Raspberry Pi based chartplotter

RPi 3 based chart plotting navigation

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I plan on using the RPi 3 as the boats computer. Plotting via OpenCPN with gps input from usb gps puck, AIS input via Standard Horizon VHF, roll,pitch,mag compass and temp via sensor. Autopilot output via my own dashboard.

The basic idea was to use a less power hungry system for chart plotting. My laptop was using a bit over 5 amp/hour by being run thru an inverter. I think this can be cut to 1 or 1 1/2 amp/hour with the Pi. With it being relatively easy to connect sensors to the Pi I've decided to see if I can incorporate an auto pilot into the dashboard. The big question being whether hobby sensors can stand up to life on a sailboat and whether I can develope a low amperage use auto pilot.

News as of Feb. 2017. I have scrapped using the 4 x 20 lcd and have moved up to a 7" touch screen to be cockpit mounted.

Took the gps apart and added the working parts to a circuit board that also sends back barometric pressure and temperature.

Have also completed a 12vdc step down to 5vdc circuit (2 in fact) one to run the Raspberry and the other to run the touch screen. I'm running Ubuntu Mate on the Pi. As the sensors for pressure and temp send analog data and I had to add an ADC I've also included 2 voltage dividers one for battery voltage and one for a future solar panel voltage output. For the time being I have given up on trying to use the magnometer on the 9 DOF chip and will only be using it for heel and pitch of the boat.

photo's of the 12 volt conversion board and gps/barometer/temperature are in the album. I have also found a 12 vdc linear actuator that I'm considering for the auto pilot.

  • 1 × Raspberry Pi 3 B Still waiting on delivery.
  • 1 × BU-353 USB GPS antenna USB antenna
  • 1 × Adafruit breakout board /w LSM9DS0 IMU ??
  • 1 × Standard Horizon DSC VHF transciever Common small boat VHF with DSC
  • 1 × MCP 3208 ADC analog to digital converter 12 bit

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  • Adding GSM board???

    brina_keith02/03/2017 at 21:15 0 comments

    Lately I have been considering also adding a GSM board to the system. As the boat will likely be on a mooring it would be nice to be notified of impending doom such as sinking by bilge pump failure or perhaps simply drifting away from the mooring via SMS message automatically texted to my phone by the Pi. I can also send a command list to the Pi and have it send back the status of on board systems.

  • 12vdc to 5 vdc converter

    brina_keith02/03/2017 at 20:19 0 comments

    I found this data on the web site. There does not seem to be a name associated with the design. In a nut shell it will drop 12vdc to 5 vdc @ 3 amps output. Fail safe circuitry is in place for short and overload. I have built and tested this with the pi and it works very well. The only issue is to be sure to use a 1/2 watt or higher for R5. 1/4 got quite warm but ran ok when 2 were used in parallel. I'm also using a 10 watt for R4. I added 2 green leds to indicate power out is on. On short or overload green led goes out and red led turns on indicating a fault condition.

  • Latest component to be included a 20x4 LCD display for the cockpit.

    brina_keith10/02/2016 at 11:39 1 comment

    Just received this 20x4 lcd display and after finally getting the contrast reduced was able to play with it a little. CoG and SoG will likely garner the top line followed by Heel and Pitch on line 2. Perhaps displaying temperature and barometric pressure

    on line 3. Every 15 minutes using the latest fix to calculate a distance traveled and velocity to be displayed on line 4.

  • The Pi and IMU have arrived.

    brina_keith09/27/2016 at 00:52 1 comment

    I recieved the Pi 3 weeks ago and the IMU about a week ago. I had to rework he dashboard code for color as the desktop it was developed on used 24 bit color and the Pi is only capable of 16 bit color. I had hard coded the color values in the code my bad so it did not port properly to the Pi.

    The IMU as a more difficult integration. This works on the i2c bus on the Pi, but there is little code around on dealing with the raw data. I ave managed to use the code from BerryIMU as a template, qiute a frustrating experience I might add. The long and short of it being that I currently have the Roll (Heel) and Pitch outputs in degrees. The output seems stable to about 2.5 tenths of a degree sitting on a flat surface. It still seems like a lot of drift to me. Perhaps its hardware or maybe my code needs further tweaking.

    I'm still waiting on a 20 character by 4 line LCD display which will be the ultimate cockpit display for the dashboard.

    Anyone interested in the code leave a note and I will post it here.

  • Dashboard now using GPSD

    brina_keith09/27/2016 at 00:26 0 comments

    I have reverted back to using GPSD for the GPS information once again, as this nformation must be available to

    a number of applications. I still need to clean up the code.

  • The Dashboard

    brina_keith09/02/2016 at 22:14 0 comments

    I have a working copy of the dashboard written in 'C'. This is a linux X application. I have side stepped GPSD in this version and instead have opened a file stream for input of data. I may however revert back to using GPSD. The cabin monitor will be a repurposed LCD screen from a defunct laptop.

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Mike McRoberts wrote 08/02/2017 at 12:44 point

Any progress with your project? I am very interested in this as I am also trying to build an AIS decoder using a Pi to link it up to a camera to take photographs of passing ships automatically. 

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churchja wrote 12/26/2016 at 04:03 point

Would you mind sending me your IMU code? Thanks, Jason

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brina_keith wrote 02/03/2017 at 19:32 point

Hi Jason sorry for the long delay in getting back to you. Do you still require the code? I could not get the magnometer to work reliabaly. Let me now and I will find the code snippet for you. I relied on wiringPi for the I2C interface.

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