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Old 13-01-2014, 13:59   #16
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

re thinking the rs422 maybe Canbus is the way to go
from what I've read Can bus is the same protocol used for n2k

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To do this you need to start from a good base, so you need a fanless small pc capable of running an up to date operating system and with many usb ports and HDMI compatible for flexibility.
Ideally this would be the size of a very small router and also capable of attaching to a wall.
I had this problem 2 years ago and I removed my laptop and installed a FIT PC2. Google it.
If its not powerful enough get a FIT PC3

It uses around 7 watts and runs programs such as opencpn efforlessly.

7 watts for a PC. I would never in this day and age consider installing another laptop when devices like this are available.

What do you do when it stops working?.... well you unclip it from the wall and clip in the spare one with the same configuration then attach the cables. they are only 10cm x 10cm, about the same size as the power supply for a laptop.
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Old 15-01-2014, 00:16   #17
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

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Forget about the 21 dB WIFI antenna unless it is gyro stabilized. I am very satisfied with my 8 dB one and will not even try a higher gain one.

Jean-Marie
+1

21dB omni is going to be ridiculously narrow so if the boat rolls or pitches from waves...

I use 5dB but I think up to 12 is feasible in most anchorages. I also use 18dB directional yagi (25-30 degree cone) which can do tracking from digital magnetometer when the boat swings around.. it is very powerful.. but also the wifi adapter is a significant factor.


As for the base system... why are you using mini-itx? Why not arm? much less power usage and cost there.
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Old 21-01-2014, 16:23   #18
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

I have written software for interfacing seaclear (opencpn same) with usb-gps antenae using the "processing" (see processing.org) language to an arduino (see arduino website) micro controller. The arduino operates 3 solenoids to control a vintage wood freeman autopilot on a hydraulic steering system. I have built a wind direction sensor, rudder position sensor that use an old ps2 mouse encoder. The next stage is to update my software to accept a newer electronic compass module.
arduino = $14
compass and 3 axis accelerometer = $10
used ps 2 mice = $1 to $5 max
software = free download

programming work approx 2 yrs!!!

I currently need to ungrade my HP tc-1100 tablet with detachable keyboard that is used as a deckhouse chartplotter and runs the programs

The beauty of using and arduino is the vast amount of programs that are already written and are open source. This includes NMEA 0183 sentence decoding to take the output of at laptop chartplotter and using it to drive the autopilot (my software includes this so I have a choice of chartplotter, compass, or wind for inputs)

getting a high visability display is more difficult than getting a tablet to do the same job although an embedded type PC would be nice as you can put it out of harms way.
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Old 22-01-2014, 10:47   #19
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

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Hi have been lurking here for some time and have decided to build a ship computer. Would like some advice on best bang for the buck. ..............
My honest advice will be to keep everything as simple as possible. We've done similar to what you now want to do and it ended up in huge frustrations and ongoing complications. The more integration you add, the more complicated it becomes and the more prone for things to go wrong and not to work. We have since started reversing the process by simplifying everything.

However, if this is what you want, I suggest you consider the SX79R5 Cube PC's manufactured by Shuttle Global - XPC Barebones, Cube, Slim, AIO, NAS, Digital Signage, Kiosk, POS

We had AVADirect Custom Computers build a custom SX79R5 for our boat. Although we had problems with this company, the PC is a certainly a powerhouse, a work of art and gives plenty bang for the buck. You can read about our PC here: New PC - Revelations -
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Old 23-01-2014, 12:11   #20
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

Isn't that a little bit of an overkill? i7 with 16 gb ram?
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Old 23-01-2014, 12:27   #21
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

To mee it seemd owerkill. The DS47 can be powered with 12 volt, has no fans or moving parts ( if you use a ssd) and has 2 external rs232 ports and lots of USB's

Shuttle Global - DS47
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Old 23-01-2014, 13:08   #22
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

I agree with keep it simple. Unless you want to make a hobby/career out of continuously dealing with all the problems of integrating everything. I do embedded systems design, and I'd not want to deal with all the issues on a daily basis. Frankly IMHO, the best bet going for a ships PC is a MAC MINI with the power supply modded to run directly off 12 VDC. I believe others with similar background agree.
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Old 23-01-2014, 13:43   #23
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

I agree on the Mac mini idea. Though for my recent project I chose an intel nuc with a modded 24V->19V power supply.

Reason: I love osx, but when it comes to navigation software I really have to say windows is better in all aspects.
Much more choice software too!

F.i. Zooming in and out on my beefy Mac is much less elegant then on the intel nu with less CPU/GPU On windows 7 64 bit.

But I have good hopes for an optimized osx version of opencpn.
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Old 25-01-2014, 05:57   #24
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

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I agree on the Mac mini idea. Though for my recent project I chose an intel nuc with a modded 24V->19V power supply.

Reason: I love osx, but when it comes to navigation software I really have to say windows is better in all aspects.
Much more choice software too!

F.i. Zooming in and out on my beefy Mac is much less elegant then on the intel nu with less CPU/GPU On windows 7 64 bit.

But I have good hopes for an optimized osx version of opencpn.

Thats why you run parallels or fusion on the mac. Both can run an instance of windows as just another mac application. Inside that instance of windows, you run your preferred nav software. It works great and gives your windows apps where there is no good alternative, and mac for everything else. An added bonus is that mouse scrolling and zooming works consistently. For those who may not know what I'm talking about, about a year ago Mac reversed the scrolling direction to match touch devices. On a touch device, you drag the document, i.e. When you move down you go towards the top of the document. The convention on desktops and witha. Mouse has been that scrolling moves the view window, not the document. So scrolling down moves your view towards the bottom of the document. Touch devices and mice worked the opposite, but nobody noticed because they were so used to it. About a year ago osx switched to be the same as a touch device. Scrolling and dragging always moved the document, not the view window. It took a lot of getting used to, but once you do its much better and makes things more consistent. Running windows via fusion on a mac makes the windows apps behave the same as mac apps. Otherwise scrolling is very confusing when you change apps.
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Old 25-01-2014, 13:57   #25
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

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Isn't that a little bit of an overkill? i7 with 16 gb ram?
If for navigation and systems only it is certainly an overkill. But we use the PC for a whole lot more than this. We also do a lot of graphic work, video editing and other performance hungry operations. The member who posted the original thread sounds like a technical guy and will most likely do many other things with his PC. I would rather have a powerful machine than a donkey with long delays in getting things done. The PC I recommended is powerful, available in a range of configurations and still reasonably compact.
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Old 25-01-2014, 13:59   #26
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

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To mee it seemd owerkill. The DS47 can be powered with 12 volt, has no fans or moving parts ( if you use a ssd) and has 2 external rs232 ports and lots of USB's

Shuttle Global - DS47
Another compact and good choice.
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Old 28-01-2015, 06:46   #27
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

hello burgoynebc:

I am looking to do something similar < i have an old wood freeman autopilot model 500 A-1 . the compass was recently rebuild and is in new condition . i am looking a way to upgrade it to newer electronics to drive the solenoid that activate the cylinder on the rudder. i have all the old electronic except for the rudder encoder. I think ardino is the way to go, can you send me more feedback of your experience?
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Old 28-01-2015, 07:09   #28
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, utecjm.
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Old 28-01-2015, 07:46   #29
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

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If for navigation and systems only it is certainly an overkill. But we use the PC for a whole lot more than this. We also do a lot of graphic work, video editing and other performance hungry operations. The member who posted the original thread sounds like a technical guy and will most likely do many other things with his PC. I would rather have a powerful machine than a donkey with long delays in getting things done. The PC I recommended is powerful, available in a range of configurations and still reasonably compact.
In my book, that's two computers then; a nice powerhouse laptop for stuff like video editing or other business/personal stuff, and a small, fanless industrial Linux/Windows box for boat stuff.

One can do alot with Arduinos, but also look at things like a Raspberry Pi, which like arduinos have alot of I/O, but have a complete basic Linux OS too, which makes them easier (and self-contained) to work with and program for.

(not a Mac guy, but that's neither here nor there)
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Old 28-01-2015, 08:39   #30
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

I am wondering why one couldn't use one of the integrated systems already available? Both Furuno and Garmin offer most of what you are looking for, off the shelf already.
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