For many years, I am sailing in the Netherlands. Used a standard Garmin GPS and an Android tablet with maps from NV charts as ship navigation system. This was working fine as a ship navigation system, but it is all closed software and partly closed hardware. Combining this and add more info like depth or speed from a log is not possible.

In the future, I want to sail more outside the Netherlands, so I need better navigational tools on my ship. Beside a position, speed over ground and direction Overground from GPS, I also want to have water depth, speed through the water, wind speed and wind direction. Therefore, I have to upgrade my navigation systems. I also need to update charts for the coastal waters.

For the upgrade of my navigation systems, I have two options: one is buying a complete and reliable system from one vendor or two, build my system using standard open hardware and software. Both solutions have their advantages and disadvantages. See below about advantages and disadvantages.

Building my own Ship Navigation System

I have decided to build my ship navigation system to have an open, highly customizable system using modern techniques. The other reasons that I have decided to build my navigation system is:

  • Be independent of a vendor (I can choose what I want and combine it)
  • Navigation System for a reasonable price.
  • Use of modern techniques.
  • Distribute all data internal to devices like smartphones and tablets
  • Have full control over the data
  • The learning experience and fun to do

To share my knowledge and my learning experience, I will create a series of articles about the build a usage of it. If you like this project and want to support it, please buy your components using the affiliate links on this site or give a donation using the donation button on the sidebar. If you have any information to share or a comment to make, do not hesitate to send me a mail.

Below you find a list of separated articles I have created to describe the different parts of my navigation solution that I use sailing with my ship.

Advantages and disadvantages own build vs buying

There is a lot of advantage and disadvantage between building your own system and buying a standard solution of a vendor. Bottom line, the major difference is that the ready-to-use solution is reliable and needs less maintenance but has a high price and vendor locking. Although the own build system demands more maintenance time, it offers the advantage of an open system without being tied to a specific vendor.

Ready to use systemSelf-build system
Easy to install, preferably by a certified installerInstalling by your self
hardware suitable for marine usageHardware needs to be modified to be suitable for marine usage
Closed software (vendor locked)open software easy to share and combine data and systems
Software updates responsibility the suppliersoftware updates your own responsibility
Cost fixed depending on the options and support period ($1000 and more)Cost depending on the solution (less than $500)
(limited time) support of the supplier/vendorsupport form other users and by your self