Data collection from the sailboat

Steve Mitchell 2 min read
Data collection from the sailboat

For the last few years, I have had a server of some sort on Jammy collecting various amounts of data.  As my NMEA 2000 network continues to grow, I look forward to collecting even more data.  My eventual goal, and life long project, is to be able to develop a set of software tools that are open source, and allow people to submit anonymized data to a service which will allow for larger operations or business opportunities.

Imagine if racers in a race were able to submit performance info real time and see the effects of currents throughout the fleet?  What about commercial vessels submitting performance data similar to airplanes that allows for better engine maintenance or pre-emptive service based on usage patterns?  How about recreational boaters being able to share their trips and maps through an online logbook?  The possibilities are pretty amazing.

When I first put a server on the boat, there weren’t many tool kits available to gather data.  You could hack together connections to NMEA 0183 networks, or connect in to various proprietary systems via their methods.  Then came the Actisense NMEA series of gateways, available in serial and USB flavors.  My first one was an NGW-1 which I used to connect a DSC VHF radio to my NMEA 2000 network to get GPS locations.

Soon I found that you could get one that connected to the PC, the NGT-1.  Shortly thereafter I found Kees Verruijt’s fantastic canboat analyzer on Github.  I exchanged some emails with him on some issues I found setting things up, but shortly I was reading raw data off of my NMEA 2000 bus, and then converting the PGN’s to real human readable data!  The future is here!

From that project, I developed some Perl scripts that parsed the data and put it into Round Robin Databases (RRD’s) using Tobias Oetiker’s RRDtool.  I was able to graph various bits of data like temperature, DC voltage, and other things in pretty graphs.

The next step is to start looking at pushing this data off-boat in a lower resolution format, to not eat up the LTE/4G data that I’m limited by!

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