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Old 08-07-2009, 06:54   #31
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Over the last 6 months I have been heavily involved with an OpenSource GIS project: It has really opened my eyes as to what is currently possible with free code, the technology just around the corner. Put simply, I'm stunned.

One interesting development for yotties is the One Computer One Child project which has unexpectedly driven the computer market towards smaller cheaper netbooks: People love their very small size, cost and go-anywhere appeal - they do 99% of what people use laptops for... emails, letters and surfing the net. This development even caught Microsoft on the hop and forced it into a retreat on withdrawing XP.

Some of these netbooks are now just a few hundred dollars, making them very affordable and accessible. Add a $50 mouse GPS unit and the entire unit becomes a very neat dedicated navigation station. Their very low cost means the carry-two solution is a viable solution to the "what happens if the GPS fails" dilemma.

My OpenGIS work means I have both a GPS enabled phone and PDA unit - I am now playing with open source GDAL libraries and Google Maps to build a low cost backup equivalent to RDF, something cheap which is good enough (or better than RDF), a solution to get me near enough to home so I can pick up local landmarks and use local pilotage charts before I encounter non-deep water. Already there are some good GPS mobile units using free vector global base-charts which can guide a boat across the Atlantic to make landfall in the right place.

These are not designed as a primary navigation system, more a viable replacement to RDF and DR. Its interesting to note these mobile devices have touch screens, are daylight viewable and can run continuously (for months) from solar panels. And most have SD card slots for loading very high resolution vector charts (Stuff raster, vectors are tiny, editable over the net and are ultra resolution).

One final thought: There is an old adage one should not rely solely on electorincs as they night fail: One should still have charts, compass and sextant as a back-up. Sure, but drop a fragile sextant or bend its arc in a broach and you are stuffed just the same.

Open source requires no dongles or licensing, software which can be reprogrammed by yourself, vector maps which can run on a number of different devices from laptops and/or mobiles and uses data which can be downloaded/updated by the internet or via mobile. Mobile OS GPS seem to have a lot going for it.

The future on navigation is getting very interesting.


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Old 08-07-2009, 07:12   #32
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I concur with the thread starter Curmudgeon - the closed formats on the charts are rather annoying - especially as the underlying data was produced using tax money! In the US, this data must be published freely by law (which doesnt stop the 'worst pirates' repackaging and reselling it anyhow). In the rest of the world with few exceptions, you must buy charts, which are mainly available in proprietary chips and formats (although the S-57 vector charts represent an international, open standard).

The black box hardware package of a chartplotter is easily replicated per se, using small form pcs and daylight monitors. The NMEA data is open (although some marine instrument manufacturers still do not fully comply to lock customers into 'integrated systems').

I feel you're absolutely right that this market will go through significant changes around now. I am rather pleased with the open source OpenCPN project (on sourceforge and elsewhere on this site) or freeware projects such as NavMonPC.
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:17   #33
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It's getting interesting and it's going to get alot cheaper. The GPS manufacturers had better wake up and smell the coffee.

Once again, a built-in computer (for navigation, entertainment, communications and all the rest) will become standard equipment on high end boats in the relatively near future. Purchasers will not need a separate GPS, although they will probably want an inexpensive handheld as a backup. At some point, paper charts will become unnecessary as well.
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:20   #34
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ASAIK, paper charts are no longer (legally) required for professional craft (probably leisure craft as well) with an ECDIS-compliant navigation system (fully redundant electrical system).
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:44   #35
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Software solutions

I'm really pleased with MacENC and its ability to run every instrument I can think of into overlays - AIS, Radar, etc. The funny thing is, I don't even have wind instruments, I just think it's cool that I could.

What other extremely reasonably priced or FLOSS/Free all-in-one software are available, for which platforms? I suspect a lot of people simply aren't aware they could build a chart plotter on the laptop they already have for (in my personal setup) $100. And most of that was the serial-to-usb.
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Old 08-07-2009, 07:55   #36
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That would make for a nice free charts (refer to dacusts's homepage) / free navigation progs sticky..
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Old 23-07-2009, 05:38   #37
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My solution to avoid proprietary

Dell Latitude D510 laptop computer (used) U$ 350
SailCruiser Pro by NavSim U$ 399
C-Map Pro by Jeppesen U$ 299
adaptors, etc ca U$ 50

All that I linked to my boats B&G wind computer and Furuno GPS.
So, I have full-featured navigation solution for U$ 1100
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