ReTread the Old Coder's Head ??

Discussion in 'OnBoard Electronics & Controls' started by TerryKing, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. TerryKing
    Joined: Feb 2007
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    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    Power to the GPS!

    This is very interesting. There are two really different power budget models here:

    1. Any kind of power boat, that can charge batteries and run devices (say at least a few amps at 12 volts).

    2. Cruising and long-term voyage Sailboats (or possibly rowed boats!).. That depend primarily on battery power and can recharge batteries only occasionally (with an auxiliary engine or generator, or Solar Power).

    In either case, the project I'm prototyping now is intended to provide a full-featured onboard computer than can do navigation and many other tasks, but with low power. Right now I'm at 12 watts for the system unit and disk drive. The display is a variable that I need to research more.

    I'm testing "Hibernate Mode" on this system running WIN-XP, 1 Ghz processor, 1GB RAM, 80 GB hard drive. The idea is that a cruising sailboat "Out in the wide blue" doesn't need NAV software running all the time. The system now will "Hibernate" (save complete state of the machine and running applications, and then turn completely off) in 14 seconds. It can then be totally off for, say, 10 minutes or more, and then "Wake Up" with all applications running in 18 seconds. It think it could run for a LONG time on a typical house battery in this 'power-scrounging' mode.

    masalai, NOW: GPS is another story. I think heading and maybe position need to be there 100 percent, and independent of any computer stuff. I was thinking of a separate battery for GPS. But a Solar-Charged GPS sounds really interesting! I'll look at the information you posted, and get in touch.

    I'd be interested in how well the Bluetooth Wireless stuff handles the Hibernate-WakeUp sequence. I can get a Bluetooth interface for this machine easily here in China (Or the US when I'm home in late December for a bit). I met a guy here who specializes in BlueTooth stuff in the electronics market.. and he even speaks some English!

    I think this is a very interesting era when so much hardware and software is coming together. (Onboard)...
     
  2. Tim B
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    Tim B Senior Member

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  3. TerryKing
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    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    Gauging my Brain....

    Very interesting. Tim.. I have to get QT4 and put on my C++ Beanie, I think.

    As much as I'd sorta like a finished Gauge library and all, I really like the idea of the amount of control it seems there is, looking quickly at the code.

    I already have so many things I don't understand yet, I may as well add this :cool:
     
  4. TerryKing
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    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    Patch

    Wow, that was fast!! OK, I gotta get going on this I guess...
     
  5. Tim B
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    Tim B Senior Member

    If we were building a gauge library, I'd use a single widget for each gauge, with different types of gauge being LCD/TAPE/Circular. The code to draw the gauge is held within the widget so that the API call to the gauge is something like "mygauge->setValue(15)"

    That's not too hard to do from the above code.

    Tim B.
     
  6. TerryKing
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    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    Reusing Widgets

    Tim, does that imply that a "Widget" is reuseable, as in having multiple instances of the same-looking gauge on one page?

    I'd like to be able to define a few 'standard' gauges for things like temperatures, pressures, etc. But maybe the background colors could be different? I don't want something gaudy, but I've seen some panels with slightly different background colors that seem to make it easy to glance over and tell which is which. Maybe they could flash red if an alarm setpoint was hit.

    The screen layout I did was based on a panel on a larger boat, set above the line of sight. It would be reversed if mounted 'dashboard' position, so the gauges would be right at the edge of the sight-line. Probably.

    I'm feeling that it's probably worth the effort to do this GUI in a OS-Neutral environment like QT4, so someone could port this to Linux etc. later.

    Thanks for the leg-up on this!
     
  7. TerryKing
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    TerryKing On The Water SOON

  8. Tim B
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    Tim B Senior Member

    Terry,

    You're bang on. a widget is just a "module" that can be used multiple times (within any form you like).

    I have been working to improve the standard gauge a bit, and widgetise it. I'm currently developing under Linux, but it should port easily to Win32.

    The great advantage of QT4 is that if you're reasonably careful, the UI can be developed under both Win32 and Linux AT THE SAME TIME!

    Cheers,

    Tim B.

    PS. Has anyone thought of a name for this yet?
     
  9. Tim B
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    Tim B Senior Member

    Ok, I have written the gauge into a fairly general widget. It needs a little house-keeping (tidying the code and documenting) but that is basically all. Adding new gauge-plates and arrows should be pretty simple. I'll try to get a documented update out by the end of tonight (not promising though).

    Oh, and it works under Linux AND Win32! if anyone wants to port it to a MAC???

    Cheers All,

    Tim B.

    Here's a piccy to show the versatility of this system
     

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  10. Tim B
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    Tim B Senior Member

    I'm being abnormally prolific this weekend, but anyway...

    Here is the Gauge class (documented) and a sample program that uses it. These will compile on Windows or Linux.

    Cheers,

    Tim B.
     

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  11. masalai
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    masalai masalai

    Have you had a look at "gpsdrive" documentation? I feel that with a little modification it could serve both sail and power users for Nav and fuel/engine monitoring etc apart from nav, and the ability to use almost any image format as a chart, I would like gps functions such as VMG to windward OR a waypoint, fuel efficiency (GPH or liters/nautical mile) and fuel burned since last reset, and of course lat/lon, log (hours & miles) etc.

    That GPS can be run whilst plugged in for charging and will store lots of history. It comes with a usb dongle for bluetooth communication I bought as a separate item.

    Send me a PM or direct when ready
    Regards
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2007
  12. TerryKing
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    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    Time is Right...

    "Jeezum Crow !" as they say in rural Vermont, USA...

    You guys are amazing!

    I just started to read on QT4 and download it, and Tim has a "working class" done!

    And Masalai turns me on to GPSdrive. I'd heard about it some time ago. But now it is also real and working!

    It seems like this is the right time in many ways for a good DIY Open Source project for a versatile onboard computer system. The hardware (12 watt 1 GHz X86 system boards, and notebook hard drives) at good prices, is there. The Operating Systems (if we count 'TinyXP') are there and are low-no cost.

    The software is the main development work, and that can be the kind of cooperative effort we're already seeing.

    Off the shelf NMEA hardware (Like CruzPro etc) can be used, but I want to continue the DIY approach to NMEA multiplexers with sensor options for engine and onboard systems monitoring. The time is also right for that, I think, with PIC 24F 16-bit microcomputers at low cost. But there's some work to be done there, for sure.

    The hardware for Human Interface is the other main effort. There are lots of LCD Display options, and I need to work on that. Especially the display power issue, for sail cruisers. Powerboats no problem... I'm pretty much against touch screens as they exist now, for the hostile marine environment. I want the at-helm display and controls to be 100% sea water splash proof, and that means some hardware development for touch-panel capability. But this is the year that Cypress, PIC and FreeScale all are suddenly pitching their new Touch-Panel capability, so that's workable.

    I think I'll buy another $56 2.5" hard drive to swap in with Linux running on it, so I can try both systems easily.

    So, I basically see an existing NAV software package like GPSdrive, Ozi, etc. for each OS, and (probably QT4-based) display software around/beside it on screen.

    Masalai, I'll be in PM touch about the GPS. I'll read up on it. Are you running GPSdrive anywhere now??

    Tim, I'll be in PM touch also, about QT4. I was gifted with some QT4 book by someone else on the net, and wonder about your info/learning curve.

    This is very cool.. I think we're motivating each other to keep going on this for the long haul... I know I am!
     
  13. TerryKing
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    TerryKing On The Water SOON

    Adding functions...

    This is the kind of area where I think there's some real value we can add. The ability to relate incoming information to logged information, and derive new data from other parameters (like VMG) , fuel efficiency, operating trends, etc. is really valuable. And being able to go back and view logs as graphs, or pull the data into a (perhaps predetermined) Spreadsheet etc. is a great capability. (At anchor, of course! or someone else on another networked machine on a larger boat)...

    So there's a lot to think about here, like log file formats etc...

    My idea on the display / button thing (where the set of gauges/info is usually engine etc) but two touch 'buttons' scroll through sets of data, would be good if the user could preset some sets of data like the ones you are talking about.

    I've seen operators of complex computer-based tools in the Semiconductor factory I worked on quickly scroll thru displays like this. They quickly learn that a particular set of data is shown if they scroll down 3. So I see them reach up their gloved hand with a quick click-click-click and look at the data they want. Then they either click to other data or go back to something else and after 10 seconds or so, the 'default' data reappears. Many other machines were typical menu-driven and they didn't like those after experiencing the quick-scroll interface.

    mmm.. lots to think about and explore.
     
  14. masalai
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: cruising, Australia

    masalai masalai

    Yes Terry, have gps on and running using a garmin 60 handhald. which is recognised by gpsdrive. I am not programming. I use a clevo m67 with a slow intel everything cpu, nvidia graphics (7300 128mB) driving 17" 1920 x 1200 lcd (the horrible glossy kind)

    Yhe gps and bluetooth dongle are yours waiting PM. I downloaded gpsdrive, do you want me to burn a copy or will you download your own.?
     

  15. masalai
    Joined: Oct 2007
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    Location: cruising, Australia

    masalai masalai

    Terry we both posted about the same time, How about 2 or more screens with individual power so when not needed switch off the screen. I am not real keen on intel for linux interfacing on sleep and other powersaving functions but seems to work out of the box with AMD & now they own ATI graphics are easier to sort out.

    Clevo seem very unhelpful and seem to ignor individual contacts, however I have been very satisfied with the information available from the website where I bought both my machines www.pioneercomputers.com.au it is well categorised for most things from the "products" page except for non-glossy screens, which are next to useless in daylight let alone bright light situations.

    If you find an amd machine similar to mine with matte finish screen, let me know?

    Mice are cheap, sacrifice one instead of a touch screen, particularly optical mice, can work on most surfaces.
     
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