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 iKommunicate Developer’s Guide (SDK)

iK GitHub Site

This week we launched a new iKommunicate Developer’s Guide on GitHub that aims to make it easy for developers to start writing HTML5 Web Apps or mobile Apps that read data from NMEA networks via the new Signal K open data format.

iKommunicate is designed to be a powerful and intelligent gateway that efficiently converts NMEA data in to Signal K data, but that is just half of the jigsaw. The other key elements are the apps and software that work with iKommunicate to make it a fun and useful addition to your boat.

Out of the box, iKommunicate will work with all Navigation Software packages and Apps that support NMEA network data over TCP or UDP and it will also include a couple of Signal K web apps to get you started. However, it is hoped, that as more and more developers realise the potential of Signal K, that a plethora of innovate and useful apps will start to appear, transforming the way we use out boats.

In putting together the Developer’s Guide, we realised just how easy it is to start developing apps and there is an awful lot of information, libraries and source code on the internet that you can draw upon as you become more experienced. Even if you have never looked at HTML5, http REST APIs or WebSockets, our wiki and example apps, will give you a good starting point and have you displaying Signal K data in no time.

NEW! Digital Yacht AIT1500N2K Class B AIS offers an easy installation for NMEA2000 systems

Digital Yacht have just released a new AIS Class B transponder intended specifically for easy installation on small yachts, motor boats and RIBs.  It’s designed to simply plug into an existing NMEA 2000 network to provide compatible plotters and instruments with AIS data.  As a transponder, it also sends vessel data to other AIS users.  Class B units require their own GPS in order to ensure they transmit accurate data and this normally means another antenna outside the boat.  The AIT1500N2K has a built in, highly sensitive GPS so it can work below decks on GRP boats cutting down on antenna clutter.  All that’s required to complete operation is connection to a VHF antenna or suitable AIS-VHF antenna splitter such as the Digital Yacht SPL2000.

AIT1500N2K Cutout HR

There’s a USB interface for programming and also for use with PC/MAC based charting applications.  Digital Yacht also have an optional WiFi adaptor for the NMEA 2000 backbone to allow data transfer to a tablet, smart phone or iPad – details HERE

ait1500n2k line drawing

“Many boaters see the huge benefits of AIS and want to embrace the technology but are put off by a difficult and costly installation.  The AIT1500N2K couldn’t be easier to fit – it even takes power from the boat’s NMEA 2000 network.  This standard is now embraced on just about every modern chart plotter or instrument system to allow plug ‘n play interfacing” commented Paul Sumpner, CTO of Digital Yacht.

The AIT1500N2K is available now and will be on display at the London Boat Show 2016 Stand C021

It costs £450/$699.95/€645 (excluding VAT if applicable) and further details are at http://www.digitalyachtamerica.com

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.

Raymarine a, c and e Series Plotters with AIS over NMEA2000

Raymarine MFD Family

This week we have been helping one of our dealers; Marine Electronic Installations (MEI) in Portsmouth, to find a solution to an interesting NMEA2000 problem with the latest range of Raymarine a, c and e Series Multi-Function Displays.

Most of these MFDs feature an internal GPS, a SeaTalkNG (NMEA2000) interface and an NMEA0183 interface. Under normal circumstances, if you connect one of our AIT2000 or AIT3000 transponders to a Raymarine MFD via SeaTalkNG (NMEA2000) the MFD will use its own internal GPS as the position source and receive the AIS target information from the transponder.

What MEI discovered, was that when a Raymarine SeaTalk 1 to SeaTalkNG converter (E22158) is fitted to the network, that the MFD stops using its internal GPS and tries to use a GPS source on the SeaTalkNG network. As our transponders are outputting the Rapid Update GPS PGNs on the NMEA2000 network, the Raymarine sees this as a GPS source and tries to use it but then reports an “AIS Position lost” alarm because the GNSS PGN that provides GPS status information is not being received.

This seems to be a unique problem to Raymarine and not one, so far, reported on other systems. For instance the latest Garmin plotters always default to using their own GPS and ignore the GPS data from the AIS transponder. Also it only occurs when this SeaTalk 1 to SeaTalkNG converter is in the system, although this is quite a popular accessory and used when boats have older ST50/ST50+/ST60/ST60+ instruments or autopilots with a SeatTalk 1 interface.

We have found two ways to fix this problem;

1)  Connect the AIS Transponder to the Raymarine MFD via NMEA0183, which is fine for units that have an NMEA0183 input (all units except a6X and a7X )

2)  Send a special configuration command to the AIT2000/AIT3000 transponder via the proAIS2 software that turns off the NMEA2000 GPS data

For more information on this configuration command please email support@digitalyacht.co.uk

Connecting our new AISnode receiver to a Simrad Network

Simrad NSE NMEA2000 + AISnode

 

Our new AISnode receiver for NMEA2000 networks will work with any AIS compatible chart plotter connected to an NMEA2000 network.

In a previous post we showed how the AISnode could connect to a Raymarine network and in this post we are focusing on Simrad NMEA2000 networks. Simrad adopted their own proprietary connector system for NMEA2000 (SimNet) and so connection of our AISnode will require a SimNet to NMEA2000 adaptor cable (Simrad P/No 24006199).

Once you have the SimNet to NMEA2000 adaptor cable, connect this to the standard NMEA2000 cable that is included with our AISnode and then find a spare SimNet connection on the network to plug the adaptor cable in to. The AISnode will then take its power from the SimNet network and send all received AIS data on to the network.

All of Simrad’s NSS, NSE and NSO chart plotters support AIS and as long as the chart plotter(s) have the latest firmware (free download from the Simrad website) then you will see all of the different types of AIS targets, including the new AIS Man Over Board systems and AIS AtonNs (nav-aids).

It should be noted that all of the latest B&G Zeus Chart Plotters also use SimNet network connectors and so our AISnode will work with these chart plotters in the same way.

For more information on our AISnode, please click here.