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Old 31-01-2015, 10:34   #1
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Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

I bet there's not a sailor afloat who doesn't have an obsolete Android tablet lying around in a drawer doing nothing.

Yet the same sailor might spend $700 or more on a display like a Maretron DSM-250, which is nothing more than a very primitive computer with an extremely low res QVGA screen, running $3 worth of software. It's waterproof and daylight visible, which is great for the cockpit, but most of us use these below where those qualities aren't needed.

How hard would it be to write a little app to take the wifi navigation data stream that more and more of us have, and display any kind of data from the network on the obsolete tablet? It would be a cinch to rig up a 5v power supply and mount, et voila.

I would gladly pay for such an app, and I bet a lot of other people would, too. Maybe one of our software wizzes could cook up something like this?
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Old 31-01-2015, 10:59   #2
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post

1. I bet there's not a sailor afloat who doesn't have an obsolete Android tablet lying around in a drawer doing nothing.

2. I would gladly pay for such an app, and I bet a lot of other people would, too. Maybe one of our software wizzes could cook up something like this?
1. You'd lose! I'm not a tablet, smart phone or latest electronic whizbang guy, but I ARE a sailor!

2. Great idea.
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Old 31-01-2015, 11:02   #3
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I bet there's not a sailor afloat who doesn't have an obsolete Android tablet lying around in a drawer doing nothing.

Yet the same sailor might spend $700 or more on a display like a Maretron DSM-250, which is nothing more than a very primitive computer with an extremely low res QVGA screen, running $3 worth of software. It's waterproof and daylight visible, which is great for the cockpit, but most of us use these below where those qualities aren't needed.

How hard would it be to write a little app to take the wifi navigation data stream that more and more of us have, and display any kind of data from the network on the obsolete tablet? It would be a cinch to rig up a 5v power supply and mount, et voila.

I would gladly pay for such an app, and I bet a lot of other people would, too. Maybe one of our software wizzes could cook up something like this?
If your up to the challenge, you may want to install OpenCPN on your 'obsolete' tablet in a chroot linux environment and test the available android apps to see how many of your external nav devices can communicate with OpenCPN.

Instructions here: Building on Motorola Xoom | Official OpenCPN Homepage
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Old 31-01-2015, 11:35   #4
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

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If your up to the challenge, you may want to install OpenCPN on your 'obsolete' tablet in a chroot linux environment and test the available android apps to see how many of your external nav devices can communicate with OpenCPN.

Instructions here: Building on Motorola Xoom | Official OpenCPN Homepage
Sounds like fun.

Too bad OpenCPN doesn't have an instrument display screen.
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Old 31-01-2015, 12:20   #5
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

I have an older Motion Le-1600 that runs Open CPN perfectly, so I bought a spare Motion tablet on Ebay for $65 as a back-up. $65 gets you a good 12' tablet, complete with everything. Can't get much cheaper than that.


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Old 31-01-2015, 12:34   #6
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

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Sounds like fun.

Too bad OpenCPN doesn't have an instrument display screen.
Aha! But, can existing apps display data from at least some instruments? And, if so you can simply swap back & forth between OpenCPN and these apps? The other possibilities are standalone linux apps that can display your instrument data, even if an android app is used to mediate between android and linux in delivering the data. Much like GPS Share WIFI does in getting gps data to OpenCPN.
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Old 31-01-2015, 13:09   #7
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

I bought a refurb tablet as backup with its own gps. I was startled at how useful it was. No need for current on-board instruments.

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Old 31-01-2015, 13:13   #8
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

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Sounds like fun.

Too bad OpenCPN doesn't have an instrument display screen.
What kind of instruments.. OpenCPN does display Wind, Speed, Depth, Temp, ect..
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Old 31-01-2015, 14:06   #9
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

There are plenty of tablet apps already that take NMEA data over wifi and either provide the data stream, and/or give you configurable graphic and numerical displays to use. I have several of them on my iPad, and none of them cost more than a couple of bucks, or were free. Just search the app stores for them.

For a bit more money, Maretrons N2KView tablet app pretty much displays everything the DSM250 does, and possibly even more.

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Old 31-01-2015, 14:33   #10
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

Another idea, just use the tablet's own GPS and a common app to display location, SOG, direction. [oops mf70 beat me to that point]

About the only knocks I can think of against using older Android tablets are:
  • the batteries could be close to the end of their useful life. Less of an issue if you'll have them tethered to DC power
  • the screens usually aren't sunlight-readable (we still have that problem with new tablets, yes? I haven't seen a mainstream tablet yet that is OK in sunlight)
  • you're probably stuck with an older version of android (eg 2.2) which might make it harder to find current apps that work on it. Unless you are able to root and upgrade the tablet.
But an older tablet as a slave display inside the boat, at your nav station? heck of a good idea.
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Old 31-01-2015, 14:45   #11
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

Dockhead-
I'd also say the stopper is probably the poor daylight readability of the tablets. And poor water-resistance. But if that doesn't stop you, and a web search doesn't give you existing apps you like...

Remember that there are dozens of companies, some even native-English speakers, who will basically write any Android app you'd like, and take a percent of the sales as their royalty forever after. At least, that's what they claim.

Or you can offer a prize to any high school or college programming class, for the kid who writes the best app for that purpose. You'll find a lot of profs encourage that kind of thing because it gives the kids something "real" to do.

It's the daylight readable that stops me. My old tablet is becoming the Kindle Library, storing convenient papers, doing tasks like that which are unessential and best done indoors.
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Old 31-01-2015, 19:07   #12
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
There are plenty of tablet apps already that take NMEA data over wifi and either provide the data stream, and/or give you configurable graphic and numerical displays to use. I have several of them on my iPad, and none of them cost more than a couple of bucks, or were free. Just search the app stores for them.

For a bit more money, Maretrons N2KView tablet app pretty much displays everything the DSM250 does, and possibly even more.

Mark
Do I correctly understand that this is now free?

Maretron | N2KView Mobile

Used to be you had to buy (for about $1000) the main software package, in order to use this.

Wonder if it works with GoFree? Could be the hot ticket . . .
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Old 31-01-2015, 19:24   #13
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I have an older Motion Le-1600 that runs Open CPN perfectly, so I bought a spare Motion tablet on Ebay for $65 as a back-up. $65 gets you a good 12' tablet, complete with everything. Can't get much cheaper than that.


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12 foot tablet ?
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Old 31-01-2015, 20:22   #14
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

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Do I correctly understand that this is now free?

Maretron | N2KView Mobile

Used to be you had to buy (for about $1000) the main software package, in order to use this.

Wonder if it works with GoFree? Could be the hot ticket . . .
No, it is not free. Well, the app is free, but to connect it to your network, you need the server license. I don't know how much that costs, but probably around 1k.

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Old 31-01-2015, 22:12   #15
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Re: Recycling Obsolete Tablets?

Question: where (from what devices) would you get wireless NMEA data, to display on your tablet? I'm a few years behind on what hardware is boasting this wireless capability but from a short search it seems to me that what wireless data interfaces available now, especially for NMEA2000, are still proprietary closed format and $$$.

This suggests that the price of the wireless NMEA adaptor plus a cheap tablet, and maybe a non-free app, is probably what it would have cost to just buy a small marine MFD anyway.

I'd love to be wrong about this. Cos then it would be simple to produce such an app.
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