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Old 01-02-2014, 09:35 AM   #61
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I use both a GPS map plotter and my i-pad.

I plug in the i-pad so it's charging while I'm using it. I use it to see where I'm going a bit or far ahead. Zoom in and out is much better than my GPS. I look for anchorages for the night or next week. Or just look around. The image is good and bright. My big complaint for Navamatics is that the names of channels and inlets are very hard to find. Very awkward.

Using the i-pad I'm looking at what's out in front of me w the GPS. Before the i-pad I'd surf around on the GPS looking for anchorages ect and not keeping the best watch on rocks and shallow water just ahead.

My only complaint is names on Navamatics.

Dim laptops don't interest me at all but I've seen others use them and get all kinds of information I can't access. As far as I know most all the time that extra information like tidal currents is just not needed.
Dim? are you referring to the laptop running on its own battery power, or an external source/ Aren't they brighter running on external source?

How about a 'hood' for the screen much like many older radar screens?
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Old 01-19-2014, 01:29 PM   #62
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I'm trying to pick between Coastal Explorer and Nobletec. I am leaning toward CE based on Tom's input, and apparently good Bahama chart availability.

I have used Maptech offshore nav lite via the Maptech chartbook/cd combo for like 6yrs. Fell in love with the direct image of the NOAA charts, not some charts made up by the device vendor. But the Maptech software was buggy and often locked up. The gps ant driver was buggy too. Sometimes refused to work, sometimes had lag in fixes (not good). So time to upgrade.

I have a furuno plotter as backup, so laptop is not critical.

Laptop lives at lower helm, so out of the elements. I handle dimming at night by placing either one or two smoked plexiglass shields over the screen. Works great.

I am no expert in all these plotter options, trying to get up to speed. But the cost has me headed in the laptop direction. I already need a laptop on the boat for work, so that is not an additional cost.

About to jump and purchase Coastal Explorer.

What says the site?

Thanks.
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Old 01-19-2014, 01:56 PM   #63
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I handle dimming at night by placing either one or two smoked plexiglass shields over the screen. Works great.
Thanks.
Nobeltec is dimmable. I have two Dell monitors hooked to the PC and they dim right along with the laptop. The monitors are much brighter than the laptop screen for easy lower helm viewing.
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Old 01-19-2014, 02:16 PM   #64
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I say go Nobletec. If you ever want to add features like radar, sounder, and/or Furuno chart-plotters you can do it seamlessly.
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Old 01-19-2014, 03:55 PM   #65
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Have you heard of OpenCPN? Free and pretty complete...tides & Currents, plug ins...autopilot, even radar (but very specialized)...no ship's docs but just about everything else...it's all I've used for the last 5000 miles and don't see a need for much more...

Did I mention free????
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Old 01-19-2014, 04:53 PM   #66
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Polar Navy works well too. Has a great dashboard setup. Nearly free.

I have Coastal Explorer, Polar Navy, Nobletec (old), and OpenCPN on my laptops and prefer them in that order.
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Old 01-19-2014, 05:08 PM   #67
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I ran Nobeltec for years and installed Coastal Explorer two years ago. Much better, and very intuitive to use.
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Old 01-19-2014, 05:22 PM   #68
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We were Coastal Explorer's largest dealer a couple of years ago. We were MaxSea's largest US dealer at that time too (same software as Nobeltec Trident/Odyssey today). I have all the different products and use them all except for a couple (Fugawi, MacENC, and SeaClear are the only major ones I don't have any more).

There's a couple of things to think about before selecting...

- What devices/instruments do you intend to connect - depth, wind, GPS, radar? How well does each product support your specific instruments and what will you need to connect?

- Where do you intend to cruise and what are the chart options available?

- What are the policies for copying the software on different backup laptops (or a home one for planning purposes)? What are the return policies if you end up not liking the software?

- Are there other things you need to interface with - routes, tracks, waypoint databases, etc?

- How do the basic features stack up, product against product.

- What is the full cost including extra costs for charts you'd need for the areas you'll be cruising?

- What do your friends use especially local ones who can help if/when you have questions and problems?


If you go through those questions, the proper product usually finds you.
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Old 01-19-2014, 07:27 PM   #69
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Thanks, guys.

Active Cap'n- I don't bother trying to interconnect various devices. Radar, bottom machine, furuno plotter, AP, laptop- all stand alone. I like it that way, any one of them can poop and the rest are unaffected.

Cruising eastern US, Bahamas, maybe deeper into Caribbean later. So not much needed as far as exotic charting.

I do like tracks, being able to follow it exact on return. I do a lot of night running and that is a very nice feature.

Most of the local guys are sport fishers, and use either garmin or raymarine high dollar machines. I'm unique that I like to go places and pick through sketchy water. They have no use for that and thus are little help!!

Still leaning toward Coastal Explorer.

How is CE for tracks?
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Old 01-19-2014, 07:28 PM   #70
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Coastal Explorer tracks is excellent.
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Old 01-19-2014, 07:33 PM   #71
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Thanks, guys.

Active Cap'n- I don't bother trying to interconnect various devices. Radar, bottom machine, furuno plotter, AP, laptop- all stand alone. I like it that way, any one of them can poop and the rest are unaffected.

Cruising eastern US, Bahamas, maybe deeper into Caribbean later. So not much needed as far as exotic charting.

I do like tracks, being able to follow it exact on return. I do a lot of night running and that is a very nice feature.

Most of the local guys are sport fishers, and use either garmin or raymarine high dollar machines. I'm unique that I like to go places and pick through sketchy water. They have no use for that and thus are little help!!

Still leaning toward Coastal Explorer.

How is CE for tracks?
Just because you interconnect/share MEMA doesn't affect other machines if one dies.

Singing the praises of an autopilot and not having it interconnected with a chartplotter for "tracking" is just a waste of the techs ability.

Virtually all have a "track" feature.

Sketchy water? Any/all are dependent on the quality of chart software that is loaded in them.
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Old 01-19-2014, 07:54 PM   #72
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Just because you interconnect/share MEMA doesn't affect other machines if one dies.

Singing the praises of an autopilot and not having it interconnected with a chartplotter for "tracking" is just a waste of the techs ability.

Virtually all have a "track" feature.

Sketchy water? Any/all are dependent on the quality of chart software that is loaded in them.
Yea, I know it is a waste of tech to not connect. I'm just a bit of a tech luddite, or ignoramus, and am just as happy clicking the heading knob to keep on track. Someone has to be at the helm anyway, might as well give them (mostly me) something to do!!

I may connect the stuff at some point and experiment. I'm well aware of the benefits.

And the sketchy water just means going out of channel and exploring, picking my way through visually, etc. The sport fish guys NEVER do that. The charts are helpful, but none are detailed enough for every situation.

Prepping the boat to go south in a month or so. Getting excited!!
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Old 01-19-2014, 08:04 PM   #73
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Yea, I know it is a waste of tech to not connect. I'm just a bit of a tech luddite, or ignoramus, and am just as happy clicking the heading knob to keep on track. Someone has to be at the helm anyway, might as well give them (mostly me) something to do!!

I may connect the stuff at some point and experiment. I'm well aware of the benefits.

And the sketchy water just means going out of channel and exploring, picking my way through visually, etc. The sport fish guys NEVER do that. The charts are helpful, but none are detailed enough for every situation.

Prepping the boat to go south in a month or so. Getting excited!!

The best part of "track" over "auto" is being able to leave the helm unattended for short periods without worrying about set/drift.

I've owned a liveaboard sportfish and explore thin water too.... and that was exactly my point...chartplotters ....no matter what kind are only as worthy as the charting software you put into them....and they are usually as good as all available paper charts unless you get some local chart at a bait and tackle store or park office.
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Old 01-20-2014, 02:13 AM   #74
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One drawback with the Coastal Explorer version I have is the anchor drag alarm function. Nobeltec allows me to draw a box as the boundary. Coastal Explorer's anchor drag alarm is much more limited. If this is important to you then investigate further.
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Old 01-20-2014, 05:47 PM   #75
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One drawback with the Coastal Explorer version I have is the anchor drag alarm function. Nobeltec allows me to draw a box as the boundary. Coastal Explorer's anchor drag alarm is much more limited. If this is important to you then investigate further.
If this is an issue then you need to check out Active Captain's "Drag Queen" app. Its available free from each app store.

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Old 01-20-2014, 05:57 PM   #76
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If this is an issue then you need to check out Active Captain's "Drag Queen" app. Its available free from each app store.
I sort of like that too but I'm pretty sure Coastal Explorer's anchor alarm is better now. As I remember it, you drag a circle and set it as an inside boundary. Move outside that area and the alarm goes off.

They also allow outside boundary alarms. Create a boundary and if your boat crossed into the area from outside, an alarm goes off. There are lots of interesting things you can do with that if needed.

You won't go wrong with Coastal Explorer, Nobeltec, or MaxSea. Trawler owners tend to lean toward CE although I've never understood exactly why. For what it's worth, the main developer of Coastal Explorer owns a trawler.
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Old 01-20-2014, 06:08 PM   #77
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WOW. You turned down the free plug. :-)

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Old 01-20-2014, 11:28 PM   #78
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I am a long time Nobeltec Admiral user I really liked the program however it is no longer supported and they are marketing Trident as a replacement. I also have Rosepont's Coastal Explorer. So far the only advantage I see with Trident is that it can run separate screens with different scale charts etc.. However, Chart updates are (per their tech) are only done once or twice a year as the NOAA and USCOE charts must be run thru the mmp engine? With CE the updates are seamless and as often as you wish (as long as an internet connection is in place). I have found the tech support from CE much superior to that of Nobeltec. While Nobeltec is now owned by Furuno I don't know how it's business model will survive as MAXSEA's step child when Nobletec does not seem to have the robust commerical software market the Furuno and CE have.
I just can not get pass the non-ability to update the charts often as they change. CE uses the native chart issue formats so there is no need to run it thru a process to be displayed. However on Nobletec, you are truly held captive by this process. Bitter about the abandonment of Admiral and favoring CE which was seamless to set up and works with all my devices on the network. Trident required tech help to get up and running.

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Old 01-21-2014, 08:35 AM   #79
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While Nobeltec is now owned by Furuno I don't know how it's business model will survive as MAXSEA's step child when Nobletec does not seem to have the robust commerical software market the Furuno and CE have.
I can bring some facts here about corporate ownership with all of this. I know the owners. It's a little complex.

There is a French company called MaxSea who has been writing boat navigation products for decades. They were founded by Bryce Pryszo in the 80's who's an incredibly bright guy - he developed much of their original products and had a great business sense for positioning and marketing. He's one of the masters/grandfathers of navigation software much like Steve Jobs holds that place for personal computers.

About 5-6 years ago, Bryce's company was going strong and MaxSea was on version 10 or 11. They had introduced some of the most interesting concepts in navigation like the ability to use weather prediction to automatically create routing for sailboats. They had Windows and Macintosh versions of their software. Most of us in the US had less exposure to the product because they were European even though there were English versions of it.

Around this time, MaxSea had some incredible software developers who knew how to use the newer GPU's present in PC's. These are specialty chips that offloaded graphics control from the CPU to provide better graphics (and often 3D) performance. I can only imagine how excited they were when they realized this new capability could be applied to navigation software with performance unlike anything seen.

MaxSea showed the new capabilities to Furuno and a matchup between the two companies was formed. Furuno saw this as their future and moved their entire product line to embedded Windows hardware with MaxSea running as the software. They called this Time Zero implying the speed of rendering charts in this new world. I'm not easy to get blown away but I was totally blown away the first time I saw it. After writing navigation software myself for a decade, I hadn't been able to imagine the performance improvements they demonstrated with one new product.

With such a commitment by Furuno to offload their entire chartplotter line to another software company, they needed some ownership in the company. Bryce came up with a nice solution. A parent company called Signet SA was formed. Signet would own MaxSea, MapMedia (the chart company), and other acquisitions. 49% of Signet would be owned by Furuno.

Around this time I met Iker, Bryce's son. Iker is managing most of the software efforts of the company now. He's incredibly quick and a good software developer himself. It was Iker that I pitched the idea of adding ActiveCaptain to their product about 4-5 years ago. Iker got the whole thing immediately and made the integration happen. MaxSea was the first ActiveCaptain licensee. I get together with Iker at every trade show these days and I love talking about the industry and what's possible. He's unusual in his vision and he's providing great leadership at MaxSea.

MapMedia is worth mentioning too. It's part of Signet. They have the most comprehensive collection of chart data that exists. They directly license C-Map, Navionics, and government-produced charts. Then they process the data in their own format to produce MapMedia files that they sell. So software that uses MapMedia can choose among different types of charts from different manufacturers. The real reason for this new chart format is that there is a tremendous amount of pre-processing of the data to give the incredible performance capabilities of MaxSea/Furuno in a way that can allow display of all different chart types. Because of this processing, Joe is right, you have to wait until they release a chart update. They make updates every 6 months. Since this exact format is used by Furuno chartplotters, you can bet that they've hit that interval every time and will continue to do that. Updates to their NOAA raster and vector data have always been free for US versions. But none of the raw NOAA BSB or S-57 chart data files can be viewed directly - it has to wait for MapMedia processing. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. But recognize that there are big companies behind it so the risk is much less than if a smaller software developer were making a new chart file type.

Nobeltec had been bought and sold many times over the years. It's a shame. It was created in the mid-90's by a fantastic developer named Dave Steckler. He had the first real, released product that could quilt together raster charts into a seamless view. It was magic at the time and changed everything for navigation software because it no longer meant having to navigate chart-to-chart, falling off the edge as you approached it. I was lucky to live 35 miles from Dennis Mills at the time who I got to know. Dennis developed and sold a product called The Cap'n. Nobeltec sent The Cap'n down a slide that it was never going to recover from. In my opinion, Dennis was an OK developer - it wasn't his passion and he sort of fell into being a developer because he wanted the product for his own use. This new age of Nobeltec had high-end developers dedicated to writing fantastic software with new capabilities that Dennis couldn't match. That said, Dennis is certainly another grandfather of this industry that most people have never heard of. Maptech experienced a similar slide (I wrote 3 products that Maptech sold exclusively) - I got to see the internals of their explosion which is another valuable story - who knew they were funded by the owner of Land's End?

Anyway, Dave Steckler cashed out, bought a plane, and I believe he's out flying around the Puget Sounds these days. Nobeltec was eventually owned by C-Map. C-Map was purchased by Jeppesen. Jeppesen was purchased by Boeing. The result of all of this was that the heart of Nobeltec was gone. Then a couple of years ago, Signet decided that perhaps Nobeltec was a way to get into the US market in a bigger way. Nobeltec did pretty well previously in the US but never had a strong presence in Europe. MaxSea was just the opposite marketing-wise.

So Signet purchased Nobeltec and retired their older, problematic software (VNS, which had a huge US following with Joe as an example). Trident and Odyssey were rebranded MaxSea Time Zero software with a US slant. And while MaxSea supported Furuno networks, radars, and other specialty Furuno hardware, Nobeltec would be more open and have other radar and instrument support. Mostly though, I think Nobeltec is MaxSea's marketing arm for the US market. It's not a bad strategy and everyone involved that I've met is truly dedicated to producing great products. Nobeltec and both Trident/Odyssey are licensees of ActiveCaptain today too.

So there is some Furuno ownership with the parent company. But if anything, that provides a great deal of stability as all of this moves forward.

Looking forward, MaxSea/Nobeltec recently released iPad versions of their software. This is quite interesting too - and it's a free download which everyone should try. The Nobeltec version has detailed demo charts for Miami so you can see what it's all about. It turns out that iPads have the same type of GPU found on PC's today. MaxSea developers expanded their software to writing specialty software for that GPU to take advantage of the 3D and graphic performance of the chip. The result is pretty incredible.
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Old 01-21-2014, 09:44 AM   #80
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Thanks Jeff,
Very complete on the genesis of electronic charting. Quite a history of electronic charting. The issue of chart updates only every 6 months can be dangerous if there is a major change. One of the techs admitted that the major change (unknown) in San Francisco Bay is generating many of complaints from users there as the charts still reflect the old information. So, as a critic of uncorrected out of date charts as dangerous, I'm surprised you haven't critiqued this facet of MAXSEA/Nobeltec The 3d stuff to me is fun to look at but does not provide needed navigational enhancements as I grew up in the 2 dimensional world and am comfortable with navigating in that manner via contour lines and sounding points. If the 3d was a "true exact" reflection of the bottom then it could help identify shoal encroachments into the marked channel, however I don't think we are there yet and contours provide me the same general info.
Jeff, I have been curious about the evolution of Rosepoint's electronic charting software. Can you relate it's history as well? I've heard all sorts of versions. This has been a fascinating read. The first "insider" historical perspective I've read.
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