can't find suitable software

Discussion in 'OnBoard Electronics & Controls' started by just cruising, May 10, 2007.

  1. just cruising
    Joined: May 2007
    Posts: 5
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Western Australia

    just cruising just cruising

    Hi guys, this may be so stupid but still I cannot find any suitable software or package to do the following.
    I have a computer that I am preparing for my sailboat, what I need is some suitable software that can be installed on it to manage most, if not all my instrumentation.
    Such as gps, water levels in tanks, fuel levels, depth, wind, and the list goes on.
    What I also would like to do is incorporate such other things as potentiometers which may be connected to anodes etc, hour meters for main motor, as wishlist stuff..
    I have a laptop which has 20 gig hd 1gig ram etc. I also have attached serial port, parallel port, usb connections.
    I suppose I am looking for a black box where all the data from the instruments are channeled to and then have the ability to monitor and record what is and has been happening, via my computer.
    I suppose the computer could well be the "black box" I just need some direction of how to do this, maybe someone out there has gone this far and maybe I am stupid as it obviously has been done, but in an economical frame... I dont know...I just cannot find anything as I have been surfing around and just chasing my tail basically....any help would be appreciated...
     
  2. Hank Rosendal
    Joined: Oct 2006
    Posts: 10
    Likes: 2, Points: 3, Legacy Rep: 30
    Location: West Australia

    Hank Rosendal not old enough for some things, too old for others

    Yes, when you find out, let me know too. I have not looked seriously, but often wondered what my computer could do, rather than a dozen or so different instruments.
     
  3. SeaSpark
    Joined: Mar 2006
    Posts: 593
    Likes: 17, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 96
    Location: Holland

    SeaSpark -

  4. SeaSpark
    Joined: Mar 2006
    Posts: 593
    Likes: 17, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 96
    Location: Holland

    SeaSpark -

  5. TerryKing
    Joined: Feb 2007
    Posts: 595
    Likes: 25, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 289
    Location: Topsham, Vermont

    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    Onboard Computer Interfaces to The Real World

    You can do this, but only because of your sig :cool:

    Seriously, you will be learning some new stuff. Actually LOTS of it..

    Take at look at the beginning of a Wiki here at:
    http://www.boatdesign.net/wiki/Onboard_Computers

    Which is still somewhat of an outline.. See the section on "Onboard Computer Sensor and Control Interfaces"

    Uh-Oh, not much there yet!!!

    I don't know of an ideal off-the-shelf system yet, but I am going to be seriously working on it over the next 3 to 6 months. I just got to the US yesterday after 3 years living in Africa, and I'm working on an onboard computer system for a yet-to-be-determined boat in Shekou, China this Fall.

    Bluntly,I don't know how to do this (effectively and inexpensively) yet. But I have lots of years of experience in 'sensor-based-systems' and 'control systems' and we're gonna figure out how.

    If you HAD to do it off-the-shelf now you'd need to buy NMEA network devices for each function,and commercial software to run them. There's a little on the WIKI about that.

    Anyone else into this?? I'd like to have some cooperative effort into a DIY solution. It probably would have a microcomputer or two doing the interfacing, talking to a higher-end onboard computer system with all the human interface stuff.

    OK. More when I actually get home to my Log Cabin in Vermont and get DSL running...

    This will be interesting.
     
  6. Portager
    Joined: May 2002
    Posts: 418
    Likes: 13, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 325
    Location: Southern California

    Portager Senior Member

    There are many solutions to this problem if you just know what to look for. Basically what you want is either digital input/output or analog to digital or digital conversion (ADC) or digital to analog conversion (DAC which is the most common form even if it is really ADC because DAC is easier to pronounce and remember), so search for digital I/O or DAC and specify what form factor. The form factor would usually be a PCI card, PC104, ... but what will probably work the best for you, since you mentioned a laptop is a USB form factor. Here is one example http://www.accesio.com/go.cgi?p=../usb/usb-iiro-16.html .

    Keep in mind that every gadget you add to the boat has the potential to fail, which means increased maintenance. Generally the simplest system is the most reliable, so resist the temptation to add bells and whistles that are not needed.

    Try and use digital I/O (basically on/off or open/closed) sensors whenever possible (they are simpler and cheaper) and I would recommend opto-isolated I/O circuits. Opto-isolated I/O uses a light emitting diode and a photo-sensitive sensor to provide electrically isolated digital switching, which provides immunity to conducted or induced pulses that might otherwise damage sensitive circuitry. Opto-isolated I/O costs a little more that non-isolated I/O but if you ever need to replace the PC you will wish you have used opto-isolated I/O in the first place.

    You can also get DAC and ADC in a USB box here is a sample http://www.accesio.com/go.cgi?p=../usb/usb-ai16-16.html .

    Many of these devices also include relays that can provide up to 1 amp of power output. This can be used to power low current devices or it can be used as an activation signal to turn on a power supply for a higher power device. Theoretically, the relays could be used to activate anything on the boat.
     
  7. marshmat
    Joined: Apr 2005
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    Location: Ontario

    marshmat Senior Member

    National Instruments http://www.ni.com/ has some software packages that might be of interest here. Their LabView system is very popular and relatively easy to use; I use it mainly to collect data from physics instrumentation but I suspect it could be made to collect and present data from marine instruments. It can easily be made to process just about any analog or simple digital signal protocol. No GPS or NMEA2000 support that I know of but I have been told that coding custom interfaces for NI LabView is relatively easy. On the pricey, dedicated marine side, Raymarine's H6 integrated onboard computer system can do almost all of what you want, straight out of the box, and they are still adding more features to it. A tad more expensive than your old laptop though.
     

  8. just cruising
    Joined: May 2007
    Posts: 5
    Likes: 0, Points: 0, Legacy Rep: 10
    Location: Western Australia

    just cruising just cruising

    Thanks marshmat, this looks as though it may just do the job, however it does need a little tweaking to the display I have been told...but nevertheless looks promising... much appreciated.. they are sending me information and possible alternatives to the standard for customising to marine use....
     
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