WiFi using VNC: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_Network_Computing

Any other unit could connect and share the same desktop - although OpenPlotter seems to have this feature built in too so gives you the options of either sending the screen or the data around the boat.
 

pmagowan

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Northern Ireland
I've been giving it a little more thought and I'm wondering if I could do something with a standard network. I know very little about such things but I'm wondering if I can have navionics or similar running on a laptop and us it via a tablet connected via WiFi? All well beyond my knowledge level!
Allan
It depends on how much you want to learn and how much effort you want to put in. It is all very possible but if you really have no knowledge then it will take a bit of work and internet forum trawling and that assumes you are technically minded. Some people wouldn't be able to do it even with a manual. For them there are companies that already do it. Both the main plotter companies, Garmin and Raymarine, already have systems that allow you to interact from laptops and tablets. This would be most simple since you just buy the kit, plug it in and away you go. Of course, you will be somewhat restricted by what they allow you to do.

With rasberry pi (and similar computers and microcontrollers) there are forums that deal with very similar applications but it does come down to the level of writing your own code, or copying and pasting from others. I plan to go this route in the future and am currently in the very early stages of designing an integrated system for engine managment, fuel managment as well as things like multimedia and plotting. I have started from next to zero knowledge but am accumulating more and more online as well as setting up simplified practical versions at home. I know I can get each individual system to run but the integration is the tricky part as there are so many potential conflicts to work out.
 

GHA

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Hopefully somewhere warm
- although OpenPlotter seems to have this feature built in too so gives you the options of either sending the screen or the data around the boat.
Works OK but it's a bit clunky, opencpn for android is better. If and when signalK gains a bigger foothold on all things boat data related then a tablet to view it all could well become popular.
 

Tranona

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10 Nov 2007
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33,276
I've been giving it a little more thought and I'm wondering if I could do something with a standard network. I know very little about such things but I'm wondering if I can have navionics or similar running on a laptop and us it via a tablet connected via WiFi? All well beyond my knowledge level!
Allan
Depends really on what you mean by integration - or rather integrated navigation system. The wireless linking of PC and tablet is clearly possible, but you are only dealing with part of a nav system.

If you want a fully integrated system that integrates plotter, AIS, speed, wind depth and links up to an autopilot then given your lack of confidence with computers (just like me) you are perhaps better off staring from the other end with a full system from Garmin, Raymarine or B&G.

I have Garmin which at the helm has a plotter, a multifunctional display and control for the autopilot. There is a WIFI link to a tablet at the chart table. This all works seamlessly and has more programmable functions than you can shake a stick at. The only drawback is that you have to use the Garmin charts, but functionally they are fine - just pricy. The other two makers have similar systems.

Probably more expensive than going down the PC route, but depends where you are starting from. If you have nothing the dedicated route is probably the better route, but if you already have instruments and autopilot and just want to network them and link up to the plotting device then a PC based system has a lot going for it. However as you have seen it requires a degree of knowledge and there are different ways of achieving what you want. it also depends on what gear you already have.

So, in a way you are only asking part of the question. You need to assess what you have already and then define your objectives before choosing the best way of achieving them.
 

Strolls

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9 Mar 2015
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If starting from scratch I would have a waterproofed tablet in the cockpit and something like a laptop or large tablet at the chart table. Both would run Navionics or similar. I have been wondering if its possible to have them linked, maybe by Bluetooth.
OpenCPN at the chart table, VNC running on the tablet so that you can access it from the cockpit.

I haven't tested this - it is the solution which seems immediately obvious to me, so may well be wrong.
 

nimbusgb

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22 Oct 2005
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A long way from my boat! :(
Start by finding a daylight readable ip65 or ip66 touchscreen display that can be read in bright sunlight and 'touched' with gloved hands.

If you don't get that bit sorted then your home baked solution will always be frustrating to use.
 

pvb

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UK East Coast
Start by finding a daylight readable ip65 or ip66 touchscreen display that can be read in bright sunlight and 'touched' with gloved hands.

If you don't get that bit sorted then your home baked solution will always be frustrating to use.
This is a very sensible comment. I really don't understand the fascination of playing with tablets in something which might one day be a crucial situation (invariably in dreadful weather!) Dedicated plotters are proven and reliable - and waterproof. My Garmin system has wifi, and I downloaded the Garmin Helm app for my Android tablet; this allows you to view and control the plotter, but it's very clunky and, frankly, I wouldn't ever want to use it in a crucial situation. Nice toy, though, I suppose.
 

Birdseye

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25,639
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s e wales
I've been giving it a little more thought and I'm wondering if I could do something with a standard network. I know very little about such things but I'm wondering if I can have navionics or similar running on a laptop and us it via a tablet connected via WiFi? All well beyond my knowledge level!
Allan

I have a tablet which I use in the cockpit in good weather connected by wifi to the plotter below decks which in turn is connected to the pilot. Its a good tablet - a nexus 10 - with a good screen but its still not easy to use in rain or in bright sunlight. The other way round would be better ie plotter at the wheel and tablet below deck.

I have cpn on a lappy, navionics on plotter and on tablet and on phone., but what do I use for real navigation? The plotter first because I am lazy but even then passage planning is on paper charts. But when the plotter broke I reverted to paper not the lappy or the tablet. They really arent up to serious navigation yet.
 

LadyInBed

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2 Sep 2001
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Me - Zumerzet Boat - Wareham
With an integrated system, the main thing that I would want to integrate is my autohelm.
Personally I wouldn't (haven't) used a tablet / laptop as my main plotter, I use a dedicated chart plotter, but have tablet and laptop with OpenCPN for planning / backup.
 

bitbaltic

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Boat in Milford Haven
I think one of the big issues with tablets and laptops, is that they don't have a screen size advantage over the larger modern plotters that is significant enough to give them a USP as navigation devices for coastal navigators. I say coastal, because I use a little old Samsung NC10 as part of my nav kit for RORC races, and once out of sight of land where nav decisions are made in a longer timeframe, the need to get the widest possible context on a situation as quickly as possible- which, for those who knock paper charts, is where a lovely big bit of admiralty or Imray product will always have a USP- somewhat diminishes, and screen size becomes less (but not un-) important. For this reason I think a dedicated hard-wired navigation PC, which easily allows the biggest screen practical at the chart table (mine's a 17-inch display which s/h cost 20 quid), is the first thing around which a new nav system should be built. You then have the screen size to give the context wanted when sailing close to the coast, which you will not get from laptops or tablets, and also the advantages of genuinely powerful software- like proper GRIB display, weather routing, etc- that no plotter can yet properly deliver.

I second the point about people chucking tablets about in the cockpit and trying to make timely decisions with them in bright sunlight, rain, closing situations etc, especially if they have a marine chartplotter installed down below. Chartplotters excel at being reliable in the cockpit, that's what they are made for and where they belong. Tablets are an excellent low-cost solution if you're only going to have one form of electronic nav, but if you have a plotter, put it in the cockpit for goodness' sake :)
 

Allan

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Many thanks for the interest so far. Although I'm not deciding yet, let's go along this route:-
There seems some agreement that a chartplotter in the cockpit is a good idea. So I think a direct connection to that from an AIS transponder to that would sort things. I would now like to link this to something down below on which I could passage plan.
I'm not convinced linking things like wind, depth and autohelm need to be linked to chartplotting.
Allan
 

RichardS

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5 Nov 2009
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Home UK Midlands / Boat Croatia
Start by finding a daylight readable ip65 or ip66 touchscreen display that can be read in bright sunlight and 'touched' with gloved hands.

If you don't get that bit sorted then your home baked solution will always be frustrating to use.
The closest you're going to get to that without spending thousands is my Sony Xperia tablet. However, it's not perfect and I wouldn't want to totally rely on it as, apart from anything else, you just know that the battery will let you down when you need it most. :)

Richard
 

prv

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29 Nov 2009
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Southampton
I'm not convinced linking things like wind, depth and autohelm need to be linked to chartplotting.
I thought you wanted an integrated nav system :p

None of these links are essential, but I do find it slightly useful to have the wind arrow on the plotter - it makes it easier to take point-of-sail into account when deciding what to do. Wind direction is part of our surroundings in a sense, so drawing it along with the more physical ones is handy.

I use the autopilot control from the plotter more than I expected to. Again far from essential, but it's nice to be able to drop a cross on the chart, choose to "Go To" it, and then accept the offer to "Steer To" it as well, all in one step. If I'm feeling generous I'll even warn the helmsman first :p. If it were a choice of this or the wind arrow, I'd choose this.

Agree I can't think of any use for depth-sounder input into the plotter.

Pete
 

Tranona

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Many thanks for the interest so far. Although I'm not deciding yet, let's go along this route:-
There seems some agreement that a chartplotter in the cockpit is a good idea. So I think a direct connection to that from an AIS transponder to that would sort things. I would now like to link this to something down below on which I could passage plan.
I'm not convinced linking things like wind, depth and autohelm need to be linked to chartplotting.
Allan
The point is that if they are linked you can choose to have the information you want - speed, wind etc displayed on the plotter screen as well as being able to link to the autopilot to steer either to wind or a waypoint. Of course none of these are essential but if you are fitting the whole lot together it makes sense to have them linked then you have the choice.

The Garmin charts run on an Ipad as well so if you had a Garmin plotter you could do the planning on the Ipad (or indeed on a PC at home) and transfer to the linked up plotter at the helm. You can also then control the plotter from down below by WIFI.

Of course you may not see the need for all these permutations if you have never had them, but equally you may well find as others have done that they make life easier for you once you get the feel for how they can be used.
 

GHA

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Hopefully somewhere warm
Start by finding a daylight readable ip65 or ip66 touchscreen display that can be read in bright sunlight and 'touched' with gloved hands.

If you don't get that bit sorted then your home baked solution will always be frustrating to use.
Gloves would be a problem, but even in bright sunlight my xperia is useable. Far from frustrating in a cockpit with a tiller and an urge to keep gadgets optional.
 

pvb

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16 May 2001
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None of these links are essential, but I do find it slightly useful to have the wind arrow on the plotter - it makes it easier to take point-of-sail into account when deciding what to do. Wind direction is part of our surroundings in a sense, so drawing it along with the more physical ones is handy.

I use the autopilot control from the plotter more than I expected to. Again far from essential, but it's nice to be able to drop a cross on the chart, choose to "Go To" it, and then accept the offer to "Steer To" it as well, all in one step. If I'm feeling generous I'll even warn the helmsman first :p. If it were a choice of this or the wind arrow, I'd choose this.

Agree I can't think of any use for depth-sounder input into the plotter.
Almost fully agree. Having wind data displayed on the plotter is so useful. Being able to set the autopilot to follow a complex route automatically is also a big advantage. But I also value having depth data always on display in one corner of my plotter. I have multi-function instrument heads, one at each side of the cockpit, by the helms, and these are usually set to display wind data, so having the depth constantly to view on the plotter is vital - but maybe it's an East Coast thing!:rolleyes:
 
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