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Old 12-13-2012, 02:36 AM   #1
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iPad for navigation?

Hey gang,

I'm curious if iPad is replacing navigational, AIS, GPS systems onboard. Buying a boat from 1986 and want to streamline the electronics. The radar & GPS plotter seem fine, but was going to add an AIS system, but trying to avoid the $550.

I'm going to be in the SF Bay mostly so cell service should be pretty dependable.

Please recommend any app that is helpful.

Thanks!
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:17 AM   #2
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I use Navionics on my iPad & iPhone but only as a back-up and a tool away from the boat to plot a trip. I have the same plotting software on the Lowrance plotter. AIS is on a different unit.

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Old 12-13-2012, 09:38 AM   #3
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Our iPad interfaces with our raymarine electronics and can be used as a repeater; we use it as a planning tool and backup (using Navionics). I wouldn't rely on it as a primary AIS unit due to the delay. Get a Standard Horizon GX2150 that has an AIS receiver built in- that way, you get a DSC radio and AIS system all in one.

Get the iPad with 3G, as it has a dedicated GPS chip that the wifi only iPad does not have.

IMO, navigation electronics is one area that you should never compromise in. SF Bay is beautiful, but can be deadly with vessel traffic and fog. Whatever electronics you go with, take the time to learn how to use them.
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Old 12-13-2012, 10:35 AM   #4
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Before my i-pad I used to go down to the boat when I lived about 8 city blocks from it and often I'd start up the GPS and surf around looking for places to go and checking out anchorages. Was a little bit like going on a trip at times. Some of the time I should have been working but ......

Then I got the i-pad and from Marin's introduction I got the app Navamatics. Now I live 30 miles from the boat but HAHA I can use the i-pad to go cruising. But the best feature of Navamatics and the i-pad is to run it at the helm while underway. I no longer need to leave my usual GPS presentation and risk running up on a rock 20 yards ahead of me because I can surf all around for anchorages for the night or routes through islands or around other obstacles w the i-pad. I leave it plugged in as I go so the pad dosn't discharge and limit my gazing at the i-pad so as not to run into a log or?

It's very handy. In my living room at home I can almost instantly point out to people where we went w the boat or many other things that require a map that can go pretty much anywhere there's water and of course why would one want to go anywhere else?
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:53 PM   #5
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We use our wifi/3G iPad with Navimatics just as Eric described--- as a "chartbook" on which we can zoom in and out, scroll, and look at charts any way we want as opposed to leafing through a chartbook or the rather ponderous process of stepping in and out in range on the dedicated plotters we actually navigate with.

Navimatics is NOT a navigation plotter, however. While it will draw a straight line course from one place to another and guide you along it, you cannot plot multiple leg routes and it does not store routes of any kind. So it is just a chart book that shows and tracks your position on the charts.

And Eric, I e-mailed the president of Navimatics with the complaint that the names of bodies of water do not appear until one is zoomed so far in that you have to search around to find them. While the names of islands, harbors, etc. appear when the display is still zoomed pretty far out. I got an e-mail back from him the other day thanking me for the input and saying that he has added this fix to the to-do list for an upcoming upgrade.

Navimatics interfaces with Active Captain which really makes it valuable because you can select the AC symbols right on the chart and it brings up all the AC information and user reviews right there.

And if you have a 3G/4G iPad, you do not have to be connected to anything for all this to work.

So it's a great tool and I highly recommend it. But NOT as a substitute for an actual plotter, computer-based or stand alone.

I personally don't believe in laptop-based navigation for a number of reasons and would never have one on a boat as long as there are great choices of stand-alone plotters like Furuno, Standard Horizon, and so forth. But that's another topic.......
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:24 PM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback Marin and bringing about positive changes.

But I think serious navigation can be done w the system. Just like on a chart you can tell where the rocks and shallows are, navigational aids, and just about everything ..... HOWEVER ... You first need to know where you are. And having a vague idea you can look about and with your observations zoom discover where you CAN'T be and where you must be.

When you know where you are just go where it's safe and otherwise where you want to go. I almost never establish compass courses or draw lines on charts.
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:29 PM   #7
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For those with Wi-Fi only iPads which do not have built-in GPS, there are several GPS receivers available.

We use a Garmin Glo Glonass Bluetooth receiver which updates 10 times/second! The receiver is tiny and has about 12 hours battery life. However, I leave it plugged into the laptop (primary navigation system using Fugawai with Navionics charts) so it's always charged. Should the laptop fail, the receiver can be charged via an iPhone or iPad charger.

Bad Elf make a GPS receiver which has the Apple 30-pin connector.
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:38 PM   #8
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Thanks for the feedback Marin and bringing about positive changes.

But I think serious navigation can be done w the system.

When I said not for navigation I meant in comparison with a true chart plotter in the sense of creating multiple-leg routes, storing them, and following them. You're right in that the Navimatics program will show you where you are in relation to everything around you so you can use it to not hit anything. But if, like us most of the time, if one wants to plot a course and follow it, and store pre-plotted courses to a variety of destinations, Navimatics won't do this.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:17 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by vineline View Post
I'm curious if iPad is replacing navigational, AIS, GPS systems onboard.
I don't think an iPad will be replacing dedicated navigation systems on board serious cruising boats anytime soon.

For me, a networked system of chart plotters, depth sounder, anchor drag alarm, and VHF with AIS is the way to go. Sure, it costs more and you can't play games or surf the net on it, but it does what it's designed to do and it does it well and reliably.

But, to each his/her own. You pay your money and you take your choice.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:51 PM   #10
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I don't think an iPad will be replacing dedicated navigation systems on board serious cruising boats anytime soon.
In every other market and in all other endeavors, that type of statement proved to have a very short shelf life. I can't even think of too many places where there are custom-developed screen technology devices left today.

Many chartplotters have some special environmental needs - sunlight visibility and waterproof/resistance. So specialty hardware will have a few more years there. But ultimately, there's really no difference between a high end $14,000 Furuno TZTouch (which is an embedded Windows display running Microsoft SQLServer) and an iPad running custom software that Garmin/Furuno/Navionics/C-Map/iNavX/etc writes.

Well, there's no difference other than the price...

Right now, it's marketing decisions that are determining the functionality of the iPad app software, not capabilities or possibilities.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:19 PM   #11
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In every other market and in all other endeavors, that type of statement proved to have a very short shelf life.

True enough. Boeing's flight department, Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and probably others have adapted iPads for all sorts of tasks that were formerly on paper. Approach and departure plates, logs, airplane systems manuals and checklists, all on iPads now. And we have a group that is currently working on integrating the iPad into a plane's on-board diagnostic and fault reporting system so the flight crew can use them to see what's wrong and the steps to fix or work around it. Airlines like Norwegian are already using iPads for their mechanics, who take them on board and use them to view problems and access the maintenance procedures from the airline's central maintenance computers.

If we'd have said five years ago--- as a lot of people did--- that iPads (or any tablet) would ever be used in this way they'd have been laughed out of the building.

That said, I still prefer dedicated nav equipment on our boat, but I've learned to never say never.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:43 AM   #12
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Great feedback, everybody. I really appreciate it. I'm going to get the Wifi/cellular iPad regardless! And probably an AIS system, too.
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Old 12-14-2012, 07:26 AM   #13
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A little birdie whispered to me I am in line for a GPS enabled iPad for Xmas....I can hardly wait. Although I have a Lowrance GPS/Sonar combo at the main helm, I'm sick of looking at a wee 3" display on the handheld I use up top, and also the benefit of being able to use it as a pan-around like Eric mentioned, and see what's where function as an adjunct to the fixed system appeals. I also plan to use it as a reader etc, so I'm never stuck for something to read on board, like I was last weekend. My wife had a good book, and I had the damn newspaper and that's all. I forgot to line up a new book. We deliberately don't have TV on board, but I have to admit to my shame I got bored...how bad is that..?
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Old 12-14-2012, 11:35 AM   #14
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I haven't heard any birdies whispering but can only hope the hints have been heard.

I've always been a gadget guy and am wondering about the onboard networking opportunities of the ipad. For example: Could you network chartplotters, radars, depthsounders, etc. on the ipad? Could any of the geeks amoung us decipher some of the techinical articles and translate for us that are not so inclined to make our life's work out of understanding the myrad of "protocols" and "TCP/UDP ports" etc. that seem to make up the bulk of some of the articles?

Here's one that looks promising: iNavX Marine Chart Plotting App for iPad/iPhone Now Provides Native Support for Wireless NMEA 2000 Instrumentation Using SeaSmart.net Adapters
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Old 12-14-2012, 11:45 AM   #15
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I'm playing with a DMK and a Chetco SeaSmart box. Both provide server interfaces to NMEA networks (N2K and N183). There are other N2K/N183 interfaces on the market but they only interface over WiFi/Ethernet to a single client device like an iPad. Connect it up and you eat up the entire interface. The special thing about DMK and Chetco is that it is an actual server running in the little box. It allows many iPhones/Androids to connect and share the data stream at the same time.

This is a new area of data sharing and the products are quite new. Much is happening in that world.
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:00 PM   #16
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When I said not for navigation I meant in comparison with a true chart plotter in the sense of creating multiple-leg routes, storing them, and following them. You're right in that the Navimatics program will show you where you are in relation to everything around you so you can use it to not hit anything. But if, like us most of the time, if one wants to plot a course and follow it, and store pre-plotted courses to a variety of destinations, Navimatics won't do this.
It won't show you where you are. You have to be very observant looking all around you and compare the positions of things that you see and things that are on the i-pad screen. I have even less use/need for courses and waypoints since the chartplotter came along and I've only been lost twice .. before chartplotters of course. But "not hitting anything" and getting where you want to go is all there is to it. And watching where your'e going is the best way to achieve that. Dead reckoning is a skill that should be cultivated more than electronic. But electronic is fun and useful as long as the electronics work.

But if I got the "take it w you" wi-fi I spoze the little red dot on the Navamatics would show where I am when in range of cell phone signals ... right?
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:09 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captrigney View Post
I haven't heard any birdies whispering but can only hope the hints have been heard.

I've always been a gadget guy and am wondering about the onboard networking opportunities of the ipad. For example: Could you network chartplotters, radars, depthsounders, etc. on the ipad? Could any of the geeks amoung us decipher some of the techinical articles and translate for us that are not so inclined to make our life's work out of understanding the myrad of "protocols" and "TCP/UDP ports" etc. that seem to make up the bulk of some of the articles?

Here's one that looks promising: iNavX Marine Chart Plotting App for iPad/iPhone Now Provides Native Support for Wireless NMEA 2000 Instrumentation Using SeaSmart.net Adapters
The latest generation MFDs (multi function displays) from the various manufacturers (Ramyarine, Navico, Furuno, Garmin, etc) either have or are developing the capability to use a tablet as a networkable tool.

I can speak for RM, as I'm a user of their system: we had the e7D on our 40' Bayliner, and now have the the e125 (flybridge) and e127 (lower station) on our new boat.

The new RM "e" and "c" series MFDs have bluetooth and wifi built in. I can control the operation of the head units from my iPhone, and use our iPad a as repeater from either head unit. By repeater, I mean that I can fully control the operation of the head unit from anywhere in the boat via the iPad. We have used it as an anchor watch in the aft cabin, as well as in the cockpit where we have a 3rd steering station.


On our old boat, we had the e7D at the lower helm, and used the iPad as the MFD on the flybridge. Worked perfectly.

Other manufacturers (Maretron comes to mind) have wi-fi hubs that can tap into a NMEA 2000 network and use the tablet to display NMEA data, including engine instruments, speed/temp/depth, and more.
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:18 PM   #18
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Marin Said:

"I personally don't believe in laptop-based navigation for a number of reasons and would never have one on a boat as long as there are great choices of stand-alone plotters like Furuno, Standard Horizon, and so forth. But that's another topic......."


Yes it is another topic. Laptop/desktop based systems continue to be the easiest and most user friendly for me and thousands of others. I've spent some time on tugs and large yachts and note their high use of laptop/desktop systems. We've got an IPad3 with Navionics and after 4 months of testing it for 3000 miles along side Furuno NN3 and Nobeltec it is served best as a shoreside plotter for show and tell as Eric described. We have 3 different charting systems (Nobeltec and 2 NN3s) which for our type of long distance remote cruising is a nice redundancy factor. You may want to read the Dec 2012 Power and Motoryacht for an interesting article on this issue.
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:18 PM   #19
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Quote:
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When I said not for navigation I meant in comparison with a true chart plotter in the sense of creating multiple-leg routes, storing them, and following them. You're right in that the Navimatics program will show you where you are in relation to everything around you so you can use it to not hit anything. But if, like us most of the time, if one wants to plot a course and follow it, and store pre-plotted courses to a variety of destinations, Navimatics won't do this.
Quote:
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It won't show you where you are. You have to be very observant looking all around you and compare the positions of things that you see and things that are on the i-pad screen. I have even less use/need for courses and waypoints since the chartplotter came along and I've only been lost twice .. before chartplotters of course. But "not hitting anything" and getting where you want to go is all there is to it. And watching where your'e going is the best way to achieve that. Dead reckoning is a skill that should be cultivated more than electronic. But electronic is fun and useful as long as the electronics work.

But if I got the "take it w you" wi-fi I spoze the little red dot on the Navamatics would show where I am when in range of cell phone signals ... right?
Using the iPad 3g (which has a built in GPS chip) will allow you to create, store, and follow tracks using the right app. We use Navionics, which is the same Navionics charting system found on many chartplotters. I can create the route on the iPad, then sync it with our Raymarine e127 and then use the RM to navigate- or I can simply use the iPad to navigate.
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:45 PM   #20
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PH said:
"Using the iPad 3g (which has a built in GPS chip) will allow you to create, store, and follow tracks using the right app. We use Navionics, which is the same Navionics charting system found on many chartplotters. I can create the route on the iPad, then sync it with our Raymarine e127 and then use the RM to navigate- or I can simply use the iPad to navigate"

Yes they work quite well this way, in essence functioning as a small laptop device. My gripe with IP3 Navionics for daily chart plotting is it takes a lot longer to do than on a point and click Nobeltec and does not as easily store and save routes and data for future use. Our cruising grounds are far north and on occasion the IP3's GPS went on the blink while we still had signals from our other 4 radar arch mounted GPS units. We've got lots of electronic and "smart device" toys and are not reluctant to use them or put them aside as ease of use or functionality requires. As they say, "Too many choices ----"
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