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.

 

How to Connect our WL70+iKConnect to a Marina Hotspot

Our WL70 long range Wi-Fi Antenna and iKConnect mini wireless router are a great combination for cost effective long range Wi-Fi connection on a boat. We have tried to make the process of connecting to a marina hotspot as simple as possible but if you are not doing this every day, then it is easy to forget the steps involved.

With this in mind, we have created a new “How to Video Guide” that gives you a step by step guide on connecting to the two different types of wireless Hotspot that you will encounter, using the web interface of the iKConnect.

This video is also applicable for our other popular combo; the smaller WL60 long range Wi-Fi adaptor and iKConnect, when used in caravan or RV sites.

Read anything good lately ?

kindle-with-hand

Some books you just cannot put down and we are hoping that our new Signal K App for the Kindle will have the same effect. With their perfect sunlight readability, low price and extremely large user base, we thought an Amazon Kindle would make a great low power instrument display for a boat.

Every Kindle has an “Experimental Web Browser”, which although pretty poor for normal web browsing, does support Javascript which is the language that most modern HTML5 web pages use. After some positive initial tests to see if it would be good enough for our needs, Digital Yacht developed a simple Instrument Display Web App that would read Signal K data from our new iKommunicate gateway and display it on your Kindle.

Every second, the App “grabs” the latest instrument data from iKommunicate, which is connected to the boat’s NMEA2000 or NMEA0183 networks and displays it as either individual “jumbo” displays or a dual line or quad view (see image) display.

In keeping with the “Open Source” nature of Signal K and to encourage other developers to take what we have done and expand on it, we are releasing the source code of the Kindle Web App on our iKommunicate GitHub pages. For existing iKommunicate users, who would like to use this new Kindle App, you can download the new SD Card image and install it following the instructions here.

NOTEBy default a Kindle will check the wireless network it is connected to see if it has an internet connection and if it does not, it will disconnect from the wireless network. This is not great behaviour on a boat that may or may not be connected to the internet and so a little tweak needs to be made to the Kindle to disable this internet check.

Simply connect your Kindle to your computer using a Micro USB Cable and it will appear as a USB Disk Drive (mass storage device). Then you need to create a file in the USB root folder called WIFI_NO_NET_PROBE which does not need a file extension and can be a completely empty file, it just needs to be in this folder, as shown below.

kindle-directory-no-probe-file

Once you have copied the file on to your Kindle, restart the device and it will now connect to your wireless network even if there is no internet connection.

 

Yacht Racing with Signal K

racegeeks

It was great to meet JC and Ric from RaceGeek yesterday at the Southampton Boat Show. Tucked away on stand J328, behind the Furuno Stand, this was their first time at Southampton and they were showing off their brand new D10 Mast display for racing yachts. What makes this new product of particular interest to Digital Yacht, is that the team at RaceGeek have made their D10 display Signal K compatible, making it the perfect display for connecting to our own iKommunicate.

Whether you are an out and out yacht racer or just a cruising yachtsman who likes to sail in the most efficient and effective way, a clear mast display like the D10 is an important tool and connected to our iKommunicate, providing NMEA0183 and NMEA2000 data via the new open source Signal K data format, it is a winning combination.

For more information on the D10 mast display please visit http://racegeek.ie/

What a Difference a Year Makes

come-a-long-way

This morning we released a new firmware update and SD Card image for our successful iKommunicate product. One of the improvements in this update was NMEA2000 optimisation to pass the Certification Testing that all NMEA2000 certified products need to complete.

We really wanted to have iKommunicate certified in time for the 2016 NMEA Conference later this month in Naples FL (20-22 September), as it will be exactly one year since we showed our “Proof of Concept” at last year’s conference. We have come a long way, since then, with a successful Kickstarter funding campaign, over 1000 units shipped and now our fourth software revision.

iKommunicate really is the perfect accessory for any boat with an NMEA network onboard. Whether connected to a Raymarine, Garmin, Simrad, Furuno, etc. system, iKommunicate will convert the NMEA2000 or NMEA0183 data and make it accessible in your web browser, or mobile App. Already compatible with the most popular navigation software; MaxSea, RosePoint, Nobeltec, OpenCPN, etc. and mobile Apps; iNavX, iSailor, TimeZero, etc. via TCP/UDP data connection, iKommunicate will also power the next generation of Signal K apps; NMEARemote, ActiveCapt, OceanIX, etc.

Developers interested in supporting Signal K, should have a look at our iKommunicate SDK, to which we have now added some new example apps, with fully documented source code, to help you get up and running as quickly as possible.

New set of “How To” Videos on our Long Range Wi-Fi Products

WL510+iNavConnect

Getting a good long range Wi-Fi connection in a marina can be a challenge, particularly if you have not used the equipment for a while and cannot remember the steps involved.

To try and help make this a little easier, Digital Yacht have created a set of “How To” videos that explain how to connect to the two main types of wireless hotspots that you will come across on your travels; the “Open” captive portal type hotspot favoured by most marinas these days and the “encrypted” password protected hotspot that most bars and restaurants still operate.

At the same time we also created a third video that covers the important process of securing your boat’s wireless, by changing the default wireless network name and password, so that only the people you want to connect, can join your network.

We recommend watching them in the order shown below and simply click on the link to take you to the video on our YouTube channel…

  1. Connecting our WL510 to a Captive Portal type Marina hotspot
  2. Connecting our WL510 to a Password Protected type Restaurant/Bar hotspot
  3. Changing the default SSID and Password on our iNavConnect/iNavHub/iKConnect routers

IMPORTANT NOTE
After Apple changed the way their auto login feature of iOS and Safari behaved earlier this year, we now recommend installing the free Google Chrome web browser for maximum compatibility when connecting to hotspots, on your iPad or iPhone and this is also true on Windows PCs as Internet Explorer does not always seem to trigger the re-direct to the marina’s welcome/login page.

WL70R – New lower cost solution for wifi afloat

A new, competitively priced hi power wifi solution is now available from Digital Yacht called the WL70R

The system uses the well proven, WL70 1.25m wifi antenna (details HERE) and ships complete with a compact, DC powered wireless router called  iKConnect.  This creates a local wifi network on board the boat allowing mobile devices like phones, tablets and laptops to share the connectivity of the long range wifi antenna – effectively allowing multiple devices and users to share the internet connection.

The WL70 features a hi power modem integrated into the rugged 15dBm antenna.  It’s self powered from a USB connection – either direct to a PC/MAC or via the iKConnect router in the new WL70R bundle making installation really easy.

WL70R bundle features:

  • Rugged 1.25m 15dBm antenna with industry standard 1″ mount compatabilty
  • Super compact iKConnect router with direct 10-18V DC power connection
  • Simple to use web interface for setting up and connecting to hotspots
  • Offers typically 15-20x normal wifi connection range and maximises speed
  • iKConnect creates an 802.11n wireless network onboard with full WEP/ WPA/WPA2 encrypted password protection
  • Detachable 5dBi antenna on iKconnect router to footprint boats up to 25m
  • LAN and WAN connections for network expansion and other applications – compatible with iKommunicate too
  • Also compatible with Fusion marine audio network for Fusion app audio control
  • 3G/4G USB modem support coming soon

ikc router

More and more boaters want access to the internet afloat. Marinas and ports as well as a large number of cafes, hotels, restaurants and service providers offer wifi connectivity but you may just miss that vital connection if you’re moored or anchored away from the dock – especially if you’re below decks about to enjoy a movie or catch up on email. The WL70 can offer reliable and fast connections up to about ½ mile/1km depending upon conditions.  For ranges up to 5-7NM, the more powerful WL510 is available.

The WL70R system is shipping now.  Download the manual from HERE

Part number: ZDIGWL70R (comprises bundle of WL70 and iKConnect router)

UPC: 081159830472

Price: GBP£300/US$449.90/EUR415

Find out more by calling + 44 1179 55 44 74 (US 978 277 1234)