Side project: Marine Weather Radar

I am researching open-source projects for marine weather radar.

The weather radar hardware manufacturers are proprietary. I understand why, and I’m not against it. But I would like to have my data in one place if I can. To do that, I need integration. That will affect my choice in purchasing hardware.

To research:

Hardware manufacturers of marine radar for pleasure craft. Do they provide an API? What equipment is necessary?

Open-source projects used for integration of systems in the marine environment.

What I’ve found:

OpenCPN seems to be the open-source software of choice for chart plotter navigation. It seems they have AIS (traffic) integrated among others. I have also seen integration with older radomes as part of the radarpi project.

The industry standard for networking devices together is NMEA2000, which is a protocol far too slow for radar data, but seems to work well for things like wind speed, gps position, depth, etc.

Signal K is an open source project for integration of NMEA2000 stuff into the PC. From what I’ve seen so far, they’ve put a lot of work into it.

The Ultimate:

A PC connecting to the boat’s WiFi network that connects to a server (perhaps running on a Raspberry Pi) that talks to boat systems.

Related links:

GnuRadar: Need to explore

Cruiser’s Forum: Post about someone wanting to do the same, but dated.

SI-TEX MDS 8R was (is?) a Radome that plugged into a PC’s ethernet port. Interesting, not sure if it continues to be in production.

After more research, it seems radar is going the ethernet route. More of them are going headless, and I am hopeful that standardization is coming soon.

Update 16-September-2020

radar_pi has done a lot of work on this already. It seems the tight grip that manufacturers have on their hardware limits (but does not eliminate) the usefulness of writing such code.

Manufacturers do sell the antenna separately from their head units. Whether a setup replacing their head unit with a generic one would cause things like voided warranties have yet to be seen.

To truly reverse engineer, build, and test such software would require the actual hardware. This post talks about someone working on such a thing with Furuno hardware.

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