What looks like a discreet box at the underpanel of the helm of his father-in-law’s boat is a custom Pi 2-based ‘Boat PC’ from Colin Riley using OpenPlotter for its boating-centric platform goodness. The case is discreet, but slick, and the beauty of this build is on the inside:
In late 2015 I was doing my usual head-scratching about what gifts to get various family members for the holiday season. My wife mentioned making something electronic for my father-in-laws boat, and after a few hours of collecting thoughts came up with an idea:
A Raspberry Pi computer, which could be powered off the boats 12v batteries.
This computer would have sensors which made sense on a boat. Certainly GPS.
I’d have some software which collated the sensor data and displayed it nicely.
This could plug into the onboard TV using HDMI.
It would all be put into a suitable enclosure.
Excellent – a plan. I expected the hardware part to be easy, the enclosure part fairly straightforward, and the software part to be an absolute disaster. I started searching for an already-existing project to take care of the software side of things.
That’s when I came upon a project called OpenPlotter. It’s a fully-featured linux distribution for Raspberry Pi, specifically for use on a boat, and includes the relevant software for calibrating, collating and transforming data from various sensors into a form that can be used practically. I’ve got to be honest here – OpenPlotter is solid, does exactly what it advertises, and very simple for someone familiar with RPi/Linux to set up and use.