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Old 12-05-2008, 08:05   #16
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I only use the computer below deck. The screen isn't adequate in full sun and the computer won't take a splash well at all. I strap it down to the table and use it as required. For some routes I preload the GPS with a route and then use that for times when I prefer a GPS route. A weatherized GPS is a must have with a backup too.

For overall cheapness it's hard to beat the computer. Paper maps are not cheap though the reduced size chart books are a lot cheaper than full sized charts. With full sized charts you won't save any money over a computer. Charts books are worth having in any case as you need something when all else fails.

Sean, hope you got through last night OK. It was a rock and roll night. Winds should lighten up Wednesday. Winds out of the west at 30 knots. You don't cross the mouth of the Potomac in that stuff.
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Old 12-05-2008, 13:38   #17
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"I need to get navigation going for the rest of the trip and for the future as well."
With whatever charts or software you do have access to, write down a list of waypoints that can be entered into your GPS and used without charts at all.

I know, that might sound like heresy...but if you are going outside it does become possible to do things like "Go east 40 miles then aim north for the Ambrose Tower" and by using just the one waypoint (Ambrose) that's enough to get you up the coast and into piloting into NY Harbor and then all the way up and out LI Sound. (A copy of Eldridge will actually give you point-to-point routing for that whole run, about $10.)

Assuming something is on station at Ambrose now, IIRC a freighter hit the tower last year--and that's not an unusual event.

The dual cheap laptops is a good idea, the caveats begin that a new battery can cost $100 and these days there are whole new laptops (Acer? eeePC) in the $500 price range, new battery included. You might want to give some thought to whether there is any software you will dearly want to run--and then make sure whatever you buy is capable of running it. I'm out of touch with the latest and greatest in nav software, but some integrates tides/currents and does more than "just" static routing, and that will tend to demand more from a computer. That's probably simply more expense you don't really need for what you'll be doing this year, anyway.

By all means: Industrial velcro, foam padding, and bungee cord! You've got to treat the computer as "transportable" not "laptop", and make sure it is secured to the vessel before you leave the dock. Computers are just like sextants: They don't bounce well.

And actually, some of them (Lenovo and Mac) usually ship with hard drive shock sensors these days, which retract the hard drive heads during the high acceleration that usually comes before an impact. A lot of folks say poo-poo that's not going to hurt a drive--but I guarantee that when your bows are porpoising, you'll see the shock sensors repeatedly interrupting the computer and lifting the drive heads to prevent internal damage.
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Old 12-05-2008, 14:00   #18
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I have used Garmin products for years and love them. I have an older 178C sounder that I use at the helm. I use to run the sounder before we changed boats and have a forward looking sounder(another discussion) but now I have it only as a chartplotter. I do as Maxing out said though let it give me more of an idea of what I am supposed to be seeing.

You could probably find an older Garmin plotter that may have older charts in them that can still give you your situational awareness . I keep a chart book at the helm to study as we go along too.

Look at the 182C's , 172C's 178C's there are many all WAAS older plotters that you may find cheap if you look around.
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Old 19-05-2008, 06:39   #19
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lot of good info

Computers@Sea - Marine Boat Computer - Blue Water Cruising OffShore Outfitting
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Old 19-05-2008, 06:58   #20
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Like many, I've wrestled through this problem as well. Computers seem to be too tempermental and power hungry over the long haul for reliability. I have one, but not for navigation. I've got a 3010 and 3205 plotter networked. The 3205 has all the US charts preloaded (which was why I bought it).

My biggest beef is with voyage planning on either a chart plotter or computer program. Only a chart gives me a simple, easy overview of a large area....whether Penobscot Bay or Vancouver Island. I'm really leaning back towards the paper solution coupled with chartkits of one sort or another as the best blend of reliability and cost.

Electronics DO fail on occasion. Without paper you're in big trouble. I think that we forget that electronics are basically ways to make our lives easier but NOT cheaper. Yeah, charts aren't cheap either when planning a longer trip but in truth they never were. One thing they do well is work when the juice goes away. That's the test for reliability IMHO. Electronic charting is nice AFTER you've spent the money on the paper but I don't see how you can really go electronic only. It will be great until the day the circuit/computer/batteries/satellites die. Maybe they never will for you. I only know that if that happened to me, I would be more unhappy than having spent the money on 2 DIFFERENT systems.
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Old 19-05-2008, 09:45   #21
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Quote:
Yeah, charts aren't cheap either when planning a longer trip but in truth they never were.
They are actually cheaper now than any time in history. You can still plan course with electronics and plot them on paper. I tend to do that for longer trips just in case. If the electronics fail I'm covered so they usually don't. 2 different systems is what it takes.

Paper maps get wet and blow over board too. If you treat electronics like paper maps they work pretty well. Being bale to deal with a DR course is still a basic skill everyone needs. If you do it all the time you can use other tools when they work.
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Old 29-05-2008, 14:29   #22
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Me Too

I have also been looking at GPS and chart plotters. It is confusing!

I like Delorme the best, they actually answer emails AND phone calls AND are knowledgeable. Garmin took a week to answer my email and their phone service was horrible. Kept me on hold for over 1/2 hour only to talk to someone who admitted they did not know how to answer my questions! (Lowrance never answered the phone and never returned an email, Magellan did not return my email).

Problem is that Delorme does not have non-us charts and have only Raster versions, and their hand held screen is smaller (PN20), but if that works for you, its a GREAT price and includes US maps as well for the same price, about $300, but there is a computer interface so you can use your laptop as a chart plotter and it comes with a 1GB card.

Garmin has a really cool new handheld, the Colorado 400C. I love the way it works, very intuitive and it comes loaded with Garmins proprietary chart reader and some "free" charts as well. It is double the price of the Delorme, but it has a bigger screen.

Anyway, thats what I have found.

I logged on here to see if you all had any opinions, but this is the only thread I can find that relates... maybe I did not look in the right place.

Fair Winds
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Old 29-05-2008, 14:52   #23
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I have a raymarine and a Standard Horizon below decks plotters at the nav station. I don't really plan trips as in set out a route with waypoint. I usually have enough time to set the jounry waypoint by waypoint and entering a waypoint is a snap with most of these devices.

If you are weaving through some hazards channels and buoys you might want to motor through and then a route might make sense. But if it's marked and visibility is OK you don't have to plot it as much as use your eye balls to make your way through the "course".

In the cockpit I use a Garmin WAAS enabled PDA IQue 3600 which is more than what I need to see the boat on a chart with a heading line a a bread crumb track.

Route planning and use is for power boats and it makes little sense for sailing. But when you DO have to motor you can do what the stink pots do and create a route.

Redundancy is always a plus so my plotters are all using separate antenna and different charts so when one goers I have two and then I have one and then I am back to paper charts. I always have paper charts for the area I sail. They are opened and studied and the plotters more or less are pretty pictures which back ups.

The best feature is over laid radar on a plotter and this makes identifying radar targets much easier. So MFDs are great to use for target discrimination on charts.

It's all making sailing safer if you use these things correctly.
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Old 29-05-2008, 23:59   #24
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Here are some thoughts that I honestly don't now the answer too. But could be important finding out.
On all electronic systems, there is a warning (usually seen at start up)that they should not be relied upon for accuracy. So if you are navigating by electronic chart, have no paper chart onboard and you run aground and do serious damage, are you insured???
Secondly, some countries require you to have a route plan plotted on paper chart so as they can see your intended path, plus in some instances, if you are boarded again, you need to show if your course has changed for some reason and why. It can and has happend in NZ and I believe the UK require the course planning part from what I have read.
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Old 30-05-2008, 18:28   #25
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Wheels, do you suppose a crayon line on my inflateable vinyl globe would count?<G>

Hey, for $1.49 it was and is a fun way to see where things are, roughly and quickly.

Sometimes, a couple hundred miles really IS good enough for a position fix. Heck, that's more than Columbus had, isn't it?!
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Old 09-06-2008, 11:32   #26
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I'd like to follow up on this since I know you (prior to the spill) used a mac.

Microship's website

This is the core of the system, according one of his posts on another thread:
Quote:
The core embedded system on my new boat will be a Mac Mini... robust, small, low power, unix-based, reliable and pleasant OS layer, and easily interfaced. MacENC works great for chart work, though frankly I prefer the "appliance" chartplotters for general use, and the system with wireless access point is also a sealed backup and file server for the laptop (normally packed safely away).
The system I proposed might not work for this reason: The form factor of the laptop cover might be too small and I have to find out about the screen being touch sensitive. I think there is a mac book modification known as a 'modbook' that will do this but I will need to research it first.
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Old 09-06-2008, 11:57   #27
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The form factor of the laptop cover might be too small and I have to find out about the screen being touch sensitive.
Hi... I haven't tried it yet, but most of the 12-volt LCDs that are popular in the Automotive MP3-hacking space (Lilliput, Xenarc, and the like) have touchscreen interfaces that talk over USB and have corresponding Mac drivers (though that is a minority platform there). I'm about to put one in the center of my comm console, with the Mac Mini well-protected inside. I'm still toying with the idea of a dedicated nano-ITX running Linux for the always-on web server (mostly for power-management reasons), and that will call for a KVM switch... and interestingly, that might turn out to be additionally useful for NavNet 3D configuration when a keyboard/mouse are temporarily required.

I have not yet tried Parallels or Boot Camp, preferring to simply avoid Windows as a matter of personal taste, but there's a fair probability that it will be necessary at some point. I keep getting gadgets that have a corresponding Windows app for handling updates (Maretron displays, NUE-PSK rig, etc), not to mention the Sailmail/Winlink client software for PACTOR, so the writing is on the wall.

MacENC does seem to work quite well, though I have not actually used it for real-time navigation yet. As a planning tool, it's been great, and it inhales AIS and GRIB files without difficulty.

I was intrigued by Alan's post regarding legal requirements to carry paper charts in some countries... I didn't know this, though I get a warm cozy feeling from having them and tend to pore over them much more frequently than the ephemeral ones made of pixels. I think it's still a good idea to have at least one layer of backup (maybe not as many detail charts, but a nice big picture collection or a chartbook), just because it will always work and also be a good place to record your adventures for later reminiscing.

The Furuno NavNet 3D stuff, by the way, is pretty amazing... it's kind of changing the way I look at electronic charts.

Cheers!
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Old 09-06-2008, 12:16   #28
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Microship: any attempts to use WINE for those proprietary unreplacable programs?
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Old 09-06-2008, 12:18   #29
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Shock absorption

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
By all means: Industrial velcro, foam padding, and bungee cord! You've got to treat the computer as "transportable" not "laptop", and make sure it is secured to the vessel before you leave the dock. Computers are just like sextants: They don't bounce well.
Indeed. I'd underscore the foam-padding part of that - just spring mounting things without dampening can set up dangerous oscillations that can make matters worse, especially if they can bottom out. There are shock mounts available from McMaster-Carr and elsewhere that provide dampening in horizontal and vertical axes, and the design guides from the manufacturers sometimes give good advice. I mount hard drives on aluminum panels supported at their corners by Lord multiplane mounts, scaled to the weight of the unit and the expected frequency and acceleration (a good reason to keep this stuff somewhere near the boat's center of gravity). The Mac accelerometer is, as noted above, a great tool for this... a very cool free application called Seismac will let you actually observe and capture the X, Y, and Z acceleration. It's fun to watch a powerboat wake go by, and even see the motion of a body moving across the deck... I haven't tried it in pounding seas!

Cheers,
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Old 09-06-2008, 12:21   #30
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WINE

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Microship: any attempts to use WINE for those proprietary unreplacable programs?
Not yet, but that has been a recurring question... and will definitely be my first choice! Airmail version 3 is known to run fine under WINE, and I would suspect that most of the little stuff will as well since it should fully replicate the Windows API in a Linux environment.

My current puzzle is finding the smoothest way to inhale the stream of NMEA 2000 data coming in via USB from the Maretron gateway. This has to be parsed along with all my own USB I/O (National Instrument interfaces) to feed a database-backed web server implemented in Ruby on Rails.

Sailing sure ain't what it used to be. Oh, wait... <twisted grin>

Cheers,
Steve
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