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Old 14-03-2020, 09:06   #166
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Re: Computer for navigation

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Originally Posted by wingssail View Post
Let's take a step backwards for a moment.

In my opinion cruisers and potential cruisers spend too much time deciding and debating abut which item of equipment is best. Which computer for navigation.
Which battery, which solar controller, which refer system, which battery isolator, charger, inverter, alternator, autopilot, on and on and on.

This forum is a perfect example of this

The debate soon devolves into such minor differences and benefits that it becomes insignificant. Meanwhile we are too busy picking the "best" to spend time on things which really matter, like learning how to sail and make your boat go, how to deal with navigation challenges, storm situations, DOCKING, just time on the boat.

I dunno, maybe people are doing all those things and researching the "best" item (and installing it) is just what they do at work instead of what they are paid to do.

Lets get out on the boa more and lay off the search for the best.
Fine by me. I just got totally impressed with the Raspberry pi and the fun it was (for me) to make use of to make a chart plotter and receiver of NMEA 0183 AIS data to be displayed on the chart.

My Windows 10 laptop will be used for this also and to update the firmware to and monitoring of my Victron 75/15.

I may use my old HP2010i VGA monitor (Windows Vista era) hooked up externally to my Laptop and laid on the bridgedeck as my chart plotter monitor. It's been sitting in a closet for 6-7 years until I hooked it up today. So I can abuse it if necessary
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Old 14-03-2020, 10:05   #167
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Re: Computer for navigation

6 Years ago I bought an old used $99 HP 17" laptop and loaded one of those cheap Cd s $14.95 with all usa charts and a computer nav program and kept it plugged into house batts cig lighter plug--added a hockey puck $20. Stil kicking and best Nav set up yet! (plus if batts go bad it works fine with no batts in ). Plus I can use my Verizon hotspot to go online up and down the gulf coast . Total cost $114 or $18 a year s far--LOL
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Old 14-03-2020, 10:11   #168
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Re: Computer for navigation

Touchscreen can be a big NO NO. I have tried this way and it did not work in a boat when sailing.


My racing friends use various trackballs (docked to the table) to control their screens and also keyboards.


So make sure you have more than one input entry options when you go testing.



b.
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Old 14-03-2020, 15:22   #169
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Re: Computer for navigation

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Originally Posted by wingssail View Post
Lots of navigation options which is good since there are so many cruisers with different needs, preferences, and skills.
I couldn't agree more! It is like arguing about which is the best car. (Horses for courses)
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Old 14-03-2020, 19:01   #170
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Re: Computer for navigation

I feel like somewhat of an expert in this matter, because I have just about every possible solution installed on my boat.

The ToughBook was preferred when no other options were available and is not really used now. The main issue is the bulk and the need to keep it supplied with power if used out in the cockpit for any length of time. It's weight makes it a liability for flying around the boat and doing damage in a rough sea. I'vealready posted about the time I drowned mine because it got sat on the floor to prevent this.

The NUC is my favourite. It runs OpenCPN with official charts. There are many NUC variants from Atom based processors through to the I7. My preference is the I3 with 8Gb RAM, although the I5 is just as suitable. I tried an Atom based unit at first, but it was just totally underwhelming and offered little benefit over a Pi.

I use the NUC for most things (including writing this post!). It is an excellent allrounder and the quality if the unit, just like a toughbook, means that a second hand unit makes perfect sense for use on a boat and this representrs a significant saving over new. Do not be fooled by other "NUC" variants. They tend to either be cheaply made, or designed for desktop use. The I3 NUC is perfect for general computing, navigation and running typical business software. Another benefit is that the I3, although supplied with a 19VDC input brick runs as happy as Larry off the raw 12VDC supply from the batteries. The 19VDC Atom based units won't even do this - they complain of low voltage and refuse to boot.

Disadvantage is the permanent mounting. I obviously can't use it in the cockpit, but I do have paid for current hydrographic charts installed so I use it for route planning using OpenCPN. An advantage is I can't use it in the cockpit, and it sits in a reasonably well protected area.


The Raspberry Pi is very impressive. I initially had the 3B+ unit deployed using OpenPlotter 1.nn in a headless mode and was a little underwhelmed with it's performance when using it for OpenCPN via a VPN connection. As an NMEA server it was brilliant and I initially also had a dAISy hat installed for AIS reception. After I got an AIS transponder, I decided to replace the 3B+ with the older 3B unit and installed OpenPlotter 2 on it. This was a bit of a revelation as surprisingly it is now more than fast enough to comfortably run OpenCPN on it via VPN and the change from Kplex to SignalK for serving NMEA data made setup just so much smoother and easier than on the earlier version of OpenPlotter.

The Raspberry Pi invaluable as an NMEA server and it's low power means that it basically switches on with the sailing instruments and stays on. I also use it as a file server and store charts, routes and even the odd movie for streaming on it. I would never be without it and the low price and small size means there's no excuse for not carrying a spare. I'd also have no issues whatsoever using it for a primary chartplotter, even though for me it is on about the third tier of backup level for this function.


Tablets. I have a bunch of old tablets. Anchor alarm software works better on older versions of Android due to power saving changes made with later versions, so one table is used as an anchor alarm. All tablets are loaded with Open CPN and get their NMEA data from the rPi. If I didn't have a dedicated chartplotter at the helm, my cockpit system would a helm mounted tablet. The issues with capacitive touch screens and waterproofing in general aside, this would be my preferred solution for getting information in the cockpit. In fact I have a NOS Samsung Galaxy Active phone that solves a lot of the issues with the outdoor environment in the cockpit.

Tablets are cheap and handy all rounders. The advantage of using tablets in an integrated system is that I can use them anywhere and exchange OpenCPN route information with other OpenCPN devices on board (using the rPi's file server functionality). The disadvantage is the aforementioned enviromental exposure considerations and the fact that it is very easy to loose a tablet over the side or have it otherwise damaged in rough conditions.


MFD. I have an older model B&G Zeus at the helm. Not much to say about this except that it has a tremendous advantage in that it is rugged, designed for the environment and has dedicated MFD functionality. The biggest disadvantage is that it doesn't interchange route information with OpenCPN. This means that I have to program routes twice; Once in OpenCPN and again at the MFD (usually while sitting at the helm, even though I can remotely access the MFD). In normal use, I find I'll use the MFD primarily for autopilot and radar control and a tablet for monitoring the route. If the MFD were to die, I'm not sure I'd actually replace it.
Lastly, my big expensive laptop stays firmly in it's padded bag unless I need it's grunt for my work or to edit some videos. The darn thing is too fragile and too expensive to risk getting wrecked!


Anyway here's some pictures of the Toughbook, NUC and rPi in thee usual locations aboard. The other picture is a tip on getting a 50" or bigger screen onto a small boat!
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Old 15-03-2020, 11:14   #171
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Re: Computer for navigation

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Originally Posted by Reefmagnet View Post
. . . MFD. I have an older model B&G Zeus at the helm. Not much to say about this except that it has a tremendous advantage in that it is rugged, designed for the environment and has dedicated MFD functionality. The biggest disadvantage is that it doesn't interchange route information with OpenCPN. This means that I have to program routes twice; Once in OpenCPN and again at the MFD. . .


I do navigation and route planning using O and a NUC-type mini-computer; and use two older Zeus plotters on the main network for pilotage/radar/etc. I sail in some highly complex waters (like the Swedish and Finnish archipelagos) where a day's sailing might require a route with 100 waypoints, where it is not actually realistic to do it with an ordinary MFD, but O is brilliant. Here's the tip for you -- just export the route as a gpx file, to a thumb drive (do that from the Routes & Waypoints menu). Then import it into the Zeus from the thumb drive (use the Files menu). Et voila. It just takes a few seconds and you don't have to redo the route.


I double and triple check my routes for safety's sake, wherever possible with more than one set of cartography, best of all with large scale raster charts where these are available. This is vastly easier to do on a big screen and with OpenCPN. I recommend this also as part of your work flow.



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. . Lastly, my big expensive laptop stays firmly in it's padded bag unless I need it's grunt for my work or to edit some videos. The darn thing is too fragile and too expensive to risk getting wrecked!. . .

Amen to that!
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Old 15-03-2020, 12:53   #172
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Re: Computer for navigation

I play with a Pi and have a plotter that I built based on a Pi under the dodger. But I don't believe a Pi is powerful enough for the main computer aboard. I use a small industrial computer (currently an i7) with a good SSD (no rotating drives aboard). The one I have now has 5 serial ports (I don't need 5, but one sucks in NMEA 0183) a host of USB ports and it all cost a few hundred US dollars. I have an old 15 inch 12 volt monitor. It is all built into the nav station. I use that system for everything including photo processing; which a Pi simply can't do. It has proven to be a very practical arrangement. I installed similar systems on a couple of expedition boats that i provide tech support for so well over 100,000 miles on the three systems now.
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Old 21-04-2020, 16:17   #173
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Computer for navigation

I use a pi 3 b+ headless with a moitessiere board on it and a iPad Air 2 ( has glare coating built in). I conformal coated the pi and hat and use real VNC to share the screen to the iPad in the cockpit. The pi will comfortably run openplotter 2.x, be a WiFi access point for everything and play a movie and opencpn over real VNC into the cockpit for watches. Power use is ridiculously low
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Old 21-04-2020, 20:58   #174
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Re: Computer for navigation

O have been unable to get the Rpi4 and Mot hay to work, frustrated
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Old 21-04-2020, 23:42   #175
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Re: Computer for navigation

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O have been unable to get the Rpi4 and Mot hay to work, frustrated
Have you asked for help on the openplotter forum? Version 2.0 is out now any very stable. Try explaining your problem.
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Old 22-04-2020, 23:39   #176
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Re: Computer for navigation

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Have you asked for help on the openplotter forum? Version 2.0 is out now any very stable. Try explaining your problem.

Wasnt working for me and my Pi 4 a month ago, so I installed the latest Raspbian Buster and then followed the Advanced Install instructions on the Open Plotter site. That has worked well, though the Open Plotter is an add on and not integral to the system.
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Old 23-04-2020, 08:10   #177
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Re: Computer for navigation

I had problems with 1.0 too, but reinstalled/ upgraded to 2.x w/ buster and have no problems now. Sometimes just installing the hat software driver will fix the problem.
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Old 24-04-2020, 02:10   #178
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Re: Computer for navigation

Hi Guys!

I'm preparing a crowdfunding campaign to launch a rugged tablet dedicated to sailors. So, Id like to have your advice.

When I bought my first sailboat, I tried to find, so as you, a good quality waterproof tablet, with a (really) sunlight readable screen, a long life battery (more than one day of sailing) and an accurate GPS. As it was almost impossible to find in the leisure area, I searched for professionals products. I'm sometimes working with Chinese suppliers, mainly in HK and Shenzhen (the Mecca of electronics). So I met suppliers and came back with different samples that I tested during the 3 last years.

I discussed with different suppliers to create a tablet which would be dedicated to sailors, and affordable for non-professionals. We mainly upgraded the screen, battery and GPS chip. Now Im in the fine tuning phase of the tablet. The specs would be as follow:

- Rugged waterproof tablet
- Android 10 (GMS certified)
- 8inch screen 800 cd/m2 Wet & Glove touch Gorilla Glass 3rd generation
- CPU: MTK octacore 64 bits MT-6771, 2.0 Ghz
- 4GB RAM + 64GB ROM
- Camera : rear 13m px autofocus, front 5m px fixed focus
- Battery: Li-ion 9800 mah
- WIFI 802.11 (a/b/g/n/ac) 2.4 + 5.8Ghz
- Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE)
- GPS chip: UBlox-M8n GNSS: GPS + GLONASS + Galileo
- 3G/4G
- MicroSD card port
- SIMcard port
- Ports: USB-C (OTG+charge), USB 3.0 (so a big USB like PCs), Mini HDMI, DC jack, POGO pin
- Charge: USB or DC jack (a dock with continuous charging will be available later)
- Headphone: 3.5mm jack
- Operating temperature: -10 ~50c (storage temperature -30 ~70c)
- Size: 227*142.5*22.9 mm
- Weight: 750 g
- IP67 certified
- MIL-STD-810G certified. Droptest: 1,2m

To give you a benchmark, a Samsung Galaxy Tab A has a 450 cd/m2 screen, which is not really sunlight readable and battery has a 6000 mah capacity.

So, what do you think about these specs? What could you suggest as improvements? What seems important for you in a tablet dedicated to sailors?
And, if you have more questions or details, Im here to answer In between, stay safe!

JM
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Old 24-04-2020, 03:05   #179
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Re: Computer for navigation

Will Android updates be supported quarterly by the manufacturer?

If not (which is very common) will you partner with an organisation like LineageOS to provide third party updates?

Because OS/Firmware/Bug fix support is one of the biggest problems with Android, and it's often worse with smaller or non brand name manufacturers, although the big brands can be guilty of this too.

Additionally, even if promises are made, if the manufacturer/seller stops operating, the support disappears anyway.

This is all relative to price of course, but looking at the specs I guess this is not intended to be the cheapest device.

* Also, wouldn't the Samsung Galaxy Active Pro be a better comparison?
https://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_gal...e_pro-9850.php
10in, IP68, MIL-STD-810G, 7600 mAh battery, about 600 euros.

Looking quickly through your specs:

- I think 8in might be too small, 10in is probably the minimum
(based on personal experience, and other discussions in this forum about screen size, and this also probably assumes that the boat will still have another larger display down below as the primary navigation device)

- 4GB RAM seems a bit low for future proofing

- 9800 mAh battery looks great!

Interesting...

What is your ballpark price range?
(just to give some idea for comparison)

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Old 24-04-2020, 04:23   #180
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Re: Computer for navigation

Thanks for your long reply!

We are still discussing about updates. I know it's a concern for many even if I think that, when the tablet is operated with good practices, it could last for many years, particularly if it's used predominantly for sailing. For my part, I have 3 apps (Navionics, Sailgrib for routing and an anchor alarm) and for the rest, I mainly store PDF files (technical guides, instructions manuals, etc.). When it comes to checking emails, searching the Internet, listening to music, I use my smartphone. I used till last year an Android 4.42 rugged tablet and it was still working well with Sailgrib and Navionics*. And I never had any bug or security issue.

(* Now, Navionics is functional starting with Android 5.1)

We don't intend to allow custom ROM flashing, but it could change in the future (it's technically possible), if we think it would help our clients. This project is coming from our personal experience and our passion for sailing, more than just for business, so we'll try to keep that in mind (and I would be so pleased to meet sailors using our tablet all other the world in 5 or more years).

You're right, the Samsung Galaxy Active Pro gives a better benchmark. The price with 4G LTE is upper (about 750 ). And as I want an autonomous device, I'd like to keep 4G (for my part, I sail mainly in the Channel Islands, usually anchoring without any WIFI, and I need to have access to weather and currents gribs).
Galaxy Tab screen is bigger, but not really sunlight readable (550 cd/m2). I know that a 10inch screen would be great, but price is going too high I think. I'd like to stay under 700 for the official price, taxes included. But the crowdfunding's early buyers will be able to buy it for less than 550 .
Till last year, I used a 7inch tablet without problem (and no other screen, just paper charts). I asked to some ship chandlers in France and they said that 5" and 7" chartplotters represented more than 60% of their sales (in numbers, not in value ).

I hope to have answered your questions. I know this tablet is still a compromise (above all to keep a good price), but I wanted to focus mainly on the 3 more important specs for sailors, in my opinion: sunlight readable screen, long life battery and accurate GPS (we chose a good quality GPS chip from Ublox, a well known Swiss supplier).

JM, SailProof
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