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Old 03-03-2019, 21:25   #1
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Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

Hi guys I was looking for the best option for navigation this made me fall into a rabbit hole. It is a low cost boat and I was looking at a tablet with Navionics. It is a good solution but has anyone seen a system that uses a tablet as the backbone or getting rid of the need for a multi function display.

I am kind of surprised there is nothing out where you could use the GPS off the tablet and add all of the sensors (auto pilot, wind sensor, depth sensor, even radar, electrical) to link directly to the tablet.
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Old 03-03-2019, 21:53   #2
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

On my previous boat I had a dedicated Asus 10" nav computer using OpenCPN and a USB GPS and a USB to RS 422/485 converter to send NMEA 0183 nav data to the Raymarine autopilot. So that I could keep an eye on the boats position without scrolling throughthe data pages on the autopilot I used a Sony tablet in the cockpit with Navionics on it. Both worked OK.
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Old 03-03-2019, 23:16   #3
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

I am in the process of setting up a Vector Marine Watchmate Vision. It will put both NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 data as well as AIS data on my Samsung Galaxy Tab A tablet via WiFi in OpenCPN and the Watchmate Android App. I haven't put my ST 60+ data on the system yet, but it should work. I'm not sure about radar. I can also see the AIS targets in Marine Navigator for Android with their AIS plugin.
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Old 03-03-2019, 23:26   #4
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

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Originally Posted by vaporware View Post
I am in the process of setting up a Vector Marine Watchmate Vision. It will put both NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 data as well as AIS data on my Samsung Galaxy Tab A tablet via WiFi in OpenCPN and the Watchmate Android App. I haven't put my ST 60+ data on the system yet, but it should work. I'm not sure about radar. I can also see the AIS targets in Marine Navigator for Android with their AIS plugin.
I assume you mean 'Vesper' Marine?
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Old 04-03-2019, 00:26   #5
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

Does not sound like you are going far and even if you were OPENCPN has all the bells and whistles that you may need and more -


We have been underway 12 years and use OPENCPN as our backup navigation system and it is great and easy to use but we have not added all the bells and whistles -
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Old 04-03-2019, 01:35   #6
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

A Raspberry Pi with openplotter installed makes a cheap and low power device that can be left on 24/7 that any device can connect to over wired or wifi networking. The biggest single cost is getting NMEA 2000 data to the device. The inbuilt signal K server is very impressive if you like to dabble.
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Old 04-03-2019, 04:44   #7
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

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I assume you mean 'Vesper' Marine?

Yes. That'll teach me not to reply just before bedtime.
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Old 04-03-2019, 04:46   #8
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

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Originally Posted by anddy103 View Post
I am kind of surprised there is nothing out where you could use the GPS off the tablet and add all of the sensors (auto pilot, wind sensor, depth sensor, even radar, electrical) to link directly to the tablet.

A big hurdle might be about how to get NMEA2000 and NMEA0183 data from the sensors to the tablet. Perhaps a WiFi bridge, if you would trust your boat to WiFi. Or a hardwire conneection, if you can live with a stationary tablet for a while. Look for answers that address that...

Radar might not be possible via WiFi; don't remember if I've seen a WiFi solution to that...

-Chris
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Old 04-03-2019, 04:54   #9
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

One thing is consider is that any affordable tablet won't be waterproof and won't be easily visible in the bright sun. You can get waterproof cases. If you're going to use it in the cabin, not a problem. It could be in the cockpit. I will have triply redundant navigation systems plus paper charts any time I'm away from home.
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Old 04-03-2019, 04:55   #10
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

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Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
A big hurdle might be about how to get NMEA2000 and NMEA0183 data from the sensors to the tablet. Perhaps a WiFi bridge, if you would trust your boat to WiFi. Or a hardwire conneection, if you can live with a stationary tablet for a while. Look for answers that address that...

Radar might not be possible via WiFi; don't remember if I've seen a WiFi solution to that...

-Chris



It's possible to transmit radar over wifi, but the multicast mode of the radar output will likely grind the wifi network to a halt. Much better over a wired connection.
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Old 04-03-2019, 04:58   #11
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

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Radar might not be possible via WiFi; don't remember if I've seen a WiFi solution to that...
We ran the Furuno First Watch radar on our previous boat. It's wireless and connected to our tablet but, at that time, they only had software for iPhone and iPad. It worked great for what we needed. There may be other units out there now.

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Old 04-03-2019, 05:02   #12
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

We used only iPads for eight years beginning with the iPad 1. Works great, just make sure you buy the cellular version with the built in gps which doesn't depend on cell towers. Don't buy the wifi only version, it won't work.
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Old 04-03-2019, 05:15   #13
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

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We used only iPads for eight years beginning with the iPad 1. Works great, just make sure you buy the cellular version with the built in gps which doesn't depend on cell towers. Don't buy the wifi only version, it won't work.



If you have a wifi only ipad, you can convert it by adding a plug in gps for about $100.
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Old 04-03-2019, 05:18   #14
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

The only way to answer this is “it depends”. First check the new iPads, 99% sure the wifi only ones have GPS. Second, if you go the Vesper Xb-8000 route, it will feed lat/lon via WiFi.

BUT, if you are doing serious crossings, get a basic MFD. Can you go open ocean without a MFD? Sure, I am about to do a delivery using a chart and GPS location. It is a lot more work, but it can be done.

If you go iPad, have a backup device. You can pickup an older MacBook with a SSdrive cheap and they are fairly robust.

If you are do8ng mostly bay and near-coastal sailing, then go for it!
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Old 04-03-2019, 05:28   #15
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Re: Using a tablet as a boats system backbone

Thanks guys I think the closest to what I was looking for was the xb-8000. Although with the price I think it makes more sense to get a garmin and do it the normal way. Any reccomendations on used Garmin's?
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