Tuesday, 18 July 2017

OpenPlotter quick install guide

Updated 2018-05-30!

OpenPlotter is;
  • A complete boat navigation system
  • Includes OpenCPN, Chart plotter navigation
  • OpenSource, so it's free !
  • Running on Raspberry Pi(RPi)
  • Its hardware is cheap
  • Running on Unix, so its reliable
  • It comes with NOOBS(New Out Of Box Software) which makes it very simple to install
Its also a compilation of several other nice software which makes it a fantastic package for additional functions.

The Openplotter WEB-site, the nice forum with active people and god documentation makes it almost easy, but if You are a newbie to both OpenPlotter(OP) and OpenCPN(OC), as I was, it can be to much.....

The new version, OP V1.x.x, hasn't an updated documentation so sometimes it could help to check the old one

So I'm trying to do a compact guide with links to the documentation and, hopefully, a fast way to be up and running.

Start up with checking what You need

Probably You are doing the first setup at home so you don't have any hardware connected to Your boat network, but thats no problem.

SignalK(SK) is mentioned several times in the documentation and You should know that this is the "engine" in OP, but for now thats all You have to know.

If You don't care about the extra OP software You can run SK standalone.

Install the programs. For the the moment, 2018-05-30 the OpenPlotter v1.0.0 NOOBS is the latest. I prefer the headless install which works very well. On my RPi 3 it took about 10 minutes before the WiFi "OpenPlotter" appeared which automatically used the built in RPi 3 WiFi hardware.

Connect to the Rpi. I used the "VNC Viewer" on my Mac which also works great on an iPad.

Go back and complete the settings in this document

If necessary change the resolution

"Preferences" => "RPi Config" => "System" => "Set Resolution". 
I picked => DMT mode 16, 1024 x 768 to work together with my Mac

Prior V 1.x.x
To check that OpenCPN, the plotter, works, without any NMEA physical input we use the "NMEA 0183 generator"

Start the OP application by clicking on the "Anchor" symbol in the upper part of the window

Go to the "Tools" Meny and klick on "NMEA 0183 generator". At the end of document there is a guide. Klick on "add" and select "RMC" from the sentence drop down list and "1" from the Rate(sec) drop down.

RMC means Recommended Minimum Navigation Information and are a sentence sent from an GPS. If You click on the "NMEA info" button You will have an explanation for all valid sentences. WEB link

Add "Type" and "Value" to respective field

Field Type Value Remark
Timestamp Number 100000 24 hour clock
Status String A
Latitude Number 5607.010
Latitude Direction  String N
Longitude Number 01236.309
Longitude Direction  String E
Speed Over Ground Number 5
True Course Number 270
Datestamp Number 180418 DDMMYY
Magnetic Variation
Magnetic Variation Direction

and finish with a click on the "OK" button

Open OC by clicking on the icon on the desktop. Klick on the "drop", "Auto Follow", in the meny at the top and You should see a worldmap with Your Boat placed in the south of Sweden. 

In the lower left part of the OC window You will see the actual coordinates, SOG, speed over ground and COG, Course over ground.


This ends the initial installation and now You can continue with the USB sensors

or using the log files in SignalK to simulate a trip in the south of Finland.

A really nice iOS application, to display all the navigation data, is WilhelmSK and here is more info.

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