Monday, January25, 2021
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DIY Boat Monitoring Skills

What you need to know

Skills you will need

By the time you get your boat monitoring system working you will either have refreshed or learned a number of skills. There are plenty of tutorials on Youtube and the Internet that can teach you any you don't already possess. Here is a brief discussion of some of them.

Before I give my list, let me comment on the photo above. I did not go directly to a PC Board. While I regretted that in hindsight, I did built a breadboard. You may want to do the same particularly if you are at all nervous with the process. This will allow you to make changes before finalizing the design. Note the wires which would normally go to the boat in this photo go to a test breadboard that just has wires that I can take to 12 volts or ground so that I can test the operation.

The list

  • The Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment) is very straight forward and is what I use to program these devices. The randomnerdtutorials I link in the software section are as good a place as any to walk you through it. For the basic IDE go HERE.
  • Soldering. I use a Weller soldering station and like it a lot. It is much better than the inexpensive soldering iron I used when I was designing test equipment and soldering up prototypes. Obviously a any soldering iron will work. The station I use is so old I can't even find it on eBay. The new ones look like they are digital and around $100. If this is your only project, just get a cheap soldering iron. Sparkfun makes one for $15 that DigiKey carries. Should be fine. Get a small chisel tip. For solder, I use 60/40 solder, .032, rosin flux.
  • Programming in C. That is the language of the Ardiuino environment. You don't need to be an expert but you should probably know why programmers are always writing "Hello World". Don't let this intimidate you. Any book on C or Arduino programming will do. It isn't difficult. The hard stuff is in the tutorials and I can answer any project specific questions.
  • If you are going to build a PC Board, you will need to know Eagle. There are others PC Layout tools but Eagle has the most support for the hobby community. I used the Jerromy Bloom tutorials. I worked with his dad. Both excellent engineers.
  • A custom Eagle parg for your ESP32. I have several ESP32 parts in my library that I built. Just ask if you want one.
  • Wiring, crimping, heat shrinking, drilling, boxing, etc. If you don't already know all of this I wonder how you own a boat. If you don't know this kind of thing, forget this project as I don't want you to catch your boat on fire or electrocute yourself. Just buy one of the existing systems and have someone install it. You might be able to do that for $1,000 or so or a boat buck as they say.
  • Buying parts. Mouser, DigiKey. I like DigiKey because they offer cheap shipping on small quantities and their customer service has been good to me. The parts for this are cheap so shipping can eat you alive.


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