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Old 09-11-2005, 07:02   #1
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Free (and Legal) BSB Charts from Maptech!

http://www.freeboatingcharts.com/

I have downloaded some, but not yet been to the boat to try them out. This should be a great resource. I am not sure what the business model is though.
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Old 09-11-2005, 11:44   #2
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Quite clever by Maptech, as it implies that they are providing this resource. However, it is actually a US Government resourse being made available from a Government web site.

IIRC there are only a couple of programms that will work with these charts Fugawi comes to mind, but there is another thread on this forum which has already discussed it.

These charts are not much use to me as they are coastal USA!
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Old 09-11-2005, 12:21   #3
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There are things happening to change US Charts big time and they started a few years ago to actually happen.

These free charts are BSB charts that Maptech used to sell in sets on CD. Maptech actually is the US contractor for making the NOAA charts and they are required to make the maps available at reasonable cost. These were the printed charts you used to buy plus they sold scanned images as the BSB sets on CD (still do). So if you alkready have BSB charts download like all heck and get them all.

Changes:

1. Pre printed paper US charts are history. Only paper charts you will be able to get are "Print on Demand". These you would get at any retail outlet that you may have got the old paper charts at. They are printed as you order them on a water resitent paper and ink on a large format color plotter at the store. They really are nice looking and pretty durable. More durable than the old printed paper charts. They also will reflect most accurate information. So paper charts are better than before (not sure about the price).

2. You'll be able to download free ENC vector charts direct from NOAA or US Army Corps of Engineers (Inland Waterways). Many if not most of these are done, but some are missing some details and not fully complete. These will be the best there is to get as far as being current and having the most details and accuracy. They derive straight from the editors of the real charts. So are the Print On Demand charts. All US charts are made electronically and the old mylar masters are long gone. Old school. That process has been going on for a long while and is about fully completed. By end of next year I would think for sure.

3. You'll be able to download all the charts as PDF files. Basically the large charts are made into 16 or 20 pages by slicing ip the raster charts and dropping the resolution about 1/2. Not suitable for plotting but still pretty good. I have some in the cockpit. Right now most of the Chesapeake is done. The rest will come too. Sure you could download them all and print them out. Considering what it will cost you proably don't wat to go that route if you want them all. I think the Maptech chart books are nicer and worth the money.

So while number one is not free number 2 and 3 are free. Maptech also has a PDA based tool that you also can download charts for free to a PDA (why am I not excited). The PDA software is $20 so it's a cheap deal. You can download to the PC then upload to the PDA.

So this leaves Maptech where?

They still make money from NOAA the way they always had. They need a new game to sell you stuff. The charts that are free are the old ones but still basically the same database as the new ones, but they won't be maintaned any more. Only the vector data base will be maintained and distributed as noted above.

Maptech also is now selling the paper chart books with a CD that has all the charts plus lots of other stuff like aerial photo's and overlays of facilities that go with it. If you ever bought one of the large format chart books they now add a CD too. These won't go away but they are adding more value to them. They also want you to purchase their viewers and chart software. The BSB charts are worthless without a software app tha supports BSB charts. Almost all the popular packages do that. Some do it better by seamlessly moving between the various charts others are just viewers for the chart you load one at a time.

So the real future is vector ENC charts as there won't be new raster charts as before. They are not needed by the folks that used to require them. Commercial ships can now use ENC charts legally and so will all the outlets selling paper maps printed on demand. This is just a way to get you into using Maptech stuff so it really is a decent deal for now.
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Old 13-12-2005, 19:58   #4
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Now you can get the BSB raster charts direct from NOAA.

If your software can't handle ENC it should handle BSB. 1,041 charts available now so that appears to be every last one of them! They will let you down load only 100 at a time. You select them then the server zips them into one zip file and downloads via FTP.

They have a java based map based selection system that isn't very good, but the text based system works very well and is easier to find exactly what you want.

This is all the US NOAA charts EXCEPT inland waters. You need to get the rivers from the Army Corps of Engineers as they are responisble for those charts. (I lost the download link) They have ENC too but I'm not clear about if they have raster available just yet. The Army Corps of Engineers does a nice ENC chart with diagrams of the bridges.

NOAA Raster:

http://nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/mcd/Raster/download.htm

NOAA ENC:

http://nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/mcd/enc/download.htm

The maptech web site is a bit lame and slow for downloading a lot of charts. NOAA is really an easier place to get them. I have about 1200 of them now and zipped they are 1.6 GB. Unzipped it's over 5000 files and 5 GB. The NOAA website handles pretty high speed connections. I'm getting 300 KB / Second plus which is about as good as most servers get on the web.

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Old 15-12-2005, 22:07   #5
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Paul:

Perhaps a dumb question but I downloaded a chart and unzipped the file - next I have a couple of folders with file extentions such as bsb etc

What kind of software do you need to open these files?

Jan
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Old 23-12-2005, 14:31   #6
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Eventually you'll be able to get all the charts as PDF files and they are easy to deal with. They are not all availablejust yet.

You'll need a chart software tool and here the choices expand quickly. The raster based systems work the best with about any old computer you might have. The vector ENC charts do require a bit more RAM and CPU power to render the screens but have the advantage of being seamless and you end up with a user persepctive of just one map instead of 1500 map files you have to know how to switch between. Then again in a day you can't sail through more than a dozen charts under sail power so you figure it out as you go.

You want to be able to do with them what you can do with paper charts and plotting tools. Just something that can view charts is not really all that useful unless you can point and locate lat/long and create a line and see the course and distance, after that you may want a real time position of your boat on the map by connecting a GPS, then maybe the ability to create a route with way points and based on the position generate a new course to navigate point to point and indicate position as you go computing the time you'll arrive.

Maybe leave a "bread crumb" trail on the chart as well as you sail along so you have a record of where you were. Overlay a radar display or a weather FAX, plot AIS signals from large commercial vessles in the area, locate all the marinas, plus figure out the road into town from an obscure anchorage. Display depths in 3D. The list goes on and on.

The level of this ability gets more expensive as you go up the food chain of software. Frankly, I have not found a free application that really is worth the time to fool with. Ones I've tried I think are not easy to use and not something you can really use to the full benefit of an electronic chart. Then again you do have to make use of all the fetures you buy and some may not be anything you would actually use.

There are basic ones under $100 and expensive ones over $500. You'll see a poll on this web site of who likes what.

Do a GOOGLE search on "Naviagtion Software" and you will get a lot to look at. It's worth looking at a half dozen examples and you'll learn all the buzz words. You may find a few trial versions as well.

Saving traveled courses, creating routes with way points and displaying current position I think are the basics to insist on. I never let the computer drive the auto pilot but I could.

Managing how you switch from one chart to another is the other difficult problem to figure out . For the "best looking charts" the ENC charts are hands down the best even though it's the same information as the raster charts. You also have to learn how to use electronic charts as it is another way of looking at things. They can give you a false sense of thinking you can gather perfect information when none exists. They also could blink off.

I find I use my software mostly at home or on the hook. It's a great planning tool and in the end i compute out the courses and save off the routes and just use it as a display under way. I find it helps me load my head with what I need to know. I can play out various ideas of what if the wind changes this way or that way how tight could I sail. I also print small 8 1/2 by 11 chart sets for each route and use them as much as anything under way. I want them in case I lose the display.
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Old 27-08-2009, 13:35   #7
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ENC vector charts from NOAA

I was reading with interest your comments about ENC charts from NOAA (dating from a few years back...)

which software can be used to display those NOAA ENC chart files?

thanks
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Old 27-08-2009, 13:52   #8
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OpenCPN is one answer to your question.
More info here: OpenCPN Main
Download free this free chart-plotter here: Browse OpenCPN Files on SourceForge.net
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Old 27-08-2009, 18:13   #9
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New easy way to download US NOAA charts

As noted in another thread, there is a new way to download the NOAA charts, both ENCs and RNCs. You can now download the whole set in one .zip. SO much easier.

Download page for RNCs Download all, or by zone, etc. Various groupings. All of them in a 2GB zip!

Download page for ENCs Download all, or by zone, etc. Various groupings. All of them in a 426MB zip.

Inland ENC charts from USACE Old style downloads - But since there are only 93, you can get them all at once. You just gotta click 93 boxes.

Or you can go to my chart page for those and other links for more free charts.

-dan
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Old 27-08-2009, 23:16   #10
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Yikes, this thread was brought back from the dead after 4 years... Anyway...

For those looking for the chartbooklets (i.e. human, NOT machine readable), here's the link to download them: NOAA BookletCharts

The idea behind the booklet charts is to make them available in a form that can easily be printed (i.e. letter sized paper) and used for reference (less so for navigation) and have excerpts from the Coast Pilot.
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Old 02-09-2009, 21:40   #11
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Another choice for free chartplotter software on web!

The best chartplotter software I've seen is Sea Clear II which is free downloadable, with no catches. It takes a bit of using and exploring to see all it's features, but I enjoy using it. It's available at www.sping.com and has a users manual in many languages. And there's lots of chatting in this forum about the features and hints of using. I heartily recommend you investigating this software.
Good luck
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:53   #12
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Marine Geogarage created a slick NOAA overlay on Googlemaps. Makes pretty good planning tool as it allows NOAA, Satellite, and area map view for US coast. We obtained authorization to reuse and added Nav Aids, and Basic Chart 1.
Here is the link Chart It Marine GeoGarage
Hope it helps
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:59   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashoreschool View Post
Marine Geogarage created a slick NOAA overlay on Googlemaps. Makes pretty good planning tool as it allows NOAA, Satellite, and area map view for US coast. We obtained authorization to reuse and added Nav Aids, and Basic Chart 1.
Here is the link Chart It Marine GeoGarage
Hope it helps
Very nice!! This will come in very handy.
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Old 31-07-2013, 06:06   #14
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Re: Free (and Legal) BSB Charts from Maptech!

Late addition to this string, I have been trying an Android app which plays nicely with BSB files, called Marine Navigator. makes the whole process quite simple.
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Old 31-07-2013, 08:38   #15
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Re: Free (and Legal) BSB Charts from Maptech!

OpenCPN is without a doubt the most comprehensive FREE navigation software around,
with regular upgrades and innovations. Compatible with RNC, ENC as well as CM93.

For Android I favor MarineNavigator and OruxMaps,both very good nav. apps.
MarineNavigator also accept the special .gpx formated Route Optimizer file from qtVlm.

The FREE .kap GE2KAP conversion program creates .kap maps with Google Earth from any OpenCPN map overlay. Not diffused,but with land and sea areas in 100%.
You can also create the overlay charts using Google Earth plus a .gpx route file.
You can even automatically create multiple .kap maps over a large area in the zoom of your choice. Excellent utility.

Tore
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