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 !

 

Wireless AIS Configuration App for Android

AISConfig Icon for blog

Our proAIS2 software for configuring and checking our latest generation of AIS transponders is a useful tool, but only being Windows and Mac compatible, it does have its limitations.

With this in mind, we have developed an Android App that allows you to do pretty much everything that proAIS2 does, but wirelessly from your Android Smart Phone or Tablet. AISConfig is a free app, available on the Google Play Store, that works with our AIT1500 (NMEA0183 version), AIT2000 and AIT3000.

Being wireless, you will need a WLN10HS or AIS WiFi Server if using our AIT1500 or AIT2000, but this is a popular combination, so there should be many customers out there that will benefit from this new App and of course our “top of the range” AIT3000 has WiFi built-in so AISConfig is the perfect app for it.

AISConfig for blog

Using AISConfig you can do all of the initial configuration, including programming of the MMSI number and then once setup, you can use AISConfig to monitor the status of the transponder, repeat the LED status (useful if the transponder is behind a panel) and to turn OFF/ON the Silent Mode, avoiding the need for a physical switch.

If AISConfig proves popular, then we will certainly consider producing an Apple iOS version, but for now AISConfig is only available for Android.

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.

New iKommunicate SD Card Image V1.63

new-logger

Every iKommunicate has an 8GB micro SD Card on which we pre-load some Signal K web apps. They are stored in the “Hosted” folder and can easily be replaced with your own favourite web apps as they become available.

There are three “hosted” apps on the current SD Card image;

  1.  Instrument Panel – popular Signal K instrument display App
  2.  Kindle App – for displaying instrument data on a Kindle
  3.  Websocket Logger – app for displaying and logging Signal K data

We have now just released a new V1.63 SD Card Image that includes updates for both Instrument Panel and the Websocket Logger (see image above). Instrument panel is now quicker and easier to setup the first time you run it, with more units conversions and gauge options, while our Websocket Logger now uses the same CSS file as other web pages on the SD Card, auto detects the IP address of your iKommunicate and fixes an annoying bug that caused the screen to jump around in Safari and Internet Explorer.

The new SD Card image can be downloaded from our GitHub site by clicking here, and instructions for how to copy it to the SD Card can be found here.

For those of you that would like to learn more about using Instrument Panel, we have posted a video on Digital Yacht TV.

New WindSense App for Android

windsense-app-pages

Our new WindSense wireless wind system can work with many existing apps like the popular NMEARemote, Imray InstrumentsSailTimer, etc. but most of these are for Apple iOS devices, so we decided to develop and release a simple Wind display app for Android.

Our free WindSense App is now available on the Google Play Store and will give all WindSense owners an app that they can use straight away to calibrate and display the Wind data from our WND100 wind transducer.

windsense-system-android-tablet

For more information on our WindSense wireless wind system click here.

iKommunicate Getting Around !

2017-02-21-photo-00000007

Well the 2017 boat show season is in full swing and our iKommunicate gateway is getting lots of attention wherever it goes. The picture above was taken last week at the NauticSud 2017 show in Naples (Italy) where Raffaele Montella was exhibiting his FairWind Multi-Function Display system.

This really interesting project brings together a number of open source technologies and projects in to one integrated app for Android tablets or popular low cost development hardware like the UDOO Neo. FairWind collects onboard data from NMEA0183 and NMEA2000 systems and older Raymarine/Autohelm SeaTalk 1 systems, before analysing and displaying it or sending it to the Cloud.

As shown above, FairWind works very well with iKommunicate, receiving the Signal K Delta messages that iKommunicate transmits over a websocket. The FairWind App is available from the Google Play Store and is definitely a project to keep an eye on.

At the recent Helsinki boatshow, two of our dealers Marinea and John Nurminen (photo below) were showing iKommunicate as well as other Digital Yacht products.

image-uploaded-from-ios

Finally in the US, we have just finished the Miami boat show, where a number of exisiting iKommunicate owners came to see us and also quite a few new ones. It was great to get good feedback and requests for new features, so thank you for taking the time to come and see us.

New “How to” Video for proAIS2

proais2_video

Earlier this week, a customer asked us if we had a video that showed how to use our proAIS2 Configuration and Diagnostics Software that we supply with our latest Class B AIS Transponders. Rather embarrassingly we had to say that we did not, but we promised to create one and here it is.

Digital Yacht are not the only company that supply proAIS2 with transponders, but to our knowledge, we are the only company to produce a video showing how to configure and diagnose Class B transponders with it. So we hope that not only Digital Yacht users but owners of other brands will benefit from this video.

The video is hosted and can be found on YouTube, but you might prefer to watch this video and others,  on our Digital Yacht TV site…

http://www.digitalyacht.tv/how-to-use-proais2/