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Old 16-09-2014, 18:41   #16
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Re: Are there any known working Bluetooth GPS devices with Windows 8?

Dave,

Thanks for looking at it. I am now running 3.3.1606 on the boat (IIRC), but I do not believe that I have tested that version without the port splitter software. I have everything set to load at boot-up (turnkey system), so I need to undo a lot of that run the test. I've been too busy sailing to do that this summer. I will give it a try soon.

My memory gets hazy after a few months, but I believe that this problem was a ternary interaction. It seemed to be specific to OCPN, Win8 Bluetooth stack, and the USConverters Bluetooth transmitter. If I change any one of the three, it works fine. Make the Bluetooth connection with XPort - works fine. Run Toshiba stack (with Bluetooth dongle) - works fine. Send GPS from my Android phone instead of USConverters transmitter - works fine. It's just the three devices together that have problems.

With an interaction like that, it may be not worth solving, unless the root cause is common to the other problems that others are having. For me, I'm able to work around it with XPort (with Secure Boot disabled). It will continue to work until MS issues a system update that breaks it.

FWIW, I did contact the guy at USConverters to see if he could help. He said that my transmitter is discontinued and replaced by a new model, and he was unwilling to solve the problem for obsolete equipment. I wasn't willing to buy another transmitter to diagnose. If you bought a new one from USConverters, maybe we better work on it before they discontinue this one.
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Old 07-11-2014, 19:25   #17
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Re: Are there any known working Bluetooth GPS devices with Windows 8?

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RhythmDoctor....

I know we have beat this to death in the past, but....

Can you give us a bit more information about your experiences with modern (i.e. 3.3.1601+) OpenCPN and Bluetooth? I'd like to get this right, somehow, but we have not nailed it yet.

What works, and what doesn't? I guess I am focused on the Microsoft stack, since this is most widely available out of the box.

Thanks
Dave
Dave,

I finally made it back to the boat this week to re-do my Bluetooth test on 3.3.1606 beta. My results were EXACTLY the same as reported in this post last January, when I tested 3.3.1330. When I launch OpenCPN, the green check mark appears for about 1 or 2 seconds, but then goes away. If I launch XPort or PolarCOM, the green check mark appears and stays:
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OK, I've spent about 18 hours of testing OpenCPN 3.3.1330 the past couple days, and I have a lot to report. I think there is definitely an issue with the way O handles virtual COM ports. In my case it's a virtual COM port from Bluetooth. I am not sure if this would be relevant to virtual COM ports from USB converters.

I've bought a new Lenovo Miix 2 8" tablet which I highly recommend for chartplotter output. It's very nicely designed, and a bright enough screen for full daylight. It runs Windows 8.1. It even has an internal GPS chip that works with OpenCPN - but you need petrsimon's GeolocationTCP utility to use it.

In my case, I also want to pull AIS data into O via Bluetooth. I have done this very successfully and reliably with several other computers running WinXP and Win7. This is my first attempt with Win8.1. With the other computers, Microsoft Bluetooth drivers were horrible and never worked. Toshiba Bluetooth stack is far superior for Serial Port Profile (SPP). Unfortunately, Toshiba stack will not work with the Miix's internal Bluetooth chip, (I believe) because it is located on the Serial HCI Bus, which is different enough from Toshiba hardware to prevent Toshiba stack from working. As more Windows tablets appear, this may become a prevalent problem, as I believe that the power management features are needed for tablet functionality ("Airplane mode" etc). Bluesoleil did not work either. So I was forced to use Microsoft Bluetooth Stack and Lenovo/Broadcom drivers.

Microsoft has greatly improved their Bluetooth support, but it is still very fragile. Bluetooth settings are scattered among multiple settings windows, COM ports disappear and reappear, multiple installs are required to get a device recognized as a needing a virtual COM port (SPP device), etc.

But once I got everything stabilized, I came to realize that O has a real problem with virtual COM ports accessed through Bluetooth. Microsoft's driver will not allow you to manually connect to a COM port. It appears that it waits for a program to open the COM port, and then the driver makes a connection through Bluetooth. If you open the "Devices and Printers" control panel, then double-click on the Bluetooth transmitting device, you will see a map showing your computer connected to the device with a Bluetooth icon in between. A green check mark will appear if you are running a program that has opened an active connection:



This check mark is key to diagnosing any connection problems. Through a couple days of testing, I discovered that:

  • TeraTerm successfully opens and maintains a steady Bluetooth connection
  • XPort successfully opens and maintains a steady Bluetooth connection
  • PolarCOM successfully opens and maintains a steady Bluetooth connection

But when I launch O with the serial port configured, the check mark appears for about 2 seconds during initial launch, but then disappears. Basically, everything I tried worked successfully, but O did not.

After I quit out of O, launching the other programs causes them behave similarly to O, with a check mark appearing for a couple seconds then disappearing. The only way to restore a successful connection with the other programs is to reset my Bluetooth transmitter (named AIS in the above picture). After that, the other programs resume successful communications with the device, until I launch OpenCPN again.

So it appears that there is an issue with O that prevents it from opening the Bluetooth connection, and also corrupts the communications ability of my device until I reset it.

I do not know whether other Bluetooth devices (other brands of serial-Bluetooth adapters, Globalsat BT-368 or 821, etc) have similar problems. But after seeing every other program work and O fail, I believe that there is an issue with the way O makes its connections to virtual serial ports.
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Old 07-11-2014, 21:31   #18
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Re: Are there any known working Bluetooth GPS devices with Windows 8?

RhythmDoctor...

OK, please test with 3.3.2302, if you have the chance. Brand new internal plumbing for serial ports. Hopefully will do better on BT virtual ports.

Thanks
Dave
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Old 08-11-2014, 20:16   #19
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Re: Are there any known working Bluetooth GPS devices with Windows 8?

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RhythmDoctor...

OK, please test with 3.3.2302, if you have the chance. Brand new internal plumbing for serial ports. Hopefully will do better on BT virtual ports.

Thanks
Dave
Well what a nice surprise! I was so excited, I made a special trip down to the boat to test it. And it worked! The green "check mark" came up as soon as I launched O, and it stayed there instead of disappearing after a second like before. Own ship icon was red.

Sailing season is over, so I'm not going to get in any reps until spring to verify that it's totally reliable, but this is the first complete success I've had.

I know you've been working on this for a very long time, so thank you!
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Old 08-11-2014, 21:32   #20
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Re: Are there any known working Bluetooth GPS devices with Windows 8?

RD...

Super! Glad its working, at least in a quick smoke test.
Happy Seagull also reports success, elsewhere.

Thanks for the extra test effort

Dave
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