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Old 11-11-2013, 01:09 PM   #41
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I faced these exact decisions when I ripped out all the navigation electronics on our trawler 18 months ago. While my decisions would surely be different for our dinghy or my Whaler back in Maine, I'd make the same decisions today on aCappella...

For me, I like having both a hardware chartplotter and set of general purpose/PC/iPad/phone stations. The purpose-build hardware is all direct sunlight readable and fully waterproof. Those two features compete against each other because of heat - pumping up the brightness generates a lot of heat. But having a waterproof enclosure doesn't allow heat to escape. The bottom line is that you need a very well engineered device to perform both functions well and for the boating environment, that's going to be a hardware chartplotter. I also like the total integration of chartplotter and autopilot/instruments/radar/fish finder. Instruments and the autopilot need to have N183/N2K connectivity for external connections too for emergency use but I like them driven by the hardware chartplotter while underway for normal use.

Alongside that, I have multiple docking stations where I can put phones, iPads, laptops (Surface types), and other electronics - a picture is attached. I like the functionality those devices have and the chart updating capabilities for US charts. I probably have more of that stuff than the typical boater - I used RAM mounts to allow mounting almost any type of off-the-shelf hardware next to the chartplotters - I switch in and out devices all the time and the mounts make that easy. I do similar things on the flybridge with a regular chartplotter next to mounts for using other computing equipment.

I think there's no one perfect solution. This is a case where it's all good as long as the equipment is meeting the needs of your particular type of cruising.
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Old 11-11-2013, 05:05 PM   #42
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aCappella,

And I thought I had a lot. The toughest challenges I have found in system integration of all these things is:

a. Transporting tracks/routes between systems.
b. Integrating different vendors together
c. Enough 12 volt outlets

To solve "a" the only way is the old sneaker net or moving a storage device between systems. B is getting easier with NMEA 2000 and "c" is just a matter of drilling holes and wiring. Since it seems that everything is looking for a USB connection for charging/power I think I am going to install a powered USB hub hardwired to a 12VDC power bus with a 3 amp fuse.


Tom
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Old 11-13-2013, 02:44 PM   #43
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Sea-Duction, could you please post what software you used to upload active captain data to your chart-plotter?
Homeport which is Garmin's PC nav software will upload active captain data that can be viewed on my PC, but does not upload to my Garmin chart-plotter.
From Active Captain you would select your route and "export" to a card (I used an extra camera card). The exported file is in a ".GPX" format. Lowrance does not support the GPX format so I went to:

http://www.gpsbabel.org/

And downloaded their program. Took the GPX file and converted it to the Lowrance "USR" file. I then took the card to my Lowrance and imported it to my route file.

It actually works very well. One thing I did find was that in the conversion the Lowrance unit didn't recognize the way points, but that was easy to fix by clicking on the waypoint area and then the unit asks if you want this to be a waypoint and you click yes. I also found out that I would update my route on ActiveCaptain, convert the updated route, upload to my Lowrance and the waypoints were still there, I just had to remember to update any new waypoints I had entered in the update.

Many thanks to Active Captain for helping me out. Lowrance (and others) actually sent me to the gpsbabel site to convert the files.
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Old 11-13-2013, 03:26 PM   #44
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SeaDuction,

I have an HDS7 and HDS8 and I am pretty sure I moved routes/tracks from Coastal Explorer to both units using an SD card and the GPX file format. Coastal Explorer also has an option to send routes to Lowrance units across the NMEA network by directing the output to correct com port. I haven't tried that, I just know the menu option is available. I'll have to try that next summer since the boat and I are 800 miles or so apart.

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Old 11-13-2013, 03:47 PM   #45
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SeaDuction,

I have an HDS7 and HDS8 and I am pretty sure I moved routes/tracks from Coastal Explorer to both units using an SD card and the GPX file format. Coastal Explorer also has an option to send routes to Lowrance units across the NMEA network by directing the output to correct com port. I haven't tried that, I just know the menu option is available. I'll have to try that next summer since the boat and I are 800 miles or so apart.

Tom
Is Coastal Explorer a Lowrance product? When I called Lowrance they told me my HDS-7 does not support GPX files
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Old 11-13-2013, 03:54 PM   #46
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Bravo Bob! I'm in your camp. All that keen electronic stuff is grand, until it fails, and we're left wondering at how quickly we've forgotten the basics!
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Old 11-13-2013, 04:04 PM   #47
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Bravo Bob! I'm in your camp. All that keen electronic stuff is grand, until it fails, and we're left wondering at how quickly we've forgotten the basics!
That's why we have multiple backups with independent GPS and independent batteries. Because few of us use paper any longer and probably none of us could keep safely navigating with paper in really poor weather and sea conditions.

I've yet to go on a trawler in the last 10 year where the skipper was keeping a DR track using non-electronic means. In general, the people not willing to give up paper have outdated charts and usually no pencil marks on them. Paper is just giving them a false sense of security. I'd much rather have my iPhone or PC that will automatically go into DR mode if the GPS system fails (how often has it failed?).
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Old 11-13-2013, 05:05 PM   #48
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The GPS of satellites is so robust with so many satellites it is not likely to fail. After all everything from surveyors to airplanes depend on it. I personally have 3 Garmins and an additional computer that can't possibly fail all at once. I have contemplated more than once the worth of my big compasses. I just have not gotten around to taking the one in the way at my lower helm to the used boat store. I threw my paper charts away some time ago, as I did my slide rule and my Hewlett Packard hand held.
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Old 11-13-2013, 05:49 PM   #49
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I'm with the GPS crowd, but don't deny the vulnerability of the GPS signals we receive. All it takes is a small signal level of the right frequency to disrupt the received signal over an area. The receivers are designed with a built-in 'reasonableness test' to reject inputs attempting to mimic the satellites at too high or too low of a signal level. But if an entity hits it just right, the signals are jammed, sometimes over a widespread area. We see it a lot out west via published notice in defined areas by the military. I know for a fact that other entities and nations possess the same capability.

Even without GPS signal, you can use electronic charts to navigate waterways. Navigation buoys and landmarks are still visible and can be correlated to compass readings and radar returns for verification.
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Old 11-13-2013, 07:57 PM   #50
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SeaDuction,

Coastal Explorer is a product from Rose Point Navigation and can export in various formats. I may have moved the route as a navigation object file (.nob) file. It was almost a year ago and after I did it once I decided that was nice and didn't do it again. I have been in that "do loop" with converting the .gpx files to .usr files and after looking at them in a text editor it's amazing how little difference there is in the format.

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Old 11-14-2013, 01:32 PM   #51
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Thanks Tom. This has been a very interesting thread. Still not sure, but it may come down to a combination of both.
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Old 11-14-2013, 08:18 PM   #52
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Even without GPS signal, you can use electronic charts to navigate waterways. Navigation buoys and landmarks are still visible and can be correlated to compass readings and radar returns for verification.
Not enough emphasis is placed on doing this. Yes... You can still use dead reckoning in conjunction with your plotter! (by scrolling) It's like viewing a paper chart but it is a lot more convenient.
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Old 11-15-2013, 05:43 AM   #53
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Me too! I don't even have or want an iPad.
I find both is good.
Delicate electronics don't like the weather up on the flybridge, plugged into charge it's great up there and heaps bright enough. Also neat to just take down as backup down below, and then safe and sound out or the hothouse, as FF likes to call it.
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Old 11-15-2013, 09:18 AM   #54
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I'm with the GPS crowd, but don't deny the vulnerability of the GPS signals we receive.
If a GPS signal were to be lost it is still not a catastrophe. I would have electronic charts markers and my heading sensor. If the situation came together with several failures at once I would just anchor until things improved.
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Old 11-15-2013, 09:22 AM   #55
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It's also worth pointing out that there's another GPS type of constellation of satellites called GLONASS. Today you can get a $99 wireless Garmin GPS that supports both the US GPS and Russian GLONASS systems. If one goes out, it just picks up position data from the other.

Amazon.com: Garmin GLO Portable GPS and GLONASS Receiver with Vehicle Power Cable: GPS & Navigation

If both of those systems go out at the same time, I have a feeling something pretty major is happening and none of us will be concerned about recreational boating.
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Old 12-31-2013, 01:50 PM   #56
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Thanks for that link to the GLO.

I have a Standard Horizon CP500 that works just fine. I also have Transas iSailor as a backup on an iPad3 and a BadElf gps unit that plugs in to it. Maybe the GLO device would be a better option?
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Old 12-31-2013, 10:28 PM   #57
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It's also worth pointing out that there's another GPS type of constellation of satellites called GLONASS. Today you can get a $99 wireless Garmin GPS that supports both the US GPS and Russian GLONASS systems. If one goes out, it just picks up position data from the other.

Amazon.com: Garmin GLO Portable GPS and GLONASS Receiver with Vehicle Power Cable: GPS & Navigation

If both of those systems go out at the same time, I have a feeling something pretty major is happening and none of us will be concerned about recreational boating.
I have one of these and recommend it. Sometimes a tad fussy to bluetooth link, but works great and gets a fix nearly instantaneously. Accurate enough so that I could walk around my house and could see the blue dot moving room to room on google maps.
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Old 01-02-2014, 06:03 AM   #58
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Today you can get a $99 wireless Garmin GPS that supports both the US GPS and Russian GLONASS systems. If one goes out, it just picks up position data from the other.

IF GPS and GLONASS go out it will be from an intentional strike, with an air burst nuke at altitude.

With the time and cost of relaunching a series of sats it could be a decade of paper or Loran nav.

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Old 01-02-2014, 08:31 AM   #59
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Old 01-02-2014, 09:32 AM   #60
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Used laptops for navigation for 10 years. Very reliable if it is a dedicated laptop with no other programs loaded or running. Daylight viewing is a problem so I used a separate monitor.

Benefit of the laptop is we carried two additional laptops on board and thus had very quick backups. Also when the unit failed (none ever did) we could just replace with a quick trip to a computer store. Now use a dedicated desk unit which was even cheaper and easier to use than a laptop.

Bay Pelican as a pilot house so the daylight viewing is not as big of an issue but we still went ahead and bought a daylight viewable monitor.
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What do you use to power up that desktop unit?
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