Digital Yacht launch Code Afloat Competition

Budding programmer or have a great idea for a new boating app?  Then this could be for you….

Digital Yacht’s new Code Afloat challenge is a competition for innovative code writers that seeks to encourage and recognise ideas and applications that ‘change the game’ in the field of marine navigation, communication, safety, control or entertainment. Applications and ideas will need to utilise Signal K, the new open source interfacing platform designed for electronics afloat.

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This competition is looking for game-changing and impactful ideas that have the potential to improve the way we utilise systems aboard boats, ships and other marine assets. It could be a new visualisation of instrumentation, social media integration, engine diagnostics, digital control, logging, charting, monitoring or security – but don’t let these be a defining boundary. Signal K makes marine application development easy with its plain text, JSON based format. Want to grab ship position, identity, wind speed and depth for your idea? It’s all easy with Signal K data.

Digital Yacht is a UK and US based marine electronics manufacturer with a special and altruistic interest in the Signal K project. In 2016, they developed iKommunicate – a NMEA to Signal K gateway allowing any existing marine electronics system to open up to the world of Signal K. It was created following a successful, 5x oversubscribed Kickstarter campaign which shows the interest in open source within the marine environment.

This means that 100000s of boats equipped with traditional NMEA based marine electronic systems can now integrate with this new platform using a simple, low cost iKommunicate interface – without the need to buy new, expensive sensors and transducers. iKommunicate makes it very easy to integrate tablets, smartphones, PCs and MACS to NMEA systems.

The competition will be assessed by independent judges – experts who lead the industry in the US and Europe. A headline prize of $2500 for the app award “Change the Game” is available and a 2nd and 3rd prize of $500 each for the best “Transform my boat” concept.  Lots of boat owners may have a great idea but don’t have coding skills to develop an app so this 2nd and 3rd prize is for them, to come up with a concept which may then be taken forward by professional programmers.

All apps will be judged on innovation, practical implementation and value.  “Open Source” web apps, that benefit the Signal K community are welcome and apps developed remain the property of the original author so they can also benefit from any future revenue stream. The goal of this competition is to increase the use of Signal K data on all apps, open or closed source and give boaters more functionality and choices.

Apps can be submitted for any platform – iOS, Android, PC, MAC, LINUX etc. and of course web server code running on Raspberry Pi type hardware or HTML5 web apps running in a browser are also appropriate.

The competition starts now and closes on the 31st October 2017, when all entries will be judged by an International team of judges, before the winners are announced in December.

More details on the competition can be found at a new dedicated website at http://www.codeafloat.com

Find out more about Signal K at http://www.signalk.org

Find out more about iKommunicate at http://www.ikommunicate.com

Check out more on our blog HERE

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.

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 !

 

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 iOS (V1.05)

Marine iOS Apps

We have just updated our “Best Marine Apps for Apple iOS” 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 3G iPad or iPhone 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 Wi-Fi Only iPads and even the iPod Touch to be used for navigation.

This 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 iOS that is not on our list, please let us know and we will get you on the list at the next update.

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

Digital Yacht introduce NavLink US Navigation Package for MacBooks

A new, $29.95 MAC application called NavLink US from Digital Yacht will turn your MacBook into a full featured, electronic charting system with detailed US charting and real time GPS and AIS support for easy, yet advanced navigation.

Navlink_air_02

NavLink MAC is an Apple MAC based electronic charting and navigation package which turns a MacBook into a full function chart plotter.  The application comes complete with highly detailed US NOAA vector charts and allows real time positioning, tracking and routing.  Simply create a route with a click of the mouse to quickly and easily get bearing, distance and ETA information to your destination. AIS targets can also be overlaid onto the electronic charting.  Charts can be zoomed and panned using intuitive finger gestures on the MAC track pad.

The MAC will require a GPS connection for location and optional connection to AIS if an AIS overlay of targets is required.  Digital Yacht’s range of GPS sensors or their low cost USB-NMEA adaptor can be utilised to connect the MAC to the boat’s GPS/AIS system.  Alternatively, for a wire free solution, NavLink supports a connection via wifi to any of Digital Yacht’s NMEA to wireless devices such as iAIS and the WLN10.

navlink mac tides

The seamless charts feature incredible detail as they are derived from official NOAA data and show buoys, navaids, depth contours, wrecks, spot depths, restrictions etc.  NavLink also supports “drill down” data so an object such as a buoy can be queried for its characteristics.  Weather buoys are also supported for local weather conditions (an internet connection is required for this live data) and a tidal atlas is included.  NavLink MAC users can also share routes with the NavLink iPad app.

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NavLink has been designed from the ground up to take advantage of the MACs simplicity of operation and clarity of the high resolution displays on Apple’s latest products.  Priced at just $29.95, it’s available for download from the MAC app store right now

iNavX featured in Apple Developers presentation

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Tuning in to the live stream from yesterday’s Apple Developers Conference (WWDC), we were pleasantly surprised to see iNavX being used on a yacht in one of the presentation videos. It is not often that marine products are part of such a high profile event and it was great to see an app that we know so well, get worldwide visibility in the Apple video.

The video showed lots of people and the apps they use and at around 1min 40secs in Emily Penn appears and tells us how she uses iNavX aboard her yacht as part of the work she does with Pangaea Exploration

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The video was very well put together (it was Apple after all) and anyone that missed it can watch it again by clicking here but you will need Quick Time installed to view it.

It was fitting that iNavX was featured in this video as it was the first marine app to appear on the Apple Store and has continued to be one of the most popular marine navigation apps. Using Navionics charts, it provides a number of advanced features above and beyond what the hugely popular Navionics App does, including full support for wireless NMEA, instrument displays and a very good AIS implementation with CPA and TCPA alarms.

For anyone wanting to do serious chart plotting and navigation on their iPad or iPhone, iNavX is well worth considering and coupled with our wireless NMEA products such as the WLN10HS, NavLink or iAIS, it really does make iPad boat navigation a reality. For more information download our White Paper guide here iPad Navigation Afloat – a Digital Yacht White Paper