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.

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.

What a Difference a Year Makes

come-a-long-way

This morning we released a new firmware update and SD Card image for our successful iKommunicate product. One of the improvements in this update was NMEA2000 optimisation to pass the Certification Testing that all NMEA2000 certified products need to complete.

We really wanted to have iKommunicate certified in time for the 2016 NMEA Conference later this month in Naples FL (20-22 September), as it will be exactly one year since we showed our “Proof of Concept” at last year’s conference. We have come a long way, since then, with a successful Kickstarter funding campaign, over 1000 units shipped and now our fourth software revision.

iKommunicate really is the perfect accessory for any boat with an NMEA network onboard. Whether connected to a Raymarine, Garmin, Simrad, Furuno, etc. system, iKommunicate will convert the NMEA2000 or NMEA0183 data and make it accessible in your web browser, or mobile App. Already compatible with the most popular navigation software; MaxSea, RosePoint, Nobeltec, OpenCPN, etc. and mobile Apps; iNavX, iSailor, TimeZero, etc. via TCP/UDP data connection, iKommunicate will also power the next generation of Signal K apps; NMEARemote, ActiveCapt, OceanIX, etc.

Developers interested in supporting Signal K, should have a look at our iKommunicate SDK, to which we have now added some new example apps, with fully documented source code, to help you get up and running as quickly as possible.

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.

Using Digital Yacht Wi-Fi products with OpenCPN V3.2 or higher

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In this second post about using our products with OpenCPN, we are pleased to announce the release of a new Tech Note that provides OpenCPN (Windows/Mac/LINUX) users with a clear guide on how to configure the latest Connection Manager (in OpenCPN since V3.2) to work with our Wi-Fi products.

OpenCPN is one of the most popular marine navigation software packages and is completely Open Source, meaning that Windows, Mac and LINUX users can install and use the software for free. For more information on OpenCPN please click here.

If you have one of our iAIS, AIT3000, WLN10, WLN20, PilotLink, NavLink or iNavHub Wi-Fi products that uses our Wireless NMEA interface and you want to use it with OpenCPN, then please download Tech Note 00062-2014 by clicking here.

Using Digital Yacht USB products with OpenCPN V3.2 or higher

Workspace 1_020

In the first of two posts about using our products with OpenCPN, we are pleased to announce the release of a new Tech Note that provides OpenCPN (Windows/Mac/LINUX) users with a clear guide on how to configure the latest Connection Manager (in OpenCPN since V3.2) to work with our USB products.

OpenCPN is one of the most popular marine navigation software packages and is completely Open Source, meaning that Windows, Mac and LINUX users can install and use the software for free. For more information on OpenCPN please click here.

If you have one of our AIS, GPS or Interfacing products that has a USB interface and you want to use it with OpenCPN, then please download Tech Note 00061-2014 by clicking here.

Wireless NMEA2000 on OpenCPN

NavLink

Slowly but surely, NMEA2000 the latest marine electronics networking standard is making its way on to boats; old and new. With most new marine electronics equipment having an NMEA2000 interface, we are seeing more and more requests for our NavLink Wireless NMEA2000 Server, that allows you to wirelessly send NMEA2000 data to phones, tablets and computers.

Although there is some initial investment required to purchase and install an NMEA2000 “Backbone” (the T-Pieces, terminator resistors and cables) once you have your basic network setup adding extra equipment is very quick and easy. Just today we had a customer who phoned us concerned about how to install a new AIT2000 Class B Transponder and one of our NavLinks on to his new boat that already had an NMEA2000 network installed. The customer had never seen the “backbone” and had expected to need all sorts of tools, crimps, soldering iron, etc. He was very pleasantly surprised to discover that both units just plugged in to the network and the NavLink even took its power from the NMEA2000 bus.

NMEA2000 Backbone

It turned out that the customer was a big Apple fan and wanted to use all of the NavLink’s wireless NMEA2000 data in OpenCPN running on his Mac and maybe later on to purchase a suitable app to run on his iPad. With everything connected up, it was a simple matter of scanning for wireless networks on his Mac and connecting to the NavLink.

Then in OpenCPN, we got him to go to settings, select connections and click on the “Add Connection” button. Then in the connection properties section select “Network”, Protocol = UDP (so that multiple devices can receive the same data), Address = 169.254.1.1 and Port = 2000 (as shown below).

OpenCPN Connection Mac

Once the connection settings were entered, it was just a case of clicking the “Apply” button and then the “OK” button to establish the data connection to the NavLink and the GPS and AIS data started to stream in from the AIT2000 AIS Class B Transponder.

OpenCPN AIS on Mac

 

Our customer was extremely happy that everything was so easy to install and setup and is now looking at installing the Dashboard or NMEA Instrument Plugins for OpenCPN so that he can use more of the NMEA2000 data available on the network.

By selecting the broadcast UDP mode (rather than TCP)  in the connection to OpenCPN, it means that he can simultaneously get the same data on his iPad, when he decides what App to get.

Problem with NMEA (COM Port) Connections on Ubuntu

Nautical Tux

In response to a comment on my recent “Managing the Device Manager”, where Michael reported problems getting his AIS100USB working on LINUX, I decided to download the latest OpenCPN and make sure that the new NMEA Connections code that they have recently added to V3.20 did in fact still work like the previous versions.

It has been a while since I played with the LINUX version of OpenCPN and with a normal Ubuntu V12.04 32 bit setup, I was surprised when I could not get the NMEA data from my AIS receiver or transponder to be received. To investigate further, I opened a Terminal Window and typed…

dmesg  | grep tty

Which returned the following information about all of the serial ports – “tty” is a legacy term in LINUX from the days of Teletypewriters which then evolved in to computer terminals that used serial ports to connect to the mainframe computer.

Dmesg-tty

The Dmesg command extracts information from various log files and returns the current and historical information about USB devices that have been connected to the PC. In the screen above, you can see that a USB to Serial converter was connected and given the name ttyUSB0 (this was my AIS receiver) but that this was disconnected. Then you can see that another USB ACM device was  connected and given the name ttyACM0 (this was my AIS transponder) which is still connected.

So I now knew which serial port had been setup by LINUX for my AIS transponder, so the next step was to use a LINUX program called Screen to send the NMEA data coming in to ttyACM0 to my terminal screen. First I installed the Screen program by typing the following command in to the terminal…

sudo apt-get install screen

Once installed, the following command should have displayed the NMEA data coming in on port ttyACM0…

screen /dev/ttyACM0 38400

However, when I ran this command, I very briefly saw a warning displayed saying that I did not have the necessary permissions to access this device. This was my first clue as to the problem with no NMEA in OpenCPN. I re-entered the command this time running it as the “Root” user using the sudo command…

sudo screen /dev/ttyACM0 38400

This time the Screen command worked and I saw the following display…

Screen-NMEA

So it would appear that for some reason I was being denied access to the COM port devices. My first thought was that this was a problem with OpenCPN and I looked at ways to run OpenCPN as root. Fortunately advice was on hand from a Digital Yacht customer called Fulup who had previously helped me in getting OpenCPN to work with our AIT2000.

Once again Fulup’s good LINUX advice was invaluable and he highlighted that the problem lay with changes in the way the latest versions of Ubuntu set default user permissions. The COM ports use to be available to all Users but now you need dialout permissions to access them. Fulup advised that I should add my Username to the dialout Group and then I should be able to access the COM ports, without opening up a potential security risk of running OpenCPN as root.

To do this, it was necessary to open a Terminal Window again and to run the following command exactly as written, note that $LOGNAME is a shell variable and will automatically get the name of the currently logged on user;

sudo usermod -a -G dialout $LOGNAME 

So now your username has been added to the dialout group and you just need to logout and log back in again to make the changes take effect. Once logged back in, run OpenCPN to make sure you can now read data from the COM ports.

I was very pleased to find that this fixed the problem (thanks Fulup) and I now have NMEA data coming in from my AIS Transponder or my AIS Receiver. Hope this helps anyone else having similar problems on the latest 12.04 or higher versions of Ubuntu.