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Old 03-03-2013, 12:11 PM   #21
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OpenCPN on my Panasonic CF-29 Toughbook. Readable touch screen and built-in GPS. Pretty hard to beat as a backup.
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Old 03-03-2013, 01:01 PM   #22
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Greetings,
(Re) Welcome aboard Mr. brak.
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Old 03-03-2013, 04:26 PM   #23
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If you have a Mac, I highly recommend MacENC; almost every kind of functionality you could imagine, free updates, and the very best customer support I think I have ever seen. Not in the budget zone at $180, but compared to Coastal Explorer and Nobletec, definitely a bargain. When you wander out of the US, you can buy Navionics Gold charts that cover huge areas through X_Traverse, as well as ENCs form various foreign countries; the program is used by a lot of overseas users, truly global.
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Old 03-03-2013, 04:32 PM   #24
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PolarView is interesting in it supports PPC and Linux. I understand PPC support is limited, but will the Linux version be continuously upgraded? I ask because I just acquired a few Raspberry Pi CPU's

FAQs | Raspberry Pi

I may dedicate one to building a Nav system for fun.

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Old 03-03-2013, 05:52 PM   #25
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Can one set up routes,waypoints and explore charts on Opencpn without having a GPS connected ?
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Old 03-03-2013, 06:11 PM   #26
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A former OpenCPN user who switched to Polar Navy/Polar COM for the Active Captain integration and the easy to use anchor watch. OpenCPN does refresh screens more quickly so I do use that for offline planning.

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Old 03-03-2013, 06:13 PM   #27
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Quote:
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Can one set up routes,waypoints and explore charts on Opencpn without having a GPS connected ?
Yes. Make sure you set the option to knit charts when zooming.

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Old 03-03-2013, 06:18 PM   #28
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FWIW PolarView NS (or, rather, PolarCOM) supports N2K data input natively over either Actisense NGT-1 or SeaSmart devices. This includes all usual device inputs (GPS/compass/depth/wind) and AIS. No a/p control output yet - need more users to actually start using N2K before that happens.
Thanks for the info on N2K support. It's such a frustrating chicken and egg thing for everyone. But all the current model APs from all the big names can operate 100% off N2K now, and I think you will find most new boats and major retrofits being built with pure N2K.
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Old 03-04-2013, 02:06 PM   #29
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What do you mean by "refresh screens more quickly"? I am curious.

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A former OpenCPN user who switched to Polar Navy/Polar COM for the Active Captain integration and the easy to use anchor watch. OpenCPN does refresh screens more quickly so I do use that for offline planning.

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Old 03-04-2013, 02:31 PM   #30
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On my laptop and desktop if I drag the chart or zoom out I get a spinning circle like the shot below. Sometimes it is fast and sometimes it can take maybe 5 seconds. My guess it has to do with available memory but that's just a guess. OpenCPN doesn't have that. I do use two different chart types with the older one in OpenCPN and the newer (raster?) in PolarView so maybe it is just a graphics generation thing.
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Old 03-04-2013, 02:49 PM   #31
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I have used Polar. I "won" it off Active Captain. Still not completely clear on how I won it, but hey... whatever ;-)

I have about zero experience with OpenCPN... I like the Polar software. I like it a lot. But I never used it as a primary nav tool. It was a backup only and was only for lower helm use. I had to run it on my laptop. I don't normally run the genset underway and there was always the possibility of battery depletion. I have now added a chartplotter station to the lower helm, so it's unlikely I will need it again.

The thing I liked about it was that it would run NOAA charts and vector (or raster... I get them confused). I liked the option. I liked the Active Captain interface too.

The things I disliked were that it wasn't very easy to use. I little bit of trial and error to get View and Com to talk to each other... More like, that you even needed to have them talk was the confusing part. Also, installing Active Capt. update was a bit of a pain too. Most of these things should happen automatically or at least have a prompt that reminds you to do it.

There were also some other things like the screen shot below. I'm really not zoomed out very far and I feel stitched at two incompatible zoom levels.

Like I said... I liked it and may use it again, but I think the GUI could use an overhaul (unless it's designed for touchscreen) and just some other minor tweaks would be good.
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Old 03-04-2013, 03:12 PM   #32
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Spinning circle certainly exists, but the time you mention (5 seconds) is quite unusual. Generally, PolarView has one of (if not the) fastest rendering engines, especially with raster charts.

What's the total system RAM?
Are your charts installed locally on the hard drive?
Also, it is worth selecting only one chart type, either vector or raster (but not both) from View->Chart Types menu.

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On my laptop and desktop if I drag the chart or zoom out I get a spinning circle like the shot below. Sometimes it is fast and sometimes it can take maybe 5 seconds. My guess it has to do with available memory but that's just a guess. OpenCPN doesn't have that. I do use two different chart types with the older one in OpenCPN and the newer (raster?) in PolarView so maybe it is just a graphics generation thing.
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Old 03-04-2013, 03:33 PM   #33
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" I don't normally run the genset underway and there was always the possibility of battery depletion."

This caught my eye. No alternators either? Or are you talking about the laptop's battery? No inverter then?

Anyway I am also in the camp of using the PC or Mac as a planning and backup device, but I know plenty of people who happily cruise the seas with computer nav only. I usually prefer purpose-built stuff for whatever reason. My Macs have proven to be pretty fragile devices and seem to want to stop and pout about something at the wrong moment. We are on the second set of these (i-Mac and MacBook Pro) on the boat as of last year as the first generations failed after about 4 years of use. Don't ask me why, but we kind of got forced to re-up based on when and where each went Tango Uniform.

To me the biggest advantages of PC based navigation these days is the ability to download completely updated charts at any time for free for US waters, and at fairly nominal cost elsewhere. I noted when I bought a new Navionics card for my Furunos the other day, that Navionics is now allowing you free web based updates to their cards for a year's time. The next big advantage is being to do planning and dreaming when away from the boat. Further down the list is cost.
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Old 03-04-2013, 03:57 PM   #34
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I don't disagree, George. I love the up-to-date chart possibilities. But the time I used my laptop was before my inverter install. Still, I'd rather have a proper chartplotter at the helm rather than something that relies on Windows or OSX to run. Too many points of failure.
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Old 03-04-2013, 04:15 PM   #35
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Worth remembering that your chartplotter is probably running Linux (or Android, or VXWorks). I.e. - it's a computer, except manufacturer made sure it can only run one program, and duck-taped all the extra buttons so user can't press them

That said, being waterproof and self-contained is certainly an advantage.
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Old 03-04-2013, 04:17 PM   #36
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Brak - I only have one set of charts for each program - under chart info on PolarView it says type S57 (vector or raster?). The maps are loaded on the hard drive and my desktop has 4 gig and my laptop 1. For my main GPS I use a Furuno V2 but I have the laptop on the dash as a backup and so I can zoom in to look at details of a destination and the Active Captain info. One thing I really like is that I can have very up-to-date charts and it saves me from having to buy a chip update nearly as often. In fact I will get my first update to the Furuno this summer before our maiden voyage to Florida. I find PolarView to be a very solid product and - once I figured it out - the PolarCOM link works fine too.

Tom.B - You should try loading the "other" charts - raster or vector (I have the same problem remembering which is which). I find they quilt together nicely and IMO contain better detail.

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Old 03-04-2013, 04:24 PM   #37
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Just a laptop got me from Ft Lauderdale to Jersey, back to Jekyll Island and now back to Myrtle Beach.....I change and build routes all the time underway with OpenCPN....this summer I'll try and integrate everything.

I'm sure there are programs with more bels and whistles...but for free OpenCPN is everything most people need.

The only reason I'll probably have a dedicated chartplotter in the future is to add RADAR.
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Old 03-04-2013, 04:37 PM   #38
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.......
The only reason I'll probably have a dedicated chartplotter in the future is to add RADAR.
I expect its only a matter of time until someone writes a plugin(s) to implement radar display on O. Aside from that very real and constant improvement, what I most like about OpenCPN is the complete lack of nonsense. I can right click a route or waypoint underway and get instant access to whatever I am likely to want to do. I don't get the phone number at the marina or walking directions to the nearest pub or a picture of the skyline - but I don't want or need that crap either.

As far as the supposedly unreliable computer to operate O goes, I've got two identical laptops onboard right now, both with O and all the charts loaded. I've got 2 pucks that connect to those computers plus a Garmin eTrex with a USB connection. If SWMBO is onboard her computer is a third backup. If all that fails then I'll take my chances with my eyeballs, a paper chart and a depthfinder.

A couple of years ago I took an introductory celestial nav course. At the start of the class we went "round the horn" stating why we were taking the class. I think I said "for a lark" but one of the kids said he was going to cross oceans and he wanted to carry a sextant as a backup. The instructor said "are you nuts? - if you want a backup take another GPS - if that isn't enough - take another one." That's the way I feel about this "reliable purpose built electronics" refrain. I think my level of redundancy is considerably ahead of anyone who depends on a single chartplotter no matter how well waterproofed it may be. YMMV
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Old 03-04-2013, 05:57 PM   #39
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... I don't get the phone number at the marina or walking directions to the nearest pub or a picture of the skyline - but I don't want or need that crap either.
Good thing one man's crap is another man's feast. Coming out of Long Island Sound bound for Block Island last summer we ran into unpredicted weather and rapidly building open water seas. A quick look at the charting software showed what could be a protected anchorage to our southwest. The anchor icon displayed from the Active Captain information download showed someone had been there before. A couple more clicks and I knew we could fit our draft and hold bottom. There wasn't a phone # for pizza, but it did let us make a decision and get out of the weather PDQ. For some it's information overload... for a guy who wrote computer software for 30 years it's an information junkie's fix.

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Old 03-04-2013, 06:24 PM   #40
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I have been a user of Nobeltec VNS for the last 7 odd years and still like it.
Previously used Tsunami and TMQ C Plot.
Tsunami was by far my favourite but support faltered. C Plot is favoured by probably 75% of the trawler (fishing) operators in Australia and covers world wide charts in all formats (You just have to buy them)

Some of the other programs around are really USA centric so a bit of research has to be carried out if you are going to use this plotter software outside the USA where charts are also free from my understanding.

I have heard the rumblings re Nobletec Odyssey so am so far reluctant to upgrade but will always stick with a computer based plotter system due to their more versitile usage , number of computers being able to be used for planing and back up ect.

Benn
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