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Old 11-02-2019, 09:20 PM   #1
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Building a Navigation system questions?

Has anyone built their own Nav system? Gps, radar, AIS, with multiple LED/LCD screens? I have seen a GPS built with a raspberry PI4 system and monitor. I know on commercial vessels they often setup all of these to interface. I have used radar overlay on GPS with ais info displayed. At the time I wasn't paying attention as to how it is done. We had a cpu with two monitors and could display different programs, even boat logs, internet.
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Old 11-02-2019, 09:54 PM   #2
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I haven't written any code, if that is what you are asking (given how much is available for free, there is no good reason to start coding), but I did replace my NN3D 3-black box system with a 3-cpu network (I built and configured the CPUs) running TZ Professional, and getting data from various furuno peripherals (2 radars, some GPS units, a class A AIS (FA150), sounder (DFF3), Maretron, etc.), and interfaced with FLIR, various HD cameras, and some other devices running code I did write (including an app that monitors disolved O2 in my bait tank), and the video signals are distributed through an HDMI matrix switch (driving 12 screens, some of which are mirrored, and one of which is an Ultra WideScreen), which is controlled by RS232 interface that in turn has control heads at 3 of my 6 helm stations (still working on the other three) -- and those control heads are Arduino based (running code that I did write), housed in boxes I designed in Fusion360 then 3D printed on my FDM printer, with circuit boards I designed in EagleCad and cut on my CNC mill. LOTS of work, but strangely satisfying. Sorry, that sounds a little ostentatious (at least to me), but I have been drinking (my CFB team was off to a great start, but is now falling apart) and I am not an engineer by profession (just always better with math and science than reading and writing, which, ironically, is a large part of my livelihood), so quite happy with these accomplishments.
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Old 11-03-2019, 08:01 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NOGILLS2 View Post
Has anyone built their own Nav system? Gps, radar, AIS, with multiple LED/LCD screens? I have seen a GPS built with a raspberry PI4 system and monitor. I know on commercial vessels they often setup all of these to interface. I have used radar overlay on GPS with ais info displayed. At the time I wasn't paying attention as to how it is done. We had a cpu with two monitors and could display different programs, even boat logs, internet.

Easier/faster for us to just buy off-the-shelf stuff, cable it all together, call it good.

Could be an OK project, but there would also be a lot of "reinvent the wheel" throughout... and I doubt I could do it better than Furuno, Ray, Garmin, etc. at least for my first 3-4 versions...

And in the meantime, I haven't found any piece of integration that I would like and use -- that's not already possible with OTS stuff.

-Chris
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Old 11-03-2019, 08:47 AM   #4
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I guess Iím not entirely clear what you are asking. If you want to build your own GPS, build your own AIS (VHF, message deciding, data interface, etc), build a radar, then I think that would be quite unusual.

If you want to buy a variety of individual devices, then interface them all together rather than buying a packaged system from one of the usual suspects, well thatís done all the time.

And like MVTraveler, people add various bits of custom functionality pretty often too.

In general I think you will find packages system in smaller boats, more discrete component systems in larger and commercial boats
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Old 11-03-2019, 09:32 AM   #5
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There are some good resources on DIY plotters on cruisersforum.com. It's a sister site to this forum. Here are some links to get you started.


Sailing with free hardware | Sailoog


https://www.rooco.eu/


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Old 11-03-2019, 09:47 AM   #6
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I'm guessing by "a GPS" you mean a multi-function display with a chart plotter and moving-map display.

Every time I look at this, I find that a good, weather-resistant, sunlight-readable, touch-screen display is a significant portion of the cost of an off-the-shelf marine unit. And that doesn't count the sensors, accessories, cables, adapters and computer to drive it all.

I like to tinker, but I also like purpose-built systems which just work, out of the box, with as few points of failure as possible.
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Old 11-03-2019, 09:48 AM   #7
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As a pilot, I have always wondered about this. We interface to the airplane through a Central Display Unit....which is a very rudimentary keyboard and screen. But the inputs to the entire flight management system are many. I have always wondered why boats don't use this sort of set up...or if it could be done with "relatively" low cost. I think someone could make some money "standardizing" such a system....basically have a bunch of "input units"(ie radar, GPS, etc.) and have them input to a central point of interface maybe with proprietary command prompts that would command different systems to do different things....but having all systems' ability to display at that central point....or certain central points about the boat. We have a "mode control panel" that basically you tell the computer what mode you want....something like HDG mode. Just push a button and twist a knob for heading. Hit the autopilot and off you go on that heading. Or execute a "direct to" command and hit NAV and off you go on that chosen nav course. Anyway, it is extremely simple stuff in the airplane as it needs to be to be able to do simple things like the above scenario. I am not even sure there is a good application in my example but have just always wondered!!!
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Old 11-03-2019, 10:05 AM   #8
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I am not even sure there is a good application in my example but have just always wondered!!!
John, Interesting post! Makes me wonder as to the manufacturer, model, etc. of the MFD and AP you have on your boat. Given, that I understand what you're alluding to, most of what you posted is available on most of the new electronic toys! What have i missed?

Walt
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Old 11-03-2019, 11:09 AM   #9
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John, Interesting post! Makes me wonder as to the manufacturer, model, etc. of the MFD and AP you have on your boat. Given, that I understand what you're alluding to, most of what you posted is available on most of the new electronic toys! What have i missed?

Walt
And that somewhat answers the rhetorical question. There may not be a market for what I am talking about because current technology and offered equipment suffices enough to get the job done. I was talking more of a black box system. And I do know those exist as well. I was talking about a black box system that has a very simplistic interface to do everything you need to do on a boat. IOW, not having to read a 400 page manual to figure things out. Hell you could even interface electronic engines and maybe have an autothrottle function??? You type in your route and your desired speed and off you go. You have a Progress page that gives you ETA and fuel on board at your destination. You could set reserve fuel limits and have notifications if your current fuel and speed violate those reserve limits. Have a cruise page...to set all cruise functions along with time/fuel/distance data. You could have a waypoint/legs/route page with all of the waypoints for your current route. You could even set engine maintenance intervals with notifications of pending/upcoming scheduled maintenance. Maybe the electronic engines already have that function??? Most cars do. But obviously there is more on a boat. Am I making more sense? It is highly likely some/most/all of this exists. But it is all scattered about in differtent systems. This one system would manage/operate/monitor all systems. On the airplane we call it a flight management system(FMS) . Maybe we could call it a YMS(Yacht) or VMS(Vessel).

And to further my point....as it relates to the airplanes I fly. I have absolutely no clue who manufacturers the avionics on our airplane. I am somewhat sure the FMS is Smith/Collins but nobody ever taught me nor is there a label anywhere. My point is it doesn't matter. I have never read a Smith/Collins manual. All I need to know is how to interface with the "box". No clue who makes the VHF radios....no clue who makes the GPS's...no clue who makes the Inertial units...none of it matters. The only thing that matters is I know how to operate them...and obviously it is good to know what they do....haha.
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Old 11-03-2019, 11:55 AM   #10
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Am I making more sense? It is highly likely some/most/all of this exists. But it is all scattered about in differtent systems. This one system would manage/operate/monitor all systems. On the airplane we call it a flight management system(FMS) . Maybe we could call it a YMS(Yacht) or VMS(Vessel)......

All I need to know is how to interface with the "box"....

The only thing that matters is I know how to operate them...and obviously it is good to know what they do.....
Of course everything you've mentioned is possible but the market can't or won't support the $$$ of such a system. There will always be a few who will want and can afford what you propose but it isn't likely it will filter down to the rest of us.

Thanks for clarifying your post!
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Old 11-03-2019, 12:06 PM   #11
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I agree with Walt. Very interesting post.

So a question that has not been asked. After all said and done and you built the system you want/need the cost maybe the same as if you bought it off the shelf name brand?
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Old 11-03-2019, 01:27 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by NOGILLS2 View Post
Has anyone built their own Nav system? Gps, radar, AIS, with multiple LED/LCD screens? I have seen a GPS built with a raspberry PI4 system and monitor. I know on commercial vessels they often setup all of these to interface. I have used radar overlay on GPS with ais info displayed. At the time I wasn't paying attention as to how it is done. We had a cpu with two monitors and could display different programs, even boat logs, internet.

Opencpn does what you ask

We have 2 x 23 inch monitors for charts and satellite overlays for areas where charts are inaccurate.
A lenovo thinkcentre mini PC (Intel i7 8gb ram 250gb ssd)
Ublok Gmouse USB GPS.

Outlay less than $500 and about 10 minutes to setup.

No ais or 4g radar as yet. But it does work.


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Old 11-03-2019, 02:25 PM   #13
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Hi Simi 60, Hi NoGills52,

Here's the thread where I described my OpenCPN set up, including full integration, and the things that didn't work (and were redone), and the things that did:

-- Electronics upgrade and integration update
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Old 11-03-2019, 02:43 PM   #14
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Thanks for that
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Old 11-03-2019, 05:00 PM   #15
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I really, really want to find an excuse to "roll my own" MFD system.

So I looked up the Xenarc 1029GNH mentioned in gkesden's linked thread. It seems perfect! But for $799.00 (€687.14) that's a very significant portion of the cost of an off-the-shelf MFD.

So I went to look at the Elo 1515L that was also mentioned in that thread. At $350, it's getting closer to a budget I could work with. But that display is made for indoor cash register use. It's not water resistant, probably not daylight readable, and who knows how it'll fare in the harsh environment on my bridge, with salt air, direct sunlight, high temperatures, and the normal vibrations and movement of a boat.

This is about as far as I ever get whenever I go down this path. The numbers just don't work for me. I just can't build something as good as a commercial MFD with NMEA 2000 network. Maybe some day...
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Old 11-03-2019, 05:04 PM   #16
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For a 10" daylight readable touch display, the best pricing I've seen is for the Faytech units. Only 1024x768 resolution, but the 10" version is $350-ish.
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Old 11-03-2019, 05:09 PM   #17
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Hi Capt Tom,

-- What about the one that I got from Alibab for ~$370? It has held up through a bunch of storms on the boat so far, just fine. I didn't like the glossy screen because the reflection was distracting, but I solved that with a non-glare screen protector. (Do see the note about requesting the brightness control work normally...it is a $4 option, apparently)

-- If you really want that Xenarc on the cheap let me know. I've got it stored away in a locker on the boat and will give you a heck of a deal. It is just taking up space. It only has a few hours of use and was only outdoors for a few weeks. But, please carefully read that thread for the reasons I pulled it out. In short, it seems to be built pretty darn robust and heavy and I loved the adjustable ball mount -- but I didn't like the aspect ratio and the "virtual resolution" that gave it a normal aspect ratio looked like what it was.
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Old 11-03-2019, 05:15 PM   #18
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Those Faytechs look darn nice. The 15" high brightness, capacitive touch, glare free, IP65 waterproof is 1000 nit and $700 -- cheaper than the tiny 10" Xenarc.

It nominally has less brightness than the one I got from Alibabab (1200nit vs 1000 nit). But, it seems to be a glass screen vs plastic and is non-glare.
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Old 11-03-2019, 05:30 PM   #19
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In our enclosed wheelhouse, our new, $100, 23 inch HP LED screens at 250 cd/m≤ are more than bright enough.

One nit is equal to one cd/m2.
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Old 11-03-2019, 07:21 PM   #20
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Hey Simi 60,

I wish I had your enclosed wheelhouse!

My current and former boats have open flybridges covered by a bimini and rollable Strataglass front windshields with a bit of wrap around the sides.

I loved the 1500 nit screen in my old boat.

The 1200 in the new boat is fine, but not dazzlingly bright and stays at a pretty high setting. I'd rather have a higher top end and use less of it for longevity.

Maybe 1000 would be okay. I don't know what my Raymarine C120 classic is, but it is okay, but not wonderful.

I've had 250 nit and 350nit screens indoors at various times and most had more juice than they needed unless I worked hard to get them right in direct sun. And, heck, even my eyes have that problem east or west into the sun in the late afternoon or early morning.
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