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Old 24-08-2015, 12:53   #1
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Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

Hi all, I'm hoping to start a simple thread to collect an overview of what works.

Do you use an android or Windows tablet for your offshore navigation? (Personal dislike of anything with an apple symbol on it) If you do, do you use Open CPN and does it work with your internal GPS?

What I'd love you to answer is this;

1. Model of Tablet
2. Navigation software used
3. Have you tested this offshore (out of range of wifi and mobile phone network)
4. Are you happy with your setup?

Thanks in advance for helping to compile a useful list of what works in the real world. We were stung by buying an inexpensive tablet which professed to having GPS, it did not (in the true sense of the word Global) got our money back without hassle, just wasted time. Be warned!

Of course this is only going to be one of many varied navigation resources.

Ruth and Duncan,
Alajuela 38
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Old 24-08-2015, 13:26   #2
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

If your question is partially about how to tell if a tablet has GPS:

Old quandary about tablet GPS -

Stu Jackson
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Cowichan Bay, BC, (Maple Bay Marina) SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)
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Old 24-08-2015, 22:13   #3
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

1. Android Samsung phone or tablet.

2. Navionics.

3. Just used this again over the last few days as my primary chart plotter for the 470 NM Cairns, Lizard Island, Port Moresby crossing. It's about 150 NM to the nearest land when you get half way between Lizard and POM.

This time I just used the Galaxy 5 phone in a Lifeproof case in the cockpit on someone else's boat. I had the tablet below deck as a reserve but didn't fire it up).

4. Once again it worked flawlessly including getting through the various reef passages. I'm very happy with it.
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Old 25-08-2015, 00:19   #4
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

I have just purchased an Acer Aspire Switch 10E which comes with Win 8 on it and have installed OCPN 4.0 and it appears to work well.

I have a BU353 USB GPS which will not work because there is no Win 8 driver available for the interface chip set. I have another later manufactured BU353 which may have a driver available and also have a Holux USB GPS which may work (They are in this damned boat somewhere)

I have a GME stand alone GPS which has a number of outputs to various COM protocols (RS 232, RS422 etc and am looking for a a serial to wifi converter so that I don't have to use USB ports which I am discovering are not too reliable in the marine environment.

At present I am using an ASUS eee 10.1" screen notebook as a dedicated nav computer with the BU353 GPS and have it connected to a Raymarine ST5000+ autopilot via this devices NMEA0183 port with a Digitech RS422 to USB converter. Other than the problem with the USB port I have found it to be an excellent combination for coastal cruising (+/- 4,000nm so far)

I also have a Sony Xperia tablet with Navionics on it. It has an internal GPS and appears to work OK but since the Navionics appears to have no NMEA outputs I cannot use it to direct the autopilot.
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Old 25-08-2015, 07:20   #5
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

Samsung tablet. Navionics for nearly 4k of passages. Works awesome.

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Old 25-08-2015, 07:32   #6
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

We have a Raymarine C-120W as a main system with Navionics Charts.
Redundancy is assured by an IPad Air with SeaIQ Navigation software, Maps are from friends around the world as SeaIQ is super friendly with almost any maps... The IPad has an internal GPS.
We also have OPEN CPN on a Mac and a Dell, both with external antennas (USB GPS Pucks)
We have navigated the Bahamas... Down to Guatemala with these and are very happy. The best in my view is the IPad with the SeaIQ software. The help desk of the SeaIQ folks beats them all by a long shot!!! Their software is so easy to use and has lots of features that helps make Grib downloading and sync with many other sources of info a breeze!
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Old 25-08-2015, 07:36   #7
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

When I last checked their was no version of Open CPN that would work with Android. I use Navionics on my Android Sony Z3 tablet for navigating and open CPN on my Windows XP laptop for trip planning which it is great at.
I do also have a Raymarine E7 plotter in the pilot house (tablet in the cockpit) which I can display and control from the tablet. The only thing I can't control is the autopilot, so I also have a Raymarine Smart Controller in the cockpit for that.
I have to say the Navionics are far clearer on the tablet than the plotter though I do only Silver mapping on the plotter and I have to display the plotter on the Tablet to get the AIS information, swapping between the Navionics and RayControl Android Apps.
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Old 25-08-2015, 08:12   #8
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

Its no wonder OpenCPN is so popular. A 10 inch dedicated chartplotter will set you back $1500+. If you already have a tablet, with OpenCPN you are looking at basically "free". Hmmmm Free vs $1500+

I have a dedicated GPS on both of my sailboats, but with 5 inch screens, they are next to useless from the back of the boat. Besides my laptop down below, I tend to use my iPhone with Navionics. I also use my iPhone to look at AIS traffic. Although the data is not current, its nice to see when container ships leave Baltimore so I can predict when they will be by. Can't do that with the limited range (blocking) of my AIS receiver.

There are lots of people that don't like the idea of using a tablet for their primary chartplotter. But as more people try OpenCPN they find they prefer it. Also, instead of putting out the money to upgrade when older chartplotters bite the dust, this is an excellent alternative that supports their AIS and Radar. Waterproof tablets and wireless connectivity will only add to its viability for blue water cruisers.
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Old 25-08-2015, 08:19   #9
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

What an interesting question. I have just started using a tablet and navigation program, I chose an iPad because I needed it for my foreflight app for flying and
App is only on iPad. In addition iPad has an app for Apple navigation that you download charts from all government agency's and load. I would be interested in any other plans or apps that anyone comes across that play well with the internal gps which works great on iPad even below decks. Wifi will hook it with other instruments that can acquire wifi. I have tried sea iq free app and am now trying navipad, which may not be all Apple but seems to work well and the navigation on the Pacific Ocean is terrific. Good luck in your search and looking forward to seeing some responses?
Fair winds and smooth sailing
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Old 25-08-2015, 08:37   #10
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

A "beta" release of Opencpn for Android devices is available at the web site. (Be sure to read the installation notes before

Regarding the BU-353 hockey puck GPS, a driver for windows 8 and 10 is available at the Globalsat website. The driver is the same as the one used for Win 7 and Vista.

Download and install the driver for Windows 7, along with the GPS utility. It is working well here on both Win 8.1 and Win 10 tablets.

USGlobalsat Corporate

The driver takes a while to install, and nothing appears to be happening for a time. Be patient. Do not plug in the GPS puck until after the driver has been installed and the computer / tablet restarted.

After restart, open the device manager and find the "USB serial bridge" device. Note the COM port under properties. (It will probably be COM 4 or 8.)

The GPS utility and Open CPN will want to know the COM port number.
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Old 25-08-2015, 08:50   #11
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

Raymond R - I use a BU353 with Win 8.1 on a Toshiba (small) laptop. No driver problems. Know you can get free upgrade to Win 8.1. From what I have heard Win 10 (also free) is much better than 8.1. Just haven't taken the time to move over yet.

Also heard OpenCPN is going to have an Android version soon.
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Old 25-08-2015, 08:51   #12
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

You can collect a list of devices by browsing Android Open CPN threads. I think this will be a very long list, so likely just fire up what you have there, download the App and give it a test ride.

We have an older Acer Iconia (7 inch) and Open CPN works very well on that. Internal gps works and other (e.g AIS) stuff we can plug in via wifi.

However, we do not use the tablet offshore. There is not much of navigation to be done offshore. Offshore, we would play tablet games at times or read stuff we had downloaded in our last port of call, but we would not use the tablet to navigate, offshore.

Inshore, we used the tablet to navigate. However that was winter 2013 and OpenCPN for Android was not around yet.

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Old 25-08-2015, 09:12   #13
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

I have used an android 10.5 tablet for a couple of years using Navionics app. I take it aboard commercial ships and use it as much or more than the ECDIS plotters on the ship. It is easy to use, the tides and currents are easier than the ones on the ship, the charts are the same as used on most plotters, and it is simple to operate.

The only downside is plugging it in, the plug comes out the bottom of the wide side and is cumbersome at times. The only problem I have found with it is when switching time zones, changing the time on the android often is not reflected in the time for current, not sure why and have not trouble shot it, but the time works fine on my android phone so I verify with it or use it for tide and current info if the tablet is reading wrong. I also keep the cost pilot on it and refer to it as needed, and download grib files. I have not used open cpn because Navionics works fine and is cheap. I purchased it when it first came out and it was about 7 bucks, they discontinued that version about a year ago but the new one is not that much more. The apple version has more features, but I really do not like apple products.

I use a great soft silicon case called a ‘turtleskin’ that protects it and I just toss it in my bag. It works great. I have crossed oceans with it, up the inside passage in Alaska with it, run passes in the south pacific islands with it, entered many harbors and entrances in several countries with it, and I would really hate to be without it.

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Old 25-08-2015, 09:22   #14
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

I recently started using OpenCPN with my B&G NMEA 2000 GPS receiver. I connect to my NMEA 2000 network via the Vesper(vision) NMEA200-Wifi. Pretty cool to not have a puck attached and still get GPS (plus wind/depth/temp data).

I keep 2 pucks as backup as well.

I understand this is also supported on other apps like SeaIQ!
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Old 25-08-2015, 10:42   #15
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Re: Do you use a tablet with open CPN and internal GPS offshore?

For three years now I have used an ancient Acer Netbook (remember them) running Ubuntu with OpenCPN and either the boat's GPS outputting NMEA through a multiplexer via wi-fi to the netbook, or else with a GPS dongle plugged into the netbook directly so using no wi-fi.

Either works perfectly. However people coming on board with all sorts of tablets connect directly into the multiplexer wi-fi and then use OpenCPN on their tablets happily too. The advantage of using the multiplexer is that all the other boat NMEA data (wind, autopilot feeds, depth, etc) comes into the laptop/tablet. You can also use OpenCPN to drive the Raymarine autopilot.
Huge thanks to the guys from OpenCPN...!
Chartplotters? Why?

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gps, offshore, open cpn

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