Portable Navigation Solutions from Digital Yacht

More and more navigators are wanting a portable navigation solution either to move from boat to boat or have on their main vessel as a backup or easy installation solution.  The availability of low cost tablets and notebook PCs has made this really affordable and Digital Yacht have some great solutions to deliver professional navigation solutions from a portable package – and at great value too!

GPS Positioning – The Fundamental

A good quality GPS sensor with accurate positioning is the backbone of any modern navigation system.  Digital Yacht’s GPS150 DualNav GPS/GLONASS sensors provide highly accurate position, course and speed information with super fast updates and the GPS150USB makes an ideal positioning sensor for a notebook based navigation system.  It’s also powered directly from the USB port so there’s no extra cabling required.

smartertrack express rhs

The picture above show the GPS150USB with Digital Yacht’s SmarterTrack software running on a notebook PC.  More details HERE and also on SmarterTrack software which is a great solution for a PC allowing Navionics chart cartridges to be shared between PC and plotter.

Tablets, iPads and GPS…

Many tablets will have a GPS built in but some are very poor quality or use wireless assisted services which will not function at sea.  Also, once below, the GPS in the tablet may not function as the antenna is obstructed by the deck and the use of internal GPS massively decreases the battery life of the tablet.  A dedicated sensor is therefore by far the best solution and will give much better course and speed readings too.  While some Android tablets can take a USB GPS connection via an OTG cable, trailing a cable to the tablet is messy so a much better solution is a wireless link.  Digital Yacht’s NMEA to wireless products (detailed HERE) are ideal for connecting to existing systems

Nomad – True portability and includes Class B AIS…

A tablet or iPad makes for a great navigation device – lightweight, portable and with a touch screen they are easy to use and there’s a massive selection of charting and navigation apps which generally are a fraction of the cost of sophisticated PC software.  Digital Yacht have now introduced Nomad – a portable Class B AIS transponder (send and receive AIS data) with a wireless interface and portable antenna plus built in GPS.

nomad and vhf antenna

Nomad features a wifi and USB interface too which also provides power for the unit so you can utilise any 3rd party USB power bank or outlet for true portability.  Find out more HERE or download the information pack from HERE

Great new portable navigation solutions from Digital Yacht

 

iKommunicate gets a “facelift”

Normally web servers are powerful rack-mounted LINUX or Windows PCs running a full, Apache “LAMPs” software stack, where processor speed, memory and disk space are plentiful. Creating a web server on an embedded hardware device like iKommunicate is a bit more challenging and although our first attempt has done us proud, since we released it last summer, we have intended to update it for a while.

When you only have 128KB of RAM and 1MB of Flash, every byte counts and although we store a lot of the content on the micro SD Card, we still need to include the home page and admin pages in Flash memory, in case the SD Card is removed or corrupted. With this in mind, we have replaced the bitmap logos/icons with Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) which take up much less memory.

This week we have released a new iKommunicate firmware (26th April 2017) and a companion SD Card image V2.00 which both feature the new SVG web interface. Although you can update one without the other, we do not recommend this, as you may get odd results, so please visit http://ikommunicate.com/firmware/ to download the new SD Card image V2.00, which includes the new firmware file. If you follow the instructions on the web page, you can copy the new image to your micro SD Card and when you re-insert it and power on your iKommunicate, it will upload the new firmware when it boots up.

 

Digital Yacht launch portable Class B AIS – follow the Nomad!

Nomad is a new, portable AIS navigation solution from Digital Yacht.  Designed for recreational boaters and professional mariners, it offers a full function, Class B AIS transponder with a wireless and USB interface built in for tablets and PCs – all in a portable, compact package.

NOMAD LR

It addresses the needs of so many boaters who want a portable yet sophisticated navigation solution with AIS and GPS and the ability to interface with tablets, PCs and smart phones. It appeals to charter skippers, professional mariners like delivery skippers and pilots as well as boat owners who don’t want the hassle or cost  of installing a dedicated transponder and like the concept of easy iPad and tablet navigation using their favourite charting apps with a detailed AIS overlay and real time GPS positioning.  As a full function Class B transponder, it also sends you boat position to other AIS users.

It incorporates an innovative USB power solution allowing the Nomad to be powered from any standard USB source. This can include low cost, 3rd party battery packs, a USB PC connection or 12V USB adaptors/cigarette lighter adaptors.  The GPS is built in and Nomad ships with a compact, 25cm external VHF antenna with sucker cup mount. It can also connect to any regular VHF antenna.

nomad and vhf antenna

WiFi and USB interfaces are standard and there are a wide range of free and premium compatible apps for iOS, Android, PC and MAC.  The wifi connection allows up to 7 tablets or iPads to connect

The unit can also act as an AIS/GPS receiver only if MMSI and specific boat data is not available

NOMAD SYSTEM DRAWING LR

Nomad is available now in Europe and priced at £475/€595 ex vat.  Further details at http://www.digitalyachtamerica.com or click on the download HERE for a full preview pack.

You can also download the installation manual from HERE

Please note that Nomad is not yet available in the US as pending FCC approval

Not all AIS receivers are the same….

BoatBeacon (a company with some brilliant marine telematics capabilities) are rapidly expanding their AIS base station coverage and utilising Digital Yacht AIS products for exceptional performance.  A recent installation in Benidorm shows that not all AIS receivers perform the same.  The picture below shows previous coverage using a 3rd party AIS.

AIS BENIDORM BEFORE

They then upgraded to a Digital Yacht AIS receiver and the performance improvements are dramatic – an 8 fold increase in data received and over 4 times as many ships all from the same location and antenna.  You’ll notice too how ATONs and AIS base stations are correctly decoded by all Digital Yacht receivers

AIS BENIDORM AFTER

You can also see the dramatic increase in data traffic in the graph below when the new receiver was turned on at 2:10pm.  Digital Yacht – better AIS solutions.

AIS TARGET GRAPH

New Signal K App – Signal View

Just a quick post to let you know about a great new Signal K App for iOS devices, called Signal View. Written by Adam Hyde, the author behind the popular Signal Kool blog site, Signal View is the ideal companion app to iKommunicate.

With a fishing screen, engine screen, custom screen (where you can choose what data to display) and a series of tools to make controlling iKommunicate even easier, we would recommend Signal View to anyone with an iPad or iPhone….oh and did we mention it was free ?

As an iKommunicate owner himself, Adam has used his own experiences, to create an app that really compliments iKommunicate and we think he has done a great job, despite never having written an iOS app before ! Let’s hope it is the first of many.

For more information on our unique iKommunicate gateway, please click here to visit the iKommunicate microsite which has all of the latest interesting and useful information about this innovative product.

Next Generation Instrument Solution From Digital Yacht & Seamantec

Here’s a new solution for next generation instrumentation on your boat.  When we designed WindSense, our wireless wind system, we thought most users would utilise mobile devices like iPhones and tablets as a display but it turns out many users also wanted to integrate into a PC system – this makes sense as you can have a large format screen at the chart table or below deck and use mobile devices around the yacht.

Our SmarterTrack chart navigation software provides nice large digital displays of instrument data (as below) so this was one solution but it is primarily designed for chart navigation, AIS, routing and real time nav.  Its worth noting it uses Navionics charting and a unique feature is that traditional chart data stored on Navionics cartridges as used in many chart plotters can be utilised with SmarterTrack too – saving the data on the PC hard drive and minimising charting costs.

SmarterTrack New Instrument Displays

Looking for other solutions we discovered Seamantec and their EDO PC based instrument system.  It can read data from any of Digital Yacht’s wireless NMEA interfaces and also directly from iKommunicate, the NMEA 2000 and 0183 gateway.  It also works with any of our NMEA 0183 sensors.  The display screen is easily configurable for just about any configuration – move the instruments around, choose from analogue or digital format and select “pages” of instrument information to suit exactly what you want and when.  There’s even a mini AIS plotter display

edo nav display

Another neat feature is the Seamantec back ground can be turned off so you’re just left with an instrument display which can be floated over another program – you can see below Seamantec instruments overlaid on top of SmarterTrack.  You can also stack windows side by side just as with any Windows program and take advantage of a big PC screen.

edo instrument layer

Things get really exciting for the racing sailor with Seamantec offering really sophisticated wind displays and the ability to display and calculate boat polar tables like the screen shot below shows

edo wind

Plus there’s logging and recording of NMEA data, voice alarms, a logbook and lots of real time performance analysis.

edo features

So we’re impressed and are offering a bundle of our Aqua Compact Pro PC, iKommunicate and SmaretrTrack plus Seamantec EDO software preinstalled at a special bundle price of $1595.00 – just add monitor, mouse and keyboard and you’ve a powerful navigation and instrument system for any exiting NMEA 0183/2000 network.  Drop us a mail to sales@digitalyacht.co.uk for more information

aqua compact pro and edo montage small

Next generation instrumentation from Digital Yacht

 

iKommunicate and the Smart Transducers

Airmar Smart Tdxs

Recently we have seen a trend in customers asking about using smart transducers with our iKommunicate, rather than installing the more traditional; Log, Depth, Wind and navigation instruments.

If you are re-fitting an older boat or doing an install on a new boat, then it is worth considering the cost benefits and simplicity of design that this approach provides. Whether you create an NMEA2000 backbone or simply wire together NMEA0183 cables, having iKommunicate receive all of the transducer data and then distribute this over a wired or wireless Ethernet network, where the data can be displayed on multiple tablets, phones or computers around the boat is very desirable.

One of the most common questions is…”What transducers should I use?” and so we thought we would tackle this question in this article.

When it comes to transducers, the leading player by a mile, is Airmar the US company that manufacture transducers for pretty much all of the big players in marine electronics. As a result, their product catalogue is massive and finding the right model and part number can be pretty daunting and time consuming, so we have tried to highlight the ideal transducers in their range for using with iKommunicate and listed the Gemeco Part Numbers (SKUs) who are Airmar’s US distributor and whose website is very informative.

The obvious “through the hull” Speed and Depth transducer for most yachts and powerboats, would be the DST800. Described as a “Triducer” as it has a Speed, Depth and Temperature sensor, the DST800 is fully retractable for cleaning, with an integral valve that significantly reduces water ingress. It is available in Plastic, Bronze or Stainless Steel, with both NMEA0183 or NMEA2000 versions.

The NMEA0183 version, which can be used on 12v or 24v systems, comes with 10m of cable, terminated in bare wires and you simply add an S to the end of the part number for this version i.e. DST800PV-S.

The NMEA2000 version, powered from the NMEA2000 network, comes with 6m of cable, terminated in the “standard” male NMEA2000 connector (same one as iKommunicate) and for this version you simply add N2 to the part number i.e. DST800PV-N2.

Gemeco SKU Description
DST800PV-S NMEA0183 – 235kHz Smart Triducer – Plastic
DST800BV-S NMEA0183 – 235kHz Smart Triducer – Bronze
DST800SV-S NMEA0183 – 235kHz Smart Triducer – Stainless
DST800PV-N2 NMEA 2000 – 235kHz Smart Triducer – Plastic
DST800BV-N2 NMEA 2000 – 235kHz Smart Triducer – Bronze
DST800SV-N2 NMEA 2000 – 235kHz Smart Triducer – Stainless

So with the DST800, you get Speed (through the water), Depth and water temperature, plus as a bonus a distance log as well, which just leaves the Wind to worry about.

With the Wind transducer Airmar really “threw away the rule book” for designing Mast Head Units by removing all moving parts and using ultrasonics to measure wind angle and speed. Although not ideal for every type of boat, the 120WX and 220WX Weatherstation® instruments are really good bits of kit which not only measure the wind, but also air pressure and air temperature and in the case of the 220WX, with integral GPS and Compass sensors, even your position, heading, rate of turn and attitude (pitch and roll).

Above is an image of the 220WX which is physically identical to the 120WX.

Both units have NMEA0183 and NMEA2000 built-in, so no different versions to worry about, you simply order either a WS-120WX or WS-220WX and specify the type and length of cable you need;

Gemeco SKU Description
WS-C10 NMEA0183 – 10m
WS-C25 NMEA0183 – 25m
WS2-C06 NMEA2000 – 6m
WS2-C10 NMEA2000 – 10m (Terminated)
WS2-C30 NMEA2000 – 30m (Terminated)

There are other lengths available but we have listed the most popular for Yachts and Power Boats. The two NMEA2000 cables that have (Terminated) after them, include the NMEA2000 termination resistor and must be mounted at the end of the NMEA2000 network.

Should your budget not stretch to an ultrasonic wind transducer or you prefer a more traditional mast head unit, then our own WND100 wind transducer which comes with a 20m NMEA0183 cable is well worth considering, perhaps coupled with our HSC100 smart heading sensor and GPS150 Dualnav position sensor both of which have NMEA0 183 outputs to connect to one of the three NMEA0183 inputs on iKommunicate.

So you have your iKommunicate and smart transducer setup, but what options are there for displaying the data? Well you have plenty of PC Navigation packages; Nobeltec, Rosepoint, Fugawi, Seapro, MaxSea, SmarterTrack, etc. and then Apps like NMEA Remote, iSailor, iNavX, iRegatta, SailRacer, TimeZero, Imray etc are perfect for running on your Apple iPhone/iPad or Android phone/tablet in the cockpit. If you want a dedicated display then perhaps a single graphical display from Garmin, Raymarine, Simrad, etc. or a mast display from NASA or Race Geek would give you a permanent cockpit display without breaking the bank.

Finally with iKommunicate you also have the option of running the new Signal K web apps in your browser so any mobile wireless device can display the data on a modern web browser, even a Kindle !