04/02/2020

WiFi APP connectivity for ‘old school’ wired sensors and autopilots

Everyone’s talking about it… using phones and tablets as chart-plotters. Tablets are much more affordable than chart-plotters and have the flexibility of being light and mobile, not wired into one location.

Advances in marine data technologies now provide an easy way to view all your marine data (GPS, AIS, wind and depth) on an iPad (or Android tablet) and even send way-points to your autopilot from a tablet or other wireless device.

This mobile convenience has been a real game-changer in the marine electronics industry and is changing the way that sailors, group and solo navigators access their data and utilize their limited space. Not having to dash to and forth to the chart table speeds up decision making and adds a layer of convenience and peace of mind, previously only dreamed of.

The additional speed of response also improves safety and performance. Similarly in the racing world, we have seen vast improvements in results for teams making use of this technology. Many sailors use this as their primary navigation aid, while others use it alongside their chart plotter for added convenience and backup. And on small leisure boats, Tablet and phone APPs are providing an accessible chart plotting option to a wider market.

There are many misconceptions,

Many believe that they need to invest in a  completely new system if they want to view their marine data on their tablet. Some believe they need to invest in New WiFi wind sensors, depth readers, WiFi AIS receivers, WiFi chart plotters and WiFi auto-pilots in order to be able to access all their marine data and set their way-points over WiFi.

The reality is much simpler and cheaper. There is no need for the additional cost and waste of replacing a whole system. Even older devices, don’t need to be made redundant.

So how do you suddenly get data from your wired marine sensors onto your tablet? And how can you communicate via WiFi with a sensor or autopilot that doesn’t have a WiFi antenna or any WiFi capability?

The answer is simple, a single WiFi multiplexer. It connects your sensors and devices to each other and transmits their data to your wireless devices throughout its WiFi range. Essentially, this one box is connecting all your devices to your phone, laptop or tablets, but with very little set up needed.

As an example, here is a setup using the QK-A033 to connect SeaTalk1 inputs, 3 NMEA 0183 inputs, 2 NMEA 0183 outputs with 2-way USB connecting and the all-important 2-way WiFi connection to tablets and other mobile devices.

How to connect marine sensors and autopilots to iPAD and tablet APPs

A good multiplexer can merge different data types. For example SeaTalk1 and NMEA 0183 can be joined on the same system.

There is a device for every combination of data types. Devices like the QK-A032 join older NMEA 0183 devices to your new NMEA 2000 equipment and make all the data accessible through WiFi

Do I need roaming data or an internet router to make this work?

No, you don’t need a wireless router or internet onboard. Quark-elec WiFi multiplexers transmit your marine data through their own WiFi signal. Simply scan for WiFi networks, select your Quark-elec device and enter the password to view your marine data.

Some multiplexers, like the A033, have a 2-way WiFi connection that also allows you to send instructions and information wireless from your tablet to the connected devices.

You don’t need a router or access point. Of course, if you do have a WiFi router and want to add your marine multiplexer into your greater network, that is also easily done (this is referred to as Station mode WiFi). All our WiFi products come with both these WiFi options.

Which APPs should I use? This depends on what data you want to see in your APP, for example AIS, GPS, Wind, depth, etc.

There are a wide variety of APPs available for both iPhones and Android phones and of course iPads and tablets. To find out with APPS are compatible with your laptop/phone/tablet check here.

So will any WiFi multiplexer work for my system?

Choosing the right multiplexer is important to ensure it has the right connection types and functions for your systems. The ease of viewing your marine data on a tablet, and being able to send way-points to your autopilot or chart plotter is very tempting, but this can all seem like ‘myth and magic’ before you understand the basics.

Still seems like Myth and Magic?

This 2-minute video runs you through the basics and ‘buzzwords’ and guides you through what features you may need for your specific system.

The A033 is one on our top picks for WiFi connection to your marine products, however, there are many other Marine WiFi products.

So don’t feel you have to throw out your current marine equipment, or that WiFi connectivity is out of your reach.

Feel free to email us details of your current system if you would like support choosing your ideal marine multiplexer.

News, General Interest Article, Marine Electronics
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