This week we became real cruisers - we installed a TV on Zen Again! The TV was a gift from Alain from sv CG, who I helped with his VHF and HF radios recently. He had installed a bigger TV on his yacht and the old one was surplus to his requirements but a perfect fit for ours.
We don't expect to use the unit for live TV anytime soon. Rather we will use it as a media player and cheap chartplotter. Both functions are in combination with the Raspberry Pi computer we have also installed and which runs the Linux version of the excellent and free chartplotter OpenCPN.
|TV installed on the main bulkhead|
|The Raspberry Pi "Zenny"|
(shown out of its normal home on the other side of the divider)
The Raspberry Pi computer originated in the UK where it was designed as a cheap computer for use in schools. It has been wildly successful and is widely used by hobbyists. Millions have been sold. They cost less than $40 each! Google it for more info.
OpenCPN runs a little slowly on the Raspberry Pi but so far it is managing OK and receiving GPS information from the GPS puck. Next week I intend to try connecting the Pi to our AIS via WiFi so OpenCPN can also display AIS traffic. One nice aspect of the system is that OpenCPN alarms sound through our stereo system, even in the middle of movies or music. Good for anchor watch!
If tests go well I'll try installing our library of GoogleEarth "charts" on the USB disk to see how OpenCPN copes with them on the Pi. That might be a little too compute-intensive for it!
|Raspberry Pi running OpenCPN|
- Raspberry Pi => $40
- SD Card => $10 (holds operating system, applications and OpenCPN charts on the Pi)
- USB power cable => $20
- 12V to 5V converter => $30
- HDMI cable => $20
- USB Hub => $40
- USB WiFi => $20
- USB GPS => $60
- 1TB USB disk => $90 (holds multimedia, books/manuals and GoogleEarth "charts")
- Total Parts Cost => $330 (not including TV)
I'm certainly not suggesting a system like this could replace a mainstream marine chartplotter, It is certainly a very cheap and completely independent backup system.