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Old 06-07-2020, 13:02   #1
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Wireless AIS input source for Android?

Just ordered an em-trak B100, intentionally got the non-wifi model. Read here that it works wonders if connected directly via USB to Raspberry running OpenPlotter which can relay the AIS data to Android devices running OpenCPN.

OTOH, there are NMEA to WiFi microcontrollers (eg based on ESP8266 or esp32) with likely smaller power bracket.

I was wondering which one is more robust/reliable?

Not as important as AIS, but if that succeeds, I want to add wind (Nasa target), depth and log (Raymarine ST50) too.
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Old 06-07-2020, 13:34   #2
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Re: Wireless AIS input source for Android?

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I was wondering which one is more robust/reliable?

Not as important as AIS, but if that succeeds, I want to add wind (Nasa target), depth and log (Raymarine ST50) too.
There's fewer things happening on a little microcontroller to go wrong. OTOH if something does go wrong you maybe have a bigger community and more tools to debug it on a raspberry pi than on an esp32 or similar. TBH I have no direct experience of the esp boards: last time I looked there was no IPv6 support (it appears there now is but configuring it may be challenging) and the network stack *may* be rather more rudimentary. Not sure what pre-written multiplexor software is available for the esp boards. kplex on pi has a lot of functionality but most people are happy with a very basic set-up.

The deciding factor may be your future plans. Reading seatalk-1 from your ST50s is challenging in Linux, requires the hardware interface you use to support mark and space parity (not supported by all serial-to-usb dongles) and a bit of basic hardware construction. It's doable read-only from user space in Linux but possibly easier to do using a soft uart and a microcontroller.
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Old 06-07-2020, 14:34   #3
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Re: Wireless AIS input source for Android?

I think the microcontroller approach is more suitable to applications like a DIY NMEA 2K to 0183 gateway


I'd stick with the rPi. It's just as reliable and has far more functionality and ease of configuration. For example, how do you plan to change the SSID on a microcontroller on the fly if you have to? The rPi is also a powerhouse compared to even the esp32. If power consumption is an issue, consider the rPi 3 instead of the 4.
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Old 06-07-2020, 16:29   #4
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Re: Wireless AIS input source for Android?

If later you want more devices, I would start with a multiplexer, and one that can take variable speeds (ais vs. the rest of the clan). I understand your Raspberry does that?



Then feed this data via wifi to your Androind thing. The Raspberry must work in Ap mode for that. And the data stream from Raspberry must be sent to the 'net' (TCP).



Note some Android devices will accept usb data too, while others will not. (otg)


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Old 06-07-2020, 16:52   #5
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Re: Wireless AIS input source for Android?

Thanks for all the feedback! Convinced of the Pi, I have a 3b+ at home, if respected its boundaries it never let me down.

I intend to connect the B100 AIS via USB, easy. But others will need an RS422 hat which I have to do some more research on.
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Old 06-07-2020, 17:20   #6
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Re: Wireless AIS input source for Android?

You won't necessarily need a hat for RS422, there are plenty of good quality usb dongles on Ebay selling for a few bucks that will do the job.
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Old 07-07-2020, 01:23   #7
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Re: Wireless AIS input source for Android?

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Then feed this data via wifi to your Androind thing. The Raspberry must work in Ap mode for that. And the data stream from Raspberry must be sent to the 'net' (TCP).
Openplotter can run a Pi in access point and station mode at the same time using just the internal wifi adapter. So the Pi can log on to a network and create it's own network at the same time without the need of a usb/wifi dongle.

Gtom, hard to say any difference in reliability, I've had both an Rpi & ESP32 running 24/7 for years on end without problems. The Pi is light years ahead in capability with openplotter/signalk installed. A Pi Zero should work as well headless for less power consumption & cost if you are happy with just signalk and no opencpn, though haven't this yet.
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Old 07-07-2020, 08:45   #8
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Re: Wireless AIS input source for Android?

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(...)


I intend to connect the B100 AIS via USB, easy. But others will need an RS422 hat which I have to do some more research on.

I depends. Plenty of lower end equipment uses 232 (in, out, gnd vs. in+, in-, out+, out- aka 3-wire vs. 4 wire). 232 is 3 wire 422 is 4 wire. Each is 2 wire when wired one way BUT most of the time not interoperable.



As long as your main processing unit accepts multiple inputs at varied speeds you are fine. But do make sure your mpu can generate a single out stream towards desired port at the highest of the input speeds (often the ais speed 38k).


Some people use BT out. But myself had too much trouble with pairings lost etc. and stay with wifi since.


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Old 07-07-2020, 08:58   #9
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Re: Wireless AIS input source for Android?

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Openplotter can run a Pi in access point and station mode at the same time using just the internal wifi adapter. So the Pi can log on to a network and create it's own network at the same time without the need of a usb/wifi dongle.

Gtom, hard to say any difference in reliability, I've had both an Rpi & ESP32 running 24/7 for years on end without problems. The Pi is light years ahead in capability with openplotter/signalk installed. A Pi Zero should work as well headless for less power consumption & cost if you are happy with just signalk and no opencpn, though haven't this yet.

Apologies here as I was not aware ESP32 can be programmed directly.


I grab the opportunity then to ask if you use C++ or MicroPython?


Will read on and into ES32 today. Thank you very much for pushing me this way.


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