Siren Marine Pixie boat monitor, and my own Arduino DIY version.

I toured a high-end yacht with remote monitoring devices & controls onboard; it was thrilling. The use of geeky modern technologies to boating has interested me for years.

I’ve taken up electronics as a hobby in order to create this sort of device for my boat. My first real Arduino microprocessor project is a system to monitor my boat and report to me via cell phone texts. I’ve spent my spare time in the last year researching decisions on the design, as I do the learning. And, the follow-on fun is guaranteed, as I can add the use of GPS and Internet and lots more later.pixie

I searched for an inexpensive version of this gear, but didn’t find a product that impressed me until recently. Up popped a great product from Siren Marine. See sirenmarine.com/products/. I’ve exchanged emails with the Pres and VP of this company, great and geeky sailors on the East Coast. They made some good design choices. Great customer support, all the right features, and a great price.

Meanwhile, my project rolls along. Convince yourself that it is possible to build this yourself by peeking at this website: the guts that make this system are sold to hobbyists at SparkFun.com (another is http://www.adafruit.com). Look through the “products” categories gps, cellular, and sensors. https://www.sparkfun.com/categories/23  No mystery, just a lot of tedious learning curve, and many details to sort out. The input sensors are the same little simple devices found inside your high water alarm or engine overheat alarm, etc., but it doesn’t help to have a red light or little buzzer when I’m not in the cabin. So it is the output side of the device that’s wonderfully geeky. Below, the board that will be the boat’s “cell phone”, and wish me luck! I’ll let you know when S V Pinga gets her own first cell phone.

Cellular_SparkFun

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mike
    Jan 16, 2013 @ 14:44:33

    Great minds think alike. I also work at Siren Marine, and forwarded your blog to others in the company who enjoyed reading it this morning. Congrats on your Arduino version! It looks great and we are excited to hear how it works out. Be sure to follow our blog as well, as we will be writing about you soon also.

    Reply

  2. Jack
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 06:09:42

    Wow! I am actually working on something very very similar myself!

    I was lead to your blog from the post on Siren Marine.

    I am also building an Arduino based prototype for remote monitoring for my boat! I even own some of the boards and parts you mentioned above. My project includes an Arduino Uno, Adafruit GPS shield and a sparkfun GSM shield. My plan is to eventually lay out a standalone circuit board, but I am not quite there yet. I will be using my prototype as a GPS logger to document a trip I am planning into the Bahamas in May.

    Reply

  3. SailPinga
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 22:39:27

    Thanks for your comment, Jack. Let me hear of your progress (pinga@zisfun.com). I am having fun with Arduino, I am a strong programmer but a klutz at soldering and such. Are you in Florida? And do you also have a blog? Best wishes, DDO’

    Reply

  4. Mike Moran
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 14:17:25

    Hello Jack and Deborah,

    We at Siren Marine are always glad to see fellow sailors communicating with their boats. If you ever have am arduino troubleshooting question send us an email at info@sirenmarine.com. We have run through multiple versions of the product, and got our first product going on a basic board too.

    We would also like to hear about any cool features you are trying out, if you wouldn’t mind sharing. We are constantly improving our product, and love to see enthusiasm among sailers when it comes to new boating technology. Good luck with your boards, and happy sailing.

    – Mike

    Reply

  5. Randy
    Jan 31, 2013 @ 22:56:54

    Curious if I could pick your brain here. I am VERY interested in constructing a remote unit, but I am not exactly sure where to start. Ay help would be fantastic. Thanks so much, and I hope that all is well. Randy

    Reply

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