Now the basics were understood and SignalK and OpenCPN were setup to gather data from the boats navigational systems, it was clear that more could be done. AIS and engine data were two areas that could be explored further, however, the Pi3 was a little sluggish when trying to run a web browser and OpenCPN at the same time. Cooling was also an issue so it was time to address this before expanding the project.
With speed and cooling addressed, it was time to add an AIS receiver to OpenPlotter so that this data could be overlayed on the charts. This uses a cheap USB software-defined radio and minimal setup in the application. To improve the range of the radio, we upgraded our VHF/FM splitter to an AIS/VHF/FM splitter which is available in another video on our channel.
With the increased performance of the Pi4 and now AIS, this information can be streamed from OpenPlotter over to other applications such as Navionics. In this video we set that up and show the options if you want to export other data to different software or hardware that might be running on your boat.
To digitise the engine aboard Allegra, it was going to need some additional sensors as its a mechanical design with no computer or ECU. To achieve this we used an ESP32 and a project framework called SensESP. Below was the criteria to build this:
This video walks through the process of building the base code.
The project required some additional engine sensors in order to meet the above which could be different if you wanted to copy the setup. This video shows the sensors we used to get that information out of the engine. It also covers some of the calibrations that were required to make the information accruate.
Now that hardware is up and running and the information is accurate, it was time to finalise this installation.
Link to the SensESP project https://signalk.org/SensESP/pages/getting_started/
The code that's running on our ESP32 https://github.com/Boatingwiththebaileys/ESP32-code
OpenPlotter v3 has now been released which supports a 64-bit operating system. It has been rewritten from the ground up and is faster than ever. In this video, we cover the points you need to consider when you upgrade and look at what's changed if you are new to this software.
In this video, we look at how you can prioritise data if you have multiple devices sending similar information to SignalK. This is a feature of OpenPlotter 3 and can be very useful when sharing this data with applications such as OpenCPN which doesn't like receiving more than one set of GPS coordinates for example.
The engine project now includes bilge monitoring which can be adapted to your requirements. Any switch sensor can be used to trigger something and give you an alert or notification. Have a look at this video if you want to add this to your project.
We have wanted to get AIS information on the C80 display for some time now. This video shows you how to link equipment such as this to your OpenPlotter system and share the data.
This is set to be the best board to integrate a Raspberry Pi to your boat electronics, The MacArthur Hat from OpenMarine. We get a test board and show some of whats possible.
Following our electronics upgrade, we now have an NMEA2000 network, which means we can share even more information between devices. Here we share engine information with a Raymarine Axiom and also set up the fuel manager which can help predict fuel usage.
The above diagram shows how the instrument network and the Pi sensors and circuits are set up on Allegra. With the Pi running WiFi, the ESP32 can connect wirelessly from the engine compartment and data can be shared with tablets and phones over the same network. The introduction of an NMEA2000 network means that data can now be shared with the Axiom display.