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Old 31-12-2006, 11:52   #1
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Basic GPS, computer, and e-charts...???

Folks:

For Christmas, got a Garmin GPS72, which is their entry-level model. I am told that with the correct adaptor and the correct software, I can interface it with electronic charts on my laptop.

I assume the adaptors are easy to come by -- if the local marine shop doesn't have one, Garmin will.

But what software to use?

I looked at Boatcruiser 2.0, by Navsim, and it seems to have the required features. but what other software is out there and what is the best option? Oh, and price is, as always, a consideration. The BC 2.0 stuff was selling for about $140 US.

I have a pretty new laptop (Compaq R4000 series) and the boat has a link from the cockpit to a serial port in the salon (installed by a previous owner).

Thanks for any advice

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Old 31-12-2006, 12:05   #2
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Get some good Canadian software - Fugawi, it comes with tons of free charts, ENC and raster.
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Old 31-12-2006, 12:38   #3
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Most of the information you are looking for is already posted on the board so just do a search. There are many nav programs out there to chose from today and many have different functions and capabilities. I would suggest that you get your hands on as many demo programs as possible and run them. Play around with building and changing routes. Run the simulator programs and try to make changes. Some of these programs fit different user abilities and some are much more difficult to get to the point you want then others. The low priced ones will just have the basics but even they can be difficult to use. There are excellent free programs like Sea Clear II but you don't have the support the name brands have and it can be a bit confusing until you get the hang of it. I know this didn't give you a definitive answer but I don't think there is one. Everyone has their favorite and everyone has one they hate. I know I do so keep doing your research.
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Old 31-12-2006, 14:42   #4
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I have been using Bluechart from Garmin. It does suit my needs.

Not sure if there are limitations on the 72 but with Bluechart they have a free addin nRoute that allows you to track in real time. It also works with City Select (road maps).
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Old 31-12-2006, 22:36   #5
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Keep the Garmin in the cockpit & use a USB GPS (around $70) for your laptop. Gives you redundancy incase one unit goes down.
I use C-Map and like its features & accuracy but not everyone does. Best to do test drives on many systems. I always find when looking for software to write a list of what you want it to do before you go looking, that way it's a lot harder to get taken in by hard sell.
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Old 01-01-2007, 15:53   #6
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All: Thanks for the ideas.

VASCO: Looked at Fugawi, and it may make sense (and it's Canuck, as you say, which automatically makes it better than anything else. ) Do you know, BTW, if Canadian charts are available anywhere for free download, as the U.S. charts are?

CHUCK: Downloaded the SeaClear program, which looks interesting and the price is certainly right. Had wee spot of trouble trying to make it read the NOAA chart for western Lake Ontario, but that was my fault --- I was zoomed right in tight on a big box of white space in the upper left corner. Thought I had somehow downloaded a blank chart because there was nothing there -- until I zoomed out. Then it seemed to work fine.

pwederell: Dunno this USB GPS of which you speak. Different in some way from the hand-held versions, like the 72?

FRANKZ: Garmin's Bluechart might work, but they don't seem to provide easy answers on their wewbsite.


Regards and Happy New Year
Connemara
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Old 01-01-2007, 17:17   #7
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The USB GPS which pwederell refers to is very small - typically about 1.5" diameter. Unlicke your hand-held GPS, It doesn't have a screen; because it plugs into your laptop, it uses your laptops's screen instead. The USB GPS are neat (in my opinion) because they are very cheap, simple to use, and provided you have a laptop on board, provide agreat backup in the event that your handheld malfunctions.
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Old 01-01-2007, 19:00   #8
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Connemara;
Free Canadian charts? No way. The department responsible gave the rights to a company headquartered in Newfoundland and they charge plenty for the charts and updates. I'm not sure what their policy is regarding updates now, but a couple of years ago you had to buy a new set. Last I checked they had not converted all charts over to ENC so you needed paper charts for those areas. Might be okay for the Great Lakes though. They split the chart packages up so you will quite likely need several packages to get complete coverage of an area.

I believe it was DFO that tryed to reclaim the rights, however the Newfoundland courts ruled against them and they had to pay a considerable sum.

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Old 01-01-2007, 19:04   #9
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Deep:

That's what I thought. Oh well, For the next wee while I really only need charts for Western Lake Ontario anyway and I have the big one (both paper and electronic) For any inshore piloting, I'll use Ports Lake ONtario.

As someone told me the other night, it's good to begin cruising on Lake ONtario, becauses there's really not much to hit.

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Old 01-01-2007, 19:57   #10
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Connemara: If there is something you want to know about Bluechart let me know. I will be happy to try and answer questions on it.
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Old 01-01-2007, 20:31   #11
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I'll chime in for a Fugawi vote. I'm not from Canada but my sister is now (by marriage) it is the best (aka cheapeest) for ENC charts, plus you get all the goodies if you want to tie it into all your other NMEA equipment. I don't have an AIS interface but I here it has been improved. I do use the GRB interface for weather maps and it is nice. I also use the Pocket PC version too on a MIO Pockert PC. It's free when you buy the PC version. For ENC charts the viewer is the best. I does more automatically than most do with complex settings. It just looks great.

Using US ENC / BSB charts you can get all the Great Lakes.
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Old 02-01-2007, 12:15   #12
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PB:

That raises another question, of course. ENC? BSB? I have, for example, the NOAA chart 1410, which is essentially the western end of Lake Ontario, which I gather is BSB.

How would an ENC chart differ? Is one better than the other for navigating?

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Old 02-01-2007, 12:47   #13
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ENC charts are vector charts and look better as you scale them up or down. BSB charts are raster images so don't look very good when enlarged too much. It is important to note that they both are generated from the exact same data. Neither is more accurate so gross enlargement of an ENC chart can look really great but won't really be more accurate.

As to which one is better. Neither or either as you choose. You will find that an ENC capable software program is harder to find than a BSB capable program and some do both. That said I like ENC better because you just load all the ENC charts into the computer then you have only one chart made up of all the parts from all the ENC charts you own. With raster charts you only see one chart at a time. Some software applications can handle the loading of adjacent BSB charts or change charts as you zoom in or out.

You'll find electronic navigation is mostly a function of the software not the actual charts or what format they are in. Using the software I use I can do all functions with either type of chart. Some parts of where I sail do not have ENC charts so then I do use BSB charts from time to time. There still are parts of the US that don't have 100% ENC coverage yet.

The Great Lakes do have complete ENC coverage, but the detail on the US side is better than in Canada since NOAA is a US governement organization, but there is an overview level for all the GL chain from NOAA.
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Old 02-01-2007, 13:20   #14
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PB:

If I believe the advertising, some of the commercial charts have flashing icons to mimic flashing navaids and that sortr of thing. Fugawi, I think, or maybe C-Map.

I assume that's just bells-and-whistles to attract the rubes?
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Old 02-01-2007, 13:30   #15
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Fugawi does not have that. Not sure I would want it. The convention buoy notation is I think enough. Many times you will find extra details in the ENC charts however.

You can right click on something and a lot of details often appear. On the US Army Corps Inland water sheets you can bring up an elevation drawing of a bridge where you have multiple spans. It's also how they tie all the Notes you see printed on paper charts. You still need those notes in a lot of places as it is important details.

I suppose making a GIF file that flashes isn't all that hard but it might just drive you nuts.
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