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Old 14-04-2011, 19:44   #1
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How to Handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB Inputs

I'm new to this, so please bear with me. I have ordered a BT353 USB GPS for my computer. My boat has an instrument system with NMEA 0183 output which I can input to my computer with an NMEA to USB adapter cable.

My question is how do I add both the GPS and instruments NMEA to my computer so that OpenCPN will recognize them?

Do I need more hardware or software? Another option is to just use the NMEA from the instrument system since it has a GPS included in it. Would that work?

Ed
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Old 14-04-2011, 21:11   #2
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Re: How to handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB inputs

Sailracer:

You should read the long thread that I initiated some months ago which discusses "GPS Dropping Out" or some similar topic. Some systems don't work reliably with the BU353.

Having said that, what other instruments do you want to interface to OpenCPN with a NMEA input?

David
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Old 14-04-2011, 21:32   #3
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Re: How to handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB inputs

You might also consider using serial connection for the NMEA data. We did that 3 years to run Expedition with data reading from Tack Tick instruments and a BU 353. The Tack Module did not have a serial connection so we wired the connector to the the module outputs.
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Old 15-04-2011, 05:06   #4
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Re: How to handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB inputs

QUOTE: "what other instruments do you want to interface to OpenCPN with a NMEA input?"

I would like to include apparent wind, true wind speed, boat speed (not GPS), and magnetic compass direction.

QUOTE: "You might also consider using serial connection for the NMEA data"

That is my plan. The Nexus instruments have pin outs for NMEA. I plan to purchase an NMEA to USB adapter cable to run between the Nexus server to the laptop computer since the computer does not have a serial port plug.

But, again, I get to my original question. Can I add both GPS and the instruments to the computer to show in OpenCPN? Or is it better to avoid the BT353 altogether and simply use the serial to USB interface and NMEA data from the instruments which already have a GPS feed into them?

Ed
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Old 15-04-2011, 05:59   #5
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Re: How to handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB inputs

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Originally Posted by sailracer View Post
I would like to include apparent wind, true wind speed, boat speed (not GPS), and magnetic compass direction.

Can I add both GPS and the instruments to the computer to show in OpenCPN? Or is it better to avoid the BT353 altogether and simply use the serial to USB interface and NMEA data from the instruments which already have a GPS feed into them?

Ed
Ed,

I think your question boils down to "Can OpenCPN accept NMEA inputs from two serial (COM) ports?". I don't know the answer, but I suspect it is yes. Someone more familiar with OpenCPN than I am might have more specific advice, but why don't you try it and see what happens?

By the way, you probably know it already, but you can't just tie multiple NMEA0183 outputs into the same USB port unless you use a multiplexer
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Old 15-04-2011, 06:40   #6
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Re: How to handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB inputs

If OC can handle two inputs via two separate USB ports, how do I set this up in the program? It looks like the NMEA port is set on the GPS tab of the Tools menu. But you can only set one COM port, not two.

Assuming I attach my GPS to one USB port, I could set that port up in OC on the GPS tab. But when I attach the NMEA feed from the instruments to another USB port, where would I set that port up in OC?

This gets to the heart of my question.

Ed
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Old 15-04-2011, 16:54   #7
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Re: How to handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB inputs

If OpenCPN can't handle two serial port inputs, PolarView can. It is not quite free, but the price is low, it has all the basic functionality, and the chart display is very clear. I like it. You can try it free for 30 days: Polar Navy - Marine Navigation Software
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Old 15-04-2011, 18:41   #8
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Re: How to handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB inputs

seaclear_mapping : Seaclear GPS Navigation User Group

you might get some help here. THe site is mostly dedicated to Sea Clear, another open source nav software. I have both on my computer and both access the same raster chart files. I did this to compare. There are many help sites specific to these packages.
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Old 15-04-2011, 19:10   #9
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Re: How to handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB inputs

Note that BU353 works a lot better with drivers from chipset manufacturer (Prolific) than with those usually supplied with the actual GPS device.

Here is the link:
Welcome to Prolific

For Windows use Windows drivers (d-oh)
For Mac, *regardless of version* use drivers marked for OS X 10.4 - 10.5. The newer driver for 10.6 doesn't work so well either.
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Old 15-04-2011, 19:18   #10
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Re: How to handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB inputs

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Originally Posted by Nicholson58 View Post
seaclear_mapping : Seaclear GPS Navigation User Group

you might get some help here. THe site is mostly dedicated to Sea Clear, another open source nav software. I have both on my computer and both access the same raster chart files. I did this to compare. There are many help sites specific to these packages.
Ole (the author of SeaClear) is a great guy and has been in this forum in the past. His software is mature and works very well.

But, just to clarify, SeaClear is not open source, it is freeware. Free, but the source is not available for modification. (At least not the last I heard).

-dan
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Old 15-04-2011, 21:19   #11
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Re: How to handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB inputs

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Originally Posted by sailracer View Post
If OC can handle two inputs via two separate USB ports, how do I set this up in the program? It looks like the NMEA port is set on the GPS tab of the Tools menu. But you can only set one COM port, not two.

Assuming I attach my GPS to one USB port, I could set that port up in OC on the GPS tab. But when I attach the NMEA feed from the instruments to another USB port, where would I set that port up in OC?

This gets to the heart of my question.

Ed
Seaclear II can handle 3 comm input ports. At least thats what's in the Tools>Properties>Comm popup.

OpenCPN only has one receive (input) and one transmit (output). If you want more, I would suggest you post in the features wanted section.

NMEA is either 183 or 2000. The 183 requires a serial (comm) port. Most newer laptops come with USB and no comm ports. There are third party hardware provides that sell one, two or more 9 pin D shell serial to USB. You have to load drivers and the serial ports from the d shell will appear as comm ports in Device Manager. If programs like OpenCPN, SeaclearII or Polarview can use comm ports, you should be able to use these ports. These porgrams don't use USB ports. They use comm ports.

I have the GPS that came with Microsoft Streets and Trips. It has USB connector. Since it comes up as a comm device in Device Manager, OpenCPN, Seaclear II, Polarview and Google Earth can receive data from the gps.

I just got thru helping someone trying to use the Delorme GPS that came with Delorme maps. The package worked great with Windows 7. The gps did not apear in Device Manager. We could not get it to work with OpenCPN. Googled it and found out that Delorme had no intention of letting their GPS work with other programs.

So be careful and make sure you can return anything you buy!

From what I read, you are trying to feed two NMEA 183 outputs into OpenCPN. Since OpenCPN only has one input port you will have to go to a multiplexer.

Gordon
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Old 16-04-2011, 02:56   #12
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Re: How to Handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB Inputs

I played a little more with OpenCPN. I'm certainly not a certified OpenCPN wizard, but it appears that it can handle two serial ports, one intended for GPS and the other for AIS. There seems to be no provision to interpret any NMEA 0183 sentences other than from GPS and AIS or to display other information such as depth, wind, compass, etc., so there's really no point in trying to connect any other NMEA 0183 devices.
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Old 16-04-2011, 03:17   #13
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Re: How to Handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB Inputs

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There seems to be no provision to interpret any NMEA 0183 sentences other than from GPS and AIS or to display other information such as depth, wind, compass, etc., so there's really no point in trying to connect any other NMEA 0183 devices.
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Old 16-04-2011, 05:18   #14
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Re: How to Handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB Inputs

Quote:
Note that BU353 works a lot better with drivers from chipset manufacturer (Prolific) than with those usually supplied with the actual GPS device.
Prolific drivers don't work under Vista / Windows 7, but are great under Windows XP.
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Old 16-04-2011, 06:34   #15
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Re: How to Handle USB GPS and NMEA to USB Inputs

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Prolific drivers don't work under Vista / Windows 7, but are great under Windows XP.
I have different information both first hand and from many users.

Prolific drivers work just fine under Windows 7 and Vista (confirmed - 32 bit, can't be absolutely sure about 64 bit since users usually fail to mention "bitness" of their system).

What is your source of information?
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