Raspberry Pi On Board

Having a few weeks off this Christmas meant that I could start having a play with some Raspberry Pi work that I have been wanting to do for a long time, but simply haven’t had time.

A brief initial scope:

  • View vessel systems via web browser in a central location.
  • Enable view of AC & DC systems.
  • View solar PV data in the same “app”.
  • Enable remote start of generator manually or automatically based on certain parameters.
  • View current status of generator Running/Stopped/Fail To Start.
  • Enable remote heating start/stop and current status (bi-directional).
  • Automatically switch certain lighting systems depending on outside light levels.
  • Track certain battery parameters in a log file and visually display this (TBD).
  • Take N2K and/or SignalK info and display repeated data in the same “app”.
  • Display compressed vessel CCTV in the same “app”.
  • Inverter control, load monitoring.
  • Potential auto selection of AC supply. Between shore power/generator/inverter.
  • Virtual tank monitoring.
  • Ability to know bilge pump status and when it was activated and how long it ran for, etc.

Essentially the system will be a collector of information and an intuitive centralised display system. It is actually going to perform very little apart from automatically starting the generator should the batteries require charging and shore power is not available. As well as piggybacking my current remote heating system and turning a few select lighting circuits on and off automatically. It is not a system that will be relied on at sea, it is only complimentary to my current analogue and integrated monitoring systems.

Some things to focus on will be designing a user interface, simply this is going to be made with Node Red as it is quick, easy and looks good. Hardware should be considered and will more than likely consist of pre-made boards which can be integrated simply by connecting to GPIO pins on the Raspberry Pi. This should save a huge amount of time.

The main board is a Raspberry Pi 3, Model B which I had already from previous prototyping jobs. This is installed with the default Raspbian OS. I have fitted a “wide input SHIM” from Pimoroni. This is a variable voltage power supply and as this system will be used onboard a boat, power can sometimes fluctuate.

The main piece of additional hardware is a “AutomationHAT” also made by Pimoroni. This will deal with the inputs, outputs and a couple of switching tasks through the built in relays. This sort of stuff can be built DIY, but to keep things quick and simple, pre-made boards are where my attention is at.

Next time, I’ll post about setting up a simple user interface and by then, hopefully will have decided on a final list of sensors required to complete the job.