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Old 06-03-2017, 06:34   #1
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rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

Hey everybody

We're a family of 4 that is about to become full time liveaboard for an extended period of time. The rough idea for now would be Caribbeans, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Galapagos, French Polynesia & so on, and then either hawaii/japan/alaska or complete the round the full tour. Everything is of course subject to change, but you get the idea.

We need to change the whole set of electronic on the boat and I've been reading a lot recently about OpenPlotter on a PI. I get that the project is open source and not as plug and play as a dedicated chartPlotter and I'm fine with that. What I haven't found so far is somebody that went down that road and is using it has its primary system. What I'm thinking of right now:
- standar instruments (wind, depth, speed)
- 4g radar
- AIS transponder
- autopilot

all connected to a PI3 with a 10" display.

So a couple of questions:
- Is anybody using a similar setup? Can it be achievable?
- With AIS & Radar overlay, is the performance OK?

To be clear, I'm not looking at this setup to do the planning, weather forecasting & so on. I already have a laptop for those. The PI would really be a chartplotter while underway (so minimal power usage). I could also use it for goodies (barometric pressure, fridge temp status & alarms and so on). My idea being it would be much cheaper to build than buying a chartplotter and if something break, I could easily get a new pi or the culprit sensor shipped anywhere in the world without problem with customs and so on.

Boat is a maramu, I would build a small enclosure to somewhat waterproof the display that would be protected by the hard dodger as well. The PI and sensors would be down below.

Any feedback would be great. Such a setup is roughly 300$, so pretty cheap IF it works.

Thanks a lot

sam
SV Sputnik
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Old 06-03-2017, 07:00   #2
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

Soon as I get my taxes in, I am going to start the upgrade from the Thinkpad to the rPi3 for next season. I have the go fund me iKonnect box which should help. Gonna add a tablet in the cockpit for display... Santa dropped off a Talon mount to help. The Ubiquity Bullet, Pi and router are already talking. Garmin GPS has died so a new Std radio with GPS was acquired to help the integration. Not enough hours in the day.
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Old 06-03-2017, 07:33   #3
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

Quote:
Originally Posted by svsputnik View Post
Boat is a maramu, I would build a small enclosure to somewhat waterproof the display that would be protected by the hard dodger as well. The PI and sensors would be down below.
The Amel Maramu is a very solid boat. Why do you want to spoil that with a do-it-yourself solution? Better buy something from a well known manufacturer which also can be repaired in any port of the world.

Gerhard
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Old 06-03-2017, 07:41   #4
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

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Originally Posted by CarCode View Post
The Amel Maramu is a very solid boat. Why do you want to spoil that with a do-it-yourself solution? Better buy something from a well known manufacturer which also can be repaired in any port of the world.

Gerhard
Well. I don't see this as "spoiling the boat" But the 3 reasons are in order:
- Being able to export from my laptop my waypoints and routes into the PI
- Not being stuck with 1 brand (on my old boat, the autopilot & chartplotter couldn't talk together because of brand issues). I see this system as being way easier to upgrade in the future
- Cost. Every cent count. We'll be leaving of our savings, so every hundred/thousands saved means more cruising time.

sam
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Old 06-03-2017, 07:54   #5
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

This is not the forum to debate open versus proprietary systems. My Silva instruments went Nexus then Raymarine and won't talk to my Navico autopilot.....My 'TickTak' instruments now are Raymarine for how long? The only standard in the world that works is the width of a roll of toilet paper...
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Old 06-03-2017, 12:01   #6
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

sam
For your info I've Rpi-2B, out of the box with a Raspi 7 inch screen, and I can run OCPN latest Beta 4.5.302 (Stable O 4.6 is soon here) and BR24Radar_pi for the 4G and it works. OK you can't zoom very fast but it's stable. I use to build it my self. Take some hours to build but that's normally just once.
Try it!
Håkan
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Old 06-03-2017, 20:25   #7
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

I am now running OpenPlotter on a RPi3 with the 7" RPi Official 7 inch touch screen. I have been successful in using the multiplexer in OpenPlotter to get my NEMA and AIS data to OpenCPN. It works well and didn't take too much effort. There are still a number of annoyances that I am working on, so the jury is still out in terms of using it as my primary navigation tool. Fortunately I still have a 14 year old working Raymarine plotter, wind, speed and depth instruments.

Some things to consider if you decide to proceed include:
1. The RPi3 does not have an on/off switch in order to shut down Linux. There are ways to work around this, but it is annoying.
2. Don't underestimate the need for a waterproof case. I only use the RPi3 at the nav station. There are ways to repeat it to a laptop or even an iPad if you look around on the Internet.
3. You might want to consider running OpenPlotter on your laptop? I also have it and OpenCPN running on my older Lenovo T60P Thinkpad using Linux Mint Mate.

In my opinion, OpenPlotter on the RPi3 is best run headless as a multiplexer and as WIFI access point to distribute NEMA and AIS data to a laptop or iPad running OpenCPN, or other navigation software.

Good luck and have fun implementing OpenPlotter on your boat.
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Old 07-03-2017, 01:24   #8
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

Quote:
Originally Posted by svsputnik View Post
So a couple of questions:
- Is anybody using a similar setup? Can it be achievable?
- With AIS & Radar overlay, is the performance OK?
I've been using a Pi for must be couple of years now - the Pi3 with hardware graphics acceleration turned on is plenty fast enough. I have a 19" monitor at the chart table then in the cockpit a xperia android tablet running opencpn getting data from the Pi. It might be worth trying a tablet under the sprayhood before making a dedicated monitor.

Works great, lots of monitoring oppertunities, for the price of a couple of beers thermometers are easy to add then access the data over wifi.

Even if you go a hardware solution (cost of charts is a killer cruising) a Pi running openplotter is still worth considering imho.
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Old 07-03-2017, 03:54   #9
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

Raspbery PI3 is running here very well with the beta OpenCPN 4.5.303.
The release of the 4.6 version of OpenCPN is very near.

Also the availability of the Oesenc ENC charts sets is a matter of days.

The RPI works fast with the kernel 4.9.11 beta version. However this version seems to be no longer available.

Upgrade does now version kernel 4.4.50. Don't know the reason for this.

Wireless data transfer to other navigation software is possible. Running the OpenCPN desktop on another platform via VNC server inside works very well.

Plugins for Radar, Grib files etc. etc. are available.

A good daylight monitor screen for outside use, that is the main problem. I'am now testing a Faytech waterristent screen.

Bram
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Old 07-03-2017, 05:37   #10
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

Two big issues have already been mentioned, but I will re-emphasize them.

1. Waterproof -- Not insurmountable, but not trivial either.
2. Daylight readable screen -- Right now all the options (at least, all of those that I have been able to find) are very expensive. In fact, so expensive that the monitor alone will cost as much as a dedicated chartplotter.

If you want to use this as a primary device, in the cockpit, then it needs to address both of the above concerns.

Good luck.
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Old 07-03-2017, 06:00   #11
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Firestorm View Post
I am now running OpenPlotter on a RPi3 with the 7" RPi Official 7 inch touch screen. I have been successful in using the multiplexer in OpenPlotter to get my NEMA and AIS data to OpenCPN. It works well and didn't take too much effort. There are still a number of annoyances that I am working on, so the jury is still out in terms of using it as my primary navigation tool. Fortunately I still have a 14 year old working Raymarine plotter, wind, speed and depth instruments.

Some things to consider if you decide to proceed include:
1. The RPi3 does not have an on/off switch in order to shut down Linux. There are ways to work around this, but it is annoying.
2. Don't underestimate the need for a waterproof case. I only use the RPi3 at the nav station. There are ways to repeat it to a laptop or even an iPad if you look around on the Internet.
3. You might want to consider running OpenPlotter on your laptop? I also have it and OpenCPN running on my older Lenovo T60P Thinkpad using Linux Mint Mate.

In my opinion, OpenPlotter on the RPi3 is best run headless as a multiplexer and as WIFI access point to distribute NEMA and AIS data to a laptop or iPad running OpenCPN, or other navigation software.

Good luck and have fun implementing OpenPlotter on your boat.
Thanks Firestorm

RE:
1. I know about the power switch. Haven't found something that seems to do the trick. There are some board where you can attach a LIPO battery to act as a UPS, so I'm guessing it would be possible to monitor the power coming from the USB and automatically shutdown the system if voltage drops while running on the UPS. Haven't looked too much into this yet. But I'm not sure this is such a big issue; the idea of having a PI is that it doesn't use much power in headless mode, so when at anchor I would probably just let the PI run with GPS to act as an anchor watch system. I'm expecting it to be powered 24/24 i think.

2. The PI would be inside. Pretty easy to create something waterproof for it. I'm more worried about it getting hot actually.

3. Yup. I would use opencpn on a laptop as well for route planning and weather forecast (predict wind & so on).

thanks for the feedback
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Old 07-03-2017, 06:05   #12
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

Quote:
Originally Posted by conachair View Post
I've been using a Pi for must be couple of years now - the Pi3 with hardware graphics acceleration turned on is plenty fast enough. I have a 19" monitor at the chart table then in the cockpit a xperia android tablet running opencpn getting data from the Pi. It might be worth trying a tablet under the sprayhood before making a dedicated monitor.

Works great, lots of monitoring oppertunities, for the price of a couple of beers thermometers are easy to add then access the data over wifi.

Even if you go a hardware solution (cost of charts is a killer cruising) a Pi running openplotter is still worth considering imho.
Thanks! Any issue with your tablet when in direct daylight? That's another problem I can foresee. If I need to pay hundreds to get a proper 1000+nits monitor, I'm not sure its worth the bother anymore. I could still use a PI for sensors, but the setup and cost investment would be different : I already have a PI2 kicking around that I could use in headless mode only for temp sensors and barometric pressure...

I wouldn't buy the GPS hat + display + extra keyboard and so on.
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Old 07-03-2017, 06:07   #13
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
Two big issues have already been mentioned, but I will re-emphasize them.

1. Waterproof -- Not insurmountable, but not trivial either.
2. Daylight readable screen -- Right now all the options (at least, all of those that I have been able to find) are very expensive. In fact, so expensive that the monitor alone will cost as much as a dedicated chartplotter.

If you want to use this as a primary device, in the cockpit, then it needs to address both of the above concerns.

Good luck.
These Faytech monitors are in several dimension. 8, 10, and 12 " screens. Touchscreen. VGA or HDMI.

The 10" that I bought cost around € 300,- and that is including 21% VAT. Runs on 12 volt. Power consumption 10 Watt. (Day-)light adjustable on the alu casing.
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Old 07-03-2017, 06:32   #14
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

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Originally Posted by verkerkbr View Post
The 10" that I bought cost around € 300,- and that is including 21% VAT.
Maybe they're cheaper in Europe, or maybe I'm looking in the wrong place. Here in the U.S. I have been looking for something in the 7"-9" range and have not been able to find any for less than $500.

This, I should note, is for a TRULY daylight readable display. There are a lot out there that CLAIM to be daylight readable, but only rate around 500-700 NITS. That is kinda, sorta daylight readable, but not really. That is in the range of the better smart-phones, and if you have ever tried to use one of those under full sunlight then you know that they are nowhere near as good as the screen that you can get on a $200 chartplotter. Those $200 chartplotters come with screens in the range of 900-1000 NITS, which is what you need for true daylight readability.

For me, the issue of a reasonably priced display that will be really useful in the cockpit has been the big sticking point.
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Old 07-03-2017, 07:31   #15
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Re: rPI3 + openplotter -> is it a viable solution?

Quote:
Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
Maybe they're cheaper in Europe, or maybe I'm looking in the wrong place. Here in the U.S. I have been looking for something in the 7"-9" range and have not been able to find any for less than $500.

This, I should note, is for a TRULY daylight readable display. There are a lot out there that CLAIM to be daylight readable, but only rate around 500-700 NITS. That is kinda, sorta daylight readable, but not really. That is in the range of the better smart-phones, and if you have ever tried to use one of those under full sunlight then you know that they are nowhere near as good as the screen that you can get on a $200 chartplotter. Those $200 chartplotters come with screens in the range of 900-1000 NITS, which is what you need for true daylight readability.

For me, the issue of a reasonably priced display that will be really useful in the cockpit has been the big sticking point.
https://www.faytech.com/products/pro...0tmip65hbhdmi/
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