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Old 03-21-2012, 03:07 PM   #1
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Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

I will be cruising the Columbia River, from Astoria to the Dalles, Oregon.* Mostly will be within 20 miles of where moored, in Kelso Washington though.*

Would it make sense financially without compromising safety, to stick with my lap top and a program such as OpenCPN or SeaClear?*

Presently I also have 25 year old radar and 20 year old fish finder and VHF.* All do work.*

I need to keep within a budget that allows me to spend $$ where necessary and not where the retail store's tell me to spend it.* Suggestions?*
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Old 03-21-2012, 03:17 PM   #2
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

Sam:* To save $$'s *I'd use the PC.* I bet after 2 or 3 times you won't even turn it on.* Though*I'm not sure you need anything (chart plotter or PC) if you stick to the cruising area you mentioned.* Charts are*good*and the river is well buoyed.*
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Old 03-21-2012, 03:26 PM   #3
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

A "real" chartplotter is worth its weight in gold. Well, that's an exageration, but it's worth the money it costs. Look at the screen and you see the chart for the area with a symbol of your boat in its exact location. Add sonar and you see the actual depth under your boat. You can set a warning for shallow water.

Anchor and set the drift alarm and it wakes you up if you're dragging anchor.

I wouldn't be without it.
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Old 03-21-2012, 04:11 PM   #4
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

Ron does bring up a point re: dragging anchor.* Do you know if the PC based programs with GPS will tell you if your dragging anchor?* I can only assume that programs such as OpenCPN allow for such things?

*
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Old 03-21-2012, 04:18 PM   #5
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

Ron, in checking prices, they vary from $550 to $2,000?* I presently have two depth sounders which offer some redundancy.* You bring up a valid point with regard to the draging anchor notification.* Thank you for your input
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Old 03-21-2012, 04:42 PM   #6
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

I have a pretty sophisticated and expensive xenarc pc based nav system using Rose Point *backed up by a Garmin 4212. GPS, Autopilot, AIS, DSC all multiplexed and any or all can stand alone. My anchor alarm? A free program available for any idevice or android. Handiest thing since a pocket on a t-shirt!

For your needs use your laptop and get Drag Queen.:number1:
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:36 PM   #7
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

I'm not a fan of PC-based navigation and we don't have or use a system like this on our boat. But given your cruising area and the fact that your current electronics work okay and that you are wanting to keep costs down I'd say go with the PC-based nav system.

I will say that the current generation radar is a far cry from what was considered state-of-the-art twenty years ago. Our boat had a 1980s vintage Raytheon 2600 radar and we felt it was sufficient for our needs. But a few years ago when the CRT began to fail we replaced it with a new Furuno NavNet VX2 with a C-Map plotter function. To say the new radar was a world of improvement over the old one is an understatement. But had the Raytheon not started to fail, we would not have replaced it.

I've not used any of the PC-based nav systems I so can't offer any opinion on the ones you mentioned. But if you don't mind layering your nav system on top of the latest unintuitive operating system cooked up by the Microsoft Kids, laptop-based navigation can be an effective and economical way to go.
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Old 03-22-2012, 12:10 AM   #8
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

maptech's "Offshore Navigator" is a nice inexpensive PC-based chartplotter program that runs with numerous GPS units including a couple that they sell. It provides a plug-it-in and play-it nav system that can be easily moved to different computers and offers many features of the more expensive programs.
With the low price of laptops you could buy the program, the GPS unit, a primary laptop for the helm station, and a cheap used back-up for not many $$. We've used it for several years on the Columbia (Kalama), the San Juans, and the Gulf Islands. It includes moving map, speed, and multiple track and waypoint options including autopilot output.
Cheapest Nav is Navionics on an Iphone or Ipad.
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Old 03-22-2012, 06:27 AM   #9
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

Personally, I wouldn't consider a boat, especially a cruising boat, to be complete without a navigation system. And I would take a chart plotter over radar any day.

I realize, not everyone shares my view so I suppose a PC based navigation system would work for some folks.

I operate from my flybridge 95% of the time and I don't think a PC would work well there. I would have no place to put it where I could see it, the display would not be readable in sunlight, and I doubt the PC would hold up to the elements for very long.

With my plotter, I like the ease of removing the cover, pressing the "on" button, selecting the route I created earlier at home, and just following it.

Yes, my system cost a few $$, but the cost was small compared to the cost of the boat. I have no regrets.
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Old 03-22-2012, 06:38 AM   #10
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

Quote:
Sam wrote:
Ron does bring up a point re: dragging anchor.* Do you know if the PC based programs with GPS will tell you if your dragging anchor?* I can only assume that programs such as OpenCPN allow for such things?

*
*Sam:* Down load Open CPN and take a look at it.* It does have an anchor alarm and also will accept AIS and other inputs.* But doesn't your existing GPS have an anchor alarm/watch function?* *
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Old 03-22-2012, 07:01 AM   #11
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

Quote:
Larry M wrote:Sam wrote:
Ron does bring up a point re: dragging anchor.* Do you know if the PC based programs with GPS will tell you if your dragging anchor?* I can only assume that programs such as OpenCPN allow for such things?

*
*Sam:* Down load Open CPN and take a look at it.* It does have an anchor alarm and also will accept AIS and other inputs.* But doesn't your existing GPS have an anchor alarm/watch function?* *

*I agree.* Brought my new to me boat from Ft lauderdale to New Jersey last year with pc based nav.* For me the whole setup but the laptop was free.* OpenCPN free, all the charts free and the puck GPS was given to me by someone who couldn't figure it out (but one from internet $30 bucks or a road mapping software is good enough).

The advantage of this type charting is you have the charts too with a backup CD they can be on another computer too as backup.

I would still buy a cheapo handheld GPS or have your car one (if it can give you lat/long) that you can use as a backup GPS.

If you nav from the flybridge...a laptop is tough but not impossible to see...but if that's the place where you normally drive...I'd spring for the cheapest Garmin fixed mount internal antenna for use on the bridge. (and that will be the backup for my boat...I'll get one with the fishfinder option).

Of course that's the inexpensive way out.* If I come across $5000...there are better setups and I'd use the PC based one as backup and planning.
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Old 03-22-2012, 12:40 PM   #12
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

Columbia River? You'd be fine with one of the car units from Pep-Boys! Just stay in the blue area!
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Old 03-22-2012, 02:12 PM   #13
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

I forgot to mention that unless you have a dedicated PC system set up for naving and running your vessel....I'm not into all the fancy connections that I would want to go through to export NEMA to autopilots, radios, etc...(but then again it might be easy...just haven't done it yet)

If you don't want your PC setup*too complicated, then a dedicated small GPS is great for exporting NEMA to things like your DSC radio for emergencies.
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Old 03-22-2012, 05:57 PM   #14
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

We just went through a laptop failure on our nav system. When we fired up to leave the dock at Cow Bay close to 2 weeks ago now the faithful Dell Latitude that I bought over 10 years ago and used as my prime laptop until last year was completely dead.* So I swapped in my current laptop which always has all the charts, routes and software installed and away we went.* Today I picked the Dell up from a laptop repair place on Aurora Ave by Green Lake complete with a new keyboard for the princely sum of $140, including rush delivery.* Sometime this summer I think I'll buy a 2nd Dell D830 twin for the one we currently use.* I've got spare parts for everything from the ****ters to the sonar so why not have another spare nav computer.

I'm sure somebody might say "see - they're not reliable - not rugged enough for the marine environment".* My response is that we didn't lose more than 5 minutes swapping in the 2nd computer which was onboard anyway.* And did I mention I'm good to go again for a total expense of $140?* I spent more than that replacing one seacock.
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:17 AM   #15
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

"Personally, I wouldn't consider a boat, especially a cruising boat, to be complete without a navigation system.'


Gee , that's how I feel about a nav table and a genuine paper chart, AND A RUNNING DR.
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Old 03-24-2012, 11:34 AM   #16
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

Quote:
bobofthenorth wrote:
*"I'm sure somebody might say "see - they're not reliable - not rugged enough for the marine environment".* My response is that we didn't lose more than 5 minutes swapping in the 2nd computer which was onboard anyway.* And did I mention I'm good to go again for a total expense of $140?* I spent more than that replacing one seacock."
*Has anyone ever tried a all-in-one PC on a boat, instead of a laptop??* I always take my laptop with me when we are going out for more than*a couple of days and was thinking of buying a lap top to leave on the boat.* I toured a large king crab boat that was being*fitted out last year*and they had*four of these on board, two in the pilot house.**

The price is right and have the option to use wireless keyboard and mouse.* Nice sized monitor and Windows 7 operating system?
<h1>ViewSonic VPC101_BU2AET All-In-One PC - Intel Atom Single Core 230 1.6GHz, 1GB DDR2, 160GB HDD, WiFi-G, 18.5" Widescreen Display, Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit, Black* |* Model#:*VPC101_BU2AET* $449.00</h1>
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:51 PM   #17
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

Quote:
FF wrote:
"Personally, I wouldn't consider a boat, especially a cruising boat, to be complete without a navigation system.'


Gee , that's how I feel about a nav table and a genuine paper chart, AND A RUNNING DR.

What's a "RUNNING DR"* ?
*
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:18 PM   #18
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

Quote:
rwidman wrote:FF wrote:
"Personally, I wouldn't consider a boat, especially a cruising boat, to be complete without a navigation system.'


Gee , that's how I feel about a nav table and a genuine paper chart, AND A RUNNING DR.

What's a "RUNNING DR"* ?

*

Dead Reckoning

*

*

*

Dead Reconing*
*

*
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Old 03-24-2012, 03:51 PM   #19
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RE: Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

Quote:
Edelweiss wrote:
Has anyone ever tried a all-in-one PC on a boat, instead of a laptop??* I always take my laptop with me when we are going out for more than*a couple of days and was thinking of buying a lap top to leave on the boat.* I toured a large king crab boat that was being*fitted out last year*and they had*four of these on board, two in the pilot house.**

The price is right and have the option to use wireless keyboard and mouse.* Nice sized monitor and Windows 7 operating system?
You know if you tore the box apart there's not really that much inside a desktop computer.**A bunch of what's in there is the power supply and you could buoyancy test*that*because you've already got DC power onboard - just need some DC-DC voltage changers to supply the motherboard.* We ran into a guy a few years ago who had done exactly that in his fifth wheel.* He was into minimalistic existence, solar power, no genset, yada yada yada so he had re-engineered his computer to be more power efficient but it would also make it more space efficient.*

Personally I'll stick with the laptop but it could be done.
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Old 03-24-2012, 10:24 PM   #20
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Commercial Chart Plotter or PC

The All-in-one PC is more of a lap top computer than a PC.* All of the PC components are contained in the LED monitor and you have a seperate full sized keyboard and mouse.* There is no CPU box.* They either free stand or can be mounted on a wall or at the helm, etc.

Larry B*


-- Edited by Edelweiss on Sunday 25th of March 2012 10:44:43 AM
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