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NMEA 2K & Raspberry Pi - Anybody?

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  • NMEA 2K & Raspberry Pi - Anybody?

    Started investigating this and am intrigued. Am I crazy?

    Opens up a ton of possibilities and potential audio quality improvements. Would want to pair this with Fusion’s MS-RA70NSX and Rune Audio OS. The secret sauce is the NMEA pi adapter in the link below, which makes the Pi bus powered.

    https://seabits.com/nmea-2000-powered-raspberry-pi/

    ¡Viva 205V!
    2003 X2 MCX

  • #2
    Are you speaking English?? LOL
    If its not a competition ski boat, its always second best.

    2008 MasterCraft X14, LY6, 400 HP
    1994 MasterCraft ProStar 205 (SOLD)

    Check out MasterCraft Buckeye Bash on Facebook!

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Double D View Post
      Are you speaking English?? LOL
      HA! Sorry, so here’s some more context.

      Been working to update the boat. Had been exploring the new’ish Fusion Apollo head units, but the flagship 770 won’t fit cleanly in my glove box. This is disappointing because the 770 has a cool feature that actually creates a WiFi network and allows you to stream music via Airplay 2, which has a better audio quality over Bluetooth.

      I settled and bought the lower model, the MS-RA70NSX. This model has NMEA 2K interface (wired connection used by their fancier remotes), but no WiFi.

      Few considerations:

      1. Is the juice worth the squeeze? Is there a perceivable improvement in sound quality over Bluetooth?
      2. If yes, is a USB powered DAC required for this improvement, versus using Pi’s internal audio controller?
      3. Is it technically possible to utilize the NMEA connection on the back of the RA70 to power the Raspberey Pi? Article below has this device plugging into a “backbone”, not directly into a MFD or media player.
      4. Fusion is known to have flaky support via the USB port for audio playback and control; e.g., using a USB flash drive loaded up with MP3’s.

      The thinking behind all this is that you could load up ~128GB of audio, leverage playlists and Rune Audio software with your phone to have a better listening experience. Have the Pi auto play when you turn on the head unit, versus futzing with your phone, etc.

      I did qualify this with, “am I crazy?” above!


      ¡Viva 205V!
      2003 X2 MCX

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      • #4
        Very interesting.
        -Tim

        Making boomers great again!! Boomin'

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        • #5
          So I did some more research and reading of the Fusion manuals. Specifically, the NRX2000 NMEA remote manual and it appears that while the RA70N and RA70NSX do indeed support NMEA, you actually have to have an existing NMEA network in place to take advantage of the protocol. Only the 670 and 770 support what Fusion coins "NRX", or in other words, the two flagship models actually create their own NMEA network and supply power.

          Installing the NMEA backbone drop is not a huge deal and not terribly expensive, but since I have zero plans to install any additional NMEA devices, it makes pretty much zero sense to pursue this path. I did however discover a likely more cost-effective approach and that is to simply utilize USB to power the Raspberry Pi. The RA70NSX actually has a USB port on the back of the unit and they sell an adapter connection kit that allows you to charge your phone along with 3.5mm aux input. If that kit is an optional accessory, then I'm banking on the fact that the USB port will actually power the Pi, the Pi will power the DAC and I'll use the S/PDIF optical out of the DAC to a converter and run RCA's back to the HU. Bing Bong!

          I'm going to do a little bit more research on which version of Pi to buy and then start shopping the parts and pieces. Should be a fun little project and I'm hearing from others that the sound difference over Bluetooth is both perceivable and legit. More to come.
          ¡Viva 205V!
          2003 X2 MCX

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          • #6
            Standard USB ports do provide enough power to run a Raspberry Pi.
            -----------------------------------
            Mastercraft ProStar 2019 5.7L - Current
            Mastercraft X25 2014 6.2L - Current
            Nautique 200 OB 2012 5.7L - Current

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            • #7
              Originally posted by jpwhit View Post
              Standard USB ports do provide enough power to run a Raspberry Pi.
              That's not necessarily correct, but I guess depends on how you define 'Standard USB ports.' Also depends on use case and what you're trying to use the Pi for.

              I just built out a Raspberry Pi 4 b with a HiFiBerry DAC+ Pro ADC running Volumio. Sounds pretty darn fantastic. I added a GL-iNet "Mango" mini USB travel router (USB-powered), which is powered by the Pi and am powering it all (just for testing) with an Anker Power Bank 26800. Still have some networking to sort out, but I'm getting close. When tethered via USB and enabling my iPhone's hotspot, I have full functionality and can stream via AirPlay, SpotifyConnect and also pull down high quality FLAC stream directly from the Pi using the Internet directly. Now I just need to solve for the personal hotspot functionality without being tethered via USB cable. I can get the router to get it's Internet connection from the iPhone's hotspot without a cable attached to the iPhone, but I can't then connect to the router's wireless network from the iPhone (router acts as a wireless repeater) without then it disconnecting the hotspot clients. This simply may not be possible at which point, I'll have to resign to being tethered or I'll investigate a LTE hotspot or USB LTE modem that can connect to the Mango and look to adding service to our data plan. I think worst case though, I can simply use a second iDevice as the remote control for Pi's Volumio instance and then just let my iPhone act as a hotpot only. I will be testing that next. Definitely some more A/B testing to do, but I will say the Volumio software for the Raspberry Pi is pretty darn impressive and this has been a fun little project.


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              ¡Viva 205V!
              2003 X2 MCX

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              • #8
                So my hunch was correct. For now, I can use a second device as a wireless remote for Volumio by connecting to the Mango's WiFi SSID, "MasterCraft". This leaves my iPhone free to serve as a wireless Internet hotspot and no need to tether via USB. Pretty freaking cool, IMO. Now anybody on my boat can connect to the boat's WiFi network allowing for WiFi audio through the sound system versus using Bluetooth. They'll see "MasterCraft" as AirPlay and SpotifyConnect targets now in their music service applications on their devices and no need to futz around with pairing, it will just work.

                Need to do some more testing and also figure out for sure that the DC step down converter is going to work properly, but it should. Worst case, this power bank has been working flawlessly and I've been on it for hours now and only dropped one bar. Will ultimately mount the Pi and router up near the head unit. That will get done when I have the Fusion RA70NSX installed.
                ¡Viva 205V!
                2003 X2 MCX

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                • #9
                  A standard USB port is rated for 500ma. And since you said you wanted to use the USB port on the back of the RA70NSX, I wouldn't expect that to provide much more than the USB standard.
                  -----------------------------------
                  Mastercraft ProStar 2019 5.7L - Current
                  Mastercraft X25 2014 6.2L - Current
                  Nautique 200 OB 2012 5.7L - Current

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                  • #10
                    Hopefully no offense taken. Whole project has been a learning experience and I never counted on ability to run all this off the back of the Fusion head unit’s USB port, but now am confident a simple and inexpensive 5V 3A buck converter (or maybe 2 if necessary for added functionality) and a simple switch is going to provide me with what I need to power everything. Like I said, worst case I just use a power bank. Been running flawlessly off of a single USB cable from the Anker power bank all day without issue. The power bank is rated at 5V 3A output. 6A total, but only 3A max per output.


                    ¡Viva 205V!
                    2003 X2 MCX

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                    • #11
                      so, lazy
                      ¡Viva 205V!
                      2003 X2 MCX

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                      • #12
                        I can hear it now. "Dad, the radio isn't working. Hold on, I just have to SSH into the boat and restart the server"

                        Just kidding. I think this is a cool project I'm always looking for new Pi projects and had not thought of putting one in the boat! Super surprised to see someone mention Rasberry Pi on the MC forum. I thought I was on the wrong forum for a minute
                        '07 Navy Blue X2 MCX
                        http://www.wakeblaster.com/
                        Ballast Timer Reprogramming Info
                        Timer Reprogramming Thread

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by tr6coug View Post
                          I can hear it now. "Dad, the radio isn't working. Hold on, I just have to SSH into the boat and restart the server"

                          Just kidding. I think this is a cool project I'm always looking for new Pi projects and had not thought of putting one in the boat! Super surprised to see someone mention Rasberry Pi on the MC forum. I thought I was on the wrong forum for a minute
                          Yup!!

                          I'm running dual Pi Holes, got one on my 3d printer, two running fight aware, 1 as a CCTV hub. So many cool things to do with them.
                          -Tim

                          Making boomers great again!! Boomin'

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tr6coug View Post
                            I can hear it now. "Dad, the radio isn't working. Hold on, I just have to SSH into the boat and restart the server"
                            at least you didn't say "telnet"

                            i've had a pi 3 sitting in a drawer for a couple years, i'd love to leverage it to run a touch screen that would control my surf gates and potentially more but this is way above my level!

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                            • #15
                              I really like this a lot and was thinking about it. Agree that airplay way better than bluetooth on many levels. But having to tether the one phone to make the connection seems like a pain and then can you also stream from that phone or just the others?

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