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Old 21-11-2014, 12:37   #1
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Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

I am looking to find a replacement for my current ships computer (FitPC2) which seems too slow to do all the things I would like.

I am seeing a lot of work going on getting OpenCPN to run well on low powered ARM based systems.

It seems to me that if we could choose a standard platform to focus on great things could be accomplished.

My wish list:
  1. under $100 (computer only)
  2. under 10W
  3. Wifi- to serve NMEA and possibly VNC
  4. drive a 1920*1080 resoloution monitor
  5. Media player for movies and audio
  6. Connect to Airmail
  7. Connect to RADAR
  8. Run Stellarium
  9. connect to NMEA2000

These are the hardware candidates I have identified:
  • Raspberry Pi - most popular, cheap, available, too slow?, 512Mram 1Ghz single core $45
  • Banana Pi - faster that Rpi, 1Gram 1Ghz Dual core $60
  • CubbieBoard2 - 1Gram 1Ghz Dual Core, 4G flash $60
  • CubbieBoard3 - (CubbieTruck) - 2Gram 1Ghz Dual Core, 8G flash, RTC, SATA, WiFi BT, $90
  • OdroidU3 - 2Gram 1.7Ghz Quad Core, $70
  • WandaBoard Dual - 1Gram Dual Core, $99

I am leaning towards the CubieTruck.

If we can't decide on a single platform then I guess groups could work in parallel. Sharing information, binaries, image files for the particular platform.

A distribution similar to Navagatrix: Navigatrix.net - A Voyager's Companion € View topic - Navigatrix 0.5 - A Voyager's Companion tailored to the hardware platform would be great.

Any thoughts ?

Cheers,
JM.
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Old 21-11-2014, 12:54   #2
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

I guess you will find no computer which will connect to NMEA2000.
That is CAN protocol and no computer will understand it without a supplementary hardware device.
Gerhard
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Old 21-11-2014, 13:13   #3
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarCode View Post
I guess you will find no computer which will connect to NMEA2000.
That is CAN protocol and no computer will understand it without a supplementary hardware device.
Gerhard
Well it is a wish list.

Seems like the A20 supports CAN. but would still need a simple driver circuit.

Or perhaps something like this: CAN Mini Board on SPI bus ?

Linux has support for CAN see: SocketCAN - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It's last on the list because I realize it's probably the toughest.

Cheers,
JM.
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Old 21-11-2014, 13:38   #4
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

You can always get a 2nd hand Panasonic Toughbook that already has the GPS installed in it.
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Old 21-11-2014, 13:53   #5
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

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Originally Posted by captain58sailin View Post
You can always get a 2nd hand Panasonic Toughbook that already has the GPS installed in it.
Thanks, but not what I'm looking for, the power consumption is too high.

I'm planning to run the computer all the time, at least underway. OpenCPN would be running monitoring AIS and possibly RADAR. A display at the nav station will be connected, but normally powered off.

Cheers,
JM.
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Old 21-11-2014, 14:29   #6
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

For me, its easier to just use a Windows 8.1 tablet than screw around with board computers..

Sure it costs more (not a ton as tablets can be had for $250 now), and uses a little more power (20W or so when running) but its an all in one solution.

Your monitor is going to be the major consumer of power in your setup and you will be over 20W a tablet will draw.
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Old 21-11-2014, 15:16   #7
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

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For me, its easier to just use a Windows 8.1 tablet than screw around with board computers..

Sure it costs more (not a ton as tablets can be had for $250 now), and uses a little more power (20W or so when running) but its an all in one solution.

Your monitor is going to be the major consumer of power in your setup and you will be over 20W a tablet will draw.
True, a 22" LED LCD will draw about 20W, but only while it's on. I plan to leave it off most of the time, just the odd check. OpenCPN can watch the RADAR and AIS and alert me.

I also plan to use the ships computer to serve navigation data to tablets and other portable devices on board.

Cheers,
JM.
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Old 21-11-2014, 15:34   #8
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

Quote:
Originally Posted by NahanniV View Post
True, a 22" LED LCD will draw about 20W, but only while it's on. I plan to leave it off most of the time, just the odd check. OpenCPN can watch the RADAR and AIS and alert me.

I also plan to use the ships computer to serve navigation data to tablets and other portable devices on board.

Cheers,
JM.
I just don't see the point of the board computer.. Why not just use the tablets to serve that function.. A modern tablet only draws about 4W when the screen is off and the processor is running at low power.. Ultimately it will be lower power than a board computer feeding other tablets and portable devices.


It seems like a lot of messing around for not a lot of gain (other than bigger screen), and I'm coming from and IT and EE background, I like screwing around..
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Old 21-11-2014, 22:34   #9
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
I just don't see the point of the board computer.. Why not just use the tablets to serve that function.. A modern tablet only draws about 4W when the screen is off and the processor is running at low power.. Ultimately it will be lower power than a board computer feeding other tablets and portable devices.


It seems like a lot of messing around for not a lot of gain (other than bigger screen), and I'm coming from and IT and EE background, I like screwing around..
Tablets generally don't have the physical connections that I need like ethernet for the RADAR and serial for the autopilot.

I also like the idea of the hardware and software being open source.

Maybe I just like "screwing around" more than you

Cheers,
JM.
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Old 22-11-2014, 01:30   #10
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

I recommend cubie truck.

You could use a banana pi or other board, but there isn't sata.
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Old 22-11-2014, 08:14   #11
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

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Originally Posted by boat_alexandra View Post
I recommend cubie truck.

You could use a banana pi or other board, but there isn't sata.
Thanks, That seems to be the best candidate. I probably won't have a SATA drive to start, but possibly in the future.

Also, Thanks for all the work you have done to make this possible: glshim, texture caching, etc.

Have you had your CubieTruck connected to a 1080 monitor ? or what was the largest format ?

Cheers,
JM.
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Old 22-11-2014, 18:32   #12
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

sata can be a nice future upgrade if desired. Much faster boot time and swap space. Isn't really required for opencpn to work well for raster charts, but vector charts are a little slower.
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Old 22-11-2014, 18:35   #13
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

The framerate is good at 1280x800
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Old 26-11-2014, 12:18   #14
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

Quote:
Originally Posted by boat_alexandra View Post
I recommend cubie truck.

You could use a banana pi or other board, but there isn't sata.
Boat_Alexandra is much more experienced at this than I am, but I've installed OpenCPN on three different ARM boards to test. In order, my favorites are:

1) CubieTruck. Lots of processing power, good graphics processor, lots of IO/ports. Complete walkthrough on OpenCPN site, and it "just works".

2) Raspberry Pi. Merely Sufficient for OpenCPN, but cheap in terms of price and power. Fantastic graphics processor and online support. I would think the Bannana Pi would be even better, but I have no experience.

3) Beaglebone. Not a fan, and I do not recommend this hardware. Good CPU, but I simply cannot get good HDMI output (overscan issues). Support blames the hardware, but I use the same TV just fine with the other 2 boards. I will repurpose it for a headless project.

No matter what board you choose, don't forget the extras: A puck style USB GPS. A usb keyboard and mouse (I prefer wireless after initial setup, and highly recommend a Logitech K400). RtlSdr dongle for AIS. microSD card for data and a USB dongle for movies, music. Powered USB hub, power cords and case.
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Old 27-11-2014, 08:27   #15
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Re: Standard Hardware Platform for Ships Computer..

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2) Raspberry Pi. Merely Sufficient for OpenCPN, but cheap in terms of price and power. Fantastic graphics processor and online support. I would think the Bannana Pi would be even better, but I have no experience.
The bannana pi is on a board that looks like the rpi, but uses switching regulator (more efficient) and the same processor and graphics processor of the cubie truck.

Did you get hardware acceleration working on the rpi? I did, and when it was working raster charts about 4x faster than without acceleration, but still only 40% the speed of cubie truck with hardware acceleration. It made the toolbar and all other windows invisible...
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