Discussion- Multipurpose Onboard Computers: Human Inputs - Human Outputs

Discussion in 'OnBoard Electronics & Controls' started by TerryKing, Nov 7, 2007.

  1. TerryKing
    Joined: Feb 2007
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    Location: Topsham, Vermont

    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    Note: This thread is a branch from the ongoing "Discussion- Multipurpose Onboard Computers"

    CHALLENGES:
    • POWER CONSUMPTION: Large (15-19 inches?) LCD Display: 25-50 watts or less
    • VISIBILITY: LCD display, and other lighted displays
    • SALT WATER PROOF: At helm components, buttons, switches, controls.
    • EASE OF USE: In varied lighting, underway, bad weather, waves

    IDEAS AND DIRECTIONS:
    • PROTECTION: At-Helm Controls and Displays 100% behind sealed .125 inch Lexan plastic panel
    • NOTE: Steering, Engine controls conventional: not included.
    • DISPLAY: Wide LCD Display (1440x900 or more) for both NAV and Systems Monitoring. Mounted, oriented for daylight visibility. Integrated with Switches, Light displays.
    • SWITCHES-CONTROLS: Large touch-switch controls just behind the Lexan panel.
    • DISPLAYS: Both on-screen 'instruments' such as Engine Monitoring, and behind-panel lights and probably bright LED-Character display(s)
    • NOTE: Underway, most interaction with NAV Software display, calling up systems monitoring displays, controlling systems and lights etc. is done with touch switches on large panel, NOT with mouse, or touch-screen.
    • MOUSE / KEYBOARD options, mainly for use when stopped, include available weatherproof mouselike devices, 'waterproof' keyboards.
     
  2. TerryKing
    Joined: Feb 2007
    Posts: 595
    Likes: 25, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 289
    Location: Topsham, Vermont

    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    Other Contributors.. please check in!

    Some of the people who contributed to this subject in the past were:

    • MyDauphin: Gauges and displays
    • SAE140: Displays

    This was on a quick look through the thread, not a Hollywood-Legal set of credits, so please don't beat me up if I missed you! Just jump in and comment/suggest/critique.
     
  3. TerryKing
    Joined: Feb 2007
    Posts: 595
    Likes: 25, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 289
    Location: Topsham, Vermont

    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    What The Helmsman might see...

    Here's a first-pass at what a helms(person) might see, based on my prejudices of wanting real big buttons that I can hit underway in Weather, and wanting lots of options without the clutter of a 747 dashboard.

    This shows an LCD Display surrounded on 3 sides by touch switches and bright LED Displays. This attempt came out with a total panel size of 22 inches (56 cm) wide and 12.5 inches (32 cm) high. Of that, the LCD panel (19 inches diagonal) is 16 inches (40 cm) wide and 10 inches (26 cm) high. The LCD Display portion is outlined with a black dashed line. The intention is that the entire panel is a Lexan (PolyCarbonate) sheet of .125 to .25 inches thickness, that can be sealed at the edges and mounted so that the back surfaces are either inside the cabin or protected area, or in a sealed box. I would like this panel to be able to take a thrown baseball or a splash of sea water with no ill effects.

    If a low-cost LCD display is to be used, this panel almost has to be mounted above the helmsman's normal line of vision, oriented so that it never gets direct sunlight. With a more-expensive sunlight-readable trans-reflective display, it could go anywhere. But we see many high end boats with overhead displays these days.

    OK, here's how this might work (See the diagram below):

    [​IMG]

    The LCD Display portion is outlined with a black dashed line. The area around it on 3 sides has a color printed legend behind the plastic panel, with a printed-circuit board sandwiched tightly against the back of the panel.

    There are 3 kinds of areas in that outer area:

    1. Large (Almost 1 inch) Capacitive Touch Switches
    2. Bright Individual LEDs that can change Red-Yellow-Green
    3. A bright LED-Character display, primarily for high-priority alarms

    There is a combination of dedicated never-changing switches (across the bottom and for the NAV software controls --not detailed yet---) and a row of 12 "Soft" switches whose function changes to support a larger number of less-often-used functions.

    The lowest section of the LCD Display changes depending on the function being done. USUALLY it will have the typical Engine Monitoring displays: RPM, Oil, Temperatures, etc. In nice big characters.

    But, notice the two buttons on either side of the "MONITOR/CONTROL DISPLAY AREA". The right button is labeled "MONITOR". It works like this:

    If it is touched for 1 second or more the default engine displays will come back.

    If it is pushed once, quickly, a different set of variables will be displayed in place of the Engine Monitors. This might be detailed engine temperatures, fuel pressure, exhaust temp, drivetrain temps etc, or it might be detailed power monitoring of voltages and currents in different systems. Or it might be the weather or environment sensors. If it is pushed quickly over and over again, it will "Scroll" through the defined sets of Monitoring variables, each of which has it's own labelled display. Pushing it quickly twice "Scrolls Down". Holding it for 1 or 2 seconds always brings the default Engine Monitoring back.

    The "CONTROL" button on the left side is similar, but brings up sets of labels for the row if 12 "Soft" buttons just below it. These buttons will do the action displayed on the LCD Labels. This might be detailed control of onboard power systems, heating/cooling, lighting, winches, transfer pumps, etc. Again, pushing the CONTROL button repeatedly can scroll through sets of control actions for the 12 "Soft" buttons. One set would control the onboard computer F keys, from F1 through F12. Holding the control button for 1 or 2 seconds would again return the default Engine display.

    The upper right area could be a "Mimic" panel, with a bow-to-stern drawing of the boat, and labelled LEDs for different functions such as bilge pumps, tank level warnings, lighting active, doors open, bilge level alarms etc. This is intended to give the status of the boat at a glance, and show which area is involved. Many big boats and all Nuclear Reactors have these.

    I saw some cool, really bright LED Character displays recently, and I'd like to try one as the "Priority Alarm" display. Now, the LCD Display has an Alarm Display Area right next to it, but I'm still playing...

    The dedicated switches across the bottom would be for the most-commonly-used and most important controls, like NAV lights, pilothouse lights, emergency power, force bilge pumps on, etc.

    A couple quick discussion items:

    Capacitive Touch Switches: I have been researching these for a while, and have some prototype kits. Cypress has a line that they have done a lot of research on, and they have told me that they have tested them with a splash and sea water running down the panel. They are quite reliable even under those conditions. I am also looking at methods using PIC or other microcomputers. The large buttons also really increase reliability. From a human factors perspective, it would be ideal to have an added plastic bezel that created a surrounding ridge around each switch location, to help feel the location, when getting "ready to press". I worked on control panels years ago at IBM, which benefited from those bezels, in our tests, compared to a flat touch-switch panel like you see at McDonalds. Of course it's more difficult to clean off the ketchup.

    Why not Touch Panels? So far, I've heard quite a few horror stories about short lifespans of touch-screen marine devices. And they are expensive, and are hard to protect from the weather. You can't 'touch' most of them through 1.8 inch of plastic. I'm trying to make this low-cost but reliable.

    Software. Oh, did I tell you I don't know how to do some of this stuff yet :p But I know that software can send keystrokes to Win-XP or Win-XP-Embedded. Some button-presses need to go to NAV software. I want that to be reliable and intuitive, so I'd like dedicated buttons to the left of the NAV screen just for that.

    But Software Is Good, and can allow this approach to be customized for different DIY or retrofit situations.

    And there are 79 or 200 other software questions, too.. But software is easy to change, but there is a lot to all this, no question.
     
  4. TerryKing
    Joined: Feb 2007
    Posts: 595
    Likes: 25, Points: 28, Legacy Rep: 289
    Location: Topsham, Vermont

    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    Placeholder1

    temporary
     
  5. thekl0wn
    Joined: Dec 2007
    Posts: 9
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    Location: PoCo, IN

    thekl0wn I'm Afraid of Water!

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

    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    ScreenKeys LCD buttons

    These look very cool. I asked them for prices; a little scary when a product has no prices on the site. I few years ago I looked at using these and they were $75 per button...
     

  7. thekl0wn
    Joined: Dec 2007
    Posts: 9
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    Location: PoCo, IN

    thekl0wn I'm Afraid of Water!

    I want to say that it was posted over on MP3car.com (where I got the idea from), and I believe it was $50, but I can't remember if that was per button or per unit... I've been looking for a project to use these, but I'm afraid it would have to be a paying project! :rolleyes:
     
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