Local Communication Link

by Web FishJun 12, 2013 @ 08:38am

Once the basic navionics package was assembled it became clear that we'll need some means of real-time monitoring of the system for tuning the command-and-control algorithms of the boat. The primary satellite link has a fairly steep cost factor associated with it and the SBD channel has an inherent delay which makes it impractical for real-time feedback and control. In order to maintain two-way real-time communication with the boat during development and testing (short of chasing the prototype in the pool with a laptop and USB cable :) we decided on a low-power radio link. This piece will evolve once boat moves on to large-scale testing as Bluetooth has limited range but for now it provides an easy way for communication with any BT enabled host device. 

  • Current selection: JY-MCU Bluetooth Serial Port
  • Status: Temporary / Stage solution

  • Criteria: Convenience, compatibility, power consumption, cost 
  • Finalists: JY-MCU Bluetooth, SainSmart Bluetooth XBee Shield, Pair of generic NRF24L01+ 2.4GHz transceivers
  • Main decision factors: Availability, cost, ease of integration

 (click image for larger view) 

Spec highlights:

  • 1.73 in x 0.63 in x 0.28 in (4.4 cm x 1.6 cm x 0.7 cm)
  • 0.25 oz (7 g)
  • Emulates standard COM port



  • Limited range suitable for close-range monitoring and control;
  • As the project evolves, we will be switching to the Nordic 2.4GHz transceivers. Those will require a separate host micro-controller on the PC/Tablet side to interact with, which makes the setup a bit heavier;


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