Basemap only on small plotter & charts on a netbook?

Discussion in 'OnBoard Electronics & Controls' started by Rachael, May 26, 2009.

  1. Rachael
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: Norfolk, UK

    Rachael Junior Member

    I was wondering about getting a Garmin 276c for tracking progress relative to waypoints in the (very exposed) cockpit of my 22' Pandora and just using the free basemap on the Garmin alongside a paperchart in a waterproof case under the tiller.

    If I linked to a cheap netbook (10" screen) in the cabin, I believe I could get more detailed (cheaper than Garmin Bluechart) electronic charts and (with NASA AIS feed) AIS overlay: could be kept in the dry and kept linked to the lead acid battery.

    A reasonable idea or one to forget? If it is a good idea... what software would be worth looking at?
  2. Stumble
    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Location: New Orleans

    Stumble Senior Member

    I use just the basemap for raceing data, since I don't really need the navigation features. However if you plan on relying on this for nav purposes I would recomend buying the maps.

    The other option is to try and find a program that can use the free NOAA maps. For a Mac I use GPSNavx which cost about $50 and can use any of the NOAA freely available maps. On a PC though I have no idea.

    The problems I see with useing a computer on such a small boat as your primary means of navigation however are huge. Particularly reliability issues related to keeping a computer from getting wet and having enough battery storage to ensure it will keep on working for the amount of time you will need it for.

    Personally I would go ahead and buy the maps for the handheld. They are pretty close to waterproof, and I have never felt like safety or Nav equipment was the place to try and save a few bucks.
  3. Rachael
    Joined: Aug 2008
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    Location: Norfolk, UK

    Rachael Junior Member

    I've no problem with buying the paper charts for absolute certainty at sea: I'm just not sure what (if anything) to do on the electronics front!

    If I were looking at a 10" chartplotter this question wouldn't arise.. but I guess what I'm asking is whether (given that you have a paper chart anyway) the data on the electronic charts is actually a major part of a SMALL (inexpensive) chartplotter's value... or whether they are mostly useful for getting a graphical fix that relates visually to a paper chart, for tracking progress relative to waypoints on a pre-constructed route, and for GPS functions like lat/long, monitoring XTE and having an alarm to warn if your anchor is slipping.

    With Garmin's 550 I'd get charting at 5" in the cockpit... but I could (for less money) get Navionics charting for a 10"+ screened laptop and struggle along in the cockpit with a Garmin 176c (second hand, basemap only), 276c (great kit, again basemap only) or RC400 (rarely reviewed positively but sharing the charts).

    So... for someone with paper charts onboard... is the chartplotter more use for the detail in the charting... or for all the other stuff it does?

  4. Tim B
    Joined: Jan 2003
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    Location: Southern England

    Tim B Senior Member


    I have been developing OpenPilot for over 18 months now, and very soon (within the next week or so) it will be released as Version 1 beta. There are still lots of features to go in, but it should give an idea of the kind of thing we're trying to do. The major advantages are:

    1) It's completely free.
    2) If it's lacking features you want (ie. slipping anchor alarms) we can add them.
    3) Potentially it can run on almost anything (though V1b is Linux-only).

    Currently, we can handle:

    GPS data
    ENC (S-57) Charts
    Coastlines (for the whole planet)
    Streetmaps (via internet but local caches will be supported in V1r)
    AIS data (via internet, but local transponders will be supported when I can get my hands on one)

    As well as numerous other things that are better described in the (slighlty out of date) roadmap which is here:*checkout*/openpilot/RoadMap.pdf?revision=1.1

    If you'd like to discuss this further I would be happy to. If you wish to contact me off-list, please do so through the forums private message system.


    Tim B.
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