TCP Connection Problems on Apple iOS 10

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Since Apple’s release of iOS 10 for iPhones and iPads, we have been getting a number of calls and emails saying that various navigational Apps that read wireless NMEA data from our products have stopped working, including our free iAIS app.

There are two modes/protocols that our wireless NMEA products can work in; TCP which is a reliable one to one type connection supported by most apps and UDP which is a broadcast protocol that allows multiple devices to all receive the same data.

When we started to investigate, we found that TCP communication on all Apps no longer worked with iOS 10 and UDP only worked on some apps. At first we thought this might have been an Apple API type change that had caused the problem, but then we discovered that changing the IP address of our wireless NMEA products from 169.254.1.1 to 192.168.1.1 fixed the problem.

The 169.254.1.1 IP address range is usually reserved for Ad-Hoc networks where there is no DHCP server and dates back to our first iAIS product (released in 2011) that only supported Ad-Hoc networks. With the release of Android, which did not support Ad-Hoc networks, we updated our wireless NMEA products to the more common Access Point mode but retained the 169.254.1.1 IP address, to avoid changing too many Apps and Documentation.

Now it seems that Apple are clamping down on TCP connections on Ad-Hoc networks and this means that all customers who have updated their iPhone or iPad to iOS 10, will need to change the IP address of their wireless NMEA product, if they have one of our; iAIS, WLN10, WLN10HS, WLN20, NavLink, PilotLink or AIT3000 units. Please note that our iNavHub and Sonar Server products are not affected by the iOS change.

To make this procedure as easy and simple as possible, we have created a new Tech Note that explains what needs to be done. Click here to download.

 

SailRacer App now with Charts on Android and iOS

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When we updated our Android Apps listing last month, we were given some advanced information that SailRacer the popular tactical yacht racing app, was soon to be getting a major upgrade to support navigational charts. True to their word, this week new Android and iOS versions of SailRacer will be released that allow users to overlay all of their race marks, layline and wind information on a navigational chart.

Of particular interest is the new chart upload feature that allows you to scan or take a photo of a paper chart of the race location and to then quickly align the chart with your precise race marks using the powerful “map center” feature. Traditionally SailRacer has plotted the racing marks on a blank track plotter type screen, but now with the addition of nautical charts, a whole new layer of essential local geographical detail is available to give you the edge in your tactical decision making.

The new Apps will be available from the Google Play or the Apple App Store later this week or you can visit http://www.sailracer.net to learn more. An interesting video to show how you upload your own charts to Sail Racer can be seen here.

Both apps are compatible with Digital Yacht’s wireless NMEA servers.

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.

Testing Wireless NMEA Data

iAIS TCP-IP Screen

 

With more and more wireless NMEA systems being installed on-board boats, it is very useful for dealers, installers and enthusiastic end users to have simple tools to “view” this wireless NMEA data.

Traditionally, wired NMEA0183 data was viewed using an NMEA to USB cable connected to a PC and then a program such as Hyperterminal (included with Windows up to WinXP) would be used to display the data. In fact Digital Yacht released a free, dedicated NMEA Display program to use on Windows Vista/7/8 and this proved to be a popular tool for testing wired NMEA0183 systems.

With wireless NMEA systems it is much easier to test using a smart phone or tablet and we would recommend the following free apps;

For Apple iOS Devices – our own free iAIS app (see image above) has a very simple raw data view window that can be used to display the wireless NMEA data in TCP or UDP mode. Alternatively iNMEA Logger is another free app, written by the company that developed the popular iRegatta App that can log 30 seconds of received data and create a text file of the results, useful if you do not understand NMEA0183 and want to send it to someone who does.

For Android Devices – there are no specific wireless NMEA Apps, but there are a lot of terminal programs that display TCP and UDP data and after trawling through a fair number of apps, we came across TCP/UDP Terminal App which we think is the best Android App found so far.

Once you have installed your app for displaying wireless NMEA data, then you need to know what you are looking at. To buy the NMEA0183 Specification costs quite a lot of money but there is quite a lot of data on-line, you just need to hunt it out.

Unfortunately a lot of the information on-line is quite old and some of the newer sentences are not fully explained. The NMEA do in fact publish a complete list of all Sentence Identifiers with a short description of what they are (not the complete sentence description) and this list also includes the proprietary Manufacturer’s ID – these sentences start $Pxxx, where xxx = the manufacturer identifier.

It should be noted that most wireless NMEA data is “human readable” (ASCII Text) but the AIS sentences VDM and VDO have what is called a “binary encapsulated” section (bit like a zip file) to reduce the sentence length – see example below.

!AIVDM,1,1,,A,13P;QeO001wrdB`M28kpmCa<0Ua0,0*5D
!AIVDO,1,1,,,B00000@00ovdqaWAUv“CwkUsP06,0*20

This means that you will not be able to make sense of the AIS target information in the VDM and VDO messages, but our free iAIS app does display this information on the main plotter screen, so worth having a copy of this app.

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.

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.