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MuVIT Simulator

Inexpensive and expandable – The MuVIT boating simulator.

Are you looking for an affordable boating simulator that offers an extensive range of functions, controls, and capabilities? Do you require a wider variety of boat types and sizes, including sailboats, personal watercraft, trawlers, and cruisers? Are you in need of advanced instrumentation like a fish finder for depth measurement, a chart plotter, and an NMEA interface to OpenCPN? Are you seeking realistic scenery based on actual locations and data? If your answer is yes, continue reading.

So, what is the MuVIT boating simulator?

The MuVIT boating simulator was created by the Tampa Power Squadron, a unit of the United States Power Squadrons, to enhance their boating safety course and their continuing education offerings. This interactive trainer is a cost-effective and portable solution that utilizes commercial off-the-shelf components and software, allowing you to build your own simulator platform fairly easily.

The current implementation of Tampa’s MuVIT boating simulator offers a comprehensive simulated boating experience at an affordable cost. It supports screens of any size, as long as your computer can connect to them. The wheel, control panel, and throttles can be conveniently packed into a compact rolling case. The CPU used is a standard laptop that is commonly available to any squadron, rather than an expensive gaming laptop. We currently use an HP4540s i5 laptop, which was released in 2010 and performs perfectly well. Instead of retiring that old laptop, repurpose it as a boating simulator for boat shows or classroom demonstrations. Recycled hardware is free hardware.

Reducing the costs

We are moving away from the expensive VRInsight console primarily due to the difficulty of sourcing that device and the associated high cost. Instead, we are going to a system that uses a tablet to perform the functions previously performed by the switches, so essentially a ‘glass cockpit’.

The throttles are 3D printed by us which keeps costs down and use a common commodity micro-controller with a standard USB connection for the interface which should plug and play with Windows 10/11. The switches for items such as the chart, radar, depth finder, etc. we have implemented a tablet-based interface You don’t even have to buy a tablet if you already have one, just download the app, Unified Remote, from the app store (iOS or Android) and the server (free) which runs on Windows, then add the config files we build, or build your own.

The cost of the MuVIT simulator hardware aside from the laptop is now under $300 not including the computer if you build it yourself, which is much less than the previous incarnation. It has greater capabilities while still not requiring a high-end laptop.

The good news is that the new software still supports the VRInsight console if you already have one so you can continue to use your existing hardware or buy a VRInsight console if you want to go that way.

MuVIT boating simulator dual throttle
3D printed dual throttle
Muvit boating simulator 7 inch android tablet
Example 7 inch Android tablet switch console

Better software with more options

We have replaced the ShipSim software with Virtual Sailor NG from Virtual Sailor NG offers more capabilities and a wider range of vessels to choose from. It is also a supported package, unlike the retired ShipSim software. Once set up, you can load various types of vessels including runabouts, pontoon boats, yachts, and sailboats. However, it is important to note that nothing can substitute real-life experience on a boat for learning proper boat handling skills. For squadrons operating in areas with commercial traffic, additional large vessels can be downloaded for simulations, allowing students to gain insights into the movement, turning, and stopping capabilities of these crafts.

MuVIT with OpenCPN integration

MuVIT software is designed with integrated NMEA capabilities which enable seamless communication with OpenCPN or other compatible software. In the depicted configuration utilizing OpenCPN, MuVIT is linked to a wireless network that facilitates the transmission of NMEA 0183 data across multiple computers. This setup ensures efficient and reliable exchange of information between the connected devices. The NMEA functionality within MuVIT enhances the overall performance and usability of the software, providing users with a seamless navigation experience.

This site is a work in progress so bear with us and check back as we will be making regular updates.