Voyage Data Recorder

Use Voyage Data Recorder to record and play NMEA files.

1. Download and Install

VDR Voyage Data Recorder is available as a managed plugin. The OpenCPN Manual has general information in Plugin Download, Install and Enable for installing this plugin. This is the preferred way.

In OpenCPN, go to the Options → Plugins and download, install and enable the Tactics plugin.

  1. In OpenCPN Click Tools-Options-Plugins

  2. First "Update" the master plugins catalog.

  3. Select the VDR entry and "Install" the plugin.

  4. In the list of installed plugins "Enable" the Tactics plugin and "Apply".

  5. Use “Preferences” to set your preferences (should be self-explanatory). Then “Apply.

  6. After successful installation, the plugin should be available in the plugins tab of your OpenCPN options dialog box.

  7. Then close Options and the two Play and Record VDR Icons should appear in the Toolbar.

2. Purpose

  • Record and Play the Nmea0183 data stream in OpenCPN.

  • Use VDR for AIS Simulation - Run VDR to play AIS NMEA files. Or… use the VDR plugin to record your passages and replay them later! The VDR is also great for testing NMEA sentences, the Dashboard and new OpenCPN features. These are just a few examples, of how to use this versatile plugin.

  • When VDR is activated in ToolBar→Options→Plugins→VDR, two Buttons appear in the ToolBar.

vdr icons

3. Operation

  • The left button is for recording, and leads to a “Choose file” dialog to select the file to record to. A file with a .txtfile extension works well.

  • The right button is for playing an existing file, and also leads to a dialog where the file must be selected. Once selected VDR starts to play the file,the small dialog below shows on the screen.

vdr control
  • You can control the speed with the upper slider. Far left is slow, natural speed, while moving the slider to the far right equals fast forwarding. Please note that the setting under options/ships/calculate SOG will impact which SOG values are shown when playing fast forwarding.

  • The lower part of the dialog shows the progress.

  • When recording, the VDR plugin includes all NMEA data available on the internal bus in OpenCPN. Even data not recognized or used by OpenCPN will be recorded. Everything (almost) in the ToolBar→Connections→NMEA debug window will be included.

  • In other words. The VDR records everything from all ports and does not participate in the downstream multiplexer filter or priority scheme. That way, a VDR recording may be played back, experimenting with various filters and priorities if desired.

  • If you are playing a file with the VDR at the same time, even that data will be included. So it is possible to play and record at the same time!

Want to play ?

  • To get started, download this file.

Save and un-zip and you have a .txt file. The file is ready to play. * If you can’t find the boat, have a look in the Adriatic or just press the “Auto Follow”, or press F2. The view will now center on the action.

nmea debug dsc
  • The VDR shows up as “PlugIn Virtual” in the NMEA Debug Window.

4. FAQ

Why is my SOG way off and showing 60-70 knots in the Dashboard, when I playback a file?

Uncheck “Calculate SOG” option in Preferences. See Playbackfrom recorded file