As a computer literate sailor, and convert to digital charts, I thought it would be a good idea to get all my systems talking together, ideally using the processing power of a real computer (not a phone, tablet or overpriced doodad from WestRaymin. Systems like autopilot, chart plotter, depth, wind speed, compass, and GPS should all be interconnected.
Here’s what I want to cobble together.
MacMini – or other
screen, keyboard mouse
openCPN and all apps.
Pulling data from instruments -seatalk or NEMA 0183
External GPS – USB to computer
wifi remote desktop to iPad at helm – VNC over local mac Wifi
Below is my scratch pad for research, in a coming post I will outline exactly what I actually build. I have some components and as usual, am trying to execute this in the most cost-effective manner possible.
Lets get this out of the way first. I have taken the Canadian Power Sail Squadron’s Seamanship course which has a heavy emphasis on traditional chart plotting, so I know how to work with paper charts, but as a digital native I prefer the convenience and accuracy of electronic navigation. We can all agree that paper still works when the batteries run out.
On our trip up the Rideau Canal to Ottawa last summer, I used a chart book and my Android Samsung SII cellphone with Navionics for way finding. There really wasn’t any plotting involved because you just need to follow the trail of red and green bouys, but occasionally you get into open water and need to know which end of the lake to head to. Despite the small screen size, that setup worked except the GPS function and the screen brightness on full, drained the cell phone battery. To keep it alive, I plugged the phone into an AC charger via an extension cord to the AC/DC inverter. It was a messy but functional set up. I resolved that I could do better for the next trip. Continue reading Charts schmarts.→