Navigation Telecommunications

OpenPlotter – GPS Connection


OpenPlotter (Ref.1) is a Linux based Operating System that runs on the Raspberry Pi computer. The Raspberry Pi is extremely popular in the education field. It is well documented, compact and requires very little power. This makes it ideal to form the basis of an electronics navigation system for a small craft. In the previous post we looked at the installation of OpenPlotter. In this post we will look at how to remote OpenPlotter on your laptop using VNC server, then we will connect GPS and configure it on OpenCPN. Note that depending on the model of RPi that you have, different power supplies are required. The 4 USB ports can supply up to 1.2A (Fig.1).

FIg.1 RPi Power Consumption Model 3B+ & 4B

VCN Server(RPi) & Viewer(Laptop)

When you start the OpenPlotter OS, the VNC Server Icon is located in the Top Right Hand corner. First under Raspberry/Preferences/RaspberryPi_Configuration/Interfaces enable VNC. Then click on the VNC server icon and make a note of the Network address that appears under connectivity (Fig.2/3/4).

Fig.2 OpenPlotter Desktop VNC Server Icon Top Right Hand Corner
Fig.3 VNC Network Address Shown Under Connectivity
Fig.4 OpenPlotter Setup for VNC & GPS

Once you make of a note of the address, you can remote the RPi from your laptop. First download the VNC viewer Ref.2 and use the address noted to connect to the RPi.

GPS Connection on OpenCPN

Now that you can work on the RPi desktop, under the Raspberry Icon, locate OpenPlotter and go to the Serial connection. Under Devices, locate the GPS USB connection, in my case it was …/ttyUSB0. Give it a name, assign the correct protocol, in my case NEMA0183, then the correct Baud Rate = 4800bps and Apply. Next got to Connections, highlight the ttyUSB0 and assign it to ServerK. Again, assign the correct Baud Rate = 4800bps. Finally go to OpenCPN, Connections and add a new connection and tick off ServerK. You should now see the Red Boat symbol and GPS signal strength bars in the top right hand corner (Fig.5). Fig.6 YouTube Video details this procedure.

Fig.5 OpenCPN Chart Showing Red Boat Location
Fig.6 YouTube Video OpenPlotter – GPS Connection

Please send your comments, questions and suggestions to:

YouTube Channel
YouTube Channel


#1. -“Openplotter”

#2. – “VNC Viewer”

#3. – “OpenCPN”

By Jeremy Clark

Jeremy Clark is a Senior Telecommunications Engineer and Advanced Amateur Radio Operator VE3PKC. He is the author of E-Books on Telecommunications, Navigation & Electronics.