Interest in NMEA to WiFi? - SailNet Community
 
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Interest in NMEA to WiFi?

Question to all -

Would you want a little black box (a mini-computer) that provided NMEA 0183 bridge services (multiport, moving data between ports, translating/filtering) and teed off NMEA data over WiFi (to untether the laptop with chart software from the rest of the system)?

If you would - would you pay for it? What would something like that be worth to you? (Yes, this is market research on a shoestring )
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post #2 of 10 Old 03-23-2009
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You can already do that using off the shelf software, at least for Windows-based systems.

10 years ago, I was using virtualized serial ports over ethernet to feed data terminals over a WAN... this is nothing more complicated. Granted, the serial ports I was using were RS-422 for a Tandem mainframe, but that doesn't really matter.

You would need a computer or hardware box to handle the virtualization that had the serial port with the NMEA input/output and a WiFi card in it...but you could easily use a MicroATX motherboard car computer do that. Then you would use an Ad-hoc WiFi network setup to communicate with the laptop.

Or, you could use an ethernet port on the MicroATX box and feed the WAN port of a WiFi router, and then just use the WiFi in infrastructure mode with the laptop... or if you have a NanoStation 2 onboard, you could run that into the router's WAN port and then use the LAN side for all the data—either via WiFi, ethernet or a combination of the two.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by brak View Post
Question to all -

Would you want a little black box (a mini-computer) that provided NMEA 0183 bridge services (multiport, moving data between ports, translating/filtering) and teed off NMEA data over WiFi (to untether the laptop with chart software from the rest of the system)?

If you would - would you pay for it? What would something like that be worth to you? (Yes, this is market research on a shoestring )
Why not just use a serial <--> bluetooth converter then you don't even have to rewrite the software or add drivers, you just pretend it is directly connected via a serial port. Better anyway since nobody ships laptops with actual serial ports on them anymore, you wouldn't need a serial/usb converter to change rs232 to usb.

What are you pretending not to know ?

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Last edited by wind_magic; 03-23-2009 at 05:07 PM.
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post #4 of 10 Old 03-23-2009 Thread Starter
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Sure, this can be done with a computer but what I am asking about is specifically not a general purpose computer. The design is for a "little black box" - a device with a specific purpose in life.

To answer a second point, it would have serial ports (probably in a clip/rj or screw terminal configuration), so there should be no need for USB. The idea is essentially to marry a small NMEA bridge with a bit more "brains" to a WiFi device and free the onboard laptop from having to be tethered or act as an NMEA router.

Serial to bluetooth answers some of that, to be sure - but it does not act as an nmea bridge (though of course it may be possible to tack it onto another NMEA bridge/multiport) and bluetooth range is somewhat less than WiFi.

That said, the question is not whether there are "ways to do this" - there always is more than one way to do things, especially when it comes to communication and electronics. The question is whether this specific concept seems appealing to anyone

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post #5 of 10 Old 03-23-2009
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Originally Posted by brak View Post
That said, the questions is not whether there are "ways to do this" - there always is more than one way to do things, especially when it comes to communication and electronics. The question is whether this specific concept seems appealing to anyone
Success would depend on getting vendor software to recognize the data in IP form, that means writing or supplying drivers - unless you are talking about writing charting software too in which case this conversation will become much more interesting to me.

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post #6 of 10 Old 03-23-2009 Thread Starter
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Success would depend on getting vendor software to recognize the data in IP form, that means writing or supplying drivers - unless you are talking about writing charting software too in which case this conversation will become much more interesting to me.
Most available chart/ECS packages support NMEA over TCP or UDP (or both) (well, at least all those that I had a chance to explore, MacENC, Coastal Explorer, Fugawi, Maxsea, and many others).

For the rest (if they exist), it is trivial to provide serial to TCP gateway, so if there was an interest per se, we'd certainly come up with a complete solution if the software side would be best served in this manner.

That said, it will also talk to our own ECS software, but this is beside the point (and for practical purposes we can assume it does not - I don't expect current users to drop their favorite ECS system).

That said, I'd say that extrapolating from Sailnet total user population, any less than, say, 20-30 answers of "yeh, this sounds like a nice device to get" would probably indicate the market is not there.

Last edited by brak; 03-23-2009 at 05:31 PM.
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-23-2009
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Something like this? Wi232 Serial RS232
to 802.11b/g WiFi on Sale $199.95, 2 for $390.00, 5 for $925.00 1-800-975-4743 USA

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Most available chart/ECS packages support NMEA over TCP or UDP (or both) (well, at least all those that I had a chance to explore, MacENC, Coastal Explorer, Fugawi, Maxsea, and many others).

For the rest (if they exist), it is trivial to provide serial to TCP gateway, so if there was an interest per se, we'd certainly come up with a complete solution if the software side would be best served in this manner.

That said, it will also talk to our own ECS software, but this is beside the point (and for practical purposes we can assume it does not - I don't expect current users to drop their favorite ECS system).

That said, I'd say that extrapolating from Sailnet total user population, any less than, say, 20-30 answers of "yeh, this sounds like a nice device to get" would probably indicate the market is not there.
I think you could probably sell some of them, but someone who sells boat gadgets could really tell you. I see you think your market is tether free in the cockpit, etc, but I've always thought the real appeal of a wireless bus on a boat will end up being for lightning protection.

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One company makes an NMEA 0183 mux that has built in bluetooth, as I've pointed out in previous posts. However, WiFi is more common and longer ranged than is BlueTooth.

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Originally Posted by wind_magic View Post
Why not just use a serial <--> bluetooth converter then you don't even have to rewrite the software or add drivers, you just pretend it is directly connected via a serial port. Better anyway since nobody ships laptops with actual serial ports on them anymore, you wouldn't need a serial/usb converter to change rs232 to usb.

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post #10 of 10 Old 03-23-2009 Thread Starter
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Well, yes and no.

I guess I should have been more specific. We have an NMEA router software, which is being written for a different purpose. It is a multiport, multiprotocol software router that allows policy based NMEA message passing/processing/delivery. I.e., to trivialize this a bit, you can say that messages RMC and GLL from Port 1 are to be delivered to ports 3 and 4, but not to 2, and if port 1 is idle then messages RMC and GLL are to be taken from port 2. Or anything else that can be expressed as a message policy. The product supports serial, IP (and other) delivery methods.

As a side effect, it is possible to build an embedded device with the same functionality, add wi-fi link, package it as a single product and provide actual NMEA to wi-fi support.

The value, if any, is in the fact that it is a self-contained device, can keep all on-board NMEA talkers happily talking to each other, and let the navigation laptop go from cockpit to cabin or be turned off completely, without disruption to the rest of the system.

That said, whether this "value" is something someone wants or existing solutions are sufficient is precisely what I am trying to see
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