Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 12-08-2013, 19:15   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Chestertown, MD
Boat: 1993 Robalo R2320
Posts: 5
Images: 6
Touchscreen Plotter Build

Hello everyone!

I've been playing around with OpenCPN now for about a year... on my couch. I'm so very impressed with this software - so much so, that I've decided to use OpenCPN as my main plotting software on my next boat. This decision left me with a bit of a dilemma - what kind of hardware can I use on a boat... permanently. I don't like the idea of having a laptop or tablet at the helm, and I like the "built-in" look of flush mounted electronics.

With all of this in mind, this is what I've come up with: A 17" touchscreen PC that is flush mountable, runs off of 6-30 vdc, and ended up costing me about 250 bucks.

I finally pulled the trigger on this project about two weeks ago, when I began bidding on a rebuilt 17" elo touchscreen monitor on ebay. I finally ended up just buying one for around $65, shipped. Next, I found a mini-ITX motherboard with a 4-core AMD processor and 4 GB of RAM on craigslist. That set me back 90 bucks. I already had a 2.5" 250 GB hard drive out of a laptop lying around, so that was covered.

Next was supplying power to this rig. I finally settled on a $80 12VDC ATX power supply from Amazon, along with a 1' VGA anc USB cable. I later found out that this particular unit has a terrible reputation - I'll get to that later.

I planned on mounting all of this stuff to the back of the monitor, using it's VESA mount screw holes. I ended up getting drawings and models for all of the components, and layed out the entire assembly in SolidWorks.

I later found a piece of .065" aluminum sheet in the shop, and transferred my hole locations from CAD to the sheet.



I used standoffs to mount the motherboard and power supply to the aluminum sheet, and mounted the hard drive directly to it to act as a heat sink.



I then used some spacers to keep the aluminum sheet from rubbing on the back of the monitor. These spacers are about 1/4" high. Machine screws run through these spacers to hold the plate to the monitor.



Everything else just mounted to their respective standoffs, and then were wired together. Since the monitor needs 12VDC 5%, I decided to size up my power supply, and use it to regulate the monitors power also. A 4-pin Molex connector and a barrel connector made an adapter to make this happen.



The whole rig is currently support by two pieces of luan, but they will soon be replaced by a full enclosure for testing on my center console.



Everything is working so far. I had some issues with the power supply early on, but it turned out to be a voltage drop issue - solved that with some 10 gauge wire. This should be over kill, but better safe than sorry. I installed windows XP Pro on this rig, and it's running great. The power supply applies power and starts up the PC with the flick of am external switch, and then performs a safe shutdown of the PC followed by disconnecting power to the PC with a flick in the other direction.

OpenCPN and Virtual Keyboard are set to run on startup, so in most cases I don't need a keyboard or mouse. I'll be happy to keep everyone updated if you'd like!
__________________

__________________
MattMicken is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-08-2013, 02:37   #2
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Port Vila, Vanuatu
Boat: Van der Stadt Samoa 48
Posts: 127
Re: Touchscreen Plotter Build

Do you think it is possible to build a waterproof housing for the screen alone and keep the computer parts in the cabin.

Lars
__________________

__________________
Taarnskov is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 13-08-2013, 05:09   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Chestertown, MD
Boat: 1993 Robalo R2320
Posts: 5
Images: 6
Re: Touchscreen Plotter Build

Lars,

I do think that would be possible. The screen only needs a 12 VDC, VGA and USB connection, so those three combined are fairly small and easy to chase through a boat. The biggest issue that I would see with that setup would be the monitor itself. The one that I used does not have an IP rating for submersion or even splash, so I don't think it wouldn't survive very long in a cockpit. That being said, it does have a "water-resistant seal" according to the specification sheet, so perhaps in a tight enclosure, it may surprise us.

It also doesn't have the brightness required to be easily viewable in direct sunlight. I had intended for mine to go in a cabin, which should address both of these issues.

There are touchscreen LCD displays that are rated to IP67 or greater, which would be the way to go for an outdoor installation... but they cost a good bit more than 60 bucks.
__________________
MattMicken is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-08-2013, 20:44   #4
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Chestertown, MD
Boat: 1993 Robalo R2320
Posts: 5
Images: 6
Re: Touchscreen Plotter Build

After a few hours of playing with OpenCPN on the touchscreen, I've come up with a few enhancement requests. The bulk of these are in flyspray, but I wanted to get them visible to so that I could see some other points of view.

1) Customizable toolbar buttons to suplement keyboard shortcuts (F6, S, Space Bar, Ctrl +, Ctrl -, A, L are the big ones for me).

2) Hide this chart directly above Chart Groups in right click menu. It would be nice to have a "Are you sure" conformation box come up to hide the current chart, to prevent issues with accidently hiding charts.
Alternativly, increasing the font size of the right click menu could possibly alleviate this problem.

3) Not specific to touchscreens, but would be pretty neat - "Full Scale" button. Zoom in the chart to full scale - so that any smaller of a scale would be over zoomed. It would allow you to get the most accuracy from the chart, without over-zooming.

Any thoughts? Is any one else running a touch based system? I'm hoping to have an enclosure built for this rig in the next week or two, but time for on-the-water testing may be limited pretty soon (first baby's dew in about 4 weeks).

Later!
__________________
MattMicken is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-08-2013, 21:12   #5
Registered User
 
MTLandlocked's Avatar

Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Pecatonica, IL (Near Chicago!)
Posts: 121
Re: Touchscreen Plotter Build

Would be pretty darn cool to have a large touchscreen like that embedded into the nav table...assumming you can get touch to register through a thicker pane of lexan or similar material. I've seen those touch tables that would be similar to that, though quite a bit bigger.
__________________
"A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble. - E.B. White
My Blog: http://sailboatexplorer.blogspot.com/
MTLandlocked is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-08-2013, 04:39   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Australia
Boat: Island Packet 40
Posts: 1,375
Images: 7
Re: Touchscreen Plotter Build

Hi MattMicken,

I love these do it yourself projects, do a lot of them myself and get a great deal of gratification from them when they work. Yours looks fantastic.

I did the dedicated boat computer from components a few years ago and was very satisfied with it however one of the things I had problems with, and what eventually killed it, was sea water ingress. Even though I thought I had it in a safe place inside and in a cupboard water found it's way into it.

Using a touch screen would greatly assist in waterproofing the whole thing, particularly if you could fit the computer motherboard, touch screen and power supply in together and only needed a single 12v power supply cable into the enclosure. I tried wireless mouses and keyboards and it was not a great success.

At present I use a netbook and OpenCPN for voyage planning and position checks and transfer waypoints to my old GPS/autopilot manually. I am trying to get OpenCPN to talk to the autopilot via a USB/RS422 converter but have not had a lot of success so far. Do you intend hooking your home brew chart plotter to an autopilot and if so what do you have in mind.

Many years ago I built a computer controlled pumping system for the R&D department of a large mining company and used PC104 boards. It was expensive but being an industrial product they were pretty solid. I found that you could run them directly from the engines cranking battery system provided that you placed enough inductor/capacitor glitch catchers in the power supply line. I think some of the small form ATX boards can be powered from a single 12v supply.

In my case the problem with embedding a large touch screen in the nav table is that I would never get to see it for all the other crap on it. However if you had room to slope it, say at about 45 degrees it would solve this problem and be very convenient to use.

Very interested to see how your project proceeds.
__________________
RaymondR is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-08-2013, 18:06   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Chestertown, MD
Boat: 1993 Robalo R2320
Posts: 5
Images: 6
Re: Touchscreen Plotter Build

RaymondR,

That PC/104 spec is pretty cool! I can't believe I haven't heard of it before. I've used Koyo and Allen Bradley PLCs for control of different projects at work, but never a PC based system - which is weird. I have a decent amount of experience with Visual Basic and it's variants (VBA and VBScript), and some experience with JavaScript. I've been playing with C++ lately, since it is what is used to program the atmega328 microprocessor (Arduino).

I'm hoping that water ingress won't be an issue when this this is finally installed. It will be flush mounted in a dash inside of a full welded aluminum pilot house (has yet to be started). I figure that should give it at least two "seals" against rain and sea water. A bigger concern that I have is corrosion on the components and PCBs due to salty, moist air.

I do intend to interface my home-brew rig to some other equipment. This is what I've come up with so far. Please keep in mind, I'm probably dreaming here...

- Homebrew 17" as main display. It will act as the primary plotter and radar displays, as well as a library of aerial photos, coastal pilot pdfs, and a "dashboard" for nmea 0183 and 2000 data.

- Garmin 8"-10" MFD. Will be my primary fish finder display, and will act as my backup chart plotter and radar display.

- Garmin black box sounder unit.

- Garmin 4' Open Array Radar scanner.

- Garmin Autopilot (Yamaha Helm Master compatable).

- Twin Yamaha F200s, monitored by Command Link Plus Display and/or possibly home-brew display.

- Standard Horizon VHF w/ DSC - nmea 0183.

- Some variety of AIS receiver - nmea 0183.

I would like to connect as much of this stuff together as I can, so that data can be shared between them. I'll then have the convince of multiple units that share information, but aren't tied to each other to the point where if one piece goes down, the whole system craps out (fingers crossed).

I happened to create a layout of this in SolidWorks a while back...


Good luck with your Autopilot project!
__________________
MattMicken is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-10-2013, 09:12   #8
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 2
Re: Touchscreen Plotter Build

I am launching a Raspberry Pi driven on-board computer project, centred around the OpenCPN software. The plan is to have a fully sealed system powered by 12v input, with a sealed mount touchscreen display. I have posted the basics on a "Free raspberry Pi" competition. If you vote for the idea, then they will send me a free Pi kit - I will build this whether or not I get a free Pi. I already have 2 at home on test projects.
__________________
dimonic is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21-10-2013, 02:27   #9
Registered User

Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 15
Re: Touchscreen Plotter Build

I originally had an HP laptop with a broken screen down below, with a 19" monitor mounted on my cabin side. Worked fine for along time. I had thought of taking the screen completely off the laptop and mounting the base/keyboard inside a locker and simply running the monitor cable out to a work surface along with a USB cable. A USB hub at the monitor would seem to be all that would be needed. A USB cable can go 15ft or more if it is powered.
__________________
burgoynebc is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 21-10-2013, 06:53   #10
Registered User
 
rgleason's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Boston, MA
Boat: 1981 Bristol 32 Sloop
Posts: 9,398
Re: Touchscreen Plotter Build

MattMiken and others - Please bring your suggestions for Interface improvements
to this thread, so these Touch Screen considerations are also addressed. Thank you
Shortcut Keys List

Also did not see your Flyspray entries, which ones are they? Under Opencpn Feature Requests?
__________________
rgleason is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-10-2013, 18:33   #11
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 242
Re: Touchscreen Plotter Build

One suggestion is that you use an SSD instead of a normal drive.

Not because of the drastic speed improvement, which makes for a much quicker boot. But because of much greater reliability and lower power drain. A hard drive spinning at say 5000 rpm has all the forces of a gyroscope, with every pitch, roll, etc. you are putting stresses on the spindle and hard drive like would never be experienced on a desktop. Also, an SSD uses much less power, particularly for low access and lower writting applications like O. A hard drive uses power just to keep spinning.

In order of importance: reliability, lower power, silent, lower heat, much quicker.

I've seen SSDs as low as $50 for a size appropriate for a boat.
__________________
dave777 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2013, 20:38   #12
Registered User

Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Chestertown, MD
Boat: 1993 Robalo R2320
Posts: 5
Images: 6
Re: Touchscreen Plotter Build

Quote:
Originally Posted by rgleason View Post
MattMiken and others - Please bring your suggestions for Interface improvements
to this thread, so these Touch Screen considerations are also addressed. Thank you
Shortcut Keys List

Also did not see your Flyspray entries, which ones are they? Under Opencpn Feature Requests?
rgleason,

I've only created one flyspray entry (enhancement request 1023), but have voted for and commented on 739 and 159 since I felt they wrapped up what I was looking for.

I've actually started work on a custom membrane pushbutton panel to supplement the keyboard and some onscreen buttons. It'll use a re-flashed Arduino processor to send keyboard signals via USB to the PC. Unfortunately, spare time is pretty rare these days, so my panel is mostly just a pile of parts.

I probably wont resume work on this project until next spring when the boating season starts to come around again.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dave777 View Post
One suggestion is that you use an SSD instead of a normal drive.

Not because of the drastic speed improvement, which makes for a much quicker boot. But because of much greater reliability and lower power drain. A hard drive spinning at say 5000 rpm has all the forces of a gyroscope, with every pitch, roll, etc. you are putting stresses on the spindle and hard drive like would never be experienced on a desktop. Also, an SSD uses much less power, particularly for low access and lower writting applications like O. A hard drive uses power just to keep spinning.

In order of importance: reliability, lower power, silent, lower heat, much quicker.

I've seen SSDs as low as $50 for a size appropriate for a boat.
Dave777,

I completely agree that a SSD would be the way to go for storage - if only for the shock resistance. However, I didn't want to spend any more on this project than I had to (since there's a chance that it'll just end up as spare parts on the shelf), and the price was right on the HDD that is in this rig now. Luckily, since the freebie HHD was of the 2.5" variety, the swap to a SSD will be a breeze

If I make any more headway, ya'll will be the first to know. Thanks!
__________________
MattMicken is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 16-11-2013, 17:44   #13
Registered User
 
rgleason's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Boston, MA
Boat: 1981 Bristol 32 Sloop
Posts: 9,398
Re: Touchscreen Plotter Build

Matt wrote:
Quote:
I've actually started work on a custom membrane pushbutton panel to supplement the keyboard and some onscreen buttons.
We're interested in what you've done and in your thoughts.
__________________

__________________
rgleason is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
screen

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 04:49.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.