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Old 04-27-2020, 02:43 PM   #1
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Budget boater desperately seeking nav software

I want to cruise the channel islands and need a user friendly software solution. My idea is pair the onboard gps and AIS receiver from a Standard Horizon 2200 VHF mated to either a laptop or tablet. My steering station is enclosed from weather.
-What nav software is considered the most user friendly?
-Do any of these endless nav softwares have strong system requirements?
-Apple OS won't happen for me, Droid or Windows? probably won't go Linux
-Can I run all this off my exiting VHF antenna?
-Any recommendations for minimum CPU?
-Recommendations for a particular model? I would want at least 11" of screen real estate.
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Old 04-27-2020, 03:18 PM   #2
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Avionics Navigation software

About $50 and can run on multiple devices. No reason for a PC. I use an iPad but also works on android. More features than you will likely need but very user friendly.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianG View Post
I want to cruise the channel islands and need a user friendly software solution. My idea is pair the onboard gps and AIS receiver from a Standard Horizon 2200 VHF mated to either a laptop or tablet. My steering station is enclosed from weather.
-What nav software is considered the most user friendly?
-Do any of these endless nav softwares have strong system requirements?
-Apple OS won't happen for me, Droid or Windows? probably won't go Linux
-Can I run all this off my exiting VHF antenna?
-Any recommendations for minimum CPU?
-Recommendations for a particular model? I would want at least 11" of screen real estate.
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Old 04-27-2020, 03:28 PM   #3
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OpenCPN is free and you can down load free NOAA charts. Works great on a laptop and they have lots of plug-ins.

https://opencpn.org/
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Old 04-27-2020, 03:59 PM   #4
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I use openCPN and free NOAA charts, also have cmap 2011, it is very good.
With NOAA charts, opencpn has to convert them before viewing, so if you run the conversion for them all at one time, then they load without needing that conversion process. Using NOAA all your charts are uptodate for free. OpenCPN runs in windows or linux.
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Old 04-27-2020, 04:04 PM   #5
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I opted for a Navionics subscription in 2019 primarily as a way to access Active Capt data while cruising. Full US was $25 and US Canada was $29.
Any charts downloaded continue to be usable (but not updated) beyond the expiration if you choose not to renew.
I was very impressed with the navigation capability and ease of use and ended up using it daily over 60+ straight days of cruising.
I also ran my Raymarine GPS/MFD along w Navionics on a tablet and enjoyed having belt & suspenders in addition to paper and the good old fashioned way as a second back-up.
A Navionics subscription is good for multi devices and has the advantage of portability and being in your pocket when talking to other boaters and gathering local knowledge & tips.
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Old 04-27-2020, 06:41 PM   #6
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openCPN for chart displays, on various android tablets, NEMA 0183 multiplexer to put the data from VHF on WIFI to display AIS and position. Works with one vhf antenna. If you can live with the VHF AIS display, and tablet has a GPS, multiplexer is not needed. A $39 Bluetooth GPS can also be used for position as an alternative tablet with onboard GPS. I've been using Amazon Fire Tablets - cheap enough to toss if they get soaked with saltwater - hasn't happened yet. I



Used as backup to main nav/com - Garmin package.
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Old 04-27-2020, 06:43 PM   #7
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There is cheap and there is service. For $50 you can download Navionics or one of several other apps and you get a very usable basic chart plotting program. On the other hand for $350 you can go with Coastal Explorer which is capable of integrating your auto pilot, displaying AIS vectors, and even Radar overlay. All this with a support staff that will take your call and walk you through any situation including adding a wireless AIS transceiver to your mix.

I have both systems on the boat and I find there to be no wrong answer. The hard question is what is the right answer for you. The Sailling Doodle’s guy is sailing the Caribbean on an iPad and Navionics so obviously that should work for you. I traveled from LA to Seattle with the same program but I felt like I was inadequately equipped so I added more conventional electronics.
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Old 04-27-2020, 08:07 PM   #8
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Try navigation laptops.com I bought a package from him and am happy with it, You can add all the bells and whistles and get it up to about a thousand dollars or go bare bones and get into it for a couple hundred. All the add ons are hardware, the software is all the same.

iNavx is on my Apple phone and actually works pretty well but the screen is pretty small. I think there are any number of good aps out there.

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Old 04-27-2020, 08:59 PM   #9
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OpenCPN is nice if you want to learn it and use US free charts (lucky US boaters). Connect a GPS puck to your laptop and you are good to go.
Navionics is really great for the price, intuitive and with really nice features like creating your routes online and share it with any device or the auto routing feature.
These two are the cheapest. Beyond that a lot of software exists like coastal explorer but they are a bit more pricey.

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Old 04-27-2020, 10:27 PM   #10
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I opted for Rose Point Coastal Explorer. I paid around 300 bucks for the one time purchase, and all the free charts I can eat. I picked up a couple of Garmin GPS pucks, and itís been absolutely reliable. I have it on an old windows laptop.

Itís not as cheap as Open CPN, but itís very user friendly, and I was already used to working with it from work. Customer service has been top notch in my experience as well.
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Old 04-27-2020, 11:28 PM   #11
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OpenCPN on an older Panasonic Toughbook CF-31.
A couple hundred ebay bucks for a nice (though heavy/chunky) waterproof laptop with a daylight viewable screen and built in gps.
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Old 04-28-2020, 12:13 AM   #12
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You can run your gps/AIS data from your VHF to a NMEA0183 to WiFi converter. After that it won’t matter if it’s Apple or windows or tablet or laptop.

I have Navionics on an iPad but if I want the AIS feature I need to keep the subscription up to date. I don’t bother because I have the AIS on both a Raymarine MDF and on a pc running Coastal Explorer. Coastal Explorer has the best AIS vectors which come in very handy when you are zigzagging your way through VTS.

Since the OP is budget conscious and is running to and from Catalina any of the inexpensive Apps on a tablet seem more appropriate. On the other hand I never skimp on navigation, that’s why I have all three plus paper charts on board.
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Old 04-28-2020, 03:43 AM   #13
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Start with a no/low $ program/app that will work on your current iPad/Android or laptop. If you need more, go up from there.
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Old 04-28-2020, 06:35 AM   #14
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I too went with Coastal Explorer, an older Windows laptop and gps puck antenna. It sits on the dash near the lower helm, indoors. I like having a laptop along anyway to surf the web when in a marina.

I feel the CE has been well worth it. Charts update automatically, transfer seamlessly when underway, and has been rock solid reliable. My computer skills suck, so having something that just works is a big plus. I do not have the laptop connected to any other nav equipment.
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Old 04-28-2020, 09:55 AM   #15
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+1 Navionics

Use a Samsung dedicated tablet which has GPS for under $200. It stays on the boat full time. A laptop would afford a larger screen and openCPN. I use that on a stand alone as well. I prefer Navionics as the screen is brighter on the tablet I use.
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Old 04-28-2020, 02:37 PM   #16
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I too use Rosepoint Coastal Explorer on a Windows based laptop. I suggest getting a laptop with a solid state drive. No rapidly rotating disc and it boots up very fast.
CE offers free US charts with updates. Canadian charts require an annual subscription (especially if you want updates). They offer great support, and it works flawlessly. I have it connected to 3 GPS sources that I can easily select providing backup. The GPS sources are: my main Raymarine GPS, a GPS puck, and the GPS that feeds my Vesper AIS, which also provides AIS to the laptop and to my IPads running Navionics.
I am very happy with both the laptop running CE and the IPads running Navionics. To stay up to date, the Navionics must be renewed annually, whereas the CE does not (for US charts).
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Old 04-29-2020, 12:33 AM   #17
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Quote:
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I too use Rosepoint Coastal Explorer on a Windows based laptop. I suggest getting a laptop with a solid state drive. No rapidly rotating disc and it boots up very fast.
CE offers free US charts with updates. Canadian charts require an annual subscription (especially if you want updates). They offer great support, and it works flawlessly. I have it connected to 3 GPS sources that I can easily select providing backup. The GPS sources are: my main Raymarine GPS, a GPS puck, and the GPS that feeds my Vesper AIS, which also provides AIS to the laptop and to my IPads running Navionics.
I am very happy with both the laptop running CE and the IPads running Navionics. To stay up to date, the Navionics must be renewed annually, whereas the CE does not (for US charts).
My old Whirlybird hard drive died recently, and I replaced it with a SSD. I cannot believe how much faster this thing is. It's better than new. Coastal Exploder literally boots in less than three seconds.
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Old 04-29-2020, 03:16 AM   #18
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Navionics has a couple advantages. Fairly easy to use, affordable, and for an additional fee, you can download world maps if you decide you want to venture to Mexico. Also has active captain. But, no AIS interface and no autopilot interface.

I've had Coastal Explorer for years. They have a very generous upgrade policy so once you purchase, longterm costs are minimal. I find CE much more intuitive and easy to use than OpenCPN, which for me is clunky and cumbersome. It's important to me that my mate also be comfortable with the nav system so she doesn't have to wake me up at night during her watch, so intuitive is good. CE also makes an interface box (NEMO) which accept N2K connections or 0183. As long as your VHF with AIS outputs one of those, you're good. CE was started by an ex-Microsoft guy so as long as you have a windows PC, you're good. I run it on a Surface Pro 4 and it runs fine. You will also need an external GPS.

All that said, I'm a fan of a traditional MFD nav system on a boat with N2K connections to interface everything. They have some faults, but have gotten pretty affordable for what you get. When cruising, we often run overnight so having a reliable, consistent, and intuitive system that crew can easily grasp is important for me.

In short, my Simrad system running navionics charts is our "system of record." I use navionics on my Droid phone to futz. And I also tinker with PC based systems CE and OpenCPN.

Good luck

Peter
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Old 04-29-2020, 04:41 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
Navionics has a couple advantages. Fairly easy to use, affordable, and for an additional fee, you can download world maps if you decide you want to venture to Mexico. Also has active captain. But, no AIS interface and no autopilot interface.



Good luck

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Wow. Navionics won't overlay the AIS feature of the stand horizon gh2200? deal killer.
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Old 04-29-2020, 05:02 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Wow. Navionics won't overlay the AIS feature of the stand horizon gh2200? deal killer.
I may be incorrect. I was thinking there is no physical interface for navionics running on iOS or Android. There is a pdf file embedded in this navionics notice that states there are compatible AIS receivers, but I cannot open the file to see what type of receivers are compatible. May only be dedicated receivers, likely ones with some sort of wireless connectivity (e.g. Bluetooth)

. https://www.navionics.com/usa/blog/p...ctors-and-more
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