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and meanwhile, the Openplotter build commences


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Not a lot to say - Raspberry Pi 4B with a powered USB hub and a couple of USB buck converters to power it all sitting in a $5 Systeema plastic box.  There is a little vertical recess in front of the chart table where it will sit.   Keyboard and mouse driven.

The screen is a 24-inch 12v unit mounted on a gas arm so it can reach the companionway. Screen is already on the yacht.  I may add a small (5 - 7 inch) screen to the Pi itself as a secondary/backup

OpenCPN loaded and ready to run.  I have an old bluetooth GPS receiver I'll try on it, if not it will get a cheapo ali-depressed usb receiver.  It would be nice to work out an interface to the autopilot, but for this season it will just run as a stand-alone plotter.

 

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13 minutes ago, Psyche said:

Nice work! Looking forward to the details

Yeah.  So is the Captain.  

Its been sitting to one side for about 6 months while I procrastinated over desiging and making a fancy aluminium and acrylic enclosure with vents and fans and blue LEDs and all the bollocks.

Then I saw the Systeema box at the Warehouse for $4.95.  More progress in 30 minutes than in six months.

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1 hour ago, Psyche said:

You could add an arduino 9 axis for heading info https://store.arduino.cc/usa/9-axis-motion-shield.  27 us bucks, I paid a thousand for the precision 9 box six years ago!

yeah, a dinnae ken arduino mate.  I can barely cope with Pi plug and play...

I'll get the thing up and running on its existing hardware first, then add to it.  I'd like to put environmental monitoring on it (barometric pressure, temp etc) as well as 3 axis.  That will give plenty of info for navigation without getting super-critical.  After that, interface to the TP32 and call it done.  This is a Gulf cruiser after all, not an ocean goer.

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I wonder if you could just buy a USB to N2K gateway (like NGT-1) to get commands to the Autopilot (and if you have N2K that would give you depth and various other things).

I have a Pi on my boat running Victron Venus OS for power monitoring, but I am going to buy the real thing one of these days. 

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12 minutes ago, bigal.nz said:

I have a Pi on my boat running Victron Venus OS for power monitoring, but I am going to buy the real thing one of these days. 

Why? What's wrong with the Pi? 

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1 minute ago, CarpeDiem said:

Why? What's wrong with the Pi? 

I began to run out of USB ports for all the things conencted to the Pi, the cables I needed to connect the Pi to my various Victron products are $60 each (ouch) whereas with the CerboGx I still need a cable but a much cheaper one.

The Cerbo GX also has more ports for integrating with chart plotters and the like. By the time I worked out what I had spent on waterproof enclosures, various accessories, I worked out that the CerboGx (which is cheap for what you get) would have been not much financial difference in it.

 

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In an old Saraband, there is nothing fancy to interface with!  Ultimately, the OpenPlotter will do AIS, plotter, and some environmental including wind, depth, air and water temp.

In the meantime while I am waiting for some parts for the Pi, I tried OpenCPN on a very old e-machine notebook.  Its running Ubuntu 16.04 as an operating system, not a lot else on it.  The screen is awfully small (10"), but it connects to the 40" TV and gives a really clear and useful image.  So, its low power consumption (except for the screen...) small footprint, easy to use, and cost nothing.

On the yacht it will connect to a 12v 24" HDMI screen at the chart table.

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18 hours ago, aardvarkash10 said:

In an old Saraband, there is nothing fancy to interface with!  Ultimately, the OpenPlotter will do AIS, plotter, and some environmental including wind, depth, air and water temp.

In the meantime while I am waiting for some parts for the Pi, I tried OpenCPN on a very old e-machine notebook.  Its running Ubuntu 16.04 as an operating system, not a lot else on it. 

 

How did you load it on to Ubuntu? I tried loading CPN on a Laptop running Linux and could not get it to recognise the files.

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Open a terminal and 

sudo apt-get install software-properties-common
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:opencpn/opencpn
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install opencpn
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53 minutes ago, marinheiro said:

How did you load it on to Ubuntu? I tried loading CPN on a Laptop running Linux and could not get it to recognise the files.

there is a Linux version.  Download, bung it on there.

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On 1/08/2021 at 6:38 PM, aardvarkash10 said:

It would be nice to work out an interface to the autopilot, but for this season it will just run as a stand-alone plotter.

 

Check out pypilot, the brain is a Raspberry Pi zero and it is developed by one of the core OpenCPN developers. He also builds the hardware (motor controller etc.) very cheaply to order if you don't fancy DIY. It has built in control from a custom OpenCPN plugin and it can be connected to your existing autopilot pump or motor. It should work very well with openplotter.

Keep your expensive proprietary autopilot as a spare or sell it before it becomes obsolete and buy 10 spare pypilots as back up!

The pypilot uses all cheap, mass produced components so they might be more susceptible to fail but you can carry as many spares as you like. With a proprietary autopilot, spare displays and other parts become unobtainable within a couple of years every time a new model comes out and keeping a complete spare system is prohibitively expensive.

We found pypilot a somewhat difficult to configure and a few teething problems, you need to be a bit technical but you clearly are.

Once it was set up properly it actually steered much better than the expensive old Cetrek pilot. It steered us all the way from the UK to NZ apart from one 6 hour sail where the config somehow got corrupted. My #1 tip is to back up the microSD card AFTER everything is set up just the way you like it. Even branded SD cards tend to corrupt themselves eventually but it's easy to swap in a spare.

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11 hours ago, syohana said:

Check out pypilot, the brain is a Raspberry Pi zero and it is developed by one of the core OpenCPN developers. He also builds the hardware (motor controller etc.) very cheaply to order if you don't fancy DIY. It has built in control from a custom OpenCPN plugin and it can be connected to your existing autopilot pump or motor. It should work very well with openplotter.

Keep your expensive proprietary autopilot as a spare or sell it before it becomes obsolete and buy 10 spare pypilots as back up!

The pypilot uses all cheap, mass produced components so they might be more susceptible to fail but you can carry as many spares as you like. With a proprietary autopilot, spare displays and other parts become unobtainable within a couple of years every time a new model comes out and keeping a complete spare system is prohibitively expensive.

We found pypilot a somewhat difficult to configure and a few teething problems, you need to be a bit technical but you clearly are.

Once it was set up properly it actually steered much better than the expensive old Cetrek pilot. It steered us all the way from the UK to NZ apart from one 6 hour sail where the config somehow got corrupted. My #1 tip is to back up the microSD card AFTER everything is set up just the way you like it. Even branded SD cards tend to corrupt themselves eventually but it's easy to swap in a spare.

Pretty much the plan.

The whole sailing thing got the stamp of approval on the basis that Mrs Aardvark is the sailor, and I am the engineer/grunt labour.  The tech interests me, she likes the salt in her hair.

The TP32 will get fitted bare as soon as we are out of lockdown.  If I can interface it with the Pi, thats good.  If I end up with a PyPilot implimentation, I'll look for a similar drive unit with a dead controller and go that way, and the TP32 can be backup.

I'm no geek - I rely on family if it has to get to code.  I'm ok at understanding system level and what the likely mechanical electrical and electronic requirements will be.

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10 minutes ago, aardvarkash10 said:

I'm no geek - I rely on family if it has to get to code.  I'm ok at understanding system level and what the likely mechanical electrical and electronic requirements will be.

Sean (the developer of pypilot) is usually helpful and responsive unless he's out at sea so you'll be fine. Coding shouldn't be necessary but you might have to edit config files manually and use the linux command line (mostly just copying and pasting commands). There's enough documentation around to overcome most problems but it's not very organised, a combination of very rudimentary instructions with a lot of useful info in forum posts on the pypilot forum but it takes a while to hunt down an answer. Getting all the wifi and network connections set up was the tricky bit for us. The config tools didn't work well but if you edit the config file manually it tends to revert to the old settings after reboot so always back up your changes. Hopefully that's all fixed now, we've back been in the bay of islands for a year not using autopilot so I've not updated it.

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OK, struggle for an elderly guy used to working on a chromebook, but finally I have the boat computer up and running.

In the box there is a Raspberry Pi 4B, a four-port powered USB 3.0 hub, and two 12v to 5v 3A power supply boards with USB outputs.  

Outside the box, a wired keyboard, wired mouse and wired GPS - all USB devices.  A 12vdc 3A wallwart power supply is running the box atm, on the boat it will get a switched 12v supply.  On the boat, it will connect ot an HDMI screen, but for set-up I'm running it headless through VNC server/client freeware.  Not bad headless on the laptop, but a pita on the phone.

Next step is to download the charts for NZ (vector and raster).

Seems to be running ok in the box - it gets warm but not hot.  Time will tell once its doing a bunch of navigation calcs and graphics management.

Learnings.  Writing a pi sd card image is not intuitive, and the available software doesn't pick up your errors up front - it just delivers a non-functioning card. It took several attempts before I figured out you have to open the supplied zip folder and load the image from the zip folder next layer down...  A "duh" moment for you tech types I'm sure.

The layers in the VNC server/client thing are confusing - logon to the pi's wifi (one set of username/password) logon to the pi through VNC (a second set of username/password) and then logon to openplotter (a different username/password).

Physical i/o ports are hard to source here and aliexpress is unreliable.  One HDMI, two USB, and two power chassis jacks were far harder to source than they should be, as were interconnects for inside the box - USB A to USB A ended up being 50cm leads rolled up and an HDMI-A to HDMI micro 10cm ribbon lead had to come from China.

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