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Old 03-09-2009, 12:32   #1
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Best Chart Plotter for Around $1000

I am looking for a new chart plotter, don't want to spend a pile of money on something that will be worthless in 2 years. Don't need a big screen although ~7" display would be nice. We will be cruising in the Bahamas and Carib. Have B&G instruments which I would like to network all together to run my pc nav software at the chart table.

Recommendations?
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Old 03-09-2009, 14:01   #2
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theGPSstore.com has a bunch of chartplotters like you're looking for under $1000.
GPSMAP 400 Series / 500 Series 4" and 5" plotters range from GPSMAP400 $409.95 to the GPSMAP545s at $899.00 There's also 8 other ones in between those two!
I have their latest catalog and it's loaded with goodies. Take a look.
Lowarence has a few as well, HDS-5M for $699.95 and the HDS-7M for $999.95 with three in between those. All but the 7M have 5" screens and the big one for a grand is 7" screeen
Hope this helps a little.
Standard Horizon has 6 units under a grand as well with the CP180 for $499.95 and the top end (under a grand) CPF300i for $999.95
These have nice big 7" screens with three lower priced ones sporting the 5" ones.
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Old 03-09-2009, 14:20   #3
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If you're going to the Bahamas do not get a chartplotter that uses Navionics chips. They are the worst chips for the Bahamas. Get one that uses C-Maps or Garmin chips.
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Old 03-09-2009, 14:28   #4
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Netbook + OpenCPN + GPS mouse = 330 USD?
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Old 03-09-2009, 14:32   #5
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Hey there idpnd:
got some links for that info? I'd like to check it out. I'm using ENC-charts on my laptop. a free program called MYDENC opens all those from NOAA etc.
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Old 03-09-2009, 15:54   #6
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Software with a laptop would top anything you can buy. The middle of the road software will do more than any two chart plotters. If you want to spend money then integrated flat panel screens with radar overlay are the top end, but even they use a lot of software too. Clearly way more than $1000. You could get a decent laptop, good software and buy charts outside the US for less than a chart plotter. You can use an assortment of formats as no one format covers the whle planet! You are stuck with paper chart backups no matter what.

For the helm I like a basic GPS that can take an uploaded route from my computer. I like to plan my routes before the trip and not route on the fly. It means I've thought about it for a while too. I may have several alternates in mind as well and can preload those or upload them as required. I don't navigate by the seat of the pants. You can't steer a boat by a chart plotter. You tend to hit the bouyage and day marks given you are aiming at them. Looking at a plotter will get you in more trouble than looking where you are going. I have seen many times when the real time GPS signal said I was going on the wrong side of the mark but I could see it and was going around the right side. GPS is great for 1/10 of a NM but pretty poor at piloting a tricky anchorage or approach.

I do have a small chart plotter and I use it but not as much as I use my GPS with an uploaded route.
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Old 03-09-2009, 16:14   #7
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The new Garmin 620 (touch screen, AIS on screen), or the older SH 180 - not as waterproof but very good value.

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Old 04-09-2009, 08:30   #8
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Paul,
I agree exactly with you. All I want at the helm is a small chartplotter that I can see my route on. The only reason this over a netbook is weatherproofing.

At my chart table I am looking at putting something similar to a www.fit-pc2.com intel atom based unit and running some nav software (will most likely custom assemble something from www.logicsupply.com though). This will also double as a media center for playing mp3's and watching movies. Power consumpution is ~8 watts so the other thing I will do with this is leave this computer running as an anchor alarm when I need to. 10" touch screen display uses approximately same amount of power also which is almost negligable. Should be able to get this for under $1k with the monitor.
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Old 04-09-2009, 09:32   #9
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The new Lowrance units look nice. If you want to add radar later, their latest scanners (Lowrance and Simrad) use very little power. I have their previous generation stuff, and have been satisfied. The built-in charts on mine have been very accurate for the cruising ground we are in right now (NC Pamlico sound and coast)

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Old 04-09-2009, 09:59   #10
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Quote:
All I want at the helm is a small chart plotter that I can see my route on.
I use an old Garmin 128 that I found on ebay (two actually) for under $100 that can load way points and display the text version of the way point information like Cross track, current heading, course to steer, and estimated arrival time. You might look at some of the fixed GPS units with a black and white screen. It would be nice if a map chip was not required for operation too. I just upload the route to the GPS from the computer. It means I don't require the computer to be on. I also have a Y cable to duplicate the data on the other GPS should the other fail. I also have a backup antenna.
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Old 04-09-2009, 10:06   #11
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Your choice partially depends on whether you want the screen outside or inside. If outside then I would look at the Garmin 500 series plotters. If inside then I would consider a laptop with chart software. Lowrance right now is having quality problems. Someone bought someone else a few years ago which seems to have screwed up their quality. Our two units at work have failed even after one was repaired by Lowrance themselves. We are replacing them with Garmin units which are more reliable.

Another way of testing a company is to call their tech support number and see if getting a hold of a person is a big hassle. Many of these companies seem to go out of their way to avoid talking to their customers. Check the length of the warranty which is an indicator of how long they trust their own products to last.
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Old 04-09-2009, 10:11   #12
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I use a Garmin GMI10 for this - it can display most anything that is on the N2K network. Very versitle piece of gear!

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I use an old Garmin 128 that I found on ebay (two actually) for under $100 that can load way points and display the text version of the way point information like Cross track, current heading, course to steer, and estimated arrival time. You might look at some of the fixed GPS units with a black and white screen. It would be nice if a map chip was not required for operation too. I just upload the route to the GPS from the computer. It means I don't require the computer to be on. I also have a Y cable to duplicate the data on the other GPS should the other fail. I also have a backup antenna.
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