Saturday, August 30, 2014

EPSON XP-212 printer scanner on Navigatrix

I bought an EPSON XP-212 printer scanner. The idea was to use it on the boat with an inverter, maybe handy for printing out weather forecasts and maps and perhaps scanning and printing pages from pilot books.

It cost me £50 from  a shop in Macclesfield (

Initial test is with the computer at home with an identical version of Navigatrix linux.

First of all the instructions that come with it are almost completely useless and the CD that comes with it is basically a link to the web site! Good job I had a go at doing this at home.

To get the printer to connect to my home wireless access point seemed impossible using just wifi, although the EPSON web site had a mac application that connected (after a long wait) to the printer and then told it the password for my home access point (interestingly I have more than one access point and it did not give me a choice).

Once configured it appeared as a network printer when I did Preferences>Printer Configuration.

This worked fine and I printed a test page.

I could not however get it to scan over wifi so I plugged in the USB. I then tried Office>Scan documents but it could not find a scanner.

I then installed xsane as alternative scanner. Same problem.

Then I went to download EPSON drivers.


(actually you need to install the data one first)

from the EPSON website.

Simple Scan and Xsane still didnt work. However if I tried

sudo xsane

(which gives you a warning that you must be insane to run sane as root)  worked ok.

Its clearly a problem with permissions.

Possible solution is here on an Ubuntu forum

I tried the groups and permissions thing and that didnt work so I tried the more dangerous (well it is a single user system!) approach of adding this to

# usb scanner
SUBSYSTEM=="usb", ENV{DEVTYPE}=="usb_device", MODE:="0666"

Both scanning programs now work. Over USB connection at least .

I am planning on installing a Netgear wireless router (it has a 12v supply) aboard Tui. This should enable me to use the printer wirelessly from other devices aboard... but that is another story.

Friday, August 22, 2014

PACTOR + Navigatrix + WInlink. Just works

How do you send position reports, emails and get weather GRIB files when out at sea beyone phone range. There are two options a satellite phone, with high call charges, or a PACTOR modem and HF radio. Tui already has an ICOM M710 SSB radio so what I needed was a PACTOR. I bought mine second hand from the extremely helpful Paul Richards at Radio Exchange in Australia. It shipped with excellent comprehensive instructions and the right leads for my M710. As Tui is still in Denmark and I am at home I wanted to get it up and running  here first and get some experience.

So I connected it to my ICOM 706 ham radio. I also have a computer at home with the same software as the boat computer, the special cruising edition of Linux Navigatrix

The main problem was getting the right cable as it is different from the M710 a 13 pin DIN to 8 (or 5) pin DIN. I had the 13 and bought a 5 from Maplin, but with my 3rd best soldering iron, the poor quality of the plug and my poor soldering skills I destroyed it. I thought Maplin might sell a ready made 5pin DIN lead I could use.
Going in to Maplin asking for DIN plugs I felt like the guy in the not-the nine o' clock news sketch with the man buying the gramophone. "A DIN plug granddad, we only have HDMI cables these days"

So I went down the road to a famous guitar shop Johnny Roadhouse. I remembered musician's MIDI leads have 5 pin DIN plugs and musicians like really nice cables as their music obviously deserves to travel through superior cables and gold plated plugs. Result. Cut the cable and soldered a 13pin DIN plug.

I have to say the nice thing was it all just worked. Using Winlink I was able to send an email to myself and to retrieve a GRIB file. As a radio ham I can use Winlink (which is free but donations encouraged) but the alternative (as a a licensed marine radio operator) is to use SailMail (which is a not-for profit but you have to join $250/y).

I really like Navigatrix. It has exactly the software you need for sailing, all set up so it mainly just works out of the box and has an excellent support community (including special provision for supporting people at sea emailing over their PACTOR). One could of course install all the programs on any Linux distribution but you would spend several days getting it all to work and you would have to know what you are doing.

Its worth mentioning that if you are in the UK the first place to try for yacht HF/MF communications and Pactors is Bob Smith at Yachtcom/Sailcom. He could have sent me the right cable by return if he did not happen to be away sailing at the time, he will also sell you PACTORs and ICOM radios with excellent support. In this case it just happened I got a good deal on a second hand one from Radio Exchange. He also teaches the Long Range Certificate, and doing his course is the least traumatic way of passing your Long Range Certificate. Having done this and my full l amateur radio license the LRC is much easier and less work. If you love sailing but don't really like electronics and radios the LRC with Bob, buying the kit from Bob and getting him to set it up is the least painful route. Then use SailMail. If you love electronics and techy stuff and can just about solder on a good day (like me) the ham radio route is better as you end up with a better idea how to fix things yourself when they go wrong.