The High Seas Are Open Source

One of the biggest problems of owning an older boat (besides being a money pit – that is common to all boats regardless of age) is the lack of parts and equipment, and the lack of support for those parts if you can find them at all. Like most things, this is an area that can benefit greatly from some open source solutions, which the Open Boat Projects in Germany has been able to show. (Google Translate from German)

This group has solutions for equipment problems of all kinds for essentially any sized boat. At their most recent expo, many people were interested in open source solutions for situations where there is currently only an expensive proprietary option, such as support for various plotting devices. This isn’t the only part of this project, though. It includes many separate projects, like their solutions for autopilot and navigation. There are even complete hardware packages available, all fully documented.

Open source solutions for large, expensive things like this are often few and far between for a number of reasons. There are limited options for other modes of open source transportation too, as it seems like most large companies are not willing to give up their secrets easily. Communities like this, however, give us hope that people will have other options for repairing their vehicles without having to shell out too much money.

Thanks to [mip] for the tip!

9 thoughts on “The High Seas Are Open Source

  1. Would be nice to see a Plotter where the digital sea maps (SD Cards) doesn’t cost as much as the Plotter itself. The market is similar to the printer market with it’s ink cartridges.

    1. Some of the problem is going to be that in some waters, you legally need to have the “official” charts, all up to date. Those usually aren’t free either, and some of the chart plotter products do compare favourably.

      1. The official government charts are all free for major bodies of water, the problem is they are encoded in horrid way.

        So the plotter companies use those charts and add a few extra markers, points, bodies, etc and use there own proprietary file format. They then charge a ton for it.

        An open source marine community would be great for this, as we can decode the freely downloadable maps and display them on open sourced waterproof hardware.

  2. Undersea mapping sonar, that’s what we need open source, then crowd source the post processing. with fish finders getting really cheap these days ($60 for a wifi throwie) it would be nice to see it get a little easier to enter the side scan sonar market or “dual beam sonar reflective imaging” someone once called it. Most boatie’s with some tech knowledge have done all the other stuff like engine hacks, sound systems, gps, charging & power systems, fiber glass mods, hole shot enhancers , anti-cavitation guides the lot.

  3. I just LOVE this type of development.

    It is said that owning a boat (or any kind, but yachts in particular) is akin to standing in a shower tearing up £20 notes.

    Anything with the name ‘marine’ attached inevitably costs an arm and anchor so systems to replace the extortionate ‘captive market’ of marine instrumentation is to be welcomed.

    I’ve seen some paper-white (e-paper) display systems (brilliant – no pun intended) and bus systems to compare and compete with the likes of Raymarine etc – all that’s lacking is a common waterproof packaging system that utilises a common display that a complete, comprehensive and affordable DIY system could be built around.

    Kudos to the developers.

  4. Reminds me of “SV Seeker”, which is likely the single most impressive home built “anything” on the whole Internet.
    Or: Prove me wrong by posting a link to a bigger / more impressive project. :)

    1. What’s most impressive about SV Seeker is the way she floats!

      I kid, I kid. SV Seeker is an epic project, and one that we’ve featured a few times on Hackaday. But it’s also a perpetual work-in-progress, and of course that’s some of the charm.

      But still, I’d be stoked to see it in the water some day. It’s good to get things into the “done” pile every now and then…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.