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Old 11-04-2012, 13:09   #1
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Digital radar without the proprietary display?

I make chart software (much like OpenCPN) and overlay radar data on top of the chart. Currently, I plug the analog video signal from the radar into a very expensive "radar server" that crunches the analog video data and outputs nice digital scan lines onto the network via ethernet. I plug in my computer, connect to the IP address of the radar server and plot the lines.

Thus, I display radar data on my own software.

Does anyone know any alternative to this system? It's closed and expensive.

I'm seeing many radar units now that output something digital directly to the network via ethernet. eg: this Furuno model

However, I called them and some other manufactures to ask what format the data is output and if they offer an SDK to help write code to use the data. The answer was No. You can ONLY plug these units into a matching display made by Furuno, you cannot get this data into your own viewer or software.

Am I wrong here? Is anyone making a digital radar unit that does not require an extra expensive box to digitize and use?

Thanks for any suggestions!

Noland
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Old 11-04-2012, 13:45   #2
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Re: Digital radar without the proprietary display?

No, I'm not selling anything. I'm trying to avoid purchasing closed hardware (like radar servers and PCI cards) and still get a radar data overlay in OpenCPN and similar open software.

We have radar units outputting digital data now so wouldn't it be ideal to incorporate this into our charting software without having to purchase extra hardware? It could just be a matter of someone developing the right software...

I'm just having trouble finding any radar manufacturers who want to publish their digital data formats and want to know if anyone has any leads on this.
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Old 11-04-2012, 19:14   #3
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Re: Digital radar without the proprietary display?

Rosepoint uses a koden black box radar unit that converts analog I guess like you are doing. I would think they also want a better pure digital offering. I doubt you will have much luck getting a sdk from Simrad or Furuno. How about developing a radar?
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Old 11-04-2012, 19:24   #4
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Re: Digital radar without the proprietary display?

Yeah, as I'm digging deeper into this, it seems all the big players offering ethernet enabled radar have a lock down on the protocol in the hopes of selling their own displays. They seem to be moving towards the total integration scheme so everything on your boat--radar, GPS, AIS, fish finder, compass, etc--is made by one company and talks a proprietary protocol.

This really ties the boat owner to one manufacturer: once you buy a Garmin radar you can't buy a Furuno GPS and get them on the same display. Probably good sales strategy but bad for boat owners.

If anyone knows of other options to get radar data into a PC on the cheap...??

Here's an excellent article on the subject written back in 2005
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Old 11-04-2012, 19:38   #5
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Re: Digital radar without the proprietary display?

The developer of OpenCPN has been working on this:

OpenCPN Radar Overlay PlugIn

Unfortunately, he needs someone to donate a Garmin radome so that he can continue the work.

I would certainly like to see this move forward.

There is also an open source project for Navico/Lowrance/Simrad Broadband Radar:

OpenBR24 | Free software downloads at SourceForge.net
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Old 11-04-2012, 20:28   #6
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Re: Digital radar without the proprietary display?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NahanniV View Post
The developer of OpenCPN has been working on this:

OpenCPN Radar Overlay PlugIn

Unfortunately, he needs someone to donate a Garmin radome so that he can continue the work.

I would certainly like to see this move forward.

There is also an open source project for Navico/Lowrance/Simrad Broadband Radar:

OpenBR24 | Free software downloads at SourceForge.net

Theres no point in reverse engineering closed radar protocols, like Garmins, all that happens is they make small software changes and it all stops working and you have to continually hack the protocol. It must be an open system with a published API. That way the manufacturer has a responsibility to the third party programmers who are interfacing to the unit.

Dave
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Old 12-04-2012, 06:00   #7
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Re: Digital radar without the proprietary display?

Quote:
they make small software changes and it all stops working
Wouldn't that also cause their own products to stop working ? Or at least cause compatibility issues ?

Perhaps now that these protocols are being reverse engineered one of the manufacturers might see the wisdom of being the first to publish their interface.

Cheers,
JM.
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Old 12-04-2012, 06:31   #8
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Re: Digital radar without the proprietary display?

goboatingnow:

Two points:

1. If you own an OCPN compatible radar scanner, Garmin will not update YOUR scanner software. YOU may, if Garmin releases new software for it, upgrade if you choose. But for YOUR unit, if it works, it works. A user may decide whether the new Garmin feature/functionality is more important than OCPN overlay capability. Its YOUR computer, after all.

2. If the scanner manufacturer releases new code to fix a bug, and intentionally or not breaks the OCPN capability, it presumably will also break all their installed base of chart plotters. They will try hard to avoid this problem.

Thanks
Dave
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:28   #9
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Re: Digital radar without the proprietary display?

Quote:
. If you own an OCPN compatible radar scanner, Garmin will not update YOUR scanner software. YOU may, if Garmin releases new software for it, upgrade if you choose. But for YOUR unit, if it works, it works. A user may decide whether the new Garmin feature/functionality is more important than OCPN overlay capability. Its YOUR computer, after all.
Thats doesn't deal with buying new ones with updated software.

if you look at gamins software updates, you will see that from time to time , a update "set" is produced updating the MFD and the radar together. In fact you can't update the radar as a standard alone entity its done under the control of the MFD.

Thats how gamins ensures a lockstep approach.

Im not against the idea of using a private protocol radar. But ultimately its a very trying business keeping up with what they do. The interwebby is full of half started reverse engineering projects that died out. Espcially if the open software starts to lag behind the radar software so as new buyers acquire the systems, they don't work.

It puts a huge emphasis on someone to keep digging out a protocol analyzer and trying to ascertain the changes. Much easier to do with a proper OEM radar.

Dave
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:40   #10
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Re: Digital radar without the proprietary display?

I saw a software package for raymarine the other day on their sight so you can use there radar on your own computer. Good luck
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:41   #11
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Re: Digital radar without the proprietary display?

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Much easier to do with a proper OEM radar.
Granted but does anyone know of any OEM radar? That doesn't require 18 months of manufacturer qualification? MaxSea got it with Furuno and now they're set but as for the rest of us?
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Old 23-06-2012, 09:36   #12
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Re: Digital radar without the proprietary display?

How about Simrad Software Development Kit Integrates with Broadband 4G ?
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Old 13-08-2012, 19:11   #13
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Re: Digital radar without the proprietary display?

Yes, I was going to mention Navico's Development kit. However last time I looked, it required a license with an unlock key for the unit. This kit was being used for research purposes in universities at the time I saw it. Despite the unlock key and license (which is was not inexpensive) it gave users the flexibility needed for research projects using the pc, recording data, etc.
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