This past week we were able to integrate the Virtual Sailor software with the BSVT platform successfully. For those who were not at this year’s Governing Board meeting, this is one of our significant milestones. We had been working on this for a couple of months since we got a full BSVT unit to work with. The wheel was never a problem but getting the Mercruiser electronic throttle to interface correctly was a continuing issue.
Issues with the BSVT and MuVIT
The primary issue we ran into was that the Mercruiser throttle, although acting essentially like a joystick, produced strange and wondrous results when connected to the Virtual Sailor software that left us scratching our heads. One moment it would act like a throttle, then suddenly become a steering control that only worked to port or starboard, never both. Sometimes it didn’t seem connected at all. So essentially it was a pig’s breakfast as far as being able to control the vessel. Conversely in the BSVT software, it worked fine.
This required some troubleshooting with specialized equipment to determine that the throttle interface was generating a lot more data in the throttle data stream than was expected and in a form that was also unexpected. Not a big deal if you have the documentation, which we don’t but trying to figure it out it in the blind is…challenging. We’re still not sure what some of the data is for but we were able to decipher what was going on and filter the data so it was usable. It doesn’t really matter at this point, we got what we need to move forward and make the Mercruiser throttle work with MuVIT.
Now that we have overcome that hurdle, we can move on to some other challenges. First we need to get the throttle calibrated to MuVIT. Not a big deal as numerous utilities exist to accomplish that.
After that, we need to begin adding peripheral devices. An ignition key for starting the engine(s), a switch for the blowers that need to be on before the key can start the engines, and a lanyard and kill switch that works. Bear in mind that these will only be in the MuVIT module or in the standalone MuVIT platforms, not in the BSVT module of the combined platforms or a standalone BSVT.
The MuVIT platform allows vessels to generally operate as either single or dual-engine models, that is a dual-engine model can be configured to behave as a single engine if desired with the characteristics appropriately adjusted. Essentially it syncs the engines. The standalone MuVIT systems utilize dual throttles to make use of those twin-engine configurations where they exist, and while it may be possible to modify the BSVT console to support that, it would only be in the MuVIT module and not in the BSVT module.
There is something to be said about using the real Mercruiser throttles now that we know how they work. But, they are pricey at $1000+ and complex and that has to be a consideration. The upside is that they seem to be hard to kill and add to the realism of the simulation, which are both strong positives.
A case could be made either way and perhaps offering both the real Mercruiser throttle and our 3D printed version which have a much lower price point as options is something we should consider. Different people and groups have different needs and requirements. We’d love to hear your thoughts on that, you can email me at email@example.com and let me know what you think.
Our primary target is still the laptop simulator/trainer. We were doing the BSVT integration to determine if there was a way to get the two products to coexist so there were no issues with obsolescence going forward. It would appear from a software and technology point of view the two can work on the same machine.