This article describes the typical installation process of EVOLUTION aboard. This applies only to the onboard computer.
It includes requirements, recommendations, guidelines, and a few tips for those who have the task of putting everything to work. Usually, a qualified EVOLUTION specialist will do the initial installation for you. Still, a team member having a basic knowledge of Windows can efficiently complete the job.
You can use EVOLUTION on any Intel/AMD x86-based computer running Microsoft Windows. Any version since XP will work. However, we recommend using Windows 10/11 Professional. A 4-core CPU with 4GB of RAM and a 250GB SSD will have power in excess to run EVOLUTION.
Please remember that if you will be using a wireless deck display connected through the Microsoft Remote Desktop utility, it is mandatory to use the Professional version of Windows.
You can choose a mini-PC for an onboard computer, usually remaining fixed aboard. Or you can go with a notebook you can take after sailing.
If you prefer an industrial mini-PC…
- Go for one with a fan-less cooling system and complete aluminum casing.
- Be sure to select a 12 volts model that can connect directly to the boat’s power.
- Find a secluded dry, and well-ventilated place. For example, under the cockpit floor or a dry locker.
- Avoid electrical connections between the PC case and the boat’s structure. Try using plastic pad-eyes and zip-ties to fix the mini-PC in place.
- Select a 12 VDC small display, a mouse, and a keyboard of your choice. With the system configured, you can opt to use a tablet on deck to control the mini-PC so that you can store these gadgets away in a dry place.
If you use a notebook…
- Aim for a small one. They are easier to carry and protect.
- Choose a rugged or sturdy model. We like Panasonic Toughbook, Durabook, Getac, and Dell, but you can decide on a regular model.
- You will also need a 12 VDC adapter for the specific model you pick.
- There are many ways to secure the notebook to the boat. Remember that the display lid would be closed most of the time since you’ll use a deck display (tablet) to control the notebook below. Using custom-made shelves or open mesh fabric are some excellent options.
- If this is a used notebook, do a Windows clean install, eliminating unnecessary apps and files.
There are a few Windows settings you should look into before moving forward. If you don’t feel comfortable following the instructions below, get a helping hand from a friendly Windows geek.
Enable Windows to accept Remote Desktop Protocol connections. This is essential if you connect a tablet as a wireless deck display.
In Windows 10, you will find this option by selecting Settings→System→Remote Desktop. On the panel, turn on the Enable the Remote Desktop switch. After confirmation, you will notice a couple of checkboxes below. Both should be checked.
For Windows 7, use the Start button, right-click on Computer, and choose Properties from the context menu. A new form opens. On the left panel, click on the Remote Settings option. The System Properties form opens; choose the Remote tab. On the Remote Desktop box below, click on the “Allow connections from computers running any version of…” button. Click OK.
Don’t go to Sleep
Avoid sleep state when the lid is closed. This only applies to notebooks and keeps it working even when you close the display cover.
If using Windows 10, go to Settings→System→Power & Sleep. Click “Additional power settings” in the right panel under Related Settings. A new form opens. On the left panel, pick “Choose what closing the lid does.” Select Do nothing on the following form for the “When I close the lid:” drop-lists.
In Windows 7, use the Start button, then open the Control Panel. Choose Power Options, and a new form opens. On the left panel, pick “Choose what closing the lid does.” Select Do nothing on the following form for the “When I close the lid:” drop-lists. Click on Save changes.
Avoid sleep state and screen off by time-out. By default, Windows might enter a sleep state or turn off the display after an interval without activity. This applies to notebooks and mini-PCs.
For Windows 10, go to Settings→System→Power & Sleep. On the right, for the Screen and Sleep options panel, for the “When plugged in…” and “On battery power…”, select Never for the drop-lists.
Using Windows 7, use the Start button, then open the Control Panel. Choose Power Options, and a new form opens. For the active plan, click on Change plan settings. A new form opens. For the “Plugged in” and the “On battery” columns, in the “Dim the display:”, the “Turn off the display:”, and the “Put the computer to sleep:” options, pick Never. Click on Save changes.
Deal with the crazy mouse!
When Windows starts, it looks for a legacy serial mouse on any RS-232 (real or virtual) port working at 4800 bauds per second. Many marine instruments use the same connection standard.
Long story short, at start time, Windows can mistake, for example, an active GPS for one of those extinct mice. Windows interpret the data sent by the GPS as mouse motions and actions. You will see the cursor on the screen jumping around and things getting weird on the desktop. The best solution is a bit tricky. Be careful!
The following method works for Windows 7 and 10 by changing a setting in the Registry. These are the steps:
- Click the [Windows] + R keys. The Run form will pop up.
- In the Open box, type in: Regedit and press the Enter key.
- The User Account Control form will request confirmation. Click on YES. The Registry Editor will open.
- Use the left panel to navigate the hierarchy of the Registry to a key identified as
- Once this key is selected, on the right-hand panel, you should find an item named: Start
- Double click on the Start item. A small form will open, allowing you to change its value.
- On the “Value data:” box, change the value to 4. Click on the OK button.
- Exit the registry editor window.
Note: setting the Start item value to 4 will disable Windows from looking for serial mice.
Is .NET Framework 3.5 installed?
EVOLUTION needs this Windows feature to be installed. Sometimes Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 is part of Windows installation; other times, you will have to turn this feature on manually.
On Windows 10, using the search icon on the taskbar, enter “Turn Windows features on or off”. At the top of the search pane, Windows will offer this app. Click on it, and a new form will open. If you see that the .Net Framework 3.5 option is not checked, check it and click the OK button. Windows will download and install this feature.
If you are using Windows 7, this feature should be installed by default. Anyhow, you can verify it on the Windows Features form. Use the start button, open the Control Panel, and select Programs and Features. A new form opens. On the top left, click on Turn Windows features on or off. On the new form, look for the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5.1 option. If it is not checked, check it and click OK.
If Windows needs to download .NET Framework 3.5, the computer should be connected to the Internet.
On short races, you will probably want tactic data on deck. The best solution is to use an Android or iOS tablet connected wirelessly to the computer below.
Some characteristics to consider
In order of importance, these are our recommendations for a deck display tablet:
- Readable under bright sunlight. A 600 or more NITS backlit display should work; 1000+ NITS is excellent.
- Waterproof. A rating of IP67 or IP68 is ideal. Otherwise, you will need a watertight casing or bag, which won’t help the readability under sunlight.
- Rugged construction. On deck, this tablet will receive a good deal of beating.
- Extended battery power. It should last a day of racing without a recharge.
- Comfortable screen size. This is a personal preference. We suggest 10 or 8 inches.
- Exclusive use. Try not to use this device for other personal, family, or work purposes.
- Get an excellent 12VDC USB charger adapter.
We are excited about this newcomer, the TRIPLTEK 8-inch PRO. Another option is the Panasonic Toughbook A3. In any case, google search “rugged android tablet outdoors” and see what is available. Please don’t hesitate to ask us to review any option you find interesting.
Connecting the deck display
A simple home router is the best way to connect the tablet to the onboard computer. Choose a 12VDC model that can draw power from the boat’s batteries.
- Configure the router’s Wi-Fi with a simple name and password.
- To improve the Wi-Fi signal on deck, position the router below, near the area where you will use the wireless display. For full carbon fiber boats, you will need a more radical approach. Please, contact us for options.
- Connect the computer to the router using an Ethernet cable. Avoid the Wi-Fi connection since it doubles the use of bandwidth.
- Download and install Microsoft Remote Desktop on the tablet from Google’s Play Store or Apple’s App Store. This app allows you to control the computer below from the deck.
- Final steps! Connect the tablet to the router. Configure a New Desktop connection in the app.
Done! You are set to start using EVOLUTION from the wireless display.
Please, take your time to learn how to use Remote Desktop. You will find plenty of online tutorials since this is a popular app. If you need help, contact us or your local Windows support.
Installing EVOLUTION is quite simple. You may start by downloading the latest version.
If a previous version of EVOLUTION is present, you will need to uninstall it using the usual Windows procedure. Don’t worry; all your current configurations will be preserved.
Unzip the EVOLUTION Setup 3_x_yy.zip file. Then run setup.exe.
Activating EVOLUTION enables the exchange of data with the instruments. By acquiring a User License, you can activate EVOLUTION on a single computer, the onboard computer.
Yet, it is NOT necessary to activate EVOLUTION on other computers to download forecasts, review races, create courses, manage waypoints, etc.
Use the following instructions for the activation:
- Run EVOLUTION. Wait a few seconds, then check the folder Documents\My EVOLUTION; you will find a file with an extension “.req”, for example, evolution_0EKGASJ.req
- Copy and send the .req file to firstname.lastname@example.org
- We will send you back a file with a “.lic” extension, for instance, evolution_0EKGASJ‑0EKGAW8.lic
- Copy the “.lic” file to the “My EVOLUTION” folder.
- Rerun EVOLUTION to complete the activation.
Once done, this procedure deletes the “. lic” file from the My EVOLUTION folder.
Please, do not rename, open, or alter the content of the “.req” and “.lic” files; otherwise, the activation will fail. Please make a backup copy of both files; you may need them again if a complete re-installation of Windows and EVOLUTION on the same computer.
Now that EVOLUTION is installed, there are a few more steps before we can start sailing:
Buy C-MAP nautical charts
Before using EVOLUTION on your boat, you will need charts of the region you sail. In a separate article, you will find a detailed guide.
Create your boat’s configuration
You probably notice that when you open EVOLUTION, the active boat is ARG-5000 Fortuna 3. It is there as a demo so that you can try out some of the system’s offline features.
Because there are many possible instruments alternatives, brands, models, versions, and ways to connect them to the onboard computer, we prefer to provide your boat’s configuration as a free service. This includes creating the polar curves with the best data we can find.
We will provide preconfigured files specific to your boat that you load and select on your computer.
Calibrate the instruments
After testing that EVOLUTION receives data from the instruments, the next step is checking that the compass, wind, and boat-speed sensors are measuring correctly. This requires a set of unique procedures, which are the topic of other articles.
Relying upon well-calibrated sensors is an ongoing issue, so the team member responsible for the boat’s electronics should learn to keep them working correctly.