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Old 09-10-2007, 18:52   #1
elf
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GPS vs. Chartplotter?

Could someone please explain the difference in a GPS (with downloaded electronic charts) and a chartplotter? Is there a difference other than the size of the screen?

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Old 09-10-2007, 19:11   #2
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A GPS does not have a map and a chart plotter does. That is the distinction. Personally, I use a laptop computer and a GPS (the screen is far bigger as well as the map). It's still about the same cost but the laptop computer does more things than a chart plotter. Adding software to a laptop adds a whole lot more functionality even still. You find a laptop is a valuable tool when not navigating too.

If you want something at the helm then a laptop won't really be bright enough to see on a sunny day but a GPS is a slam dunk going to work any time. I load the GPS with a route made on the computer and work the way points. I already looked at the chart when I made the route plus I have a paper chart just in case that fails me.

The newer chart plotters do a nice job at the helm but are a potential point of failure. A laptop below deck can handle a storm well and still be good for email at an Internet café or a wifi marina plus play a DVD when things don't go wrong. Don't use a laptop in the cockpit under sail and don't try to use a chart plotter to send email. After that it sorts itself out pretty easy.

A computer is more useful than a chart plotter is the way I see it because I already can navigate better than a chart plotter. If you need to constantly watch the chart plotter to get any place then you have serious problem. If you don't know where you really want to go then a chart plotter won't help you. It does not leave much for what they are better at to me.
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Old 09-10-2007, 19:51   #3
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The main difference is a few hundred dollars!

Essentially, a GPS just shows you your position as a longitude / latitude reading. (i.e is displays some numbers). You can use this reading to mark your exact position on a paper chart

Essentially a chartplotter is a GPS that can also display charts electronically on its screen, so that it will automatically plot your position onto the chart on the screen.

Having recently installed quite a ncie chartplotter onto my boat, I can say that I am a huge fan. Previously I used a hand held) GPS and paper charts. Having a chartplotter gives me all the information I need immediately. I still carry the hand held GPS and the paper charts as a back-up though.
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Old 09-10-2007, 20:01   #4
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I have not seen a GPS for sale that does not have a chart on the screen.
Even the little hand helds have them.
Are there plain GPS units still out there?
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Old 09-10-2007, 20:49   #5
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Just to clarify...

We have a Garmin GPS for which we've purchased charts. These include water depths, hazards, ATONs, etc. They show where our boat is on the chart. The screen is small, but in theory our position could be uploaded to my laptop for more viewing area. Just wondering if official "chartplotters" give you anything we don't already have. We looked at some pretty sweet Garmin chartplotters at the Annapolis boat show last weekend, but we're talking $2000+ for anything much larger than a small GPS handheld. The larger screen allowed showing a lot more of the chart area, and I believe they also networked with XM satellite radio for weather overlays, if I understood that part correctly.

I guess the point of my original question is whether a dedicated chartplotter provides added value over a GPS with electronic charts and a laptop. I'm already sold on the virtues of a laptop, being a bit of a computer geek, compulsive emailer, researcher, online shopper, and the like!

Thanks for the posts so far!
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Old 09-10-2007, 21:16   #6
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Not all GPS's are created equal. Some are approaching Chartplotter functionality, some are not. Chartplotters may have intergral GPS receivers but many do not. Other than the bigger screen that allows on screen plotting, its main advantage is that it can easily feed the autopilot allowing a plotted course to be followed like you were on a set of tracks. I have a Garmin Handheld GPS and a laptop where I can plan and follow a route. I also have a Garmin 2010 Plotter which is tied to my autopilot to make life at the inside helm very sweet. You can also tie in a radar and a dept sounder to have everything on the plotter. The biggest advantage I guess is the available interface with other devices.
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Old 10-10-2007, 05:09   #7
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When I bought my boat it had an old Dell Laptop bolted down on one side of the chart table with GPS feed.

I installed a 19” flat screen that fits flush with the inside back window of the Bridge house, facing aft, so that it is easily viewed from the cockpit. Works great except of course you need to go inside to use the mouse, to zoom in/out. (Wish there was some kind of remote mouse that would work from the cockpit and handle the wet!)

I am now replacing that Dell with a newer one (2002), that used to be my business Laptop and I will make that my dedicated boat Laptop, free from Internet use and possible and viruses.

The boat came with an old version of C-Map and Captain’s Mate which I haven’t updated as I don’t have the original documentation. It also had ARCS with documentation and dongle but that is probably too expensive to buy charts for.

Anybody with recommendations for a cost effective Chart program for SE Asia? Thanks!
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Old 10-10-2007, 06:05   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
When I bought my boat it had an old Dell Laptop bolted down on one side of the chart table with GPS feed.

I installed a 19” flat screen that fits flush with the inside back window of the Bridge house, facing aft, so that it is easily viewed from the cockpit. Works great except of course you need to go inside to use the mouse, to zoom in/out. (Wish there was some kind of remote mouse that would work from the cockpit and handle the wet!)
I have a cutout in my dash covered with Starboard and it has an old Garmin 210 GPS chartplotter mounted in the starboard. I am thinking of replacing it with an LCD monitor to hook to an on board PC. I think the cutout is about 10 inches wide. Mount the screen behind the dash, there is a lot of room and great access. Thinking of something with tv tuner built in with remote, something designed for a automobile/RV. I might be able to fit a 12 to 14 inch display behind the opening just replace the starboard with glass.

I would still have a separate GPS plotter (Garmin 178C) at the helm in case the PC goes down.
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Old 10-10-2007, 06:45   #9
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I use this model as a GPS, but not plotter: Had it for over a year, but not bought any charts for it yet. (Florida/Bahamas cost $200.00 in the C-map/MAX version, more than 1/2 of what I paid for the unit)

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Old 10-10-2007, 06:51   #10
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I have not seen a GPS for sale that does not have a chart on the screen.
Even the little hand helds have them.
Are there plain GPS units still out there?


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Old 10-10-2007, 08:24   #11
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BTW if you get a MFD like a raymarine C series and load up charts... you DON'T have to connect a GPS. What you do have is echarts. Add the GPS then you have a Chart Plotter.
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Old 10-10-2007, 19:26   #12
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I had one of those on a 2000 bay boat.
After 7 years they still make the exact same unit???

I don't think mine had the plug thingy in the back to hook up to a computer or other thingys. Not sure though.

It was accurate to about 4-6 feet though.
Great for finding hidden crab traps (so others didn't strip them).
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Old 10-10-2007, 20:20   #13
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I have seen pelagics setup on several boats.

GPS - With or without moving maps linked to a laptop. A separate 17 or 19 inch LCD.

The GPS mounted somewhere near the helm with output to the laptop below decks. The GPS xan be used stand alone when the PC is being occupied with other duties.

The Laptop runs charting software, email and is the home entertainment system.
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Old 10-10-2007, 22:02   #14
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I had one of those on a 2000 bay boat.
After 7 years they still make the exact same unit???

I don't think mine had the plug thingy in the back to hook up to a computer or other thingys. Not sure though.

It was accurate to about 4-6 feet though.
Great for finding hidden crab traps (so others didn't strip them).
Overall, Furuno tends to run a few years behind the technology curve...they still make fine equipment. Raytheon (Raymarine) tends to be at the cutting edge. I like both.

I am not using a chart plotter. I prefer a computer loaded with Nobeltec shown on an LCD screen. Chart software I feel is much more flexible. There are water tight and very bright computer screens intended for outside use if you are considering going this route.
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Old 12-10-2007, 07:10   #15
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David, that is what I like about Furuno.

Generally, they let all the other manufacturers Field test their gear for about 3 years with the public and then come up with a bullet proof version avoiding all the early mistakes. That is why they have a good following in the commercial marine side.
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