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Old 22-06-2007, 14:36   #1
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SeaClear

I've posted this on another forum and the silence was deafening. My question concerns the free navigational program Seaclear II, which I've downloaded and have been messing around with.

So far, it seems to work pretty well. It reads the free NOAA raster charts no problem and when connected to the GPS, it automatically reads the boat location and selects the proper chart when it comes up. The software isn't intuitive, but after stumbling around for a while I can now easily plot a course and upload all necessary waypoints to the GPS. My question is has anyone actually installed and used this software? If so, what do you think of it?

I love the price (free), and it seems to have all the bells and whistles, meaning inputs for depth sounder, wind speed, speed log and on a 15" laptop wide screen it's easy to see the menus and watch your boat progress.

I'm at a stopping point, and hesitant to go any further with it. I would like to hear from others who use it or have at least taken a look at it.

Rick in Florida
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Old 22-06-2007, 15:19   #2
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I know that MY concern would be if the FREE software STAYS free, or is it a TRIAL version that at some undisclosed time says: "Your time to try this program has expired. If you would like to continue using it, please ..." blah blah blah.

Otherwise, it sounds pretty damn nice. How long have you been mess'n with it?
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Old 22-06-2007, 15:20   #3
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Oh .. and one other thing - a link to where it might be downloaded would be good. Preferrably ONLY downloading that program?
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Old 22-06-2007, 15:25   #4
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Quote:
I love the price (free),
It should stay free. It's been that way a very long time. Given the competition I don't see them changing it to a pay version. It would need too much rework to make it a commercial product. If asked to pay I don't think it could generate much money.

"Isn't intuitive" is a bit generous. It appears you are able to do all it was meant to do so I think that shows something of it's ability. I'm not a big fan of it. Some times things are only worth what you pay for.
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Old 22-06-2007, 16:34   #5
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I've been using it for a while now. It is my primary planning tool. My preference is to not use a laptop as a chartplotter so it has seen no use on the boat. I like it.
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Old 22-06-2007, 20:52   #6
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SeaClear GPS Navigation Software
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Old 22-06-2007, 21:27   #7
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I use it as a primary electronic tool, although it is secondary to paper for me. I am old fashioned, what can I say?

Never had a single problem with it. It is simple and robust. I only wish there was a way to make it display wind speed in knots instead of m/s, but I can multiply and divide by two easy enough.

I have had occasion to exchange emails with the program author and he is helpful, within the limits of what you would expect some who does this in his spare time just for fun.

If I am fiddling with sail trim I can use it to collect the nmea data and output it to a spreadsheet for more detailed analysis. There are certainly other ways of doing this, but this one is easy and free.

Bill
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Old 22-06-2007, 22:10   #8
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Who said "you get what you pay for"?

I'd like to thank everyone for their views. I'm rather impressed with Seaclear after spending a few days with it. It's downside is that it does take a while to figure this software out. Only one negative comment in this thread so far which isn't terrible.

The main reason I've been tenative about it is that no one on any forum even mentions this software. I figured something had to be seriously wrong with it if fellas would fork out hard earned money for expensive software that at it's worst, needs proprietary charts and at it's best, uses the same government charts that Seaclear does. Then again Seaclear is the poor man's chart plotter. No color options or 3D views.. just NOAA charts and your boat position with good acuracy and NMEA data displays. It uploads waypoints to your GPS and can download data from the GPS as well. Overall, it appears to be a good 'no frills' chart plotter and its free!!

Who said "you get what you pay for"? This one is a real gem.

Rick in Florida
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Old 23-06-2007, 10:13   #9
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Rick, We have used Seaclear for years and also a well known paid charting system. We have cruised a lot of miles with it. It does not have some of the bells and whistles that the commercial packages have but we don't use the bells and whistles most of the time. We find ourselves using the Seaclear more that the other chart program since a majority of the time we simply want to plot our position on the chart display and keep track of where we are and where we are going. This is one fine piece of software and I can say from experience it is one of those great things we occasionally find in life that are totally free. For those that don't want it because it is free, you lose.
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Old 26-06-2007, 14:38   #10
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Not to hijack the thread, but guess who just ran smack dab into the BIG 60???!!!!

Hi Chuck!
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Old 26-06-2007, 14:41   #11
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Happy Birthday Chuck
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Old 26-06-2007, 15:59   #12
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Old 26-06-2007, 16:03   #13
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Hey, I'm only a couple of years behind ya!!

Keep leading the way

Rick in Florida
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Old 28-06-2007, 08:56   #14
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"Free" as in libré

SourceForge lists nearly 300 projects involving GPS in their descriptions: some of these are both at the useable stage of development and are end-use applications. I'm sure there are rather a few more out there, but it's difficult to find the time to sort through all the possible tools, download, and test them all out. Most of us would rather spend our time on the water than tooling up with the bleading edge, so we buy an off-the-shelf solution which covers our needs and get on with the voyage.

SeaClear looks like it may do what you need it to do. So just use it, and don't worry about what everyone else says/is using.
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Old 03-07-2007, 20:31   #15
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The clue to why Seaclear is free is in the Seaclear help file:

Calculations and accuracy
Heading and distance calculations are done using the rumbline.... On greater distances rumbline calculation is less accurate. In
normal use, such as in arcepelago navigation, the errors are not notable, as the GPS position and
the charts are far less accurate.
SeaClear does not work with charts and routes spanning the dateline (180 E/W).
//// end excerpt from Seaclear help file.

This means that the coordinate routines are based on plane trigonometry instead of spherical trig so that if you measure a distance, it will only be an approximation and the range and bearing to a waypoint will also be an approximation, and you can't use it across the International Date Line (180 longitude).

The help file suggests that it is suitable for "arcepelago navigation". I think that means in an archipelago where landmarks are visible to fix your position.

Many of the freeware/shareware chart plotting programs are based on rhumb line navigation (plane trig), and some of the expensive ones are too, so buyer beware.
Pete
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