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Old 30-10-2012, 17:33   #1
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Question Need advice: electronics integration package

As the title states...I'm looking to tech out my boat in addition to the paper charts and equipment I already have on board. First, here's the list of what I've already got:

Raymarine ST2000 tiller pilot
Furuno GP-31 GPS Navigator
Raymarine ST-40 fathometer
Raymarine ST-40 Wind System
Icom M422
Icom M710

I'd like to build a all inclusive chartplotting/gps/weather/etc system built around a panasonic toughbook platform. I have some questions though...

First, I can't find any modern comparisons between the nav softwares...how does OpenCPN compare nowadays to Polarview? Are there any major differences, besides the Active Captain tracking in Polarview? The most recent line by line I can find is from 2010.

I'd like to integrate AIS two way (looking at Icom MA-500tr/GPS package) along with GRIB data, weather/etc all on the laptop, to include also boat info (speed/depth.) What would be the best way to go about doing this? It's also my understanding that you can control certain tiller pilots via the computer as well...Can anyone weigh in on this? I'd basically like help spec'ing out the appropriate system from someone more experienced than I...obviously I'm on a budget, but I'm not opposed to swapping out existing electronics for better items that will work. When discussing charting software, I'm looking for the ability to go worldwide. Thanks for any help or advice you can provide.

Also, yes. I still plan on having redundant GPS/paper charts as well.

Fair winds,

- H3
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Old 04-11-2012, 16:05   #2
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Re: Need advice on electronics integration package

Hi ... I use OpenCpn with free charts and cant fault it,,,, apart from one glitch with my Furuno GPS on route end. Maybe there are more whistles on other programs, but OpenCpn does the job. It can use Cmap charts or you can download many other charts on the net for other parts of the world.
As to your integration question, In my experience it is a lot of suck it and see if you try to hook up different brands of instruments without a multiplexer .. but it can be done (as I have) ... but expect a glitch somewhere where NMEA code can conflict giving a headache to fix. Much as I hate to say it, next time I would get all instruments from ONE good brand that is proven to integrate easily... especially if I was world cruisoing again. Also.. im a lover of individual instruments... replicated perhaps on laptop. If one goes down.. you have the others. Hope this helps
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Old 04-11-2012, 22:42   #3
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Re: Need advice on electronics integration package

I appreciate the reply...was beginning to wonder what was going on there. Any way, what I'm thinking is that I will go with the Icom IC-M504A as my primary VHF and interface that with the Icom MA500TR AIS, which also does GPS as well. I'm thinking that I would then have AIS, GRIBS and GPS all handled. Does this sound right? Thanks
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Old 05-11-2012, 15:13   #4
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Re: Need advice on electronics integration package

Sounds a good start... but autopilot to GPS.. what will you use that is proven to sit with your Icom ? Maybe you need to research that. My thoughts are its not all the latest whistles and bells that count on your instruments when your bluewater... but a good reliable basic integrated and proven set of instruments that work together with a minimum of electronic wizardry to make them talk to each other... ... and a backup for every one... like hand held GPS ... and printed copies of your route from OpenCPN .. good compass.... back up generator for when solar or alt stops working.... second laptop (loaded) ... second small inverter (if you use one) Backup on backup Maybe thsi more than what you asked... but its the best advice I can offer. I swear by Furuno for my instruments.. but they can be a bit dearer.. but they are established and will be here in years to come...research what happened to Navman and dont get caught by the greedy biggies that are buying up the successful small companies and closing them... Have fun on the blue water which is most of the time... but take a spare pair of undies for the few scary days
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Old 05-11-2012, 16:28   #5
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Re: Need advice on electronics integration package

Whatever you do, don't get rid of the Furuno GPS unless it dies. They are great low-power anchor alarms.

Chris
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Old 05-11-2012, 16:31   #6
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Re: Need advice on electronics integration package

Your proposed setup, including Ais, raises a number of issues, which can be addressed by a combination of hardware and software. The issues:
1. you need to buffer the signals from the various instruments and devices, to avoid data/signal collision. A multiplexor will do this, providing a single coherent stream of signals to your PC.
2. Your ST40 instruments speak SeaTalk, you need a translator to convert to NMEA, either a stand alone translator, or one built into your multiplexor.
3. Your ST2000 should speak and hear SeaTalk and NMEA (mine does), but please double check your manual. If it doesn't speak and hear SeaTalk, you can feed the speak into the multiplexor in 2. above, don't know about the hear.
4.The BAUD rate on your AIS will be higher than on everything else, a good multiplexor will address that, and send signals to your PC at a single BAUD rate. Look for a multiplexor with an input port specifically tailored for AIS.
5. You will likely want several devices/programs to listen in/share on the NMEA data stream from a single Com port, this can be addressed by software in your PC

Brookhouse NMEA multiplexers Home Page provide a multiplexor with SeaTalk translator, AIS port, etc., and it can input to your PC via usb. Suggest you read all of their site carefully. I have a mix of SeaTalk and Nmea devices, and am happy with my multiplexor from them. There are other multiplexors available.

NavMonPc is a software solution to sharing a Com port, and also displays information from your instruments in form not currently available in OpenCPN. http://yachtvalhalla.net/navigation/...c/navmonpc.htm has some uses of NavMonPC described. There are other software packages also available.

Charting software....well, its over to you. OpenCPN will do most, maybe all of what you want to do. Not sure if it will drive your autopilot. But, you can always put in a request. I reckon Open CPN is one of the most exciting developments going on....more power to the developers.

My main package is SOB DigiBOAT Navigation Software , it takes input from all your instruments and displays wind polars, performance vectors etc, will drive your autopilot according to wind, bearing, waypoint, etc. Very powerful package. However, I hesitate to recommend it: the aussie developer recently sold out to some poms who seem to know nothing about sailing or computing, and are doing a convincing imitation of sinking the product. Also, it will only run on C-MAP Max, which is expensive. However, you might like to look at the free trial version and user manual, to see what it can do.

Lee
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Old 05-11-2012, 18:55   #7
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Re: Need advice on electronics integration package

Quote:
Originally Posted by H3LlIoN View Post
I appreciate the reply...was beginning to wonder what was going on there. Any way, what I'm thinking is that I will go with the Icom IC-M504A as my primary VHF and interface that with the Icom MA500TR AIS, which also does GPS as well. I'm thinking that I would then have AIS, GRIBS and GPS all handled. Does this sound right? Thanks
Like how would you get the GRIBS handled?

Can't quite see the grib equipment there.

b.
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Old 27-12-2012, 15:55   #8
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Re: Need advice: electronics integration package

Thank you guys for the replies...I hadn't thought about the different languages and baud rates, so thanks for that.

As to GRIBS, doesn't that come down via GPS? I know it works here locally (Chesbay,) but wasn't sure about global.
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Old 27-12-2012, 16:32   #9
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Re: Need advice: electronics integration package

I think you are confused - GRIBS are not available via any GPS signal.

GRIBS are files. How you get them is another matter. They are available via several methods. Download from the internet. Email subscriptions or one-time requests via Saildocs. Requests through Winmor (saildocs again). Download via GRIB display software, such as UGRIB (over the internet). I am sure there are other methods.

Chris

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Originally Posted by H3LlIoN View Post
Thank you guys for the replies...I hadn't thought about the different languages and baud rates, so thanks for that.

As to GRIBS, doesn't that come down via GPS? I know it works here locally (Chesbay,) but wasn't sure about global.
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Old 27-12-2012, 17:36   #10
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Re: Need advice: electronics integration package

Hmmm. I guess I am confused. When I had OpenCPN set up for the trek across the bay, I was somehow pulling weather overlays, with wind, current and tide data. I wasn't connected to the internet in any fashion, so I thought it was feeding somehow via GPS.
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