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Old 12-01-2014, 12:14   #1
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Building ship computer Advice needed

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.
Mini ITX fanless many Com ports heat pipe cooling to custom water tight case
low power consumption 12vdc (8 - 32v)
lvds or hdmi video to low power lcd / led screen
thinking Via or Intel motherboard
Linux based os (can compile custom kernel)
NMEA 0183 sensors (will be building sensors not available yet)
wind speed and direction
depth speed over water and temp
compass
hydraulic autopilot
battery monitoring current draw, voltage, charge controller via solar wind turbine and diesel genset
hybrid propulsion sailboat
rudder angle via hall effect
gps high precision (thinking ublox) or other
will be building many of these systems from breakout boards or scratch
http login via tablet or other wifi enabled device
wired sensors for power efficiency
host wifi lan hotspot for internet capable devices
wan via packet and wifi high output 2000 mw with 21 db antenna
ais
ability to have auto pilot follow course from opencpn and also hold course to wind direction
water fuel gray / black water monitoring
log course, speed over ground (gps) or water (tranducer)
adjust wind speed direction apparent to true wind speed and direction

I will be building all the systems for upgradability as tech improves and more features available
Vessel has basic systems (mostly original from 1974)

Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions
William White
SV Rangatira
1974 Discovery 32 - 2
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Old 12-01-2014, 14:09   #2
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

I have an Intel NUC installed in my Dad's motor yacht, its an awesome little fast en low power machine! And its TINY! Has two HDMI an ethernet jack and 3 USB ports.

My friend makes a multiplexer, for a VERY reasonable price, and I think these two make an awesome combination! I bought a 24V to 19V transformer for power supply. With an SSD the system is shockproof. And very fast, unbelievable how fast OpenCPN runs on it on a 64bit Win7 system. Offcourse intel has very good linux support as wel. No need to compile your own kernel, (unless you enjoy that off course ;-))

Intel NUC

And here is my friend project, he makes them himself and designed the software for it:

NMEA repeater with seatalk support

The thread is in dutch, but you should be able to use google translate to read it. The price is 75€ excluding the shipping.

Succes deciding!

J.
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Old 12-01-2014, 14:14   #3
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

why bother building that type of Mini itx system, and all theses components, suggest you put all build costs ( plus spares) on a spreadsheet and add up cost. You'll buy a good off the shelf system for less money.

( and I'm an embedded systems designer) .
Dave
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Old 12-01-2014, 14:14   #4
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

I am using a 13" panasonic toughbook with Nobletec. I do not worry about monitoring all the different things you have listed. I just pay attention to what is going on in my vessel. I suspect you will spend a great deal of time servicing the different sensors that will go out on a regular basis. Of course it sounds like that is your passion, so have at it. I subscribe to KISS.
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Old 12-01-2014, 15:06   #5
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

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
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Old 13-01-2014, 04:16   #6
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
why bother building that type of Mini itx system, and all theses components, suggest you put all build costs ( plus spares) on a spreadsheet and add up cost. You'll buy a good off the shelf system for less money.

( and I'm an embedded systems designer) .
Dave
If I build it then I can fix it and none of the off the shelf systems have enough com rs 422 ports
all my ports will be opto-isolated
a good ip 67 pc runs over $3000
have access to cnc milling machine to make case / heat sink
I also like to be able to log my sailing for performance analysis
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Old 13-01-2014, 04:19   #7
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by captain58sailin View Post
I am using a 13" panasonic toughbook with Nobletec. I do not worry about monitoring all the different things you have listed. I just pay attention to what is going on in my vessel. I suspect you will spend a great deal of time servicing the different sensors that will go out on a regular basis. Of course it sounds like that is your passion, so have at it. I subscribe to KISS.
I have a Toughbook running my cnc machine they are great but I wanted a small form factor built in system to allow for future expansion
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Old 13-01-2014, 04:20   #8
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeroenimo View Post
I have an Intel NUC installed in my Dad's motor yacht, its an awesome little fast en low power machine! And its TINY! Has two HDMI an ethernet jack and 3 USB ports.

My friend makes a multiplexer, for a VERY reasonable price, and I think these two make an awesome combination! I bought a 24V to 19V transformer for power supply. With an SSD the system is shockproof. And very fast, unbelievable how fast OpenCPN runs on it on a 64bit Win7 system. Offcourse intel has very good linux support as wel. No need to compile your own kernel, (unless you enjoy that off course ;-))

Intel NUC

And here is my friend project, he makes them himself and designed the software for it:

NMEA repeater with seatalk support

The thread is in dutch, but you should be able to use google translate to read it. The price is 75 excluding the shipping.

Succes deciding!

J.
just looked there are no RS422 ports
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Old 13-01-2014, 04:38   #9
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

True, but therefor I mentioned about the multiplexer.

Do you really need a rs422 port on the computer itself?
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Old 13-01-2014, 05:03   #10
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeroenimo View Post
Do you really need a rs422 port on the computer itself?
I'd consider it a big plus if the multiplexing was not required when the computer was off. Why do with an external box what you can do better with a computer which is switched on anyway?

If you want the multiplexing done when you don't need a computer on, I presume a microcontroller-based solution would be rather more power efficient than a computer.
so might be the better choice on sailing boats.

I'd be interested to know what kind of system interface white74 was thinking of using for the opto-isolated rs422 circuitry.
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Old 13-01-2014, 05:17   #11
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

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Originally Posted by muttnik View Post
I'd consider it a big plus if the multiplexing was not required when the computer was off. Why do with an external box what you can do better with a computer which is switched on anyway?

If you want the multiplexing done when you don't need a computer on, I presume a microcontroller-based solution would be rather more power efficient than a computer.
so might be the better choice on sailing boats.

I'd be interested to know what kind of system interface white74 was thinking of using for the opto-isolated rs422 circuitry.
Sparkfun has a opto isolator breakout board I would just put it in between the db9 port and the termional strip for the nmea
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Old 13-01-2014, 05:20   #12
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeroenimo View Post
True, but therefor I mentioned about the multiplexer.

Do you really need a rs422 port on the computer itself?
with a computer multiplexing you don't drop sentence from a buffer
as you can prioritize individual strings
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Old 13-01-2014, 05:31   #13
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by white74 View Post
Sparkfun has a opto isolator breakout board I would just put it in between the db9 port and the termional strip for the nmea
Surely serial interfaces where they exist on motherboards are rs232. I've seen some pci-e rs422 cards but they're pretty pricey.
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Old 13-01-2014, 05:49   #14
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

This is why god invented NMEA 2000. I'd go N2K for all the sensors and external devices, and just build the computer with one N2K data port. Count up all the serial ports and wires needed for all the sensors and controls that you outlined. 10? 20? And you are either going to have to cross wire a bunch when the same data needs to be heard by different sources, or do a lot of programmable muxing. Actually, I wouldn't build the computer either, but that's just me.
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Old 13-01-2014, 06:09   #15
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Re: Building ship computer Advice needed

Quote:
Originally Posted by white74 View Post
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.
Mini ITX fanless many Com ports heat pipe cooling to custom water tight case
low power consumption 12vdc (8 - 32v)
lvds or hdmi video to low power lcd / led screen
thinking Via or Intel motherboard
Linux based os (can compile custom kernel)
NMEA 0183 sensors (will be building sensors not available yet)
wind speed and direction
depth speed over water and temp
compass
hydraulic autopilot
battery monitoring current draw, voltage, charge controller via solar wind turbine and diesel genset
hybrid propulsion sailboat
rudder angle via hall effect
gps high precision (thinking ublox) or other
will be building many of these systems from breakout boards or scratch
http login via tablet or other wifi enabled device
wired sensors for power efficiency
host wifi lan hotspot for internet capable devices
wan via packet and wifi high output 2000 mw with 21 db antenna
ais
ability to have auto pilot follow course from opencpn and also hold course to wind direction
water fuel gray / black water monitoring
log course, speed over ground (gps) or water (tranducer)
adjust wind speed direction apparent to true wind speed and direction

I will be building all the systems for upgradability as tech improves and more features available
Vessel has basic systems (mostly original from 1974)

Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions
William White
SV Rangatira
1974 Discovery 32 - 2
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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