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Old 07-08-2011, 17:19   #1
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Budget Setup - Navigation GPS / Chartplotter / Notebook

me again... thanks for all the advise so far...
next project:
navigation. budget: as cheap as possible. 500 us$
want to cruise the bahamas/caribbean.
what you all recon, should we buy a handheld gps, link it to the netbook- if so, which one, what software/charts you recon ar the best/easiest to use for a beginner?
or: buy a chartplotter: would i get along with a standart horizon gp190i instead?is that a reliable unit?anyone has one and is happy with that model? it comes with basic charts and also charts for bahmas/caribbean, so that sounds good to me....???
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Old 07-08-2011, 17:30   #2
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Re: budget setup-navigation gps/chartplotter/notebook

I would check e bay to see what $500 will buy something like a garmin 545
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Old 07-08-2011, 17:31   #3
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Re: budget setup-navigation gps/chartplotter/notebook

Maybe a used computer and Cmap charts for foreign places which seem to be the most reasonable. Don't forget the FREE nav programs like Seaclear and OpenCpm that use the FREE NOAA downloadable raster charts of all US waters, including US Caribbean islands. It IS really handy to have a dedicated plotter if you can swing it. Computer monitors are hard to see in sunlight and not waterproof. I have a refurbed Panasonic Toughbook but it's bulky and uses a lot of power. Much prefer using the Garmin 376C plotter, a really neat and dependable little unit, but the charts for foreign ports would be (for me) prohibitively expensive.
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Old 07-08-2011, 17:41   #4
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Re: budget setup-navigation gps/chartplotter/notebook

i have a computer- 2 actually , so 500 to spend for gps/chartplotter/charts... i would like to keep the laptop in the cabin and plan the trip and have the chartplotter in the cockpit....seen sailors with just a handheld gps/nav software on laptop.....
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Old 07-08-2011, 17:44   #5
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I have a netbook all setup for navigation I'd be happy to sell
Can't see it at all in the cockpit... Not waterproof... I can see using it on longer passages where you can do most navigation below, but for everyday usage, I'm looking at plotters and handhelds.

You can pickup a gpsmap 76csx these days for under $200. Two of those would be sufficient. Personally, I'd like to have a plotter and a handheld as backup, but the trick, I'm finding, is getting them with the same maps that you can share between devices, otherwise you have to buy two separate map packages everytimr you upgrade or move o a new region.
The garmin 440 and 540(?) look good to me and run around 4-500$ but then the low cost handhelds aren't compatible... Dilemma.
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Old 07-08-2011, 18:00   #6
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Re: budget setup-navigation gps/chartplotter/notebook

Here's my setup. Have cruised from Exumas to Maine and back with it. My crew members are usually amazed at the awesome nav setup it provides:

OpenCPN navigation software: free
NOAA charts: Free
CM93 charts: Free from a friend
BU353 usb GPS antenna: $35.00 or so on Ebay
Dell laptop: $90 on Craigslist plus $40 for a new hard drive
Ubuntu Linux operating system: free
Milltech AIS receiver: $185.00 (useful in fog in New England- you may not need it going to Caribbean)
160 watt inverter: $70 or so (as I recall) from Walmart

If you're going to the Bahamas, it's probably worth it to buy the Explorer Chart books in addition. They would cost almost as much as the entire system above. It's a shame you can't get reasonably priced detailed electronic charts of the Bahamas yet.

Some folks on this forum are working on a complete set of NGA charts of the world to work with OpenCPN. They may be available soon enough for you. If not, you could learn how to convert the .jpg files to usable charts yourself and make the charts for free from their working repository. Search this forum for NGA charts to read up on that. You'd still need the Explorer charts for the Bahamas, though.

Before a long cruise, I sit down with OpenCPN and print out screen views of the coastline for the route and all relevant harbor entrances. Then I put these in order in a looseleaf binder. This provides hard copy backup. Cost: less than one color print cartridge for your printer.

Have fun.
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Old 07-08-2011, 18:17   #7
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The garmin 440 and related models come with explorer charts for the Bahamas. I haven't seen an option to buy them separately though...
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Old 07-08-2011, 18:26   #8
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http://www.tigergps.com/garmingpsmap440.html

My question (not to hijack the thread, I think it's relavent) is, can I get this, and not only be able to update the explorer charts, but also find a well priced handheld that will handle the same charts, AND allow a single purchase of said charts for both devices?
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Old 07-08-2011, 18:26   #9
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Re: Budget Setup - Navigation GPS / Chartplotter / Notebook

so, can i connect the garmin 440 to my laptop and use the same charts for planning? or would i need to have extra charts for my laptop?
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Old 07-08-2011, 18:41   #10
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Re: Budget Setup - Navigation GPS / Chartplotter / Notebook

For a really great nav system you can get just about everything needed for free or dirt cheap as mentioned by other posters. Especially if you know some cruisers who have been cruising the area you are interested in and have e-charts. Explorer charts are available as raster e-charts.
- - Also the lapbook computer can be keep below and a cheap 15" LCD monitor mounted at the binacle hooked up as an external monitor. A 2-gallon ZipLok baggie placed upside down over the monitor will keep water out. Or you can build a plastic enclosure for the monitor if you are handy with tools.
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Old 07-08-2011, 18:50   #11
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Re: Budget Setup - Navigation GPS / Chartplotter / Notebook

I just bought a Garmin OregonC as a backup from Home - GetFeetWet Navigation BV5 for under $300 shipped.

I am upgrading now to the Garmin 740S and selling a nice two year old Raymarine 430i for $300. with the west coast of Florida chip available for an additional $100 - so if you are interested give me a PM. Price includes US shipping.

I'll be listing the Raymarine on ebay later this month unless someone here wants it.
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Old 07-08-2011, 18:58   #12
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Originally Posted by newbiesailor
so, can i connect the garmin 440 to my laptop and use the same charts for planning? or would i need to have extra charts for my laptop?
You can get the garmin charts and their PC software, you can then use that software to upload charts to your garmin device. But from what I understand, they only license it for a single device, so you wouldn't Be able to upload them to your handheld as well.

I may be wring about this, but I dontbhavw the badwidth right now to go googling and reading garmins info.

That would be an ideal setup (for me) if you can manage it. Have all the maps on your computer (or sd card) and upload them to two separate devices whenever you upgrade maps. I'm just not sure I'd their licensing allows it, and which handheld would be best as the second device...
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Old 07-08-2011, 19:43   #13
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Re: Budget Setup - Navigation GPS / Chartplotter / Notebook

that sounds great!!! something like that would be cool. and a handheld as backup in case the plotter decides to quit....
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Old 07-08-2011, 20:38   #14
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Re: Budget Setup - Navigation GPS / Chartplotter / Notebook

Here's my 2 cents, why bother with any kind of chartplotter in the cockpit in the first place?

To me, dedicated chartplotters these days are an extravigant expence, plus the fact that they tend to go out of date pretty quick so your large investment is not even ecconomic long term.

Also, having a decent looking chartplotter permanantly at the helm has other drawbacks. A, do you always want to go outside into whatever weather when you want to check / plan a route? and B, security. I wouldn't leave my laptop in plain view in a locked and alarmed car, so why so so many boat people feel ok about several hundreds worth of plotter in an open cockpit?

No, unless money was no object, which you state it isn't, I'd always say get a cheap notebook computer (brand new can be had for less than $300), a $40 GPS reciever and a free program like Open CPN to run whatever maps you get. Keep it all safe and dry down on the chart table (ever seen a chart table in the cockpit? no...) and you can pop down there to check your progress once an hour or so and also have it all inside for route planning at your leasure.

Personally, I have two seperate dedicated GPS units in the wheelhouse and my laptop with its GPS reciever down below as i've described. There is no need to have the chart right in front of you all the time, boats simply don't go fast enough to warrent it!
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Old 08-08-2011, 05:36   #15
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It's pretty darn handy sometimes... That's the 'luxury, of gps, it's always ready and at your disposal. As a singlehander on small boat, I want to navigate in the cockpit. I don't have a chart table, and coming into a poorly marked harbor ice never been in, I'd like to see the charted depths under my keel. That's notexactly a good time go below... Certainly nothing wrong doing the majority of nav below, bit I'd want mineavailable in the cockpit, doesn't have to be perm installation out in the open either, a handheld does just fine, but I want the plotter to link other gear to an all. That jazzy stuff..
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