iPad Enclosure Project Started 04-11
This is an ongoing project, but I wanted to get something on the web page to show progress. The problem to be solved is to be able to see and control the CAPN navigation software at the binnacle in the cockpit.
Yes , I know, just purchase a Chartplotter and your problems are solved. Well I have been using the CAPN for close to 15 years, and prefer it to using a Chartplotter. Back to the problem or in this case the solution.
The set up is as follows. The CAPN navigation software runs on a PC that is normally at the navigation station. Of course you can bring the PC out to the cockpit, if you have a GPS connected to the PC, and navigate the vessel from there. You could also purchase a ruggedized waterproof PC, but this is not a cost effective solution. If you think purchasing an Apple computer is expensive, wait to you look at a ruggedized waterproof PC. And there is the waterproof monitor mounted in the cockpit with a touch screen to operate the navigation software. Another very expensive solution. Also we have not even mentioned the wiring, mounting, and connections to install the waterproof PC or the waterproof monitor.
In my specific case I am running the CAPN navigation software on my MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro is running VMware Fusion which allows me to run Windows XP or Windows 7. In my case, I am now running the CAPN on Windows XP. I have Windows 7 running on the MacBook Pro, but have not got the CAPN installed on it as yet. This is a very trouble free setup, now that I have purchased a reliable Dlink USB hub.
So we have the problem. Now the solution is to use an Apple iPad in the cockpit to display the screen of the PC running the CAPN that is physically in the navigation station. You are able to control the CAPN with the iPad in addition to displaying it. The really nice part about having the iPad in the cockpit, is when you are done navigating, you can get back to reading your ebook, or watching your favorite film, or get back to those Spanish lessons you have been listening to while on watch. For our testing I am using an iPad 1, but hopefully the enclosure can be used for the model 1 or 2.
I am working on an enclosure out of King Starboard . The first pass was to make the enclosure out of three pieces of Starboard screwed together as a sandwich. At first I did not have a real iPad , so I used a cardboard cutout of the proper size.
The first enclosure had a bottom piece of Starboard 3/4” thick and 10” wide X 11 3/4” deep. The second piece in the sandwich was the same size, but it was cut out in the middle for the iPad to fit into. The top piece of the sandwich is a piece of Starboard 3/8” thick with the same outside dimensions. The bottom and middle piece were screwed together, then the iPad was inserted, and the top piece was screwed down. At this time we did not have a piece of plastic to cover the iPad. Stacy had come to visit us in Marathon, and he brought his iPad with him. We went out to DREAM AWAY and tested the feasibility of the enclosure in the cockpit and the software working between the computer in the navigation station. and the iPad. We used iTeleport Connect via an onboard router for the WiFi connection between the computer in the navigation station and the iPad.
The software worked perfectly, we were able to control the CAPN software running on the computer in the navigation station from the the iPad in the cockpit. This test brought out a couple of issues that needed to be improved. The stand we were using to hold the enclosure was too small. We needed to find a plastic cover for the iPad. We need to use thinner starboard, because the enclosure was too heavy.
iPad Enclosure Second Pass.
The Panavise 727-04 pedestal mount I was using was the four inch model, and was too short, so I ordered the Panavise 727-09 slimline pedestal nine inch model. With this mount, I was able to attach the pedestal mount in the center of the enclosure. This made it very easy to turn the enclosure from portrait to landscape mode.
This second pass at the enclosure, I made the following changes. The bottom piece of the enclosure was exchanged for a piece of Starboard that was only 1/2” thick. Screwing the three pieces of Starboard together was cumbersome, and getting the iPad in the enclosure was not elegant. I decided to keep the bottom piece and the middle piece screwed together, but I was going to bolt the top piece to the “single” piece made up of the bottom and middle piece.
I had two choices to bolt the top piece to the other piece. I could drill and tap the bottom piece for the bolts or use T-nuts. I was concerned drilling and tapping the Starboard. I was worried about the threads in the Starboard wearing out, and then not holding the enclosure together. I decided to go with stainless steel T-nuts.
To use the T-nuts, I drilled a hole in the bottom piece of the Starboard. The hole was just large enough for the 1/4” X 20 T-nuts to fit. I then got a six inch 1/4” X 20 bolt and put it into the hole in the bottom piece. I then put the T-nut onto the bolt. Next I got a small torch and heated the T-nut to cherry red, then grabbing the bolt with a pair of pliers, I pulled the T-nut into the Starboard. This caused the T-nut to melt into the Starboard. I did this for all six T-nuts and it worked perfectly. When everything cooled off, I was able to bolt the top piece of the enclosure to the bottom piece, and it was a very tight fit.
I did not have a real iPad nor did I have a proper Mylar sheet to put between the top piece and the bottom piece to protect the iPad. I took a piece of window film and put it between the top piece and the bottom piece, with my iPhone in the enclosure. We are going for concepts! I was able to use the iPhone and send a text message to Stacy from the enclosure on the work bench in the garage. I next tried the enclosure on the binnacle. I was able to send and receive a text message with the window film and the enclosure on the cockpit binnacle.
iPad Enclosure Third Pass
The next pass for the enclosure was to modify the center piece of the enclosure so we could insert the iPad from the bottom of the enclosure. I also needed to get real Mylar sheet to use on the enclosure.
I ordered two 20” X 50” X .005” Mylar sheets to fit in between the bottom and top of the enclosure.
Now I took the enclosure apart, and the bottom piece was separated from the middle piece. The bottom end of the middle piece was cut off. The ends where the piece was cut off, I drilled and tapped a 1/4 X 20, hole on each end. I then put the bottom piece and the middle piece back together.
From a scrap piece of 3/4” Starboard, I cut a piece to the proper shape that would fit into the modified bottom of the enclosure. I drilled a hole in each end so the bolts would pass through the piece, and then into the newly modified center piece. If you look at the pictures following, all this will make more sense??
This modification to the enclosure, in conjunction with the new Panavise 727-09 slimline nine inch pedestal made the installation of the iPad into the enclosure much easier.
The two Mylar sheets came in so I cut a piece for the enclosure. I was worried at first, because the sheet seemed very thick, but I was able to operate my iPhone through the Mylar sheet.
Now all I needed was a real iPad. My son Stacy to the rescue. On his visit to see us in Jacksonville he brought down an iPad 1, that was a development machine, that I can use for the enclosure development. The installation and operation of the iPad went off very smooth. I had to purchase the iTeleport Connect app for the iPad to get it all to work, but work it did!!
These next few pictures are already on the web page under Passages Made, but I wanted to also put them here. These pictures show the iPad Enclosure under actual usage during a passage. The concept works, but the Mylar needs to be replaced, as the present Mylar has way too much glare. The third picture shows the CAPN on the iPad, while the fourth picture shows the CAPN on the MacBook Pro in the navigation station.