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

 

Aqua Compact Pro Marine PC – Handy Size!

Thinking about adding a PC to your boat? Digital Yacht’s new Aqua Compact Pro PC really does fit in the palm of your hand! Space is always at a premium on board and despite its slimline 11.5 x 11 x 5 cm dimensions, the Aqua PC packs in a powerful 5th generation Intel Core i3 processor with exceptional graphics performance for the latest 3D charting and HD navigation programs.  It’s the perfect partner for applications like Maxsea TimeZero – even with radar and 3D overlays.

aqua compact handheld

So why a PC on board?  The number one, compelling reason to add a PC to your boat’s navigation and communication system is amazing value. There’s no doubt that a dedicated chart plotter is ideal for use at the helm where it needs to be waterproof and compact.  But below decks, a PC can offer big screen performance at a very attractive price compared to a dedicated large screen multi-function display.  Of course, a PC and chart plotting software can also be your only electronic navigation device, just integrated to the GPS and instruments via a simple NMEA interface.

A PC also offers more powerful functionality than a dedicated MFD with the ability to install software for lots of applications from navigation to entertainment, email communications, weather and internet connectivity.  PCs are also up-dateable as new applications become available.

Any why not a laptop? They are simply not designed for the hostile marine environment and consume large amounts of power.  It’s a much neater solution to have a dedicated PC and display both in terms of functionality and reliability.   With some simple engineering, you can install a monitor to swivel between chart table and saloon so it can become an entertainment as well as a navigation device.

Aqua Compact Pro Features:

  • The perfect solution for demanding navigation applications like MaxSea/Nobeltec TimeZero even with radar and 3D integration
  • Direct DC 12V operation – no power hungry inverters or AC requirement and power consumption typically 20W
  • 8GB RAM and Windows 10 operating system
  • Built in 801.11AC wifi, ethernet and Bluetooth connectivity
  • Dual video out (mini HDMI and Displayport) with HD5500 graphics and support for displays up to 4K for ultra high definition viewing
  • Super fast and ultra reliable 160GB SSD
  • 4 x USB 3 ports
  • Easy mounting on to vertical or horizontal surfaces – even under-sling from a shelf

Digital Yacht don’t manufacture displays but there’s plenty available from 3rd party manufacturers.  We can definately recommend the AG Neovo range of displays – have a look HERE

How about interfacing?

Finally to make installation easy, we’re producing a version of our MUX100 fitted with a USB cable – with opto isolated NMEA inputs pre-configured for 4800 and 38400 baud and a simple plug ‘n play USB connection, it’s the easiest way to get the Aqua Compact Pro integrated into the boat’s navigation system.

COMPACT PRO LINE DRAWING with pilot

And don’t forget our SmarterTrack 2016 Navigation Software which uses Navionic’s charting so you can share your plotter charts with a PC too – more savings!

MUX100

The Aqua Compact Pro is shipping now.  Price £795/US$1295 excluding any taxes.

Navigation with a PC for boats and yachts – an update

Back in July 2013, we published an update on using a PC for navigation and the do’s and don’ts.  You can read it HERE.

But… Technology moves on and there’s now an even more compelling reason to add a PC to your boat’s navigation and communication system and that is amazing value – none of us want to burn money but we also want the best in performance so read on to find out how!  There’s no doubt that a dedicated chart plotter is ideal for use at the helm where it needs to be waterproof and compact.  But below decks, a PC can offer big screen performance at a very attractive price compared to a dedicated large screen multi-function display.  It also offers more powerful functionality with the ability to install software  for lots of applications.

 

burning money

Any PC can easily integrate into a marine system using NMEA adaptors like the USB-NMEA product from Digital Yacht which allows connectivity to a GPS, instrument or AIS system – details HERE.  For around $60 you get boat NMEA navigation data into your PC (or MAC) and can choose from a variety of software apps to suit your needs.  But a normal note book or PC has a limited life expectancy on board.  Salty air especially with a fan that sucks air into the unit plus vibration guarantee an early funeral and that’s why Digital Yacht developed Adapt PCs – fanless, rugged and ultra low power consumption marine processors with the latest generation of Intel chips and super fast processing.  Just click on the image below to learn more

Boat_02

While hardware is an important element,the application (software in old speak) makes the system work and SmarterTrack 2015  electronic chart plotting software from Digital Yacht brings a new dimension with:

  • Navionic’s compatability – save your cartridge data onto the PC hard drive for chart sharing between PC and plotter – no extra charting costs.  Navionic’s is used by lots of the big brand of plotters like Lowrance, Raymarine, Simrad and B&G
  • The best AIS displays – colour coded targets and CPA and TCPA alarms
  • Waypoint and route transfer to a plotter
  • Animated weather overlays
  • Autopilot control
  • NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000 integration and instruments displays
  • Super fast, easy operation plus lots, lots more

smarter track_opt

To find out more about using SmarterTrack on board, watch the videos below http://www.digitalyacht.tv/software/

Aqua Adapt PCs Now Shipping

PCs are getting more popular on board and with the introduction of Windows 8.1 with its tiled interface, it makes a great choice for touch screen navigation and finger-tip control.  Many boaters use a notebook but they’re not designed for the hostile marine environment and also generally can’t connect to the boat’s DC power source without an adaptor or inverter.

Adapt PC

Digital Yacht have introduced a new chunky, mini PC designed specifically for use on board.  The Adapt PC connects direct to the boat’s battery system and operates from 8-19V DC.  It’s completely electronic with no moving parts and utilises the latest technology in solid state hard drives. It’s also passively cooled so there’s no fan to swirl moist air around delicate electronics.  Despite its tiny 200 x 110 x 70mm dimensions, it packs in a powerful Intel i3 processor and 8GB RAM as well as a 60GB solid state drive.  128 and 240GB options are also available.  With this spec, Adapt is ideal for use with graphics intense 3D navigation programs whilst still only consuming around 25W of power.  802.11 g/b/n Wi-Fi is also built in with dual antennas to improve performance.  This can be configured as a Wi-Fi server for remote display apps so a tablet or iPad can act as a PC remote display out in the cockpit.

With Windows 8.1 supporting multi touch features like pinch to zoom, it makes sense to pair the PC with a touchscreen.  The Adapt PC has two independent HDMI video outputs allowing two displays to be connected.

Most users want the PC to act as a hub for a navigation system to take advantage of software features like downloadable weather overlays, multi-screen chart displays or route optimisation.  Here the Adapt system really scores as two additional external modules have been developed to allow plug ‘n play NMEA0183 and NMEA 2000 navigation network integration as well as an Adapt Communication interface for internet access.  The Adapt Navigation interface has a NMEA 0183 input and a certified NMEA 2000 connection to hook up direct to boat networks.  Also available is the Adapt Communication interface which brings high power Wi-Fi to the Adapt PC for easy internet access whilst afloat.  This option allows access to shore side hotspots with ranges up to 5NM depending upon conditions.  The Adapt PC can also be set up to share this internet connection with other mobile users on board.

Both these interfaces match the rugged style of the Adapt PC and connect with just a single cable to the main processor.

The Aqua Adapt PC costs $1495 and the Navigation Interface is $625.  The Communication interface with high gain 36″ external antenna is $825.  Please contact us for GBP and EUR pricing

A sales presentation is available here ADAPT US DEALER PRESENTATION

Help my mouse has gone crazy !

Crazy Mouse

If you have ever taken a PC onboard a boat and connected it up to a GPS via a serial or USB port then the chances are that you will probably have seen the occasional “crazy mouse” behaviour that seems to affect so many marine PCs. The cursor will suddenly start to randomly move all over the screen, opening windows and clicking on things, as if possessed by some nautical demon !

Well there is a very simple explanation for this phenomenon and it dates back to the good old Serial Port mouse that was popular on the first Windows PCs. It was the mouse with the large 9 pin D-Type connector on the end of the cable, that came out before the short lived PS2 connector mouse and the more recent USB mouse.

These original Serial Port mice used a series of ASCII control signals that are very similar to those produced by a typical NMEA0183 interface on a modern GPS or chart Plotter. If the GPS or Plotter is turned on when the PC boots up, Windows detects the NMEA0183 signals, thinks it has an old Serial Mouse connected and loads up some very old driver software that then proceeds to move the cursor all over the place, opening and closing windows and generally behaving like a “crazy mouse”.

All of the releases of Windows have suffered from this problem and even the very latest Windows 8.1 still has this old Serial Mouse detection software included and will go crazy in certain conditions. The good news is that it is pretty easy to fix, by going in to Device Manager and disabling (NOT uninstalling) the Serial Port Mouse. Digital Yacht have produced a Tech Note on how to fix the problem and a copy can be downloaded by clicking here.

How to find out what Motherboard your PC has

DxDiag

Digital Yacht have been developing and selling marine PCs for over 10 years now and in that time we have used many different makes and models of PC Motherboard – the main circuit board inside a PC.

When a customer contacts us about their Digital Yacht Marine PC, the most important information that helps us understand the model and build history of the PC is the type of motherboard it has. To find out this information, the easiest way is to use the Microsoft DxDiag program that has been included with all versions of Windows since Windows 98 (2nd Edition).

The method to run DxDiag, varies very slightly between different versions of Windows;

  1. Windows XP – click the START button, select RUN and type dxdiag in the box and press the ENTER button
  2. Windows Vista/7 – click the START button, type dxdiag in the search box and press the ENTER button
  3. Windows 8 – from the START page, type dxdiag and press the ENTER button

When DxDiag runs it displays the following Window which includes the Make and Model of the motherboard and also the BIOS version, Microprocessor and RAM information. With this information, Digital Yacht will be able to answer any questions about your PC and provide any assistance and support required.

DxDiag Info

Integrating a PC into your boat’s navigation system

Utilising a PC on board brings important benefits not just for regular PC tasks such as email and web access but also for entertainment and navigation.  This document explains how to integrate a PC into a boat’s navigation system and this approach offers substantial cost savings over buying a multi station traditional navigation suite.  PCs also provide a much more powerful platform and with an internet connection, data such as weather can be integrated into the system.  Navigation software for a PC is sophisticated yet easy to use.

Installed PC or notebook…

Whilst a laptop or notebook provides a solution to run e-navigation software, it’s not ideal.  Power consumption is high and often you will need an inverter or adaptor to connect to the boat’s DC supply which introduces more losses and electrical noise.  Notebooks don’t like the constant vibration and momentum from the boat and of course they’re not designed for salty air.  They also don’t have interfaces for the boat’s NMEA system so integration can be tricky.  We’ve found that most users trial a system with a notebook but move on quickly to a dedicated, installed system like our Aqua range of PCs.

Aqua PCs from Digital Yacht

Aqua 2 PC with Logos-web

The Aqua range of PCs from Digital Yacht are designed to be permanently installed and can connect direct to the boats DC electrical system.  They are capable of operation from 8-18V so can deal with a fluctuating battery supply.  They also consume minimal power (typically around 1A at 12V DC) and are completely solid state with no moving parts.  There’s no cooling fan to suck in moist air and the solid state hard drives offer exceptional reliability and speed.  They also feature a dual NMEA input to integrate straight into your boats navigation system.  Despite their impressive performance they are as affordable as a good quality laptop and can support multiple monitors.

Using the AIS transponder as the navigation feed…

If you’re contemplating a PC system then you’ll probably also look at having an AIS Transponder.  Our AIT2000 features a USB output to connect direct to an Aqua PC and provides a feed of AIS and GPS information.  It also incorporates a NMEA multiplexer so will take your boat’s instrument NMEA data and combine with the AIS data and output via USB.  One  connection to your PC with AIS, GPS and NMEA boat data!

Navigation Software for your PC…

One of the beauties of a PC based system is that you can constantly upgrade, change and evolve with the addition of new software.  Of course, we’d like you to use our SmarterTrack navigation package which offers great value for money, amazing charting capabilities and one of the best AIS presentations available today.  SmarterTrack uses Navionic’s charts and you’re now able to copy a Navionic’s chart (on SD or CF card – like the ones used on plotters such as Lowrance, Raymarine and Simrad) direct to you’re PCs hard drive – that means no duplicated charting costs!   SmarterTrack supports weather overlays, instrument displays and can be supplied with a NMEA 2000 interface

Add wifi internet access with the WL510…

Internet access afloat really adds to boating.  Not only can you keep abreast of news and email, but it’s a great source of entertainment, TV and media when in port.  It can also be used to dowload the latest weather information.  Free GRIB files are available to integrate with PC navigation programs to provide animated weather forecasts with wind, swell, pressure and temperature information.  Whilst on board, you can access the internet through 3G/4G systems, WiFi and satellite.  Digital Yacht make a range of high power wifi systems which offer easy and cheap data access with ranges of up to 5NM.  WiFi is cheap, global and fast and for many coastal sailors, it’s ideal.  Satellite provides a trans ocean solution but at a high price and substantial running cost.  The WL510 will integrate with your on board PC system to provide internet access

Fitting it all together

So here’s how it all interconnects.  In the cockpit or flybridge you can use any standard 5, 7, 10, 12 or 15″ multi function display/plotter, linking via NMEA direct to the Aqua PC system.  5″ plotters from Garmin, Raymarine and Lowrance offer incredible value for money, sunlight viewing capability and waterproof performance.  Even a 5″ screen is ideal for use by the helsman and if you choose a Navionic’s based plotter, you can share the charting with SmarterTrack on the Aqua PC.  Make sure your plotter choice accepts an AIS input too

In this system, we’ve added the WL510 for internet access, connected to our WiFi hub called iNavHub.  This allows internet data as well as navigation NMEA data to be shared with mobile devices such as iPads/Phones.

We’ve also utilised our SPL2000 VHF-AIS antenna splitter to share the VHF antenna with the AIS transponder and provide an aerial feed to an on board stereo.

Its a powerful system that offers incredible value for money

2015 Update:  Since writing this we’ve introduced our new Aqua Adapt range – more powerful, lower power and better value.  Details Here 

onboard_pc_systems-01