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Old 12-07-2010, 01:39 PM   #1
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Lap top chart plotting

All the big names have great chart *plotters the newer ones have touch screens.

The big names also have big prices.

I have a lap top.

Question:
*
What chart plotter programs are available and where can I find them?

If possible I would like to integrate the program with the*GPS I already have.
So is there some sort of connection to*connect *the two together. I am not a computer geek. Basic Internet:Trawler forum stuff like that.

*Be gentile with me I'm getting old. I should hire a 5th grader to help me.

SD
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Old 12-07-2010, 02:05 PM   #2
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

SD,
LOL on the 5th grader helping- probably some truth to that for me too!

I use a laptop set up exclusively. I am not sure how to connect to a chart plotter- someone else here probably knows. I'll have to figure that out when I eventually get around to adding radar.

I think laptop GPS systems, especially for trawlers, is a huge no brainer though. I use a Mac so I run MacENC for my charting and have a simple $35 GPS puck that plugs into the USB port on my laptop and poof- instant GPS/chartplotter. The advantages are free updates, newer maps, larger screens, and much less cost. I am running another flatscreen on a mount up to the bridge. I've run a monitor cable to go from the laptop which will stay at the lower helm inside and out of the weather, up to the bridge. I am also using a wireless mouse up on the bridge so that I can control the computer from the bridge without having to run down below. Having a 15" GPS unit just for the bridge alone would have cost, what, $5-6k??? Once more and more people figure out how cheap (and I think better) you can run a great set up on a laptop...well....pretty sure I know what most folks will choose to do.
For a pc, check out the free program, OpenCPN. That seems to be what most folks that are using PC's run for charting. I downloaded the mac version- looked pretty good- just that MacENC is better equipped for running on a Mac I think.
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Old 12-07-2010, 02:16 PM   #3
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

I don't have a mac but Christmas is coming.
*I think I will stop at the mac store and see what's up
MAC/ENC.* *OK I'll check*

SD
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Old 12-07-2010, 02:20 PM   #4
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

you will not find MacENC in a store. You need to go here to get it:
http://www.macenc.com/

Or check out OpenCPN for your PC:
http://opencpn.org/

Tech support for MacENC is awesome- not used tech support on OpenCPN so don't know about that but many of friends run OpenCPN and they love it.
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Old 12-07-2010, 03:01 PM   #5
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

We use the MACENC program on a macbook air 13" display. Solid state drive so no moving parts.* a couple of inches smaller then a 15 inch but the foorprint at the lower helm is much less.

PC systems cost less but having to deal with crashes and software issues are a pain. Changed to MAC 2 years ago and we have yet to have a crash.
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Old 12-07-2010, 03:14 PM   #6
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

Quote:
skipperdude wrote:

I don't have a mac but Christmas is coming.
*I think I will stop at the mac store and see what's up
MAC/ENC.* *OK I'll check*

SD
Before you spend all your Christmas $'s and since you already have a laptop*just download and*try OpenCPN as Windsong suggested.* It's free.* It will run on Windows 98, 2000, XP, Vista and 7 in addition to a MAC.*

You*should be able to*use your GPS.* You may need to buy a data cable but that should be it.* Or you can buy just a GPS receiver that plugs into your USB port for under $50.00.

Larry/Lena
Hobo KK42
Santiago,*Colima, MX
*

*
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Old 12-08-2010, 01:01 AM   #7
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

Woodsong and Larry, I have a MacBook, and would love a larger screen down below, then I could take my small screened Lowrance GPS/sounder up top. However, one question I have re that is this USB GPS plug-in...how well would that read satelites from down inside. I had to install an external GPS antenna for the Lowrance. Would I not strike the same issue with a plug-in. Ie that would be like a GPS with integral antenna wouldn't it? They don't see satelites too well (at all) throught ceiling timber and fibreglass etc as far as I know.
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Old 12-08-2010, 03:58 AM   #8
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

Peter B,
Use a USB cable and just blu tac or tape your USB GPS to the Fwd or side window , it will pick up all the sats you want.
Benn
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Old 12-08-2010, 06:11 AM   #9
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Lap top chart plotting

Peter,
All I do with my macbook is set it down in front of the lower helm, plug the GPS into the USB port, and kind of generally set the GPS puck near the window next to the macbook. It has had no issues whatsoever getting a track on the satellites right away. I have even picked it all up when it was nice out and carried it all up the bridge without it impacting anything. It's pretty much been plug in and go.
This is the exact same GPS I use for my macbook:
http://www.amazon.com/GlobalSat-BU-3...1813733&sr=8-1

Several other friends have the same unit and they've had theirs longer than mine and have never reported an issue. *

Attached is a picture of where I set our macbook. *You can see the USB chord plugged in on the left side of the macbook. *the GPS puck itself is just sitting out of view behind the screen of the macbook.


-- Edited by Woodsong on Wednesday 8th of December 2010 07:13:14 AM
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Old 12-08-2010, 06:38 AM   #10
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

Thanks Benn and Woodsong - problem solved - in fact there wasn't ever a problem, 'cept in my mind....that and getting my hands on the GPS plug-in here down-under. Benn, any tips on that?
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Old 12-08-2010, 07:26 AM   #11
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

SD, You ask about integrating your current GPS. Well that depends on what your current GPS is and if you have the connections on the unit. Most will not connect via a USB directly and will need a USB to serial port connector. That means you will need one compatible with your operating system and have the correct drivers installed on your computer. Then the ports need to be set up between the serial port and the navigation software. Not just a plug and play and why most folks use a GPS puck. The puck still need to be in a place to receive the sats so using it inside the cabin can be problematic. As for navigational programs, there are a few free ones out there, Seaclear is one and Open CPN is another. There is an ongoing discussion by the maker of Open CPN on Cruisersforum with lots of helpful information. We have used Seaclear for many years now, but it can be a bit confusing to use. There are dozens of paid programs out there with all kinds of features. Our preferred paid program id Rosepoint's Coastal Explorer. Coastal Explorer will work with all of the free NOAA charts including S57 charts and inland waterway charts. Fugawi is another one that I recommend. Chuck
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:31 AM   #12
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

Hiya,
** Mr. SD.* Heck you don't need a plotter.* Charts and a calculator is all.
http://jokesfromtherock.com/index.ph...662a2a38e4f897
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Old 12-08-2010, 08:54 AM   #13
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Lap top chart plotting

SD if you already have a PC, than buy/get the software that works with what you have.* Most of the computer problems are the computer is not big fast enough for the newer programs and/or there as to many open application running in the back ground.* There are probable things running in the back ground that you are not aware of.* So when running the navigation programs open/run only the application require for that program.*

13 years ago we bought Chartview, now Nobeltic, and a hand held Garmin that we can on one of the first Compaque portable computers which was slow and crashed frequently.* But running Charview and the Garmin with the new bigger faster computers is almost real time and seldom have problem with the computer and/or software.*

Since you are in a remote area, and you boat is slow, you might like some of the features the bigger more expensive chart software has, MOB, create/save routes, change viewing, quilting, tides and currents and animate your course/rout so you can play with your timing and rout before you leave the dock.* I create a route and play with the animation days before we leave the dock.* I have Chartview load on the old Sony, new Dell on the boat, and the new Dell at work.
*

*I still use the Garmin hook up to the lap tops so its complete portable, as we also take it on dirt/road trips as we have maps, broad band inter net and watch movies. I use the old fix Raythone GPS as back up. *If I was going to up grade it would be Nobeltic Admiral which includes the tide, currents and animation.* Most geek computers stores can set you up with the connection between the GPS and computer.* I am still using the 13 year old Garmin.*
So shop and look around as there are alternative and feature to weigh. *****
*

*
**


-- Edited by Phil Fill on Wednesday 8th of December 2010 11:06:19 AM
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:20 AM   #14
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

Well guy's and gal's.

I think my brain just crashed.**To many options. I sure do appreciate the input. I just need as couple of days to wade through all the posts to try and make heads or tails of it all.
*I am not quite sure I know an up load from a down load.

Where is that 5th grader when you need one.

The lap top I have is an old compac the battery for it died and a new battery costs as much as a new lap top.

I think a trip to the mac store is still in order. Perhaps I can find a geek to set me up with all I will need.

I would like to be able to hook up a few cameras to the lap top as well.

I think I saw. Perhaps it was Marin with a overhead fold down lap top holder. looked like a sweet set up.

There is a saw mill just north of Sara Palins House. (You can actually see her house from the saw mill.) Just took a bunch of Alaska Birch out of the kiln. I need to mill some more trim so building a lap top holder*will be *a great winter project.

Can't seem to find the pic of the fold down. Whomever it was could you post it again perhaps a few more shots so I can figure out how to make one.

Some times it is good to have an old boat a clean slate so to speak.

SD
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:23 AM   #15
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

Hiya,
** Hmmm....Sara Palins house huh?* Is the sawmill in Russia?
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:25 AM   #16
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

Quick question:
Can I use my Garmin 76Csx as a GPS reciever?* I have a USB cable which I use to import/export charts, waypoints etc from their software.* I've been messing around with the free/trial versions of the software I've downloaded so far, and it seems as if they are only aware of RS232 (serial) interfaces, so I'd need a driver to make my USB port look like a serial port?* Am I on target here so far, and if so are there any that are USB aware?
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Old 12-08-2010, 09:42 AM   #17
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

Good question Woody- not sure? I'd just buy the dedicated USB GPS puck since they are only $35 and then have your handheld as yet another back up. I've never heard of someone plugging their handheld into their laptop for a GPS fix but I would guess it could be done???

Skipperdude, I hear you on the brain crash! I was researching the options heavily a couple of months ago as I was setting up my system. It was complicated by the fact the the Corps of Engineers charts for the TN River where we are have limited detail and even further complicated for my desire to find a FREE program at zero cost to me!
If you are buying a new laptop, you will not be disappointed with the small macbook. It's a few hundred more than a PC based laptop but it is MUCH more stable and safer and virus free. I'll never own a PC again. If you get the macbook for your laptop, then yes, go spend the $$ and buy MacENC. It was the best that I could find for mac. OpenCPN is made for windows, not mac, though they do have a beta/trial version that works for mac. I have it downloaded on my mac as we speak but I prefer the MacENC program personally. If I was on the coast and would be using the NOAA charts (NOAA doesn't do the charts for the TN River, the mac version of OpenCPN for free may be good enough. You could certainly try that route first before spending the money for MacENC.
But like you, I was also overwhelmed for a bit by all the options, especially once you throw in Rosepoint's Coastal Cruiser program, Fugawi, etc. etc. So to keep it simple for you, I'd go for either MacENC if you happen to be buying a mac anyway (which I'd not buy one just for the GPS) or OpenCPN if running windows.
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Old 12-08-2010, 10:40 AM   #18
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Lap top chart plotting

Woody, your USB cable will not work, you need a dedicated USB to Serial Port cable and the drivers for your operating system, as I said in my previous post. Then the virtual serial port needs to be configured with your software. Your Garmin should have a cable available to connect to a USB to serial cable for it to work. If it did not come with the unit, and most do, you will need to get that also. A USB to serial cable can be had from Radio Shack or any computer store, but it must be compatible with your operating system. For those considering a Mac, you will limit the software available to do what you want. Chuck

-- Edited by Capn Chuck on Wednesday 8th of December 2010 11:41:36 AM

-- Edited by Capn Chuck on Wednesday 8th of December 2010 11:42:37 AM
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Old 12-08-2010, 11:56 AM   #19
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Lap top chart plotting

Chuck,

since PCs don't come with serial ports any more, it sounds like*I would need:
- a USB to serial converter (USB to 9 pin male)*for the computer end so that my computer now has a physical serial port.
- a USB to serial cable for the USB device (mini-USB to 9 pin female)*that will connect the device to the serial port on the PC
- compatible drivers

If this is correct, please confirm.* If this is the case then I'd rather poke myself in the eye with an icepick than rig such a configuration...*

Or are you referring to a driver which will create a virtual COM port (say COM7) like what a Sprint Aircard does for instance.* That way you just plug the USB device in and somehow map that to the virtual COM port.*

I know that RS232 has been the standard for data exchange among devices for a very long time, so it may never go away, but I'm just looking for the most elegant solution so I can play with this some.*

Sounds like the "puck" is the best GPS device to get me started, but maybe for me the best software solution would be something that understands USB natively...

-- Edited by Egregious on Wednesday 8th of December 2010 12:57:22 PM
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Old 12-08-2010, 01:58 PM   #20
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RE: Lap top chart plotting

I have a really old Garmin GPS, so it only came with a serial connector. I use a Belkin serial/USB adapter. It comes with a CD with the drivers, and wouldn't work on my next computer until I found the driver software and loaded it. For navigation, I use CAPN software, that I upgraded when I went to Vista, so it will allow AIS, Radar, depth information to show on screen if you want to add that. Also interfaces with a smart auto pilot if you have one. I have none of those extras, but the CAPN program itself seems well worth the cost. It runs whatever charts you have, even those old CHS charts that I bought with my first charting program 16 yrs ago.
In the mac/pc wars, I know many computerized boaters. None have a mac, although I doubt there would be anything wrong with using a mac, if that's what you have. Of the PC users I know, none have crash problems. That old saw was fixed years ago. Since Vista came out, I haven't seen virus problems. (touch wood for that one).
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