Having read excellent answers about using external USB devices on SmartPhones (HTC Desire in my case), I would like to complicate the issue still further: I'd like to use a Windows emulator on the Android OS in order to run an external AIS dongle (and possibly an external GPS).
The reason for this is that suppliers of these maritime safety devices seem to make them only with drivers for Windows (occasionally for Apple OSs too), but not for Android/Linux.
The point of what I'm trying to do is to avoid using a laptop at sea A)as they are vulnerable and have to be kept inside, B) go wrong at sea anyway C)have long startup times D) most important of all, they use a lot of battery power so can't be left on permanently.
What 'every' boat owner wants is a portable device that can run C-MAPS (sea charts) on a program called OPEN CPN (freeware) without entering into the equipment race by various 'big screen' GPS manufacturers who sell their various charts in various formats at exhorbitant prices.
So I know I speak for at least tens of thousands of people who would love to find a solution to this issue.
So does anyone know if/how to install drivers on, say, an HTC Desire to make it work with an external AIS dongle? (The data stream should be relatively simple if I understand rightly. Would I need Android drivers for the external USB or Windows drivers for it (if a Windows emulator is to be installed), or both? or is there a smart person who can make a driver for such external devices on a smartphone with Android and make himself 'millions' and avoid Windows altogether, (using perhaps Ubuntu or a stripped down Linux version (- OpenCPN works with Linux)). (Saying that, there will always be companies who make products with drivers for Windows only, so maybe via windows isn't the worst way?).
Boats work on 12v so the optimal solution would be to find a phone/tablet as the 'mother part' in such a system that works on 12v - or - if a voltage converter is to be used, the more efficient it is, the better.
The reason for wanting the device on all the time is for safety at sea - watching for an AIS signal 24 hours a day = a vessel approaching, or so that the 'anchor watch' can be used (= if the vessel moves more than a few metres whilst one is asleep, or the water depth changes, an alarm sounds).
Having researched the issue, it seems no in the whole world has made a system that runs Open CPN that is not laptop based. I haven't even found a tablet based version capable of running the external AIS receiver/GPS as well, which I find almost shocking. But using a phone would mean far less power usage and a cheaper platform, available to all. The ability to then connect an external screen (by the helmsman, for out in the weather, daytime, let's say) would be the creme de la creme.
Got all that? Good! ;)