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.

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.

Best Marine Apps for Android (V1.05)

Marine Android Apps

We have just updated our “Best Marine Apps for Android” list to include the some important new Apps now available on Android devices. The actual number of apps has only slightly increased since our last update, iRegatta a popular racing app has been withdrawn from the Play Store, while the popular Transas iSailor App is now available on Android. Featuring the same Transas charts that you find on many commercial ships and a host of powerful features, iSailor is definitely an app to consider for any Android user.

Another very important new entrant on the list, is the Android version of the hugely popular OpenCPN app. OpenCPN was developed by the open source community and is the most popular navigation program for Windows, LINUX and Macs. Now this new Android App, is set to become equally  popular on Tablets and Phones, although it does need a fairly powerful processor and an SD Card slot is also useful to make it easier to load the charts on. For more information visit http://bigdumboat.com/aocpn/forum

Our “Best Marine Apps” list focuses on navigational apps that can be used with our wireless NMEA and AIS products and as long as the App you are interested in has a tick in the “External NMEA” column then it will work with our wireless NMEA products. With nine wireless NMEA products in our range, it can sometimes be confusing for customers, as to which product they need, so we have just published a comparison sheet to make it easier to choose the best product for your application, click here to read it.

We are fairly confident that we have captured most of the popular apps currently available. However, if you are a user or developer of a good marine navigation app for Android that is not on our list, please let us know and we will get you on the list at the next update.

If you are interested in Digital Yacht’s popular AISView app for Android devices, you can learn more about it by clicking here.

To download a PDF copy of this new updated list of Marine Apps for Android devices, please click here Android Apps V1_05.

Overview of Digital Yacht’s Wireless NMEA Devices

Wireless NMEA Products New

Since 2011, when we released iAIS, the world’s first wireless AIS receiver, we have been gradually building up a powerful range of wireless NMEA products. All of these products allow NMEA data (the marine industry data standard) to be taken from your onboard navigation equipment and transferred wirelessly to your mobile devices; tablets, smart phones, computers, etc.

With nine different wireless NMEA products in our range, it can be confusing for customers to select the best product for their needs. This article provides a simple overview of our wireless NMEA products which will hopefully make it easier for you to choose the right product for your application.

Product Description
iAIS AIS Receiver with Wi-Fi
AIT3000 AIS Transponder with Wi-Fi
iNavHub Wireless Router that converts NMEA0183 data
NavLink Wireless NMEA2000 Converter
PilotLink Portable Wireless converter for Class A transponders
WLN10 Wireless NMEA0183 Converter for Instruments
WLN10HS Wireless NMEA0183 Converter for AIS
SonarServer Wireless NMEA0183 Converter for Navionics App
WLN20 Dual Input Wireless NMEA0183 Converter

All of these products transmit wireless NMEA data that is readable by most of the popular navigation apps for Apple and Android devices. For more information on the latest Apps, please have a look at our Best Marine Apps for Apple iOS Devices or our Best Marine Apps for Android Devices articles.

The Navionics Boating App, the most popular navigation App for both Apple and Android devices, has recently added support for wireless NMEA and will now read wireless Depth and GPS data from the boat’s navigation system. Primarily this is to allow customers to create their own bathymetric charts using the Navionics SonarCharts™ “Live” technology, but it also allows non-3G iPads and even iPod Touch devices, that do not have their own internal GPS, to now be used for navigation. Digital Yacht have produced a special, simplified version of our WLN10, called the SonarServer that works with the Navionics App, although all of our other wireless products are also SonarCharts “Live” compatible.

If you would like to breath new life in to your boat’s existing navigation system, by going wireless and running the latest Apps on your new tablet or smart phone, then check what NMEA0183 or NMEA2000 interfaces your system has, decide whether you want to add AIS or not and then select the Digital Yacht wireless NMEA product that best suits your needs.

Superyacht Sonar Server – Build Your Own Bathy Charting

Running aground while trying to edge into a shallow water anchorage must be high up the list of “DON’T DOs” for any Superyacht Captain.  With owners and guests increasingly wanting that really special anchorage or close to beach location, relying on traditional (and maybe out of date) chart depth data and a sounder could spell disaster and embarrassment.

montage

Digital Yacht’s Sonar Server working with Navionic’s Sonar Charts Live app for iPad and Android devices is a great solution to this problem.

Chances are the yacht tender is equipped with a small fishfinder, depth sounder or multi function plotter-sounder.  Sonar Server ($129.95) connects to the NMEA output from this device and creates a wireless feed to an iPad or Android tablet on board the tender.

It interfaces direct with Navionic’s low cost boating app which is popular among millions of users with detailed charts and global coverage.  Sonar Server feeds live depth data to the application which then redraws the bathymetry in real time allowing you to effectively build your own depth charts like in the picture below.  As you travel, the chart gets redrawn with new depth data/

sonar server screen shot

 

The tender can then return to the main yacht with a detailed local chart and the tablet used for real time navigation on the mother ship.  While no internet connection is required for the system to function, the next time the tablet has a connection, the collected data will be uploaded anonymously to Navionics who then validate the data and include on their next chart updates – so data gets better and better thanks to community data sourcing.  You can also build your own database too with local “depth tracks” stored on your device.

Find out more at http://www.sonarserver.com

PS For those that say it never happens, here’s proof or have a read here about an incident only this week in Miami – http://www.boatinternational.com/yachts/news/58m-superyacht-unbridled-runs-aground-off-of-miami–25993

superyacht agroind

 

Best Marine Apps for Android (V1.04)

Marine Android Apps

We have just updated our “Best Marine Apps for Android” list to include the important news that the hugely popular Navionics App now supports external wireless NMEA data. Previously the Navionics App needed to be run on a tablet or phone that had an internal GPS in order for you to plot your position on the charts. Now the latest version of their Boating App will read wireless NMEA data from any of the nine units in Digital Yacht’s wireless NMEA product range. This means that you can take data from the boat’s GPS or chart plotter and send it wirelessly to the Navionics App, allowing any latest Android tablet or phone to be used for navigation.

If you are interested in creating your own high definition bathymetric charts using the Navionics SonarCharts “Live” technology that is now included in the Navionics Boating App, then please check out our new SonarServer product which has been developed specifically for Navionics users. Click here for more information.

Our “Best Marine Apps” list focuses on navigational apps that can be used with our wireless NMEA and AIS products and as long as the App you are interested in has a tick in the “External NMEA” column then it will work with our wireless NMEA products. With nine wireless NMEA products in our range, it can sometimes be confusing for customers, as to which product they need, so we have just published a comparison sheet to make it easier to choose the best product for your application, click here to read it.

We are fairly confident that we have captured most of the popular apps currently available. However, if you are a user or developer of a good marine navigation app for Android that is not on our list, please let us know and we will get you on the list at the next update.

If you are interested in Digital Yacht’s popular AISView app for Android devices, you can learn more about it by clicking here.

To download a PDF copy of this new updated list of Marine Apps for Android devices, please click here Android Apps V1_04.