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

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.

 

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.

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

 

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 !

 

iKommunicate Getting Around !

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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.

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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.

Digital Yacht At Seattle Boatshow Booth 2310

The Seattle Boatshow starts January 27 and runs through to Feb 4 2017.  Digital Yacht will be exhibiting on Concourse Booth 2310

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With our iKommunicate development team based in Seattle, we’ll be having a big focus on Signal K interfacing and the iKommunicate NMEA gateway.  We’ll be showing new apps and capabilities.  We’ll also have great money saving deals on our whole range of AIS & Wireless products.  We look forward to seeing you there.