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Old 10-04-2008, 15:04   #1
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Cockpit Chart Plotters

Does anyone have any experience with the new portable, water resistent, cockpit chartplotters out there? Specifically, would a canvas bimini be enough to block the satellite signal for the internal GPS antennas?

Thanks.
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Old 10-04-2008, 15:37   #2
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I was just on the phone with garmin, asked them that question and he said I should get pretty good reception through a cloth bimini to an internal antenna. Said to try it first without the external antenna, and if that does not work, the external antenna is only about $60 anyway (GA 20).
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Old 10-04-2008, 15:50   #3
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No problem with a Bimini...have used Garmin 76 series portables on several boats with full cockpit enclosures.
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Old 10-04-2008, 15:53   #4
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I have one of the original hand held Garmin’s and it works down in the saloon. I have a 5 year old Standard Horizon with an external antenna and it will give me more grief then the old Garmin. I have not heard of anyone having troubles with one of the new systems with the internal antenna in a cockpit.
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Old 10-04-2008, 16:23   #5
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we currently have a Standard Horizon CP300 with internal antenna under a hardtop with canvas side curtains and no reception problems.
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Old 10-04-2008, 16:52   #6
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Awesome. Thanks for the quick feedback!
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Old 11-04-2008, 15:39   #7
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Occording to a guy I know who sells alot of GPS systems, the only materials that block the signal getting in are metal and meat.

Chris
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Old 11-04-2008, 17:32   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by witzgall View Post
Occording to a guy I know who sells alot of GPS systems, the only materials that block the signal getting in are metal and meat.

Chris
Add one more thing to that list.
I just got done installing a Garmin 5208 in the cockpit. I found a great location for the GPS antenna just behind the windshield where it got at least 8 satellites. After wiring it up and setting the antenna in bedding compound to seal it hold it in place, I put one layer of duct tape over it to hold it until the compound dried. To my horror, when I fired it up, I got NO reception at all! Thankfully, it didn't take long to realize that it was due to the duct tape.

Steve B.
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Old 11-04-2008, 19:54   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
Add one more thing to that list...duct tape.
Ah, cool. My aluminum foil hat keeps falling off. I can just make one out of duct tape and it will stay put, and still block those radio signals the aliens keep beaming into my head...
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Old 11-04-2008, 22:01   #10
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Water blocks it too...
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Old 12-04-2008, 05:53   #11
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I written before here and on other forums about what I do and why.

I use the autopilot 99% of the time so I am not behind the helm. We don't have a bimini so I usually site on the bridge deck under the dodger where the instruments are located over the compainionway. The plotter(s) are fixed mount and below decks at the nav table, so I can't be doing watch and messing about with "charting".

I got a Garmin PDA IQ3600 which not only does street navigation and hold my address book and calendar, but it loads blue charts and is tin y enough to fit in my shirt pocket. The bright crisp screen shows me all I need to "see" on a chart and it can zoom to ANY acale not just fixed ones. You can zoom with a stylus by drawing a rectangle or use a few different keys. You can pan with the stylus as well. It is not a full on plotter with routes and so forth, but it gives a heading arrow and COG and SOG and serves as a handy reference with a can correlate to what my eyes tell me. With the auto pilot controls and the heading line of the plotter I can steer to distant and usee "way points" (if they are bouys for example) without using way points) But you can create waypoints as well. I simply like it as a handy where would I be on a chart reference.

I can take it ashore and use it for hiking and points of interest when we cruise. It also leave a bread crumb track which can be handy when anchored in the fog if you have to dink ashore.

Since it is handled, you can refer to the chart when facing any orientation on the boat, which is handy too, as opposed to look forward where the fixed mount instruments are mounted.

This is a good solution which has multiple additional uses. I need my contact list since I don't drag a laptop along and my cell phone contacts are limited. Street nav is great and the POI are handed when visiting ashore, like making a reservation. And it's inexpensive and I use it in the car for street nav.

The downsides are that it is not waterproof, so it stays under the dodger most of the time of on a shelf in easy reach from the bridgedeck, when it is really wet out there. And the battery life sucks so it is tethered to a 12v cig outlet on the cockpit instrument dash over the companionway.

I think the flexibility in my situation far outweighs the down sides to a fixed mount unit, the main one being visibility and mounting and replacing/remounting, not to mention antennas and so forth.

Chart use is different since the days when I plotted on paper. Digital charting lets you see at a glance the "big picture" and zoom in for detail in an instant. I don't have much use for routes at all.

I do use a waypoint entered into the below decks plotter which repeats essential data to a few cockpit repeaters. This allows me to plan my tacking and VMG to destination and so forth from the cockpit by analyzing the wind instrument data.

I suppose if you are motoring from point to point, a route may be useful. And if you cruise a LOT and over a large area you might need hundreds of waypoints in a library. But how much time does it take to set a waypoint these days? 2 seconds. It takes more time to find a waypoint from a library if you can remember the name of it.

I set them as go. No biggie. I just want to see the boat positioned on a chart and where I am headed.
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:41   #12
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For another PDA solution, Fugawi Marine ENC (under $300) is a PC package, but it includes a PDA version. Large list of supported PDAs including a couple of Garmin IQs. The IQ3600 isn't specifically listed, but according to their disclaimer that's just because they didn't test it, it probably works.

It supports the S-57, BSB raster, Navionics, Geo-Tiff and too many others to list. And has street maps.

I haven't used it, but I'm considering it as a replacement for my Nobeltec.

-dan
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Old 14-04-2008, 07:21   #13
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That must have been some duct tape, perhaps it had metal in it. I seriously doubt that glue and cloth would affect the signal at all.

I mounted a Garmin 16A puck on the back of a motorcycle for a rally back in 2004, with velcro. Reception was flawless.



Quote:
Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
Add one more thing to that list.
I just got done installing a Garmin 5208 in the cockpit. I found a great location for the GPS antenna just behind the windshield where it got at least 8 satellites. After wiring it up and setting the antenna in bedding compound to seal it hold it in place, I put one layer of duct tape over it to hold it until the compound dried. To my horror, when I fired it up, I got NO reception at all! Thankfully, it didn't take long to realize that it was due to the duct tape.

Steve B.
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Old 14-04-2008, 09:43   #14
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question for senormechanico - what made you chose the Garmin? i keep going back and forth - based on the comments on this forum - as to whether to get the garmi or the raymarine. I have read about issues with the garmin charts and also noticed that the updates are ridiculously expensive.
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Old 14-04-2008, 10:07   #15
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The GPS satellite constellation is so full now that its never a problem if something is partially blocking the sky.
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