FLIR ONE Marine Navigation with Boat Beacon and Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality with FLIR ONE

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 17.00.31Pocket Mariner recently collaborated with Practical Boat Owner to successfully complete a demanding night time sea trial of our popular Boat Beacon  app with the  FLIR ONE Thermal Imager for iOS; a new, low cost , infra-red thermal imaging camera for the iPhone.  The FLIR ONE  makes thermal imaging affordable and accessible to a much wider audience at a fraction of the cost of the higher end marine IR imaging devices. Pocket Mariner have ingeniously integrated the live thermal image with their widely acclaimed Boat Beacon Augmented Reality mode providing identification, distance and bearing of the ships and Aids To Navigation in view at night and in fog.  We wanted to see how well and how far off we could spot ships via their infra-red signature and if the FLIR ONE could help with searching for a Man Overboard (MOB).

Practical Boat Owner, the UK’s leading boating magazine, bravely deployed their editors, David Pugh and Ben Meakin, together with Ben’s Impala 28 yacht , “Polly” and intrepid “Woman Overboard” volunteer, Laura, along with Pocket Mariner’s CEO, Steve, on a pitch black night in Southampton water.

Here’s what we saw.

This is a screenshot from Boat Beacon’s live AIS map view showing our position in “Polly” (grey boat with red vector heading 172º) with the “Morning Calm” cargo ship on her way out of Southampton approaching on our starboard quarter about 1NM away

MORNING_CALM_BB_FLIR_IOS

Here’s the view at the same time through Boat Beacon’s Augmented Reality view with FLIR ONE camera support – as clear as daylight even though it was night time. We could still spot large ships with the FLIR ONE over 2.5NM away.

MORNING_CALM_BB_AR_FLIR_IOS

 

The Viking Constanza’s funnel clearly stood out when she passed us a little later:-

flir_20160524T211322

 

Here’s what the Viking Constanza looks like in daylight for comparison (photo courtesey of Machi )Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 14.27.42

 

and somewhat ironically the Red Funnel ferry passed by , she really does have a Red Funnel 🙂

flir_20160524T211258

Later, Laura, our volunteer “MOB”, dropped over the side to test the MOB capabilities of Boat Beacon and the FLIR ONE. It was pitch black.

flironeios

LAURA_GOES_OVERBOARD_FLIR_IRON

 

We drifted away.  We couldn’t see a thing with the naked eye,

MOB_VIEW_NORMAL_CAMERA_NOFLASH

 

but we could still make out the MOB 30m away with the FLIR ONE!

 

MOB_FURTHEST_IRON_30m

LAURA_RESCUED_HOT

Just to be safe we were tracking her on Boat Beacon’s MOB display too.

BB_MOB_SCREENSHOT

We and the PBO crew were suitably impressed.  The FLIR ONE worked brilliantly in the dark and it should help in fog and misty conditions too. It also works in daylight. FLIR ONE support is now included as standard in Boat Beacon’s AR mode including zoom and you can get the FLIR ONE Thermal Imaging Camera for iOS Devices from Amazon here now:-

Amazon UK                                Amazon US
              

 

And Boat Beacon for iOS is available here:-

https://itunes.apple.com/app/boat-beacon-ais-marine-navigation/id494877039

 

Instructions for using AR mode in Boat Beacon

To turn AR mode on in Boat Beacon Tap the “eye” icon at the top left, then tilt your device up to see a live camera of the scene ships and AIS aids to Navigation (AToNs) around you. As you turn round and view ships, their name, range and bearing will pop-up when they are in the center of the view and a yellow line will show your course if you have Sailing on. You can also tap on the ships to get more information. Tilt back down or tap the eye icon again to see the map view. Tapping the “eye” icon again turns AR mode off. You can pinch to zoom both the map and camera views. To use IR camera mode just attach the FLIR ONE camera to your iPhone or iPad and switch it on. There is a toggle setting on the view to switch between IR colour mode (white/yellow hot through red warm to blue cold) , and IR Hottest mode where only the hottest areas are coloured red and the rest is grey scale (with white hottest and black coldest).

In AR mode our unique “AR Lock On” feature lets you select a ship on the map view and then easily locate it in the Camera view using a grey arrow to tell you which way to turn to spot it when its not directly in view.

Your course over ground (yellow line) will also be visible overlayed on the camera view.

The horizon is set by the zoom scale of the chart view – e.g. zoom out on the chart view to see further out in the Augmented reality view.

You can try out the AR feature in demo mode. In demo mode a simulated seascape background is shown with the real AIS ship positions around you overlayed. In real use this is replaced with the live camera view or FLIR ONE view if it is attached.

DIY VHF AIS Marine Aerial for under a tenner

Here’s how to make an AIS tuned 3dB gain VHF aerial for less than £10 in parts using RF-coax cable.
Buy a 5 or 10m length of  50 ohm RF coax cable with bnc connectors already attached – this makes two – http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00JVUP0L4. Cut to required length. Strip back the outer coating at the cut end to a length of 44.4cm + 5cm to make a loop (1/4wave for AIS frequencies). Pull the inner core through the outer sheath and lay the outer sheath back along the length of the coax and trim to 44.4cm. I add a couple of cm to the length so I can bend the tip of the inner core back on itself to hook it over something. Make sure the length of the inner is 44.4cm excluding the looped over end. Cover in heat shrink wrap if you want to make it waterproof and you have a 3dB gain AIS Aerial.
There is a useful video here showing how to do it here :-
and a photo of a 5m long one I made earlier.
Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 15.07.39

 

Here’s the live reception from one of these I made and hung up on a window in a friends apartment in Singapore
You could also go one step further and make a 6dB  collinear like this from Neil Arundale (I have made and used one of these too and it compared equally with a £120 commerical collinear).

I hope that this inspires someone. If you get connected up please consider sharing your AIS data with us. We can provide a dedicated port and web view like the one for Singapore above.
You could also go one step further and make a 6dB  or 9dB collinear like this from Neil Arundale . I have made and used one of these too and it compared equally with a £120 commerical AIS collinear!

I hope that helps. If you get connected up please consider sharing your AIS data with us. I can provide a dedicated port and web view like the one for Singapore above.

ShipPlotter AIS sharing to Boat Beacon and Pocket Mariner

Its very easy to set up using the UDP/IP peer to peer sharing feature in ShipPlotter’s I/O settings. See screenshots below. Select enable in the UDP/IP peer-to-peer output, enter the IP address 54.204.25.151 and Remote Port number 5322 (see area circled in red).

ShipPlotterBoatBeacon

Click OK when finished. You will return to the main program window. Click on the “Start” button and you should then see your data on this web page:-

N.B. If you would like your own dedicated UDP port number and web view to share to please email us at support@pocketmariner.com

Boat Beacon now has all NOAA US RNC (Raster) Marine Charts available

Pocket Seamless_RNCs_chartMariner were invited to help NOAA with their new raster charts service. We met up with them in the US last year and have been working with them on the trial. NOAA’s Raster Navigational Charts (RNCs) are produced by NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey (OCS) and are designed for marine navigation, but can also be used as a marine base map by GIS users, coastal and ocean planning staff, and the general public. NOAA raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC®) are full-color digital images of NOAA paper charts. They provide a consistent view of the marine environment, but with more than 2,100 individual chart and inset files available, finding the right chart at the right scale can be time consuming.

The trial aimed to create a map service of all 2,100+ raster navigational charts and their insets. The charts display as a seamless mosaic with the map collar or neat line—the information around the chart providing scale and notes—removed. Also, the map service displays only those charts appropriate for the viewing scale and map extent requested (from 1:5 million to 1:1,000 scale!). The seamless NOAA RNCs within the service are updated monthly and represent the most recent version of the RNCs and their respective Notice to Mariners at the time of the update.

The trial has been a great success and we are now busy rolling out the new service to use in our Boat Beacon, SeaNav and Boat Watch apps via a simple In App Purchase. This gives our customers access to all 2,100 charts including all updates. The charts for a region automatically download when you view an area and we cache them locally on your device so that they display instantly the next time you look at the map and will also display when you are not connected to the internet. This also means customers using Boat Beacon as a display for external AIS receivers like Digital Yachts or the new and very competitively priced dAISy one  ($59 – $41) can use Boat Beacon on their boat without needing an internet connection.

Boat Beacon on iOS is first out of the block with support for US NOAA raster charts. You can get it here :-

https://itunes.apple.com/app/boat-beacon-ais-marine-navigation/id494877039

Boat Watch iOS is next and we hope to have Boat Beacon on Android with US raster charts ready shortly following that. We can also add seamless raster chart options for the UK, Ireland, France, Netherlands and Germany – please let us know if you would be interested so we can raise the priority to get the work done – email us at support@pocketmariner.com or answer our quick 3 question survey here 

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/8CFCWD2

If you want to check out what the charts look like for your area before getting them in our apps you can use the Raster Navigational Charts Google Earth Tool. This is a Google Earth file of all the charts and insets available and is updated monthly along with the map service updates. Clicking on a chart outline gives you information about that chart, such as title, scale, and date updated. Plus, you have the option to overlay in Google Earth a collared or a collarless version of the chart by clicking on the respective preview link.http://nosimagery.noaa.gov/rnc/NOAA_RNCs.kmz

Here are some screen shots from Boat Beacon on an iPad with the US NOAA raster charts around Miami:-

Pleasure Craft Azura selected (note the track in red and our unique trip detail feature which includes departure point as well as the standard destination info – Fort Lauderdale to Key West).

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 15.11.31

In this screenshot we have tapped on the mid channel Safe Water mark Aid to Navigation (AIS AtoN) on the approach to Miami (MIAMI LB M). All AtoN’s which have AIS available are selectable on the charts and will show distance and bearing from your location.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 15.12.00

You can instantly toggle the charts on and off:-

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 15.24.46

dAISy AIS receiver with Boat Beacon on Android and Mac

daisy

 

We have been trying out the new and very inexpensive  dAISy AIS vhf usb receiver with our Android Boat Beacon app. It works great – straight out of the box. Just connect dAISy to an aerial and to your Android device via an android OTG cable, Boat Beacon automatically shows up as an app to pick to work with it, select Boat Beacon and make sure Local AIS via USB is turned on in Boat Beacon’s settings and receive local live AIS data straight into Boat Beacon. No need for an internet connection to see ships around you. I use an OTG cable with a power connector so that I can keep my device charged and use the external AIS receiver at the same time.

We have also tried using dAISy with our Mac SeaNav Marine Navigation app via USB and it also works very well.

dAISy is really well made in an amazingly small and durable aluminium metal box ( 63 x 44 x 23 mm – size of a matchbox )  and retails for the incredibly low price of  $59 (£41).  It is only single channel. It does channel hop but it will only receive half as many messages as a dual channel AIS receiver, so it can take twice as long to acquire a target or get an update to its position. But dual channel receivers cost at least double this and most are 4 to 5 times as expensive. It is available here:

https://www.tindie.com/products/astuder/daisy-ais-receiver/

Here’s what Adrian, dAISy’s creator has to say about the range and sensitivity compared to other far more expensive AIS receivers:-

“dAISy did perform better than the RadarGadget AIS USB dongle and a cheap SDR dongle. One customer reported that dAISy’s performance is comparable to NASA AIS Engine, though I didn’t have an opportunity to verify that myself.  Range in the real world is hard to quantify as it relies so much on antenna, location and radio noise. In general, with a proper VHF antenna, line of sight works well. Boaters with the antenna on top the mast report a range of approx. 17NM, that’s also a typical range that I see from unobstructed shore-based stations. .”

National Coastwatch Barry now provides live AIS service for Mariners

Pocket Mariner and Digital Yacht have sponsored a new AIS receiver for the National CoastWatch Institute ( NCI )  station in Barry. Terry Ewington, the station manager, and his team helped us with the installation today and we now have a live AIS internet feed providing greatly improved real time coverage for the Bristol Channel from Bristol City centre across to Newport and down through Cardiff and Barry to Ilfracombe on the north Devon coast. The real time AIS data is available instantly for folks using our Boat Beacon, SeaNav and  free Boat Watch apps.

The NCI perform an increasingly important “eyes on the ground” role for marine safety, especially with the loss of many of our regional Coastguard stations due to centralisation by the MCA in the UK. The NCI have also recently been assigned VHF channel 65 as a dedicated  VHF channel to provide information and assistance on. Call them up on channel 65 if you are passing in the Bristol Channel or phone them on 01446 420746.

The Barry NCI station is in a wonderful and beautiful location at Nells Point with excellent views and a coastal path running past it. It is very well worth a visit if you are in the area or call them up on VHF Channel 65 if you are sailing in the area and need local information or help. You can check out the live data using this web link or on any of our apps.

http://boatbeaconapp.com/station/7039

IMG_0246

http://boatbeaconapp.com/station/7039

 

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 16.58.47

 

Zeus, Simrad and B&G GoFree settings for Boat Beacon

Here are some instructions on how to connect to GoFree on Boat Beacon Android to use AIS from your own boat’s AIS receiver.

On the B&G: Settings Page –> network –> nmea0183  –> Ethernet , take note of the IP Address (e.g. 192.168.1.109)  and Port  (port is usually 10110) . See screenshot below

 

 Inline images 1

In Boat Beacon: go to Settings –> scroll down to AIS Sources. Tap Local AIS and select TCP. Then tap Local AIS host and enter the IP address you noted from your B&G device. Then tap Local AIS port and enter the port number – e.g. 10110. Boat Beacon should then see the AIS data from your B&G instrument and the Local AIS light on Boat Beacon should go green,


Be sure your Android device is connected to the GoFree wifi networkIP. If GoFree on your boat doesn’t have a full internet connection available there is also a setting in Boat Beacon to allow you to use your 3G connection at the same time as connected to GoFree to get internet data (like email and the map overlays).
 
Inline images 1
 
Inline images 2
 
 

Boat Beacon and SeaNav Apple Watch App tips

Here are some tips/pointers from our initial experience of using the Apple Watch with our Boat Beacon app.

1. By default the Apple Watch shows a watch face when you raise your wrist to look at it. If you want to see your nav data on Boat Beacon you have to press the crown and select Boat Beacon. This is really annoying when you want to see your navigation information at the flick of your wrist. Fortunately there is an option in the Apple Watch app on your iPhone to ensure the Boat Beacon app (or whichever app you were using last ) stays on top – its in My Watch/General/Activate on Wrist Raise/Resume Previous Activity  – make sure this is ticked.

2. You need Boat Beacon on your iPhone/iPad to be in Sailing mode (Sailing button bottom left selected) to get  SOG, COG , Heading and CPA/AIS information on Boat Beacon’s watch app display. The same applies to our SeaNav Watch app which also has a Waypoints display.

3. iPhone Battery is draining much faster when SeaNav or Boat Beacon app has been run on  my watch even though it is no longer being displayed on the watch and I am not running the apps on my phone/iPad.

The problem is that when you launch the SeaNav or Boat Beacon watch app (or in fact any app that needs gps) on your watch it stays running even when its not showing on the watch face and/or another app (e.g. the clock) is showing. As it is running it will keep asking the iPhone for gps info which will eat battery on your iPhone. The solution is to “Force stop” the SeaNav app on your Watch when you have finished using it. Here’s how to do this:-

With the SeaNav/Boat Beacon app showing on your Watch screen press and hold the side button below the Digital Crown for a few seconds. The next screen you see features buttons for Power Off, Power Reserve and Lock Device. When you see this screen press and hold the side button again until you see SeaNav disappear and be replaced by the home screen.  There are more instructions for how to do a force stop here

We need a way to exit the SeaNav app on the watch more easily – either from the iPhone or more directly from within the SeaNav app running on the watch. This appears to be a mistake/oversight by Apple (a lot of folks with fitness and cycling apps are complaining to Apple about battery drain) and hopefully they will address it in a future release.

Just remember to force quit it on your Watch when you don’t need it running.

4. The wrist torch mode doesn’t work – looks like Apple won’t let the watch show a blank white screen (it worked in the simulator). We will take a look at how to get this working. For now you can use the AIS Map display to shed some light in the dark.

5. The watch screen is polarised to reduce glare and visibility is good on a bright day.  Apple have got the polarisation right – just like on instrument displays on aircraft –  it works fine with Polarised sunglasses. We tested with a pair of my son’s Ray-Ban Aviators and we could see the watch face fine. seanav-watch

 

 

Independent trials of the Pocket Mariner AIS Dual channel receiver.

With the help of a ShipPlotter user in Finland we have been able to run side by side tests of our Pocket Mariner Dual Channel AIS receiver with a mainstream commercial brand AIS receiver costing over 3 times the price. We are very pleased with the results, with the Pocket Mariner Dual Channel AIS receiver achieving almost exactly the same coverage/range/data rate of the well known commercial brand. Here are some stats comparing our Pocket Mariner AIS receiver on port 7018 (blue) and the other on port 5378 (red ) and screenshots at the same time of the coverage from the same aerial in Helsinki.

Rate of data received (bits/s)

Screen Shot 2015-06-13 at 10.58.10

We also found that the coverage/range for both the commercial AIS receiver and ours was significantly improved using a relatively in-expensive AIS frequency (162MHz) tuned filter and pre-amp on the aerial feed. We used and would recommend the VHF Pre-amp from Spectrum Communications (formerly known as the Garex pre-amp). They start at around £15 for the pcb built one and around £50 for a boxed version. The ship ranges in the screenshots below is approximately 150km (100Miles).  The tropospheric conditions were good.

7018 Pocket Mariner Dual Channel AIS Receiver coverage snapshot

 

Screen Shot 2015-06-13 at 10.45.42

 

5378 Commercial AIS Receiver coverage snapshot

Screen Shot 2015-06-13 at 10.45.53

N.B. The buoys at the top of the screen (North) are over 350km away and most likely Synthetic Aids To Navigation being broadcast by a shore based station nearer our aerial.

If you are interested in having a Pocket Mariner Dual Channel AIS receiver please get in touch with us at . support@pocketmariner.com

 

Row around Singapore Island (RASI), Mission to Seafarers and Boat Beacon AIS tracking

Pocket Mariner are very pleased to be sponsoring the  Row around Singapore Island  in aid of the Mission to Seafarers .

A group of 40 enthusiasts from the maritime and insurance community in Singapore have come together, to undertake a 24 hour endurance sea challenge, all in aid of the global maritime welfare charity, The Mission to Seafarers.

Mission Row Around Singapore Island (RASI), will see two teams in ocean-going rowing boats attempt the 140km journey, taking on the seas and shipping lanes (not to mention two live military firing ranges) to complete a non-stop circumnavigation of the island of Singapore. The event itself will be held during the 50th anniversary year of Singapore’s independence and will also coincide with Singapore Maritime Week on the 22nd / 23rd April, 2015.

Pocket Mariner have provided their Boat Beacon app to both teams so they can share their position and speed during the event and everyone will be able to follow their progress on our live group tracking web view service.

http://boatbeaconapp.com/portwatch/missionrasi.html. If you would like to add the view to your own web page you can use the following iFrame:-

<iframe src=”http://boatbeaconapp.com/portwatch/groupwatch.php?group=MISSIONRASI&drawtools=1&embed=1&groupgetotherships=0″></iframe>

 

If you are organising an event or a race and are interested in having live tracking available please contact us :- support@pocketmariner.com