Navigation Electronics – part 1

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.

Continue reading at your discretion.

Seatalk to USB adapter:
if osx can’t share wifi from wifi- then just get a usb wifi adapter! or run Windows on the box.


Driver for old mac laptop screen:

The network architecture in Windows 7 has been redesigned and is more advanced than being able to just create a WiFi hotspot.


On a Mac, you can create a WiFi hotspot, only if it is from an Ethernet/RJ45, modem (3G/dun/PPP), Bluetooth or FireWire Internet connection as your source. The built-in hotspot will then use either of these source Internet connections and make it available via a WiFi hotspot through the built-in wireless interface. But, if you are connected to the Internet on a Mac via WiFi in the first place, then you cannot use that same built-in wireless interface to create the hotspot. In short, what you are asking does not work on a Mac running OS X. But it does on Windows!


collects and wifi….

The ST60 would be NMEA 0183, since the NMEA 2000 standard is a relatively recent development, and hasn’t really been included in hardware older than a year or two old at this point. 2008


  1. On the mac: Right click the wi-fi icon
  2. Click Create network. By default it will use the name you have given your mac as the network name.
  3. On the other host, it should see the new network. Join it.

This is exactly what I want to do!

been cruising since 1997 and using the old vnc suite on a pc.

have a pc display at helm and one at navstation.
use the navstation display to do radar mapping/route mods/planning
use the helm display for active nav.

what has worked well for us is to have two separate displays running
with the helm taking waypoint, nav, and route data from the nav station
as a slave over nema183. Allows different scales and doesn’t upset the helmsman when I plan an avoidance maneuver on the plotter as the scale and position would
go all wacky on them. – power supply cutting the wires on the input cable…

It is certainly possible to set the Mac Mini to boot up when the breaker is toggled. It’s a checkbox in System Preferences / Energy Saver called “Start up automatically after a power failure”.

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