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Old 05-07-2014, 12:02   #1621
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Location: East Coast US, Caribbean
Boat: Moody 425 sloop
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Re: Feature Requests; long term usage input

We've literally lived with OpenCPN for the past four months. Cindy and I left Florida in March, on our 'endless summer' cruise. Its July 4th weekend, and we find ourselves in St. Croix, USVI. The cruise is wonderful, and specifically, OpenCPN has been a wonderful, truly enabling tool.

After thoroughly using and depending on this tool, I feel entitled to critique it, in the hope of improving the OpenCPN experience for others. We have several friends in the South Pacific who depend on Open CPN. We have friends in the Bahamas that we turned on to OpenCPN.

A little background on our boat and system:
We are a sailboat, Moody 425, British built center cockpit sloop.
We keep a relatively new PC running Windows 7, at the Nav station.
It has 3 Serial to USB converters plugged in:
One inputting NMEA data: GPS, and all the instrument data from our Raymarine Wind, Speed and Depth instruments. It also outputs info to the Raymarine autopilot.
One inputting AIS data
One connected to our Pactor Modem, hooked to a HAM radio for Winlink email, position reporting, and downloading GRIB and other weather products.

We also have a Garmin Radar plugged in through the LAN connection. We display AIS target, GRIB files, and Radar information on the OpenCPN display. By the way, the way OpenCPN manages AIS information is the best we've seen, ever, even singling out the Kannad Emergency MOB beacon we purchased. We can't say enough good about the Radar, GRIB, and AIS interfaces.

Prior to hoisting anchor, we always have a route plotted on OpenCPN. We are fairly religious about this, viewing this as much a safety issue as a convenience. Neither one of us likes to spend much time behind the wheel, except when manuevering in port, so we let the Nav computer run the autopilot on most passages. When negotiating reefs, fishing buoys, nets, other boats closeby, and otherwise using eyeball navigation, we hand steer, still using OpenCPN as a reference.

In the cockpit (the nav station is down below) we have two used Datalux Tracer, daylight readable, robust police car tablet PCs with touchscreens, running Windows XP. We found these on Ebay. One is in a Navpod at the helm, viewable from behind the wheel, the other in the front of the cockpit, viewable from everywhere. The Datalux PCs are only supplied 12 volts from ship's power, to run. Connection to the Nav station PC is via wifi, using Teamviewer, free remote control software. They all connect together via our onboard wireless router which, when in port, is hooked to a Ubiquity Bullet for internet. Both cockpit PCs display and control the nav station PC. Cindy, a retired software Engineer, set this system up. After a bit of teething and finetuning, it works extremely well. (If anyone is interested in the details of this system, please contact us directly. We have lots of setup info in addition to what we've published on the OpenCPN site.) As a backup to this system, when approaching a harbor or manually steering, we have an iPad at the helm, running Garmin Bluechart. Belt and suspenders

My critiques on functionality are few. Most all have to do with visual appearance/ergonomics.
Functionally:
We use the dashboard plug-in continuously. We keep two dashboard windows open: One using text with depth, SOG, STW, GPS position and time. The other with Analog info: Apparent wind direction/speed, True wind direction/speed, and True wind compass direction. Barometric pressure would be useful, but we currently have no NMEA data input for it.
Generally, we are not positioned right behind a display, so our old eyes have to stretch a bit to see things. Ease of viewing is essential. Information 'at a glance' is critical at times. Night viewing, which we do often, is also important, and even more difficult to see some details. The dynamics of sitting at a stationary PC in good lighting, vs moving around the cockpit of a rocking, pitching boat in infinite variations of lighting are very different. Our requests below reflect our usage while at sea.

The information bar at the bottom of the screen, displaying SOG, COG, cursor LAT/LON, and distance from ship (scale is unimportant to us) is very useful information, but is invisible in any cockpit lighting situation, and at the Nav station in a moving, pitching boat. Making the appearance more like the Dashboard text data, with larger black font and white background would make this important data infinitely more visible. We have SOG and COG on the text Dashboard, so that isn't so important to us. Cursor LAT/LON is, as is distance/bearing from cursor. Making this bar appear more like the Dashboard text, black font with white background, and larger, would make this data useable.

The route info, with the black background and small text is not readable in most cockpit lighting conditions, and only occasionally when we are directly in front of the screen at optimal viewing distance. A rare occasion. Making the route info appear like the Dashboard text window, or just incorporating the route info into the Dashboard would be ideal.

A change was made to the route information. Used to be a single click to the title changed it from leg to full route info. Now it requires a right click and second selection click to make the change. Please change this back. Much easier on a moving boat, when you can do this with a single click. Generally, having to perform mouse positioning and clicking on a moving boat is difficult when the boat is pitching in even light seas, and you have to hang on with one hand and control a mouse with the other. Even placing a finger accurately on a touch screen is a challenge at times. Reducing the amount of mouse actions is an improvement.

We like the Dashboard feature, and use it constantly. Its nearly perfect. We like the variable font size for the text, and wish this feature transferred to the text data (wind speed, etc) on the analog gauges. We find it very difficult to read wind speed data on the analog Dashboard because of font size. Increasing the font size is one of our requests.

The grey background for Dashboard text titles makes the title unreadable in most lighting conditions. Moving the title to the same line as the data and keeping the white background with black text (most legible) would make the title more useful and reduce the space required for the dashboard window. For the analog dashboard display, change the title info line from grey background to white.

We use the compass true wind direction more than we originally imagined. Very useful. Unfortunately the nice compass rose centered in the display hides the direction needle when viewed from anywhere but directly in front of the display, at ideal viewing distance. The apparent wind direction and true wind direction gauges have just a small boat in the center, allowing viewing of the needle from any distance/angle in the cockpit. We'd like to see that compass rose either lighten up considerably, or go away, possibly with only small dots or dashes at 30 degree increments around the compass perimeter, and N, S, E, W markations at the perimeter.

We use the text time info, UTC, occasionally, often having to convert to local time for our own navigation purposes. As we age, this hurts our heads more and more. Though UTC has value, a local time option would be very useful. In fact, adding the local time as an analog display would be even better. As much 'info at a glance' data, as can only be supplied by analog gauges, is more useful to us. So, adding local time and analog time is a requested addition to the dashboard plug in.

The underlying theme to this critique is to improve visibility and ergonomics for a moving boat in a typical seaway, under typical ocean conditions. Not surprisingly, the functionality of OpenCPN is excellent. Chart management is very good. Navigation/route functions are excellent. AIS data management is the best we've seen. The Garmin radar experience has been superb. GRIB file viewing is a powerful tool. Everything we do aboard revolves around weather, so we use the GRIB viewer continuously.


To summarize our requested changes:

Improve visibility of info bar at the bottom of the screen, with large black font, white background.
Similarly improve route information visibility.
Change toggle of route info from leg to route, back to single click
Make adjustments to Dashboard font affect Analog data also (wind speed window in analog gauges)
Change grey background for Dashboard data titles to white. Move title to same line as data to reduce window size.
Remove or de-emphasize compass rose on true wind direction analog gauge on Dashboard to make needle more visible.
Add local time to Dashboard. Add analog clock to Dashboard.


One feature addition that would be quite useful to us would be a route/weather prediction tool:
Incorporated with Grib file viewing
Takes route info that has average speed entered into route properties
When GRIB is animated, the ship would travel through the route hourly at the defined speed as grib views progress.
This would give a good approximation of what seas/wind/waves to expect over time as the route progresses.

Our last update was in December, 2013, so don't know if any of the above inputs have been addressed in the latest beta release.
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Old 06-07-2014, 03:54   #1622
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Re: Feature Requests; long term usage input

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmsmatt View Post
One feature addition that would be quite useful to us would be a route/weather prediction tool:
Incorporated with Grib file viewing
Takes route info that has average speed entered into route properties
When GRIB is animated, the ship would travel through the route hourly at the defined speed as grib views progress.
This would give a good approximation of what seas/wind/waves to expect over time as the route progresses.
Too late... I was working on a similar tool, and I used the resulting 2.5.1318 on almost a circumnavigation. For me it is just right so I stopped there.

You might have a look at Route Planning with GRIB - Work in Progress (some sample screens there).

Summary of the experience can be found at Weather Routing .

I distributed a few copies and got some positive response, also from racing users, but I decided not to continue, as it was not possible then to integrate into the main stream.

The main obstacles to integration that were seen at the time are probably either resolved in the modern plugin interface or not essential, as in practice I never used the dynamically drawn polar diagrams for next planned routepoint.

Stilll hoping for such functionality, one way or other...
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Old 06-07-2014, 04:41   #1623
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Re: Feature Requests; long term usage input

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmsmatt View Post
...
The information bar at the bottom of the screen, displaying SOG, COG, cursor LAT/LON, and distance from ship (scale is unimportant to us) is very useful information, but is invisible in any cockpit lighting situation,
If you are using a beta opencpn, you might consider the statusbar plugin. It's not perfect but should at least be more configurable and readable.

Quote:
One feature addition that would be quite useful to us would be a route/weather prediction tool:
Incorporated with Grib file viewing
Takes route info that has average speed entered into route properties
When GRIB is animated, the ship would travel through the route hourly at the defined speed as grib views progress.
This would give a good approximation of what seas/wind/waves to expect over time as the route progresses.

Our last update was in December, 2013, so don't know if any of the above inputs have been addressed in the latest beta release.
The weather routing plugin is due for release any day now. In the meantime there you can build from source or try the one rick built:
File Thingie 2.5.7
user=rguser password=rgpass

I could use as much feedback as possible on the plugins.
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Old 06-07-2014, 08:30   #1624
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Re: Feature Requests

I'd like to suggest the ability to display and alarm Class A AIS vessels differently from Class B vessels.

I just returned from a cruise to the upper Chesapeake Bay, where there are so many Class B vessels cluttering the screen that it obscured the more important Class A vessels. I would like to have an option to de-emphasize, or totally suppress, the Class B vessels so I can better see the much more dangerous Class A vessels.

Possibilities for this might include: much smaller (tiny) icons for the Class B vessels, less vivid color for them, or completely hiding them.

I'd also like to be able turn off the alarm for Class B, or set a milder alarm sound for them.

A similar, but related request: Now that I'm finally using ENC charts, it bothers me a bit that red/green buoys are exactly the same color as red/green AIS targets. It would be nice to use a different hue from the color palette to distinguish between the two. Would it be possible to have a user-configurable setting for the the colors of these things? I'm even willing to type RGB hex codes into opencpn.ini file if this would clutter up the settings dialogs too much.
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Old 06-07-2014, 08:59   #1625
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Re: Feature Requests

Thanks, I did download the status bar plug in and configure it just the way I like.
Perfect for me! I like being able to reduce the data string to the items I'm interested in. Declutters nicely! I selected a dark font, not blurred, with a white background. VERY visible now.

I also upgraded from gradar v1.3 to v 1.4. Don't notice any difference and looked on the forum, but couldn't find any explanation. Can anyone tell me what the difference is between these versions?

I'll do a bit more exploring on the GRIB route planning. This would be a great tool.

Thanks again!
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Old 06-07-2014, 09:14   #1626
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Re: Feature Requests

boat-alexandra, is it the weather routing pi 1.0 file? Want to make sure I try the right one.
Thanks,
Matt
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Old 06-07-2014, 11:35   #1627
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Re: Feature Requests

Well, we are in St. Croix for a few days and I have time to investigate (and hopefully not mess up) all your suggestions. I tried the weather router. Could not get it to work. It even crashed OCPN. I disabled the plug-in. Also adjusted the appearance of the dashboard, increasing the font size as in one of my requests. Sorry I didn't know about this before.
Now is someone has the solution to making the route info window more legible....
Matt
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Old 06-07-2014, 14:15   #1628
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Re: Feature Requests

Quote:
Originally Posted by nohal View Post
Hakan...
Yeah, looks much better now
I would definitely not make the country codes localizable - they are simply standardized by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_3166-1

So my take would be
Code:
case 401: return b_CntryLongStr ? _("Afghanistan") : _T("AF") ;
Pavel
Pavel.. I do agree on the country code localization.
I have a patch on fork Hakansv/OpenCPN:8aaa33f but can't manage to pull only that commit to OpenCPN without some other local "scrap". Can you fix or serve me a lesson?
Thanks Håkan
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Old 06-07-2014, 16:36   #1629
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Re: Feature Requests

Hakan...
I can process it as is in my tree, but here is a light git usage lesson, so if you want to test it live, feel free to do so yourself...
Branches are cheap in git, use them, one per feature (I constantly have some 20 of them in my own tree).
Even if you keep commiting everything into one place in your repository and later want to separate one single commit for a pull request, nothing's lost.
Bellow I assume you have the official opencpn github repository connected to your local tree under the name opencpngithub, and your own github repository as origin. I also assume that you don't have uncommited local changes, if you do, git will complain and refuse to do stuff, as it does not want to destroy them.

The official repo you added using
Code:
git remote add https://github.com/OpenCPN/OpenCPN.git opencpngithub
You pulled all the latest changes into your tree using
Code:
git pull
You are happy with your work and want to fire it onto upstream. Now what? There are other commits in your tree you don't want to send. So you create a new branch containing the same code as the official master and name it aiscountry.
Code:
git checkout opencpngithub/master -B aiscountry
add that single commit to it (you know it's id from "git log" or from looking at github):
Code:
git cherry-pick 8aaa33fb8dcc211b585cceff294854eee4b6a3fd
and send the branch to your github repository
Code:
git push origin aiscountry
And, voila, there is a new addition on the "branches" page of your repository on github, exactly one commit ahead of the official master with a fancy "New pull request" button next to it, and you are two clicks from being carved into the changelog forever

Some more useful commands:
Code:
git branch
shows you the local branches
Code:
git branch -a
shows you all the existing branches, including the ones belonging to the remote repositories connected to your local tree

And we have just one more lesson left for the next opportunity: What if I want to send several commits making a single feature?

Pavel
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Old 06-07-2014, 20:09   #1630
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Re: Feature Requests; long term usage input

The weather routing plugin is due for release any day now. In the meantime there you can build from source or try the one rick built:
File Thingie 2.5.7
user=rguser password=rgpass

I could use as much feedback as possible on the plugins.[/QUOTE]

Please let me know when you release the plug in. I promise early feedback.
Thanks,
Matt
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Old 07-07-2014, 00:57   #1631
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Re: Feature Requests; long term usage input

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmsmatt View Post

Please let me know when you release the plug in. I promise early feedback.
Thanks,
Matt
I continue to develop new features, however I cannot release the plugin if it causes a crash on a particular platform. To allow this plugin to be released sooner, it is best to build from source. Then if a crash occurs, please report it in the weather routing thread.

github.com/seandepagnier/weather_routing_pi
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Old 07-07-2014, 02:57   #1632
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Re: Feature Requests-I want OpenCPN to display heading line

Good day all developers,I am an deck officer working on a merchant vessel(bulk carrier) for over 10 years,and I have been use OpenCPN for about 3 years,OpenCPN had changed alot during the past 3 years,but what I really want is to Let OpenCPN to display the Heading line.
since the RADAR on my vessel always display the heading line and I used to see that line ,I want to see heading line on OpenCPN also,and most of the ECDIS displays the heading line too.
What a waste or pity if there's heading sentence in the AIS(connect to a GyroCompass or GPS Compass) output data but OpenCPN Can not display it!So pls make OpenCPN doing this!PLS!

here's some picture for you to reference:
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Old 07-07-2014, 03:34   #1633
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Thumbs up Re: Feature Requests-I want Opencpn can display all the waypoint name at one time

Dear Developers ,Good Day to you!
As you know,the OpenCPN dos not display the waypoint name after drawing a route,what you can display every waypoint name is to click every waypoint and the check the "show name" box,then close it and open another waypoint redo the same operation,this will waste too much time if the route consists 20 or 30 more waypoints, so I suggest to add a "display all the waypoint name" and a "last waypoint/next waypoint"button .pls see the below picture.
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Old 07-07-2014, 06:45   #1634
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Re: Feature Requests-I want OpenCPN to display heading line

Quote:
Originally Posted by xiurong View Post
Good day all developers,I am an deck officer working on a merchant vessel(bulk carrier) for over 10 years,and I have been use OpenCPN for about 3 years,OpenCPN had changed alot during the past 3 years,but what I really want is to Let OpenCPN to display the Heading line.
since the RADAR on my vessel always display the heading line and I used to see that line ,I want to see heading line on OpenCPN also,and most of the ECDIS displays the heading line too.
What a waste or pity if there's heading sentence in the AIS(connect to a GyroCompass or GPS Compass) output data but OpenCPN Can not display it!So pls make OpenCPN doing this!PLS!

here's some picture for you to reference:
xiurong...
OpenCPN shows the heading line when heading is available in the NMEA stream. If you believe that in your case it is in the data stream and is not shown, capture some sample data and post for analysis.


Pavel
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Old 09-07-2014, 14:51   #1635
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Re: Feature Requests

Quote:
Originally Posted by nohal View Post
Hakan...
I can process it as is in my tree, but here is a light git usage lesson, so if you want to test it live, feel free to do so yourself...............
Pavel
Pavel.. Many thanks for the nice lesson, I'll save it, but I'm out sailing and have nothing but a terrible net-connection. To get something done I do appreciate if you can process the patch this time and I'll make a try next time?
Håkan
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