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Case Study - 40ft Clipper Cruiser installation

Clipper 40 Instrument connections

This is a case study of how an iKommunicate has been connected to the existing electronics onboard a Clipper 40 cruiser.   Some electronics have been left out of the images to aid in simplicity.  

The existing electronics on the Clipper 40 consisted of a pair of Raymarine C120 and C80 chartplotters, depth, log, wind instruments and a Raymarine Smartpilot autopilot controller.  Additionally, a DSC VHF radio and Em-trak B100 AIS transceiver are installed.  

The Raymarine instruments are connected via the Seatalk bus to both displays as well as the autopilot.  The Em-trak AIS performs multiplexing duties for the various NMEA0183 inputs and outputs required. The Raymarine is configured to output a range of NMEA strings also (this allows Seatalk data to be available over NMEA)  

The iKommunicate has multiple NMEA0183 inputs and in our case we utilised two of them.  One was tied to the NMEA0183 (4800 baud) data coming from the Em-trak which includes all the multiplexed data on the network excluding the AIS data.  The second input on the iKommunicate was set to 38400 baud for use with AIS data and this was connected to the output from the Em-trak AIS unit.  
Although possible, no outputs from the iKommunicate have been wired to (required if autopilot control is desired).

The NMEA2000 connection on the iKommunicate was not utilised.  The iKommunicate is powered from the boats 12v supply via its own circuit breaker switch.  The iKommunicate is then connected to the Wi-Fi access point via an standard computer ethernet (network) cable.  I found a nice Wi-Fi unit on E-bay and I'd suggest if you are looking to do the same, its wise to chose one which will operate from a 12v supply and includes the ability to add/change to an external antenna (for greater range depending on where you can install the accesspoint).  For this install the access point is located beside the lower helm station within a cable duct and the stubby antenna works very well all over the boat.  We have a package available which includes the iKommunicate and iNavConnect (Wi-Fi access point) together allowing you peace of mind, knowing it will all connect and work together.  Check out the package here.

At this point the system is now usable from any Wi-Fi connected device oboard.  The Wi-Fi access point is configured like your home network.  Since there is no internet access available in this setup, you could utilise an open network to make life easier to connect.  I have however setup the network with a password.  Once you have your device connected to the Wi-Fi you are ready to start viewing data.  I utilise the NMEARemote app on my iPhone and iPad and this easily configures to connect to the iKommunicate's IP address.  From this point you can start wandering around the boat and look at whatever data you have available.  I paticularily like the large iPad display showing the current depth.  This is great for navigating into new areas and provides a quick glance view of the depth.  I also like the wind angle displays.  NMEARemote can also be configured wtih various alarms.  Check out NMEA Remote here.

After getting all the data displayed via NMEA Remote, I was keen to take things further.  The Raspberry Pi 3 is a small cheap linux based computer which are easily available nowerdays very cheaply. They are designed to connect via HDMI to a monitor, or in our case the onboard TV.  A normal USB mouse and keyboard are connected also.  The Raspberry Pi 3 model comes standard with Wi-Fi built in which makes everything easy.  The Raspberry Pi is running the open source software OpenCPN which is free.  You will just need to purchase charts for your area though as the background map is useless.   OpenCPN connects easily to the iKommunicate using NMEA over TCP.  OpenCPN is like a normal chartplotter, you can see your vessel, leave tracks, create waypoints and routes and display AIS data.  There are many plugins available also, but I won't go into that here.

The next step was to be able to mirror the OpenCPN display on the iPad and allow control of the software on the iPad.  This was achieved using a VNC app (MochaVNC) this app connects to the Raspberry Pi and simply mirrors the display onto the iPad screen.  You can utilise the touch screen on the iPad to move the chart around, and do most functions (although sometimes a little clunky).  This will improve in future with newer releases of OpenCPN.

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A nice large and easy to read wind display.


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A large depth readout is always handy when navigating new waters.  


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The portability of taking the data anywhere onboard is fantastic, even ashore if your Wi-Fi range is good enough.


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Multiple displays are available for NMEA Remote, including different colour schemes to aid in night time visibilty


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The Raspberry Pi is mounted behind the TV


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The OpenCPN display on the TV screen.  


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The iPad mirroring the display on the TV in the cabin.  This is great if you wish to keep an eye on the skippers course and position!


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 Easy to hang onto all over the boat.


This installation is just an example of whats possible.  I think the best thing to come from all this is the iKommunicate as it allows all the various forms of data flowing around your boat to be combined and put into a more digital friendly form allowing app developers and others to easily build useful apps and software to make boating safer and more fun.  

Due to the systems onboard, I have glossed over somethings here, but if you have any questions or queries about the setup or how it may work on your boat, power or sail, get in touch and we will happily lend a hand.