What is MuVIT?
The basic Multi Vessel Interactive Trainer (MuVIT) was created out of a need to create a cost effective simulator which could be incorporated into boater education classes such as those offered by the Americas Boating Club. Over time it continues to evolve, with add-ons, and the customization capabilities of the software.
How does it work?
MuVIT is a computer based simulator which uses COTS parts (commercial off the shelf). Below you will find a list of all the parts as well to links to the vendors and their pricing to build a marine simulator environment to allow for practicing boat handling in myriad conditions. It is expected that at the high end, if you already have the laptop you can build this in the $500 range.
The platform was designed to be simple and cost effective compared to other trainers which are available and typically weigh-in well into the 5 figure range. The computer is often considered the most expensive component but the software has modest resource requirements. Our current system is an HP4540s which is a 10 year old laptop that easily runs the software. I would expect that any laptop or other PC made in the last 10 years would perform fine. We are aware of one system which is running on Vista as well as Windows 7/8/10. All the peripherals (throttles, console, screen) connect through standard USB, HDMI/VGA connections so once configured it is usually plug and play.
Can I build a basic MuVIT system?
In short yes, the Bill of Materials and sources I have found are below.
The first thing you are going to need is a computer. We built the original MuVIT on an HP 4540S which has an i5 processor and 4GB of RAM, a pretty basic system. I have spoken with several squadrons who have built them on much smaller machines. These need not be dedicated machines. In many situations you can do your classes on the same machine and can just click on the simulator to start it. It is very likely that anything that was made in the last 10 years will work. The software is very undemanding of system resources and we routinely run PowerPoint concurrently.
You can test your system by downloading a demo of the shipsim package and try it out. If all works fine you can go to the ShipSim website and buy the full program for ~ $30. We recommend the 2008 version of the program as that is what we have tested. If you have any questions feel free to send an email and we will be happy to assist.
One thing to consider for the computer is that you may want a SSD (Solid State Drive) for the hard drive if you plan to take it to boat shows. The like as the physical handling can be a little rough on rotating media.
The console is one of the critical components and often the most expensive one at approx. $400. It has built-in throttles which will support single or dual engines arrangement based on the software configuration. It also has 26 buttons which can be used to dynamically turn on or off a large number of functions and options within the simulator. This does occasionally show up on Amazon but I’ve found the most reliable and quickest shipper with the best price is fspilotshop. There is a brief tutorial about the console available on the tutorials page. If the console is not something you want immediately you can run the simulator completely from the keyboard and mouse and our first version used a basic flight simulator throttle quadrant by Logitech. Clunky but it worked…sorta.
The Logitech Wingman wheel is what we have used for many of the simulators as the ships wheel. Used they can be purchased in the $40-$50 dollar range used. These can be sourced from Amazon or Ebay and likely many other places. The key point to remember is that you want a USB connector, not a joystick connector. Based on what we’ve tested, most any wheel should work, some need power, some don’t. The Wingman has the advantage of not requiring an external power source, although there is a power port on it. The powered ones often have the advantage of being self calibrating. Either will work fine as a helm wheel. Those flipper levers on the back can be used to change the point of view thus allowing a full 360 degree view of the environment. The buttons can be configured as horn, binoculars, etc. as needed providing great flexibility in configuration.