ship's navigation equipment

What IS This Piece Of Navigation Equipment?

I’ve been working on a personal project lately. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for the last 40 years but haven’t been able to because of my lack of knowledge in how to build this thing. I don’t wish to be cryptic but it’s early days yet and I will talk more about this project in due course. It is nautically related!

What I will say is that one of the tools I’ve been employing for this project is AI, specifically ChatGPT, and its ability to create and troubleshoot programming code. This is a little hint as to my project idea but in the late hours of the night, I got onto Microsoft’s CoPilot chat bot. This emplot’s ChatGPT’s AI engine for text-based queries, but also uses the Dall-E image generation engine for AI-created art.

Dall-E AI generated art of an old ship

Since my project is nautically based, I was interested to see what kind of images I could use for it, and figured I’d hand that over to Dall-E, so using the prompt “create 8-bit computer game art of…”, I was stunned by the results it was producing. I mean, who wouldn’t want to sail to this location?

ai art of the sea

Curious, I poked around a bit further and started testing Dall-E’s ability to create more complex, niche images.

ai art of a radio

You can see that, on the whole, I was getting back the kind of images I was after, although there is a clear distinction between the beach scenes and the equipment images. The prompt hadn’t changed but somewhere along the line the style of image changed and it stopped producing the 8-bit, pixelated art I was after. Anyway, one prompt asked for “old boat’s navigation and radio equipment including sextant and charts”. There were a couple of misses but I liked this image.

ship's navigation equipment

I was impressed by the charts it produced, looking vaguely familiar, with the dials and gauges looking legitimate too, but I was curious about the piece of equipment it had invented and placed central in the image. What on earth is that?! A ship’s wheel with a compass dial? I have no idea what that steering wheel is doing in the middle of a chart table! What I do know is that I want one for Esper! What do you think it does?

beach scene

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