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remote monitoring

Aug 22, 2019
59
n/a n/a Galveston
Anyone use a remote monitoring system to check on your boat? Shore power, battery, bilge, etc?
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,725
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
I use boatcommand.com I would rate it “B” but the price is be than most and it works. My biggest complaints are
1) they dropped support for the app, so it’s web only with mail alerts
2) the anchor alarm is minimum 30 yards setting. With today’s GPS I would like better resolution
 
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May 17, 2004
3,470
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
Built my own with a Raspberry Pi and a couple Arduinos. Populates a web page with tank levels, battery voltages, amperage, temperatures (cabin, engine, exhaust), RPMs, and location. Emails me if the bilge pump runs or if the house bank stops charging. Also records all data from the NMEA network when the instruments are on, so it can be reviewed later.

A couple times a year it will notify me of something worth checking on. Once it was a split hose slowly putting water in the bilge. Usually it’s something like the shore power cables falling out of their sockets at the dock pedestal, stopping the battery charger.

Not exactly an easy out of the box solution, but it was a fun DIY project.
 

DArcy

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Feb 11, 2017
1,250
Islander Freeport 36 Ottawa
David, do you have any information on the build of your system? I'd like to try something like this.
 
Aug 7, 2018
179
Catalina 350 Great Sodus Bay, Lake Ontario
While at the dock in our home port I use an Amazon Echo dot and a compatible smart plug. (Not the shore power smart plug although I have that also) I like the KASA brand by TP link the app is very easy to use. (HS 103p2 are on sale right now @ Amazon for $19.99 for 2) When connected to the home port wifi and 110v I turn on 110v lamps and 110v fans while on the boat or remotely. I am adding a remote interior camera when we go back in the spring with a motion sensor that alerts my phone

I can check the status of my 110v connection via my cell phone and turn things on or off and set schedules. I run a fan to move air and have had no problems with ventilation this past season.

If the lights or fan arent working I know that either the wifi is down or the shore power is off which means no battery charger. If I am concerned its a long term problem I go to the boat or text my liveaboard dock neighbor and ask them to check on things.

The added benefit is that I can turn lights on and off remotely to simulate occupancy. You can turn the 110v lights off from the V berth at night via voice remote. (think "alexa turn off the lamp" We also stream music while on the boat via our Amazon account with the Echo Dot, think "alexa play music by ...." the sound quality of the dot is very good but I have added a Bose speaker that comes with us on the weekends and lives @ home during the week.
 
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May 17, 2004
3,470
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
David, do you have any information on the build of your system? I'd like to try something like this.
Well, if I was building it now I’d look seriously at OpenPlotter, which seems to do many of the things my custom setup does. I built mine before OpenPlotter was really a thing, and before there were web services that would help data logging and graphing. Having said that, here’s the setup I have:

I have two Atmega 328’s (the microprocessors from Arduinos), each with an Adafruit ADS1115 analog/digital converter and a RFM69HCW short range radio. Those are mounted near my battery banks. One reads the voltage of the battery banks, and the other reads the voltage across a shunt (which came with the boat) to monitor current draw. A better electrical engineer could probably consolidate those two setups into one, but I was having problems with interference and voltage drops trying to read the very small voltage across the shunt, so I just split them out to isolate them. One of those is also tied into the tachometer sense wire, and counts the pulses on that wire to get RPMs. They use the radios to send their readings to an Arduino behind my circuit breaker panel. That arduino gets the data, and uses its own analog/digital converter to read the voltages on the tank sensor wires that go into our existing monitor panel. It takes all that data and sends it via USB to the Pi. On the Pi I built a little Java app to grab the data from the Arduino and write it to a log file. The Pi is also connected to an ADXL345 accelerometer to get heel angle and three DS18B20 thermometers to get the temperature readings. I ran an Ethernet cable from the Pi my B&G chart plotter. The plotter puts out all of its NMEA data as NMEA0183 strings, so the Pi can grab them over the network and save them to the log file along with all the other data. One of the pins on the Pi is also connected a wire that runs to the input side of the bilge pump, so my app can sense if the bilge pump powers up. For connectivity the Pi has a WiFi adapter for when I’m at my home marina. For when I’m not I have it connected to an Adafruit Fona cell mode that uses Ting cellular. Ting charges about $11/month for up to 100MB, which is more than enough. The Pi uses that to send the data back to my house where I wrote another Java web app to receive the data and put it into a webpage for me to see. That app also sends me an email if the bilge pump runs or if the batteries stop charging.

All in all I like how it works. I could almost certainly make it all work with less Arduinos, maybe none, if I were more clever with the engineering. The Java app that runs on the Pi is under 1500 lines of code. I’m re-writing it in Python this winter as a chance to learn python and streamline it a bit. It does help that the boat had a shunt, tank monitors, and a handy bilge pump wire in the right place to begin with, so it was just a matter of splicing into those and not needing to build those parts from scratch.

The Pi is powered by a 12V to 5V buck converter and an Adafruit Powerboost 1000 with a small rechargeable battery as a backup in case a circuit breaker accidentally gets shut off. The other Atmega 328’s are just powered by 12V to 5V converters.
 

DArcy

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Feb 11, 2017
1,250
Islander Freeport 36 Ottawa
Thanks for the breakdown. I've played with Arduinos a bit and I have a Raspberry Pi but haven't tried Python yet. Sounds like a fun project.