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Old 05-12-2013, 08:30   #1
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Help for a Dummy

I have got a laptop [compac] which I would like to use for navigation AIS chart plotting.HOW?? my computer knowledge is limited .is it possible to connect a gps aerial and AIS to the laptop How and what would I need????
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Old 05-12-2013, 09:56   #2
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Re: help for a dummy

You have so many options.

I use OpenCPN (free chart plotting software with free NOAA digital charts) on my laptop for planning routes at home. But you could also plug a GPS and AIS into the laptop and put it on the boat to track your course in real time. I tend not to use my laptop as a chart plotter on the boat because that means running it all the time which uses a lot of juice.

You can go all in with integration (chartplotter, AIS, radar, autopilot, etc) but it gets complicated and expensive real fast. I prefer to keep it simple.

Many, many threads on this topic. Check them out.
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Old 05-12-2013, 11:31   #3
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Re: help for a dummy

Quote:
Originally Posted by christhefish View Post
is it possible to connect a gps aerial and AIS to the laptop How and what would I need????
Yes.

What you need depends on what you've got and what else you want. Whatever else, you'll need a chartplotter program which can display AIS data and charts for the UK. OpenCPN can display AIS but you'll need to buy charts and the only legal and relatively up to date ones which will work with it are the ones from visitmyharbour

There are commercial programs which include charts such as the Belfield one (there's several others going up in price from here) but check that anything you consider supports AIS (this one does):
Belfield Software - Chart Plotter

Next you need a source of AIS and GPS data. If you've already got an AIS unit, how you connect it will depend on what outputs it has. If it has USB you can probably just plug it into the laptop. If a 9 pin serial port you need a serial to USB converter (unless your laptop has old school serial ports). If it just has bare wires you'll need an rs422 to serial converter (~10 on ebay).

If you don't have AIS and need to buy it, if you also have a chartplotter that you want to connect it to, buy an AIS unit which as well as connectivity to the chartplotter has USB output, as this will make connecting to your laptop easy. If you neither have nor want a chartplotter device other than your laptop, you can buy USB AIS receivers. I have no experience of this one (so can't personally recommend it) but it's listed on the OpenCPN site:
Radar Gadgets - AIS marine radio receiver - Virtual Radar
There are others. Shop around.
You need to connect a VHF aerial to an AIS receiver, so you can either add a dedicated AIS antenna somewhere or put a splitter in your VHF cable. Prices for splitters seem to start from 80, although they are built into some of the more expensive AIS receiver units (though not the little USB dongles). Note that people will point out that this will slightly degrade your VHF signal. Most people won't notice.

For GPS, your simplest option us just to buy a dedicated USB GPS dongle. These are 30 delivered from ebay. Gives you a backup if the boat's GPS fails, it's portable, and if you're not technically minded it saves a lot of faffing about and probably the cost of a USB to serial converter.

That's kind of the basic story but as Neo said, there really are so many options depending on what you've got now and what you want to do in the future. The minimum you could (reasonably, tricks with SDRs excluded :-) do this for with no existing kit is about 300: budget chartplotter+charts, GPS dongle, AIS dongle, VHF splitter + coax connectors. If you have AIS already it's 2/3rds that. e.g. OpenCPN, visitmyharbour charts, USB GPS and possibly a serial to USB converter if your AIS doesn't output USB. <100.
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Old 06-12-2013, 09:33   #4
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Re: help for a dummy

Many thanks for the help wi;; have a look over the weekend
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Old 06-12-2013, 09:46   #5
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Re: help for a dummy

We been using Nobeltec electronic charts on portable PC and portable Garmin GPS for 10+ years. The new version also includes AIS capability. It pretty much load, plug and play. I like the Odyssey version as it that tide and current animations which is great ad a must when planning/plotting courses. If you do to most large marine store they have store displays or better yet go to a boat show as most major bands are there. If you computer is older than windows 7 you will probable have to buy new PC.
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:23   #6
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pirate Re: Help for a Dummy

I use my Notebook as my CP... you'll need a GPS tracker.. preferably on a 2m lead and a program such as OpenCPN.. for which you will need to get charts or.. you can contact a friend of mine called Mike.. aka 'Quinn'.. the name of his boat who sells his own program called Nimble Navigator.. fully loaded with up to date CM93 charts... I use this as well as the CPN...
Do a Google for the program and he'll pop up.. dunno the price today but 2 years ago I paid $100 for Worldwide chart nav's..
Extremely good investment..
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Old 06-12-2013, 11:15   #7
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Re: Help for a Dummy

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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
dunno the price today but 2 years ago I paid $100 for Worldwide chart nav's..
Extremely good investment..
Still the same price, including software and a GPS dongle. Which does beg the question...has your mate pulled off some astonishing deal with Jeppeson to supply worldwide charts for less than anyone supplies UK charts, or are these the dodgy 2011 CM93s? If the latter, the OP should at least be made aware that these are 4 year old non-updateable illegal bootlegs in order to be able to make an informed choice.
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