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Old 11-01-2013, 06:49   #31
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Re: Laptop With Digital Charts Possible?

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Originally Posted by conachair View Post
I've had problems with those pesky usb/serial adaptors, one laptop doesn't like them but another idetical system seems fine. Might be that. Ocpn seems pretty solid otherwise.
I also have problems with usb/serial adaptors. I have a GPS puck with prolific chip inside. My Dell x86 Windows 7 system keeps crashing with the prolific driver installed (even the latest one). I partitioned the hard drive and installed Windows XP on the second partition. The laptop has not crash once in three years under Windows XP. Once in a while I will try Win 7 and the crashes still occur. We are talking BSOD here. Last time I tried it, it crashed while coming to an anchorage...not fun.

I read on some GPS forum that GPS puck with prolific, which are the most common ones, are prone to this under Dell laptop/Windows 7 system.

Dell laptops have this problem, I would not be surprised that other type of laptop also have this problem. OCPN might not be culprit but the laptop hardware itself.
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Old 20-01-2013, 02:19   #32
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Re: Laptop With Digital Charts Possible?

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I also have problems with usb/serial adaptors. I have a GPS puck with prolific chip inside. My Dell x86 Windows 7 system keeps crashing with the prolific driver installed (even the latest one). I partitioned the hard drive and installed Windows XP on the second partition. The laptop has not crash once in three years under Windows XP. Once in a while I will try Win 7 and the crashes still occur. We are talking BSOD here. Last time I tried it, it crashed while coming to an anchorage...not fun.

I read on some GPS forum that GPS puck with prolific, which are the most common ones, are prone to this under Dell laptop/Windows 7 system.

Dell laptops have this problem, I would not be surprised that other type of laptop also have this problem. OCPN might not be culprit but the laptop hardware itself.
I agree, I believe my issue is probably either with the Chinese made VZTEC USB to Serial converter or with the WIN 7. Either way I'll go with the new Lowrance HDS Touch Chartplotter. And yes, I'll have to pay for the charts.. But if I was circumnavigating I would make my OpenCPN work reliably one way or the other.
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Old 20-01-2013, 02:27   #33
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Re: Laptop With Digital Charts Possible?

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Originally Posted by pierrrre View Post
Dell laptops have this problem, I would not be surprised that other type of laptop also have this problem. OCPN might not be culprit but the laptop hardware itself.
I have 2 Toshiba laptops, 1 seems more temperamental than the other. Running under linux OpenCPN won't crash but looses the GPS signal after a while, removing the port then adding again solves that. Probably a better way to do it but haven't researched much yet. And yes, XP does seem more stable than win7. Or even better Linux
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Old 20-01-2013, 06:39   #34
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Re: Laptop With Digital Charts Possible?

You're going off for a 10 year cruise, and you don't want to invest in a chart plotter?

You can buy a really good chart plotter for under $1000 (a Simrad NSS7, when the rebates are going), and you can buy usable one for much less than that. I can't imagine why you would do without this extraordinarily valuable navigation tool. The cartography is much cheaper (like 10x if not 100x) than paper charts.

A laptop is ok too, but you can't use it in the cockpit, especially not in bad weather, when you might really, really need to know exactly where you are.

You can use a handheld GPS and paper charts, but this is much more expensive, and likewise awkward in bad weather (and awkward can mean dangerous).

I like and use paper charts, but they are very expensive, almost a luxury. The minimum electronic chart setup I would consider, personally, would be a laptop (or IPad) below and a real plotter at the helm.
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Old 20-01-2013, 07:17   #35
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Re: Laptop With Digital Charts Possible?

Luddite here, but IMHO, it is not a question of IF your laptop will fail, but WHEN. And generally it is at an inconvenient time and location, especially if world cruising. As long as you are anticipating that fact and have a Plan B and C, laptop could be fine.
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Old 20-01-2013, 07:43   #36
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Re: Laptop With Digital Charts Possible?

Laptops vs chartplotters: Someone should mention, a laptop usually ha a hard drive, which is sepcified by the maker as a device that should not be operated while it is in motion. Hard drvies crash when they are in moving vehicles--including boats. The way to avoid that is by installing a solid state drive (SSD) which only recently has come down to $1/GB in price. They also increase speed and lower battery consumption, but the tradeoff is that they have a limited life, they are eventually going to fail as well. (In something like 50,000-100,000 memory cycles, possibly longer now.)

On Dell laptops, back when they had "rearl" serial chips they often failed because Dell did not implement the normal serial port voltage standard, and what they did simply wasn't enough to work well with all devices. Some of us still find Dell hardware to be problematic in odd ways.

The Prolific chipset has a great reputation, but the question you should ask about any hardware with Windows is whether it has been tested and certified as compatible. The Prolific drivers aren't. That saved them about $50,000 on having the testing done, but leaves a question as to just how compatible they really are or aren't. Equipment (including drivers) that has been tested and certified USUALLY works.

Just a few points that can make your setup more reliable. Or, make a chartplotter seem more attractive.
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Old 20-01-2013, 08:30   #37
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Re: Laptop With Digital Charts Possible?

For a good software program take a look at Nimble Nagigator, just google it.
Boatman has just put me onto it. He used it right across the Pacific on a delivery and says it's great, and about $100. The cm93 charts needed for it can be downloaded free, for the whole planet.
Sounds like a good primary system. or backup.
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Old 20-01-2013, 17:49   #38
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Re: Laptop With Digital Charts Possible?

With any of these programs, especially OpenCPN, is there a way to integrate AIS transponders and/or radar to a single screen?
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Old 20-01-2013, 18:25   #39
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Re: Laptop With Digital Charts Possible?

"The cm93 charts needed for it can be downloaded free, for the whole planet."
Is that reliably and legally, or bootleg charts that you have to chase around trying to find, from pirate sites that often carry malware as well?
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Old 21-01-2013, 14:07   #40
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Re: Laptop With Digital Charts Possible?

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With any of these programs, especially OpenCPN, is there a way to integrate AIS transponders and/or radar to a single screen?
Ais is easy on opencpn, works well. Assuming you can get a nmea feed into the computer.
AIS | Official OpenCPN Homepage

There has been some movement on the radar side, but early days yet.

Panbo: The Marine Electronics Hub: Radar on your PC, laptop or tablet
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Old 04-02-2013, 19:26   #41
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Re: Laptop With Digital Charts Possible?

I can see some allure of the Amish sailer, romantically, but I think it's irresponsible.

Now I like the ABS brakes in my car, (even had a motorbike with ABS for a while which was awesome) I haven't used a paper street directory book in a decade (phone has had gps with maps for that long) and while the Navy taught me plenty of chart work, I only use it to keep it current and for entertainment. When I was on submarines doing chartwork, my 4WD had better navigation technology than the boat (sub) I was on.

I cruise with very few paper charts - they're expensive, quickly dated, inflexible, and lack the redundancy I need of all my gear unless you pack 3 of each. Instead, I have a plotter with its own battery backup, a self contained laptop with gps, an ipad with chart software, the android tablet with chart software and the android phone with the same, and each one is a fully functioning and totally redundant navigation system complete with full charts of where ever I am.

Anything used in an emergency also has to pass my "5 year old" test - it must be simple enough to be used by a 5 year old. No, I don't have a 5 year old, but in my experience, badly injured or incredibly stressed, that's about what most people are capable of. It's also about the level you can teach someone in a couple of minutes, or about the level you can give instructions on from your location flat-on-your-back in the cabin with 2 broken legs.

Satellite phone = pass = can be used by 5 year old, can be taught in a minute or two, or I can yell adequate instructions from the cabin on just how to use it to someone who has never used it before. Call it the Grandma test if you prefer, for the same reasons. (When my grandma got her first mobile phone (cellphone) she asked where on the house the aerial goes... she was thinking of it like a long-range cordless phone)
VHF radio = pass
HF radio = borderline...
Engine = pass (pull this press that turn this listen for beep, etc)
Sails = fail (so I keep the engine working and fuelled for emergencies)
Anchor = pass (with windlass)
Chart plotter = pass
Ipad = pass
Paper charts = FAIL

Having a FAIL system or process, even one you regularly use (eg sails) is fine, but only with alternative redundant systems with pass the 5 year old test.

Just my 2c.
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Old 21-02-2013, 19:39   #42
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I have used Capn since 1997 and found it better then a chart plotter due to screen size.

ABS brakes don't work in all conditions. The tendency to have automatic stuff instead of developing basic skills is the road to perdition.
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