What would you do to a boat?

(Andrew Urman) #1

What interesting ways would you make a boat a SmartBoat?

(Freetobelee) #2

I would imagine a moisture sensor somewhere would be a must :wink:

a “don’t start the ignition unless I am on the boat” program would be handy (using a presence tag) to prevent theft if it is hooked to a buoy.

powering the whole thing all the time is the challenge…. solar?

(Matt) #3

fascinating topic - i love the idea of using SmartThings outside the home.

i might start off by putting a moisture sensor in the bilge to alarm the user (or automatically kick on the bilge pumps) when water reaches a certain level.  if you leave your boat out without a cover and it rains it can cause problems

(Life Of 3 14159) #4

What would you think of enlarging this topic to include RVs? I live in an RV (which is similar to a boat in many ways, if you take away the barnacles, huge white whales (unless you count the other people who live in the RV park with me as “huge white whales”) and the need to understand signal flags – plus I can’t drown if I walk out my back door whilst sleepwalking at night…

I can think of lots of stuff with regards to Propane/Fuel tank levels, fresh water tank levels, black water / grey water levels, etc. galley / supply inventory types of applications, combining several different metrics such as “length of time since last barnacle scrub” with “number of excursions since last full re-supply” and these tank levels plus various and sundry other “known mean-time to failure/empty” metrics in order to come up with an “Excursion Readiness” vs. “Length Of Planned Excursion” to give you a better idea of how much time you need to spend in order to get ready for an upcoming excursion.  Also, moisture detection – like a thing on the collar of your dog that detects whether it’s in water or not because your dog can’t yell “dog overboard” – if you were to add light detection / compass headings to motion detection, you could get really creative and make a smart thing that allowed for either automatic or manual repositioning of the vessel to keep the boat heading into waves more seamlessly while you’re sleeping so you don’t wake up with a bad case of hurls.

That’s the best I can do off the top of my head – there’s other stuff there, but now I’ve got the word Barnacle stuck in my head and that’s not a good sign.



(Bb Sailor) #5

most digital electronic devices on a boat output information in either the NMEA 0183 or 2000 sentence structure.  These sentences are transmitted on a “bus” for all connected devices to read and use.  for ex - lat/long coordinates transmitted from GPS picked up by the VHF radio.  This allows the VHF radio to transmit those coordinates in an emergency situation.

there are devices that can be attached to this bus that will translate these 0183/2000 sentences into data packets transmitted via wi-fi to an attached computer - fine in situations where the computer is on the boat with the user.  In unattended situations (anchored, at the dock) it would be nice to have these sentences transmitted via 3/4g to a “listening” app.

I like the “presence” tag to prevent starting.  In addition, if the boat is moved from a “home” location (being towed) without the presence tag an alert could be sent.

All this would need batteries to be left on and some equipment operating - but for larger boats there is sufficient battery capacity and usually some form of trickle charge (via solar panels/dock power).  Would also be nice to have a monitor of the battery condition and report dangerously low levels.

(Velo Steve) #6

A fairly random collection of ideas…

My first boat-related thought was not for out on the water, but for when my little boat is at the dock in front of the house.  A motion sensor could detect either of two things - a trespasser on board or large wakes.  We have a problem with people ignoring the no wake rule, and it would be great to have a heads up when it happens.

Definitely an interface to the NMEA devices would be nice.  My “fish finder” has sonar information and GPS, but doesn’t make it easy to use outside their system.  A device to make that data more accessible - and to act on it with appropriate apps - would be great.

You could even do some automation on a sailboat pretty easily, given the right hardware.  Imagine easing the sheets and heading upwind a bit when the boat heels past a specified angle.  It might not be desirable for racing, but while cruising it would be quite handy.

To repeat a concern I raised elsewhere, many of the applications mentioned in this thread need to work without constant internet access.  It’s fine to use the internet for setup, but I very much hope that operations which don’t fundamentally require network access are able to carry on without it.  When my home internet connection is down, or a boat or RV is on the move, Things need to keep working.



(Jim Beletti) #7

I’m an RVer and I’m writing a Smart Things “use case” for an RV. I’m sure there’s a lot of overlap with a RV and Boat use cases.

(Solardave1) #8

Could we get it working right at home before we go sailing please?

(ActionTiles.com co-founder Terry @ActionTiles; GitHub: @cosmicpuppy) #9

+1 … what @solardave1 said.

(Brian Steere) #10

The hub itself would need a lot more functionality as I imagine most boats don’t have internet access.

(Solardave1) #11

Buy a submarine and use it for target practice.

(Rick Bullotta) #12
  1. Moisture/water sensor for leak detection
  2. Vapor sensor for fuel fume build up detection
  3. GPS location and orientation to detect that boat has moved/shifted from its anchor/mooring/dock
  4. Depth sensor to know if boat is going to hit bottom (useful if anchored/moored offshore or nearshore)
  5. Battery, refrigeration, fresh water and other key system status
  6. Solar charging subsystem monitoring and control
  7. Ambient environmental conditions (temperature, wind speed/direction, etc.)
  8. Motion detection for intrusion alerts

@Dianoga - a lot of boats do have internet access. Cellular or satellite.

(Bb Sailor) #13

I’m working on ST Hub connectivity to the internet from a boat (this would also be a solution for an RV, or other “traveling” hub situations. There are two main issues - establishing the connection to the marina hotspot and then keeping it active.

First - establishing the connection - depends a lot on the Marina/hot spot provider. Most marinas have some form of authentication - in my home marina after connecting to the hot spot I have to “login” with my user name and password. At a marina to which I travel frequently, they provide a WPA passkey - which they change frequently. A third marina displays a terms and conditions page (similar to what you see at Starbucks) and asks you to click to accept the terms. There are even some which ask for some form of payment - same as you might see in a hotel.

Second - keeping it active - of course when we leave the marina we loose the connection and have to reestablish it upon return. In addition, these hot spot providers frequently (at least it seems frequent to me) reset their routers requiring anyone connected to re-authenticate - perhaps to clear up/free up unused connections, to prevent fraud/abuse etc. I think that marina offices are given a short list of “things to do” when a boater complains that wifi isn’t working - first step - turn it all off and back on and see if the problem goes away! So even when my boat remains in the marina and we’ve set up a good connection - it might not stay connected.

Depending upon location in a marina, my laptop wifi wasn’t always powerful enough to effectively use the connection. To solve this problem and to provide easy internet access to others on my boat, I’ve installed two products from BitStorm - xtreme WIFI and Unleashed. The xtreme WIFI is a hi-gain omnidirectional antenna and built in router. This device pulls in wifi signals from up to 5 miles away (line of sight required - but I’ve tested it and it works). It produces a list of all wifi hotspots and can remember security passkeys etc. I can setup default wifi hotspots to use - or simply select from a list. I have used this feature to “borrow” access from unsecure WIFI devices in an anchorage area surrounded by McMansions.

Connected to this device is the Bitstorm Unleashed product which rebroadcasts the wifi signal around the boat (range is adjustable). I’ve configured this internal wifi as a secure network and give the SSID and passkey to friends and family who are on my boat. This allows multiple computers on the boat to connect to my private wifi and be connected to the internet. I believe most of the external hotspots see my setup as a single MAC address(even when multiple computers are using the connection) - which means that the first computer that accesses my wifi will be prompted by the external hotspot to authenticate. Subsequent computers accessing my internal wifi are not usually asked to authenticate on the external hotspot.

To connect my ST hub to this setup I needed a way to attach the hub wirelessly to my internal network. That was accomplished with a CISCO WET610. I plugged the ST Hub ethernet cable into the CISCO device, configured it to look for my boat’s wifi hotspot and passkey when powered on. With no other computers using my connection to the internet - the ST Hub isn’t “seen” on the internet, however, after logging into the hotspot with my laptop - my ST hub goes active. It stays active and working even after I have shut down my laptop.

As long as I’m on the boat, I can monitor the Hub and connection and re-authenticate using my laptop when it gets disconnected. The CISCO device reconnects each time and the ST hub goes active again.

The one remaining issue I have now is how to keep this connection “hot” even when I am not on the boat. More on that exercise later.

ADDENDA - I could solve these connection/re-connection problems by purchasing a “mi-fi” device. My xtreme Wifi would detect the mi-fi and authenticate to it and then all internal (to the boat) connections would have internet access. This would require an added monthly fee - which I’d rather not add at this time.