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Hi all,

I am a complete novice with RPi but am familiar with general electronics and particularly GPS & NMEA devices. I have a Beneteau 31 and I would like to set up a simple dashboard type display to go at my chart table. I will try to describe what I have and what I would like to do.

Main plotter is a B&G Zeus2 in the cockpit.
I have a laptop running OpenCPN with a plugin USB BU-353 GPS I use on the chart table for planning and general use.

I would like a small display at the chart table, maybe 120mm x 120mm or so. I would likely run openCPN on there but I am primarily interested in a dashboard type display showing GPS position, heading (COG), SOG and time. I think I would likely set up a display/dashboard then leave it so no regular interaction
There is plenty of space in a vertical panel with space and access behind it. 12V is available.

So....I guess I need:

RPi - is the latest RPi 4 the one to go for?
Some sort of operating system - Ubuntu or something else??
Display - does the RPi drive a display directly? VGA/Displayport or something else?
GPS - Can I plug USB GPS directly into the RPi?

Any suggestions or pointers will be much appreciated



Beneteau 31
Moon Dance
Lossiemouth, Scotland
The image for the RPI you get from here - just flash it to an SD card or an external USB stick or hard disk (connected to a USB port). Display is any HDMI-compatible display. The RPI uses the micro-HDMI connectors, so you'll have to make sure the HDMI cables you get are compatible on both ends.

I use a touch screen, but I've also got a Logitech K400 keyboard with a touch pad. It works great and it a reasonable size.

GPS pucks easily plug into the RPI USB ports. Another way to do it is to get NMEA0183 or NMEA2000 (GPS, depth, speed, etc.) from your existing MFD and use the appropriate USB adapter for your PI. You can also get a USB SDR module and receive AIS. If you plug too many things like GPS and AIS receiver into your PI you'll start getting power issues, so a good quality powered USB3 hub is recommended. Regardless, make sure you have a high quality power supply for your PI, minimum 4A but preferably more.

Good luck and stay in touch. All of us here were newbies once, and were able to put systems together with the help of the good people on this forum.
Thanks for the reply. it seems like what I want to do is relatively straightforward (at least until I get a bit more familiar with things)
I think I will order up a RPi4B and start playing around - got to start somewhere!


A couple more questions if you don't mind:

Would you consider something like this ( more suitable than an external GPS puck?. Maybe less power but possibly the cable attachment to a puck allows more flexibility? Or maybe pot it and run a cable anyway....
I am a little unsure about displays. Essentially all I need is a few lines of text, a subset of something like this
I see there is an official Rpi display but I think that is overkill for my needs. it has to look neat as it will be in view all the time.

If you want to start having a play around you can load signalk onto the laptop, windows download here =>
Signalk does much of the work in openplotter and can create some nice dashboards. There a simulator app available as well so sail around without leaving the house.

Signalk is sort of what nmea might be like if it ever grew up Smile
Thanks Paddy, SignalK looks like just the sort of thing I need.

just need to figure out a few things first.
I did a data display using an M5Stack a couple of years ago. It connects to OpenPlotter via wifi and displays lat/lon, wind, depth, stuff like that.
(2020-12-24, 06:38 PM)MoonDance Wrote: Thanks Paddy, SignalK looks like just the sort of thing I need.

just need to figure out a few things first.


you are about to open Pandorra's box because what is available to you is awesome.

I would start by plugging in that GPS puck of yours and getting GPS up and running in Signal K either on your laptop or on the rpi.  I use the RPI and remote in without a screen using VNC.

once you have it up and running you can add KIP either from the Signal K app store or from the "Dashboard" Section of Openplotter on the Pi and start playing with it and figuring out what data you would want and where it would go.  last year I installed this iPad 1 (that has little use anymore) at the helm with data I thought I wanted from a range of instruments including my Raymarine Seatalk 1 depth, speed and Wind gauges.

For this year I have taken it a little further upgrading to RPI 4 and setting up a new KIP screen which is shared with OCPN and the KIP window provides more info about the desired direction/next waypoint

I have another screen with uncluttered info for racing and one for temperatures (cabin, Cockpit, engine bay, water, coolant, RPI)

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