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Discussion Starter #1
Hi Guys!

I'm preparing a crowdfunding campaign to launch a rugged tablet dedicated to sailors. So, I’d like to have your advice.

When I bought my first sailboat, I tried to find, so as you, a good quality waterproof tablet, with a (really) sunlight readable screen, a long life battery (more than one day of sailing) and an accurate GPS. As it was almost impossible to find in the leisure area, I searched for professionals products. I'm sometimes working with Chinese suppliers, mainly in HK and Shenzhen (the Mecca of electronics). So I met suppliers and came back with different samples that I tested during the 3 last years.

I discussed with different suppliers to create a tablet which would be dedicated to sailors, and affordable for non-professionals. We mainly upgraded the screen, battery and GPS chip. Now I’m in the fine tuning phase of the tablet. The specs would be as follow:

- Rugged waterproof tablet
- Android 10 (GMS certified)
- 8inch screen – 800 cd/m2 – Wet & Glove touch – Gorilla Glass 3rd generation
- CPU: MTK octacore 64 bits MT-6771, 2.0 Ghz
- 4GB RAM + 64GB ROM
- Camera : rear 13m px autofocus, front 5m px fixed focus
- Battery: Li-ion 9800 mah
- WIFI 802.11 (a/b/g/n/ac) 2.4 + 5.8Ghz
- Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE)
- GPS chip: UBlox-M8n – GNSS: GPS + GLONASS + Galileo
- 3G/4G
- MicroSD card port
- SIMcard port
- Ports: USB-C (OTG+charge), USB 3.0 (so a « big » USB like PCs), Mini HDMI, DC jack, POGO pin
- Charge: USB or DC jack (a dock with continuous charging will be available later)
- Headphone: 3.5mm jack
- Operating temperature: -10 ~50°c (storage temperature -30 ~70°c)
- Size: 227*142.5*22.9 mm
- Weight: 750 g
- IP67 certified
- MIL-STD-810G certified. Droptest: 1,2m

To give you a benchmark, a Samsung Galaxy Tab A has a 450 cd/m2 screen, which is not really sunlight readable and battery has a 6000 mah capacity. (Samsung Galaxy Active Pro: 550 cd/m2 and 7600 mah).

So, what do you think about these specs? What could you suggest as improvements? What seems important for you in a tablet dedicated to sailors?
And, if you have more questions or details, I’m here to answer… Thanks for your help. In between, stay safe!

JM
 

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Know as an American I’m an outlier c/w the rest of the world but having an iPad and iPhone in life proof cases solves all my issues. Either one or the other is always on me. I’ve got all my nav, anchor alarms, communications, file, pictures ( helpful buying parts and when fixing stuff), Internet, social platforms always with me whether in or out of the country of origin. One set of contacts. One device.
Perhaps non Americans who are less likely to be on i devices or Americans who prefer android will be your target but android remains cumbersome to the point that when we are using local chips we get the cheapest android phone if forced to and never use it beyond as a hotspot.
Have found. The white on black night setting is often more readable when the highest setting on brightness doesn’t serve.
 

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+1 with Outbound. In a waterproof case, my i-devices are perfectly adequate. For that matter, I rarely bother with the cases any longer, now that the phone is water resistant.

The plug and play nature of IOS is attractive to me, although, I recognize that users who like to customize and play with their setting and tech seem to prefer android.
 

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And, if you have more questions or details, I’m here to answer… Thanks for your help. In between, stay safe!JM
With all those ports how can it be truly waterproof? If you are using any, you can't pop in a cover.
Were I to purchase something like that it would have to have a mechanism to fit in a NavPod or come with some sort of mounting hardware so I could mount it at the helm. It would also need to be hard wired to my boat's 12 volt system, just like a chart plotter. I would also like it to interface with my radar, so I would only have one display at the helm.
 

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What you are doing reminds me a bit of Sonim phones, which were designed for the oil and gas industry, but are now used by all kinds of folks working in rugged environments. They use android.

I had an XP 7 for quite a while. It was awesome tough. Far more rugged than any external case I have used and quite water proof due to a magnetic external charging arrangement.

Currently use an android phone in a lifeproof case for navigation etc, but I do miss my Sonim. Check out the site, might give you some ideas.

https://www.sonimtech.com/products/devices/
 

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+1 with Outbound. In a waterproof case, my i-devices are perfectly adequate. For that matter, I rarely bother with the cases any longer, now that the phone is water resistant.

The plug and play nature of IOS is attractive to me, although, I recognize that users who like to customize and play with their setting and tech seem to prefer android.
Beg to differ from Outbound and Minne. One BIG minus of i-anything is that there is no OpenCPN. This is the most important app on my tablet (a super-cheap, basically expendable unit), as well as on the (linux) computer that lives on the boat.

So, this project has potential, at least for the 90% (or whatever the number currently is) of people that do NOT use Apple devices
 

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OpenCPN is a reasonable dividing line. Some must have it, I absolutely hate it. The minuscule dollars I pay to have a nav app seamlessly appear across all my i-devices is well worth it. Zero setup, zero configuration, zero worry. Just works.

When I tried to install OpenCPN and a gps dongle on a tablet windows computer several years back, I nearly tossed the whole lot in the ocean.
 
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Re: A rugged tablet dedicated to sailors: advice needed

Hi Guys!

I'm preparing a crowdfunding campaign to launch a rugged tablet dedicated to sailors. So, I’d like to have your advice.

When I bought my first sailboat, I tried to find, so as you, a good quality waterproof tablet, with a (really) sunlight readable screen, a long life battery (more than one day of sailing) and an accurate GPS. As it was almost impossible to find in the leisure area, I searched for professionals products. I'm sometimes working with Chinese suppliers, mainly in HK and Shenzhen (the Mecca of electronics). So I met suppliers and came back with different samples that I tested during the 3 last years.

I discussed with different suppliers to create a tablet which would be dedicated to sailors, and affordable for non-professionals. We mainly upgraded the screen, battery and GPS chip. Now I’m in the fine tuning phase of the tablet. The specs would be as follow:

- Rugged waterproof tablet
- Android 10 (GMS certified)
- 8inch screen – 800 cd/m2 – Wet & Glove touch – Gorilla Glass 3rd generation
- CPU: MTK octacore 64 bits MT-6771, 2.0 Ghz
- 4GB RAM + 64GB ROM
- Camera : rear 13m px autofocus, front 5m px fixed focus
- Battery: Li-ion 9800 mah
- WIFI 802.11 (a/b/g/n/ac) 2.4 + 5.8Ghz
- Bluetooth 4.0 (BLE)
- GPS chip: UBlox-M8n – GNSS: GPS + GLONASS + Galileo
- 3G/4G
- MicroSD card port
- SIMcard port
- Ports: USB-C (OTG+charge), USB 3.0 (so a « big » USB like PCs), Mini HDMI, DC jack, POGO pin
- Charge: USB or DC jack (a dock with continuous charging will be available later)
- Headphone: 3.5mm jack
- Operating temperature: -10 ~50°c (storage temperature -30 ~70°c)
- Size: 227*142.5*22.9 mm
- Weight: 750 g
- IP67 certified
- MIL-STD-810G certified. Droptest: 1,2m

To give you a benchmark, a Samsung Galaxy Tab A has a 450 cd/m2 screen, which is not really sunlight readable and battery has a 6000 mah capacity. (Samsung Galaxy Active Pro: 550 cd/m2 and 7600 mah).

So, what do you think about these specs? What could you suggest as improvements? What seems important for you in a tablet dedicated to sailors?
And, if you have more questions or details, I’m here to answer… Thanks for your help. In between, stay safe!

JM
I am fine with my set up of using an iPad as a backup to our MFD device.

I don’t want to have to constantly charge. MFD is direct.

Tablets do not show radar in real time as of yet ( except new Foruno)
Using a tuff box meets the bill for me
 

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Re: A rugged tablet dedicated to sailors: advice needed

Sounds good to me, of course price is going to be a big consideration.

Important to me:
- adaptive display that automatically adjusts brightness.
- wireless charging

Not important to me:
- all those ports you listed, A single USB C would do. dual USB C ports would be ideal.
- camera(s). Taking pictures with a tablet is just weird. Nowadays folks either grab their phone, or grab their high end camera, depending on the pic that needs to be taken.
 

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OpenCPN is a reasonable dividing line. Some must have it, I absolutely hate it. The minuscule dollars I pay to have a nav app seamlessly appear across all my i-devices is well worth it. Zero setup, zero configuration, zero worry. Just works.

When I tried to install OpenCPN and a gps dongle on a tablet windows computer several years back, I nearly tossed the whole lot in the ocean.
No dongle for me. Vesper streams GPS position to my tablet and computer via wifi. And of course the AIS data.

Only setup was the NMEA via wifi. Follow instructions, took maybe 10 minutes (5 or 6 steps, don't remember). Just works :)
 

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Do run open on a toughbook. Like having multiple charting sources so have lighthouse, navionics and open on different machines all on to look at once. Still amazed when they show different things. Wife spends time on the bow yelling at me to this day in spite of all these fancy toys.
Btw still carry a log stick and drop cord and still have occasion to use them. GPS is awesome and with redundant sources bulletproof. Charts are still iffy even with crowd sourcing.
 

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Beg to differ from Outbound and Minne. One BIG minus of i-anything is that there is no OpenCPN. This is the most important app on my tablet (a super-cheap, basically expendable unit), as well as on the (linux) computer that lives on the boat.

So, this project has potential, at least for the 90% (or whatever the number currently is) of people that do NOT use Apple devices
Actually you can use an Ipad with OPEN CPN, see the following:

https://opencpn.org/wiki/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=opencpn:supplementary_software:ipad

While involved, and initially cumbersome to set up it does work.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you guys for your interesting comments.
I won't quote any of these, but summarize my answers here.

Yes, for sure iPad is the most important alternative, moreover in the US. And I understand that ppl who are used to it, don't need a waterproof device and a sunlight readable screen are happy with that. There are also some apps which are only developed for iOS. So, when you are used to an app, why change... But there are also apps only available for Android (in France, for example, Sailgrib is a very popular routing app). For these users, I think I'll offer an interesting alternative.

Regarding ports, 2 things:
1. caps are really waterproof and robust (pictures attached). Regarding the question of @capta about mounting hardware, we are developing a strong dock which will offer this opportunity, using the POGO pin (picture attached) port which don't need to remove a cap.
2. As Bristol299bob says, all these ports are perhaps not truly useful for everybody, but as I chose to reuse an existing housing with existing motherboard, the ports were available (so as the cameras). It would have been more expensive to develop a new housing (a new mould need to sell at least 500 pcs to offset the costs) and adapt the motherboard. I preferred to focus on improving the screen, GPS and battery.
And some would appreciate to use for example the HDMI port to add a bigger screen at the chart table: could be useful for MastUndSchotbruch who is an OpenCPN aficionado (preparing the next day trip at the chart table, with a big screen and perhaps a keyboard and a mouse could be more confortable with a complex app like OpenCPN or QVTLM).

Regarding price, we'd like to have an official price under 700€ taxes included. And the early buyers during the crowdfunding campaign will have the opportunity to buy it for less than 550€.

Thanks a lot for your help. Don't hesitate for any questions.

JM, SailProof
 

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......took maybe 10 minutes (5 or 6 steps, don't remember). Just works :)
Got the smiley. i-device users do crack up at the suggestion that 10 minutes = just works. My latest nav app, Navionics, took the sum amount time to type in a password and tap the app icon.

Truthfully, what I really like about 99% of all i-device apps, is the user interface. I've never come across one that I felt the need to every read a single instruction to make operate at a basic level.
 

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....Btw still carry a log stick and drop cord and still have occasion to use them....
I too keep a lead line aboard, with knots every foot. I don't use it very often, but it often appears in shallow anchorages, where I'd like to confirm the accuracy of my depth sounder. I was last swinging on a transient mooring at Kingman marina on the west end of the Cape Cod Canal. I draw 6.5ft in the book (likely a bit more weighted down) and my depth sounder said 6.5ft, when the tide dropped. I was still swinging. Seemed I only had a few inches to spare, it was close.
 

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I began sailing before the time of electronic charting navigation. I had a knot meter, depth "sounder' and an AWI instrument with displays in the cocpit. I used paper charts and would prepare before heading out... drawing the course... noting the headings next to the course line.. and the distance of the line. I took bearings on land features and so on. Basic coastal navigation.

Then came the Loran C which gave a position, first using the Loran charts with those crazy lines and then in the next generation actual lat lon position and calcs like SOG, COG. You could program a waypoint and string several together in a route. As I sail the later is pretty useless, but routes may he fine for motoring.

Over time I stopped using the charts for anything but a look at the very big picture which is always a fail on the small screens...even a 12" monitor... no comparison to a BBA size chart of a full size paper chart.

I added stand alone monochrome radar with was helpful for collision avoidance and showed rain systems. These devices were mounted in the nav station and this is not deal as operating a boat much be from the cockpit.

About 30 years ago GPS appeared and eclipsed Loran in a few years. More accurate. And soon chartplotters appeared. And the need for a paper chart rendered them to back up status. The chartplotters became MFDs which could displace inputs of many data sources, overlay weather and radar data on the chart, and do all manner of nav computations. APs could be controlled by the MFD. All eggs were in the same MFD basket. But people got a couple of them and moved one into the cockpit.. or just moved the single MFD to the cockpit and mostly to an "instrument pod/mount" at the helm.

The last generation was moving charting to mobile devices. With that came assorted apps like anchor watch. These were available on apple or android platforms.

As my sailing style evolved I realized I don't need a library of waypoints... don't need to plan routes... which might only be useful in following trick landfall paths.

But as am using an AP which does not interface with an AP... I must enter the course for the AP with a dial. My AP is controls are positioned where I normally position myself when I sail or motor.. port side forward in the cockpit I very very rare helm and that would getting on and off a dock or a mooring... or motoring through a moring field on a marked channel. So no pedestal pods for me.

My first cockpit chart device was a Garmin handheld iQue3600 which I picked up used for song on ebay. Blue charts and a very handy sensible user interface. Best zoom and pan I've seen... It was a touch screen with a sylus.

I picked up a small B&G plotter and made a portable mount for a port coach roof winch which is rarely used.

I installed navionics on my smart phone and tablet. Never bother with the tablet. Rarely use the smart phone navionics on the boat but it has a slew of weather apps and things such as tides, and AIS. This serves me well and I have no need for a robust fully over the top MFD... nor the same in a tablet. My next up grade will be N2K and have radar and AIS on the portable winch mount MFD.

The single most used feature of my mobile device or the plotter is the heading line. I use to to determine the course I need to make a mark. If I am in open seas I can turn the AP until the heading line intersects the mark I want.... if I can't sail that course the track will show my tacks and which is favored and so on.

Your device might suit the sailing styles of others... not me.
 

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Got the smiley. i-device users do crack up at the suggestion that 10 minutes = just works. My latest nav app, Navionics, took the sum amount time to type in a password and tap the app icon.

Truthfully, what I really like about 99% of all i-device apps, is the user interface. I've never come across one that I felt the need to every read a single instruction to make operate at a basic level.
How long did it take you to connect your i-thing to the NMEA network on your boat? One tap, no instructions?

Or did you use some other way to get the AIS information?
 

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Regarding ports, 2 things:
1. a strong dock which will offer this opportunity, using the POGO pin (picture attached) port which don't need to remove a cap.JM, SailProof
Will this dock be mountable and weather proof, enough to remain attached 24/7/365? Also, will it be connectable to 12 volts DC which can be directly wired to 12 volts?
 

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How long did it take you to connect your i-thing to the NMEA network on your boat? One tap, no instructions?

Or did you use some other way to get the AIS information?
I do not use my ipad for this, nor is my old onboard nav equipment capable. However, my buddy has all modern Raymarine equipment and I understanding connecting his ipad to his plotter (internal wifi I believe) was that simple.

From what he's said, he sees, on his device, what his plotter sees and can manage the plotter from the ipad. The only disabled function is the auto-pilot on his ipad, which I understand is a safety feature. Prevents anyone down below from accidentally sending a command to the helm.

I haven't done it, so may be missing something.
 
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