DIY foredeck camera

  • Project started in 06/2019
  • Project start as an ultrasonic distance sensor with two front sensors
  • ESP8266 as an evaluation unit with WLAN
  • 12V / 80mA

After some discussions in the forum, the idea came up to use a camera that is installed at the height of the spreader and looks out onto the foredeck. There are already commercial products such as the Raymarine CAM100, which costs around 700 EUR and can only be integrated into their plotter. The idea with the camera was further refined and the use of an ESP32Cam module in a foredeck lamp housing was favored. The original project with the ultrasonic distance sensors was discontinued in favor of the camera project.

  • ESP32CAM module and LED deck lighting combined
  • White 3W Cree-LED as foredeck lighting
  • 1W IR LED for night picture
  • PIR and brightness sensor for automatic light and alarm system function
  • Weather data with BME280 (temperature, air pressure, humidity)
  • Power supply via foredeck lighting (approx. 1.5W, without lighting)
  • WLAN image transmission
  • Operation and display in the web browser of a mobile phone or tablet
  • Integration in commercial products is basically possible (e.g. plotter)
  • Possible adjustable image resolutions:
    • 1024 x 786 5 fps @ 350 kB / s
    • 800 x 600 8 fps @ 350 kB / s
    • 640 x 480 11 fps @ 350 kB / s (optimum)
    • 400 x 295 20 fps @ 350 kB / s
    • 320 x 240 22 fps @ 350 kB / s
    • 240 x 176 25 fps @ 350 kB / s
    • 160 x 120 25 fps @ 350 kB / s
  • Camera angle of view approx. 50 °, fixed focus lens
  • Front deck light can be activated via app or PIR sensor
  • Adjustable follow-up time for motion detection (automatic staircase lighting)
  • The camera can also be used for remote monitoring of the boat

In principle, even more functions could be implemented with the intelligent camera:

  • Image forwarding possible when motion is detected on the foredeck
  • Optical distance measurement via image evaluation
  • Visual foredeck monitoring of a selected zone
  • Visual motion detection
  • Optical travel direction display in connection with the rudder deflection (similar to a reversing camera on a car)

Distance sensor with ultrasonic sensors

Camera integrated in foredeck lighting

Concept studies

First prototype

circuit board

Fully equipped prototype

Integration in Plotter software