What do you need?

Raspberry Pi or desktop/laptop computer?

OpenPlotter is optimized to be used on Raspberry Pi computers, but you can also install OpenPlotter on any desktop or laptop computer running Linux Debian or any derivative like Ubuntu, Mint … Some OpenPlotter apps that are used to manage some sensors connected via GPIO will not be available when installed on desktop and laptop computers. See a list here.

In the downloading and installing chapters you will learn how to get the software, let’s see here what hardware we need.

Basic hardware

If you want to take full advantage of all the capabilities of OpenPlotter, your choice should be to install it on a Raspberry Pi.

Although a Raspberry Pi model 3 can run OpenPlotter, we only recommend the Raspberry Pi model 4 in any of its RAM configurations or a Raspberry Pi 400 unit. Raspberry Pi Zero, 1 or 2 models are not suitable to run OpenPlotter.

You will also need a keyboard, a mouse, a power supply, a microSD card and a monitor. Read this helpful guide for details on each item: https://projects.raspberrypi.org/en/projects/raspberry-pi-setting-up


Alternative hardware

USB GPS receiver


This is the cheapest way to get position, speed and course data. Most devices on the market will work in OpenPlotter without the need for drivers.


Connecting a USB GPS receiver

RS422 converters


NMEA 0183 communication protocol was designed to run over the RS422 serial interface, which can support a single talker and up to 10 listeners and data rates as high as 10 mbit/sec. RS422 converters in boats are typically used to get or send data to your instruments. You can find USB converters or some Raspberry Pi HATs to connect to the GPIO header.


Connecting a USB RS422 converter

CAN converters

NMEA 2000 communication protocol was designed to run over a Controller Area Network (CAN bus). This is a robust vehicle bus standard designed to allow microcontrollers and devices to communicate with each other’s applications without a host computer. You can find USB converters or some Raspberry Pi HATs or modules to connect to the GPIO header.


Connecting a USB CAN converter


Connecting a GPIO CAN converter



Adding an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) you can get heading, heel and trim data. OpenPlotter currently supports the following I2C-connected IMU models:

  • ICM-20948 (recommended)

  • MPU-9250

  • MPU-9255.


Configure an IMU with OpenPlotter Pypilot app


Calibrating the compass