Race Data On Deck
Note: If you are coming to St. Maarten/St. martin for the Heineken Regatta, Les Voiles de St. Barth or the St. Barths Bucket and need assistance with the setup below, please contact us well in advance of your arrival as many of the items that are involved in a successful installtion require lead time for ordering.
Lots has changed in the remote access world since the days of clunky Toughbooks tethered to Windows XP Machines over VNC. Modern tablets are lighter and offer better capabilities
Tablets for outside access
The new iPad Air 2 with its reflective coating screen makes a noticeable difference in daylight viewing, even in the sun. The iPad Mini 2 or 3 do not have that coating, but benefit from small size while still offering high-res “retina” display which is important for screen sharing. Any iPad will of course need to be placed in a waterproof case.
The Panasonic Toughpad waterproof line comes in several sizes, running Windows 8 and Android.
Remote Access software
Remote Access software brings your PC-based DeckMan, Expedition or other race software display from your computer below to a tablet outside.
Our choice nowadays for remote access software is Microsoft Remote Desktop. It is included in every “Pro” version of Windows, and a free viewer is available for iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices. Remote Desktop Automatically scales the computer display to match the resolution of the remote tablet, resulting in the best-possible viewing experience. It also offers a quite capable “touch” mode that enables most operations to be done without turning on a mouse pointer. The only drawback of Remote Desktop is that it “takes over” the computer display so the physical monitor cannot be used during a remote access session.
If you absolutely need to view the computer display on both tablet and physical screen at the same time, Splashtop is a reasonable alternative, as are the various tried and true VNC options. Display quality will suffer, so you will want to carefully tune the screen resolution to find the best compromise between physical screen and remote tablet.
Wireless Instrument Data
By placing NMEA data on your boat’s IP network you can have instrument data sent directly to an app running on a tablet (such as iRegatta on iOS/Android or Expedition on Windows). We do this by installing a gateway device that receives NMEA 0183 data from the boat’s instruments and converts them to IP packets that are transmitted over the boat’s wired/wireless network.
Wi-Fi Network Performance
When streaming real-time screen images to a tablet in an open cockpit or while leaning over the rail, a strong, clean wireless signal is a must. This gets complicated with metal and especially carbon fiber hulls and spars which block wireless signals. If they are indications of performance issues (“freezes” or “drops”) then a careful Wi-Fi site survey should be performed and external antennas added/relocated.