Snoopy's Marine Traffic page


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Robin Snoopy robot boat to cross Atlantic from UK to USA

Snoopy's Marine Traffic page (hidden version for experiment)

updated 1745 Monday 2nd May 2016 UK time (not widely public)

Latest updates: Snoopy's SPOT tracker changed from SPOT3 to SPOT4

For more detail of Snoopy's robot boat, intended to cross the Atlantic, see the Snoopy page. Snoopy makes attempts every year.

This (Hidden) "Marine Traffic " page is to support our experimental exploitation of AIS web sites to show Snoopy's position in relation to vessels. The purpose is to help us better watch for approaching hazards to Snoopy, on his next attempts, like fishing boat nets ! You will see use of MarineTraffic.com in our blog of Snoopy's March 2015 Attempt. There is an example image early in the "Engineering Notes" below. This page is for use by a few individuals helping, and reads like a "blog", with more recent information at the end.

Other AIS sites include Vesselfinder.com , Shipais.co.uk , John-ambler.com , VWleathergoods.co.uk , and Myshiptracking.com . I already knew of Ship-tracking.co.uk in 2012, when Tony was so helpful in recognising that Royal Marine LCU, not using AIS :-)

Snoopy on Marinetraffic.com Why do we want to show Snoopy on the same map with nearby vessels ? If you look at last year's attempt above, you will see that some of us lost sleep, watching for Snoopy's close approach to things like fishing boats and their nets. Having Snoopy and the boats on the same map gives us less work. Also, if we can record the data, or the map images, we don't need to watch overnight. e.g. if Snoopy stopped reporting his SPOT position, just as a fishing boat was near. We could identify the boat and perhaps make contact with the boat owner the next day.

Snoopy on Marinetraffic.com That is the main reason, but there will be many other benifits if AIS users can see Snoopy's position: they might take a photo or contact us if they pass nearby. It's happened before during our earlier attempts, including both mobile 'phone calls from their boat and emailed photos later. They confirmed nothing was broken and Snoopy was sailing as he should - in the correct direction !

Mazim at Marinetraffic.com was quick to offer help and collaboration. However, delays in getting a reply from their Support person(s), made me take a "step back" and Google "AIS" . I immediately saw the many alternative AIS sites worth checking out. See the AIS Wiki Article if you need to know what AIS is.

Most of this page relates to putting Snoopy onto Marinetraffic.com, but I see no reason why it should not be some other site, if they are agreeable. If Snoopy is permitted to submit AIS data, then he would presumably appear on all these web sites. It is important that we know if only users of a particular web site will see him, as opposed to all AIS users.

This hidden page may include information that those helping me would not want disclosed publicly. A simpler version of this page, which IS now public, is "Snoopy's Marine Traffic" page on www.gpss.co.uk/snootraf.htm. However, it is well "tucked away", linked from BlogX , which in turn is linked from the prominent Snoopy page.

Please see "Engineering Notes" for some of the ideas to be tested. Maybe Snoopy can be made available to all Marinetraffic.com users ? If so, he might appear as on the left: the picture could include important information such as his small size !

We are waiting to see if Marinetraffic.com Support can make Snoopy appear, based on the SPOT position reports being forwarded since 15th February. If so, it should not be too difficult to automatically centre the map based on Snoopy's position. If they cannot add Snoopy, then we may be able to add our own javascript to achieve the same result. We would probably need to do this anyway, if we want to show extra information such as Snoopy's track over days and weeks, and his intended route.

Many Thanks to Mazin of marinetraffic.com in Greece for offering help and collaboration. Peter Facey, appearing on our Snoopy page, did the software supporting our past attempts, and I'm grateful for his help, along with Abraham in Holland.

Robin Lovelock, Sunninghill,UK. February 2016. white strip

Engineering Notes ...

Please see "for Mazin and support at Marinetraffic.com ..." at the very end, for things like the format of Snoopy's emailed SPOT position reports.

Here is my "Wish List" on what we might soon achieve. I can test the javascript suggested by Marinetraffic.com Support, Peter, and others such as Abraham.

Snoopy's March 2015 Attempt and Marine Traffic

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Live traffic using script provided by Marinetraffic.com ...

The live picture below is based on script documented on www.marinetraffic.com/en/p/embed-map#51pXjaCW6GtKMToG.99. It seems to work OK on the browsers I've tested it on, including Windows Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, and Android based smartphones or tablets.

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for Mazin and support at Marinetraffic.com ...

Snoopy on Marinetraffic.com Snoopy on Marinetraffic.com

I have switched on automatic emails of Snoopy's position to your reports@marinetraffic.com, in the format seen below. The first reports were for 1244, 1305 and 1324 GMT on Monday 15th February. The position is in my garden in Sunninghill :-)

We await seeing Snoopy appear and/or getting an email from you. If you require, I can change things like "SPOT3" to "Snoopy".

On the right is an image you are welcome to use.

I have read the instructions for email reporting in the link sent me by Mazin on www.marinetraffic.com/en/p/report-your-own-position.

Snoopy's SPOT reports are every 20 minutes, and have been public for years on the "Snoopy" page. You can go direct to Snoopy's SPOT tracking page. The same email reports are also sent for public tracking by Microtransat.org.

Snoopy's automatic emails to reports@marinetraffic.com were started, and first should be at about 1300 GMT on Monday 15 February.

white strip Format of Snoopy's SPOT email reports ....

Snoopy's SPOT Reports

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Engineering Notes (Continued) ...

It is possible that Marinetraffic.com Support are not able to show Snoopy, because of some reason like an MMSI number being needed. We can therefore continue with experimental software, such as our own Javascript. I've never written Javascxript before, but have simply plugged script from others into my web pages such as this. You can view the HTML source of this page in several ways. I do it, as I have for over 20 years, by using Microsoft Internet Explorer and File-Open with Notepad.

I found this introduction to graphics useful on www.w3schools.com. The picture below was made using Javascript suggested. The challenge, of course, is to map our new graphics, such as Snoopy's route, onto the Marinetraffic.com based picture. This includes things like how to add the graphics onto that particular Marinetraffic.com map image, converting latitude/longitude to the required display units, and getting the lat/lon of Snoopy from SPOT.

My experimental Javascript based picture (still under construction) is below. It should at least show "Snoopy", a circle, and route lines. Colours are not yet as intended, but I'll let others far more experienced than me suggest what to try next :-)

Your browser does not support the HTML5 canvas tag.

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This "hidden" MARITRAF page released to Microtransat List ...

The link to this page was released to those on the Microtransat Email List administered by Colin. The archives are public. Maybe that is why the email addresses are redacted. At the top of this page I say "not widely public" since the link can now be found, but that is not thought to be a problem: I am careful with content.

Here is my posting early Sunday 21st February .....

QUOTE

Hi Folks. Just a quick update to say that my first posting on this arrived here this morning, with the expected delay.
The good news is that those direct email addresses to me such as gpss@compuserve.com were NOT automatically redacted,
as they are in the archives on https://sourceforge.net/p/microtransat/mailman/microtransat-general/
So - No Problem. No change in what I said about things like CCing me direct to avoid delays and emails "crossing in the post".

Those web counters at the bottom show many of your visits (but not all of you, of course) around the World.
Our usual ~3 visits/day from our little group of "workers" has (temporarily) jumped to ~33 in 12 hours.

Perhaps Colin could let us know roughly how many people are now on this Microtransat mailing list ?
When I last asked, several years ago, I think it was in the ~100 ballpark.
Obviously Worldwide, with a large proportion being University based or old sea dogs

I'll continue to keep that maritraf.htm page updated, including latest progress and map images, etc.
Many Thanks for your interest and help.
Robin - and Snoopy
www.gpss.co.uk

On 20/02/2016 20:29, Robin Lovelock wrote:
> Hi Folks. Many Thanks to those like Peter, Abraham and Colin, who have been in direct email contact,
> and making some progress on this. I think now is the time to reveal the "hidden" page
> www.gpss.co.uk/maritraf.htm to a wider audience.
> etc

UNQUOTE

Use of Mobius camera to record marine traffic over several hours ...

Mobius camera recording marine traffic Mobius camera Myshiptracking One approach is to use a Mobius camera, taking delayed still photos over several hours of vessel movement. If we set the camera to record a frame, perhaps every 60 seconds, the data can be played back as a movie. e.g. 60x - 8 hours overnight in 8 minutes or less.

This can do something useful with no extra software, although it would be valuable to centre the map based on Snoopy's position, and/or show Snoopy on the map.

My Chrome and Explorer browsers do not seem to auto-update a Marinetraffic.com map, but I had no such problem with Myshiptracking.com. Remember to switch your screen saver off ! Here is a short speeded up video of marine traffic in WMV format. ( MP4 plays OK via my Explorer Browser but not via Chrome ). I used Myshiptracking.com. The same result can be achieved with software to grab images of the screen, and this is being tested by guys like Peter and Abraham. However, I don't mind resorting to extra hardware occasionally :-)

white strip

Does Snoopy need a MMSI number for his SPOT position to appear on AIS sites ? ...

email to OFCOM

1330 GMT 23rd February update: I rang OFCOM Spektrum Licencing at 1315, spoke to the nice lady who confirmed that they had received the above email, and that they would be able to visit this page. She needed no other information, and so I can expect their response in due course.

Experimental work by Abraham in Holland ...

RBAB0223.GIF I will add or remove material here, as Abraham wishes. What follows are images and para phrasing of words from Abraham. He has been working on software/scripts to automatically generate folders of images. See his animated RBAB0223.GIF on the right, and snapshot RBAA0223.JPG below.

For plugging Abrahams material into my www.gpss.co.uk pages easily, I'm restricting names to 8 alpha-numerics starting with "RBAA". The only file on my site to be avoided is RBABERH.GIF below, which just happens to be Aberwystwyth Harbour from when John of Team-Joker collected his boat. It's also recently topical because of the new page Toy Boat Sails Atlantic set up on 23rd February 2016 :-)

If Abraham has html/Javascript to publish, his own page can be RBABRIHA.HTM.

(More or less information here soon)

Here is RBAB0223.JPG ...

RBAB0223.JPG

Aberwystwyth Harbour ...

Aberwystwyth Harbour

Embedded map from Vesselfinder.com for experiment ....

Thanks to the Vesselfinder.com support guys, we can test their site here. The map below was based on script from www.vesselfinder.com/embed.

Mobiius+Kindle

Recording Vesselfinder.com map on Kindle with a Mobius camera ...

The above map seems to update OK, running under Android(?) on a low cost Kindle tablet. We will see how good a speeded up movie we get. Sorry that Snoopy the Viking wants to be in the video. His Windmill Boat is near the window, and his Atlantic boat is outside :-)

There is now the resulting video on www.gpss.co.uk/video/rbmtani4.wmv, or click on Snoopy on the right to play it.

The main problem is that a different Mobius lens is needed: the picture is out of focus and distorted. However, Vesselfinder.com worked well, including updates to the chosen ship details, with it's track. We could easily use some other camera, or use Abrahams suggestion of software to frame-grab - a much better solution. The important question is "can we find an AIS site able to show Snoopy ?".

Getting Snoopy's Position in Latitude/Longitude ...

Snoopy on SPOT

There are two ways I know where an AIS site can get Snoopy's Latitude/Longitude position from SPOT.

1) My arranging SPOT Emails, in format above, to be automatically sent to the AIS site. Marinetraffic.com claim they can do this.

2) The AIS site (or others making a map) to "scrape" the Lat/Lon from findmespot.com/mylocation/?id=TzEYA as done by Abraham.

The picture on the left is after using this link, and zooming into where Snoopy is now: my back garden in Sunninghill :-)

The good thing about this 2nd approach is that any of you can experiment, without my needing to send you the SPOT emails - although I am happy to set that up if you contact me.

Snoopy makes no secret of his location: the more people who know the better - they can watch to ensure he is OK :-) white strip

Recording Vesselfinder.com map on Kindle with a Lumix camera + Giga T Pro 11 Timer ...

Kindle+Lumix+Giga Kindle+Lumix+Giga

You can see the immediate improvement in picture quality, when using my Lumix DMC-G5 camera instead of the Mobius. It can focus correctly on the screen, and does not suffer the barrel distortion of a wide angle lens.

The disadvantage is that I had to buy an external timer at 70. I got the "Giga T Pro 11" from London Camera Exchange in Reading, with their usual excellent expert support. e.g. setting up Lumix+Giga in the shop and proving it worked OK.

I got the Lumix taking time-lapse photos, as we did with the Mobius, but resulting in better quality video.

Minor problems need to be sorted, like camera power, but this seems a useful tool, whatever AIS site or software we use. white strip RBMTPET1

Experimental work by Peter in England ...

Here is the fantastic result of Peter's experimental software.

You can see what is live marine traffic, but also Snoopy's planned route and his track (from part of an earlier attempt).

The link given to Robin, giving access to a live picture is not yet for public use. Auto-update of vessel traffic is not yet included, since it might need the OK from whatever AIS site we used.

Robin has tested Peter's software under Explorer and Chrome on Windows 7, and also on the Android Kindle: it looks good.

Peter obviously has other things to do, but Robin's "wish list" of what might be added include:

If we have a trail, we probably don't need Snoopy's position marked: he's obviously at the end of the trail. The links to SPOT3 and SPOT4 are on SPOT3 (in boat) and SPOT4 (spare) .

Snoopy Sloop now on the UK Small Ships Register as SSR164150

Snoopy Sloop on UK Small Ships Register as SSR164150 ! :-) Snoopy Sloop on UK Small Ships Register as SSR164150 ! :-) This was put in Snoopy's BlogX on 8th April....

"Paperwork arrived today from the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency with Snoopy Sloop's Certificate of British Registry. Click on it to enlarge. Snoopy's boat, at 1.2 metres long, must be the smallest on the UK Small Ships Register. His number SSR164150 is now on the side, in letters of the prescribed minimum height of 30mm. This was only done so that Snoopy might be granted a MMSI number ..."

This was put in Snoopy's BlogX on 13th April....

"An email reply came from OFCOM and, with telephone assistance in filling out the online Form, the radio Licence was granted, 1-324825004, with the MMSI 235116575". white strip

Change of Snoopy's SPOT tracker from SPOT3 to SPOT4 ...

On Monday 2nd May 2016. Snoopy's faulty SPOT Messenger, referred to as on SPOT3 was replaced by SPOT4 . This means that a different link may be needed within Abraham's and Peter's software. If needed, SPOT4 has ESN 0-7368026. SPOT3 was ESN 0-7379137. Details of the SPOT fault diagnosis and repair are in the current Blog . In short: lack of over voltage protection in the SPOT 3.6v solar power supply. white strip

Conclusions ...

Our biggest problem seems to be that the AIS sites like Marinetraffic.com, say that they are able and willing to help, but that they must rely on young support guys, who are students, or have "day jobs", and so do not have the time to look into the details, let alone implement it. Thank you those AIS sites that came back quickly, to tell me honestly their situation, and explain why they could not add Snoopy's position based on email or direct access to SPOT. However, I'm hopeful that an AIS site might "come up with the goods". Meanwhile, maybe my clever friends can find an alternative solution, as Abraham and Peter seems to show :-)

Lots more is going on elsewhere on this site: check out Toy Boat from USA lands in Wales :-)

Here we are visiting this page ...

The web counters below show when most of us visit this page. e.g. Robin or Peter in UK, Abraham in Holland. Positions are not accurate, but times are.

Only Hit Counter by Digits visits to this page since 13th February 2016, counted by www.digits.net .

© Robin Lovelock.