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Old 14-03-2008, 22:21   #1
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Laptop - cockpit plotter

We've just installed a cockpit plotter and have interfaced it with the
autopilot but want to be able to upload waypoints from the c-map or maxsea programs on the laptop in the saloon. The plotter has integral antenna and we use the laptop programs principally for route planning (that's why we want to upload routes to the plotter as the laptop will be off at sea as a rule). We do have a usb gps for the laptop as a back-up gps system. I'm not interested in spending boat units on the c-map chart cards for the plotter and will be basically using it as a gps but want the waypoints for the autopilot interface. The laptop has a serial port and 3 usb ports. So, big question/s. Is it possible? If so, do I only need to hook up the ground and the NMEA2 input from the plotter to the serial port? And if so which of the many terminals on the serial port plug do I connect them to?
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Old 15-03-2008, 04:46   #2
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Quote:
Is it possible? If so, do I only need to hook up the ground and the NMEA2 input from the plotter to the serial port? And if so which of the many terminals on the serial port plug do I connect them to?
Sure you can.

A 9 pin serial cable uses pins 2 and 3 to receive and send data. You can connect those up and receive the GPS signal to the laptop and send way points alone or routes to the plotter. You need to consult the plotter manual for how you enter the plotter into receive mode.

I have no idea what so ever about NMEA 1 and NMEA 2 it's not what they are normally called. One is data out of the GPS and the other is data IN. I'm guessing the one connected to the auto pilot is NMEA OUT.

For a DB 9 serial connection (25 pin serial is backward of this!)

NMEA In Computer Pin 3 TxD
NMEA Out Computer Pin 2 RxD

Now for the bad news. Serial cables don't use standard colors for the wires so you need to look at the female end of the cable and you can see the pin numbers molded into the cable connector. Looking at the female end with the 5 pins at at the top it is the 2nd and 3rd from the right on the top row. Take a voltmeter and measure resistance from the hole in pin 2 to find the color of the wire it goes to and do the same for pin 3. If you have an old mouse you can cut off the mouse and keep the cable. You need to find a good way to attach the tiny thin wires to the thicker wires so the wires don't pull apart.

Set the serial port properties to 4800 for speed, 8 data bits and no parity with one stop bit aka "8, none and 1". Most software has a place to set this up.

NMEA OUT is the gps signal you want coming into the computer and that is pin 3 the other pin 2 is for sending data to the chart plotter. Take your USB GPS and save it some place as a back because you don't need it for this setup. You can use the chartplotter GPS to watch the boat move over the map. You need to create the route on the computer first then set the plotter to receive, then set the softeware to send then load the route, then switch back to chartplotter mode and set the software back to receive. Now you can select the route on the chart plotter and watch it real time on the computer too. You software should have special instructions for loading routes as well as the chart plotter.

Some Garmin products need to switch the communications mode to receive routes so you may need to change the communications parameters before and after transfers on each end. Once you do it it is not so complicated.
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Old 16-03-2008, 01:33   #3
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Thanks Paul, excellent info.
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Old 05-07-2008, 06:58   #4
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I too am trying to same as noties. wondering if you can ofer any insight as to whom may compleat my instal if i cant! iam in baltimore md. iam still having problem with the usb port on my computer . I have a sealevel usb adapter rs232
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