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Old 13-02-2018, 07:12   #1
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IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

Howdy!

I am considering purchase of a new or newer used iPad to use for a portable navigation device. I have read previous threads (some are several years old) and at this time I am not really interested in a windows laptop solution or an Android phone or tablet solution. My questions are focused on the iPad.

Your opinions or advice or experience with this would be appreciated.

At this point, don't assume I know much about these, so when you respond, please answer in language that would help not only me but others who may read this thread in the future. I see this as a FAQ for 2018, where basic questions and answers and tips can be shared.

While my questions are basically about the hardware, I recognize that the software apps is what may make one solution better than another. If you want to suggest an app for the iPad navigation, please do. I am sure others reading this thread may learn something from any advice or a different POV.
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Background:
I currently own a 2014 Apple 4th Generation (Retina) 32gb iPad that I have been using much more than a laptop for several years. I love it. So, I am comfortable with the iPad operation, and have used one on a cruise for reading and email (but not for navigation). I have the WIFI only model now, and it does not have a Cellular GPS chip in it, so I don't use any nav app on it today. I am now looking to upgrade to either a relatively new model iPad (2017) or a used iPad Air (with cell chip GPS). I am considering the iPad Pro 10.5 model and the iPad Pro 12.9 models too, because I would like to use the Apple Pencil for other tasks.

I recognize the iPad Pro 12.9 is larger and harder to hold by hand. But, I expect I would purchase a suction mount holder for it to be used in a waterproof case and mounted (temporarily) on a bulkhead of the cockpit or under a dodger. Or used only below for navigation and planning, etc. The larger display size appeals to me. I do not find the iPad MINI big enough, for my purposes or taste.

I have also considered purchasing the iPad 12.9 for my own use (general use, navigation charts, etc.) and also purchasing an older 9.7 inch iPad Air2 (with cellular GPS chip included in it) or an IPad Pro 10.5 model to use in the cockpit, probably in a waterproof case or sleeve. I am not currently an owner of TWO iPads, so I don't know if sharing apps or app (chart navigation) type data between the two would be a hassle or easy. In a perfect world, the two would somehow share data, and would have the same nav apps on them both (for redundancy) even if one was intended for use in the cockpit and one intended in the saloon/chart table.

Your opinions or advice or experience with this would be appreciated.

I admit my current inexperience of use of these device for navigation, and I may have some misconceptions or misunderstandings today. I would like to learn the best steps for moving forward to find a solution that fits my infrequent needs.
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FAQ Questions

1. Is the internal GPS of some of the cellular chip iPads suffcient or adequate for offshore use and coastal use without having a cell phone contract? I am aware that not all iPads have the internal GPS (only those with a cellular chip do, according to Apple). I would not register the cellular SIM card (I don't want to use the iPad with a cellular data plan) so does that make a difference? My understanding is that all that matters is that the iPad have the cellular GPS chip, and that one does not need to be on a cellular system (or contract) to use the GPS functions in apps while offshore. Is that correct?

2. Would it be better (instead of buying a iPad with internal GPS chip) to use a GPS dongle or Bluetooth GPS device (Garmin makes one called Garmin GLO that can provide GPS Bluetooth signals to more than one mobile device on a boat)? Is there enough difference in accuracy to warrant using the external GPS device (such as the Garmin) rather than depending upon the internal GPS? I find the Garmin GLO device appealing because it can provide data to more than one device on the boat. It costs about $100, which I find reasonable for what it does. I am aware there are cheaper GPS dongles, but they are not Bluetooth.

3. Garmin has recently made some changes (buying other companies, discontinuing some charts, the BlueCharts as I recall). Does Garmin still provide a good solution for a navigation app on the iPad, or is it now obsolete and better to go with another vendor?

4. Has anyone used the iPad Pro 12.9" model on a sailboat, at a chart table? In the cockpit or under a dodger on a pedestal mount or on a bulkhead mount? Which mounts? Which protective cover or waterproof sleeve did you use, if any?
Any problems reading the iPad navigation charts or app in daylight conditions in the cockpit?

5. I would like to use Active Captain too. Is there a problem using it with iPads?

6. I would eventually like to learn to use OpenCPN. But at this point I understand that requires either a windows laptop or android mobile tablet or phone. I can put that off for now.

7. IF you use an iPad Pro 12.9" on your boat:
Have you used the 12.9 in the cockpit?
Have you used it in a waterproof case of some type? Which?
Have you mounted it to the deck, bulkhead of cockpit, or pedestal? If so, how?

8. If you use an iPad 9.7 or 10.5 in the cockpit:
Have you used it in a waterproof case of some type? Which?
Have you mounted it to the deck, bulkhead of cockpit, or pedestal? If so, how?

9. Have you used different navigation apps and if so, which one have you found the best and why?
__________

Those are my current questions. I would appreciate your advice, opinions, tips, etc.

What about OpenCPN and Android Tablets?
I have considered going with a windows laptop running OpnCpt but I do not want to do so at this time. I do not want to invest in windows computers now, nor windows or android devices at this time, if I can put together an Apple, iPad based system for my needs. In the future, I may change to a dedicated nav system based on OpenCPN, but I don't have a strong need or desire for that now.
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Old 13-02-2018, 07:16   #2
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Re: IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

I have an iPad Pro 12.9 and an iPad Air. I use a bad elf GPS BT device which links to an older iPad and my iPad Pro. Works great. Iíve experimented with Navionics, and Garmin, as well as iSailor, which may only be UK based. I like iSailer a lot, but the Garmin community linkup to active captain is a winner, even though it is new in my part of the world.
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Old 13-02-2018, 07:29   #3
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Re: IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radmacdaddy View Post
I have an iPad Pro 12.9 and an iPad Air. I use a bad elf GPS BT device which links to an older iPad and my iPad Pro. Works great. Iíve experimented with Navionics, and Garmin, as well as iSailor, which may only be UK based. I like iSailer a lot, but the Garmin community linkup to active captain is a winner, even though it is new in my part of the world.
Thanks for adding your answers.

Have you used the 12.9 in the cockpit?
Have you used it in a waterproof case of some type? Which?
Have you mounted it to the deck, bulkhead of cockpit, or pedestal? If so, how?
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Old 13-02-2018, 07:33   #4
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Re: IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

Hey Steady.

Unaware the previous owner had only purchased east coast maps for the Garmin chartplotter, we were repositioning our new-to-us boat and literally drove off the map when we hit the west coast of Florida. We had been experimenting with Garmin BlueChart and Navionics on an iPad with cellular (but a deactivated sim card) and whipped it out. It was able to get us home with no problem.

After that, we found it to be extremely accurate on the west coast of Florida and down to the Keys such that it became our primary navigation device. We put it in a waterproof case and mounted it on the dash with a screwed-on base. Worked great.

A couple of tips...

* As you suspected, the cellular chip is required to get the GPS functionality but you do not need to activate the sim card. The GPS will remain fully functional.
* Always reboot it before you shove off so it's operating on a fresh start. Once, we failed to restart it for three weeks and the software placed us about 100 yards away on dry land. As soon as it was rebooted, it returned to normal. After that, we rebooted daily and never had another problem.
* The extra screen real estate of the 12.9" model will be appreciated more than you realize right now.
* Whatever size you decide to use, get the type with the newer lightning port instead of the older 30 pin port and keep it plugged into a charger while using it. The old 30 pin port couldn't keep up with the screen being on bright and the GPS running at the same time. The lightning port does a much better job of charging.
* Many people claim the screen wasn't very visible in the sunlight. We never had a problem with that since we were under a hardtop bridge. I recommend you plan on using it in shade. The current year 12.9" Pro is said to have a much brighter screen and that isn't so much of a problem.

There will be plenty of people who offer dissenting opinions.
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Old 13-02-2018, 07:34   #5
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Re: IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

We've had trouble with our iPad keeping charge while using it constantly (I have another thread somewhere on that). The Pro model will charge faster, so that's the one I would pick if I were limited to iPads.
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Old 13-02-2018, 07:52   #6
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Re: IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

FAQ 10
What Memory Storage space needed by your nav app and charts?


What app and chart combination are you using, where (location of charts), and how much storage space is required on your iPad for the combination of the navigation app AND the charts you use. Please be as specific and descriptive as possible.
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Old 13-02-2018, 07:54   #7
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Re: IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

JOHNEASLEY

thanks for adding your comments and tips. Good to know and helpful for this FAQ.
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Old 13-02-2018, 08:02   #8
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IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

Steady, I use a simple iPad 2017 32 gig, the cellular version. I works very well for my use with iNavX. I carry all USA charts both coasts and all US territories, downloaded free from NOAA and purchased charts for Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. I have only used it 90 miles off shore but that is well beyond cell phone range. Sunlight visibility is better in landscape than portrait orientation. I have a soft bimini and donít have any problem with visibility. I usually put the screen to sleep when Iím not actively using it and the battery life is more than adequate. Recharging by lightning port from 12 volt or inverter is no problem.

The 2017 has the same outside dimensions as my older iPad2 had but the LifeProof case doesnít fit because the screen size is larger. LifeProof still doesnít have a case for this model. Before you buy check whatever case manufacture your prefer to be sure they have a case for your iPad model.
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Old 13-02-2018, 08:05   #9
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Re: IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steady Hand View Post
FAQ 10
What Memory Storage space needed by your nav app and charts?


What app and chart combination are you using, where (location of charts), and how much storage space is required on your iPad for the combination of the navigation app AND the charts you use. Please be as specific and descriptive as possible.
We sold the iPad with the boat so I can't be really specific. Best recollection: We dedicated the iPad to navigation so it only had a small handful of apps other than the basic load. Garmin BlueChart (with the incredibly useful ActiveCaptain) and Navionics+ plus a couple of small apps. The Garmin charts encompassed all of Florida and Georgia and the western Bahamas. The ActiveCaptain data is something like a 100 mb download. The Navionics charts covered Florida out past Dry Tortugas, plus inland waterways and lakes, and the western Bahamas. As I recall, we were only using about half of the 16 gb memory.
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Old 13-02-2018, 08:07   #10
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Re: IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

Steady do you use the Procreate app on your iPad for your art? Can you post some of your results?
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Old 13-02-2018, 08:38   #11
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Re: IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

I have the current model GPS equipped standard iPad (I wish Apple would put official model numbers on these things so we could reference them clearly!)

No SIM card installed because I don't need it; GPS works just fine without.

Mounted in the cockpit on the NavPod support rail using a Railblaza mounting kit like this: Railmount / starport combo black - a friend has a similar Ram Mount product that works fine.

Protected from the elements in a protective sleeve like this: https://www.mec.ca/en/product/5030-6...e?colour=BK000

And I just installed a USB charging port on the NavPod so will stop worrying about battery life.
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Old 13-02-2018, 08:42   #12
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Re: IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

Oh, and I'm using iNavX. Currently have Navionics for all of Canada loaded; it uses just over 2G.
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Old 13-02-2018, 08:44   #13
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Re: IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

Sorry, misleading information above. I also have a bunch of NOAA raster charts installed - that's why it's using so much storage.
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Old 13-02-2018, 08:53   #14
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Re: IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

We use an XGPS160 SkyPro GPS Receiver with an iPad Air2. I run several nav programs, but my fav is iNavX.
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Old 13-02-2018, 08:53   #15
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Re: IPad for Navigation FAQ 2018

We are in Europe and have the large iPad (cellular but with no sim in it) with the Navionics chart app on it. It works well even in tight rocky anchorages. Last year we sailed round Britain and used the Antares large scale charts and were able to get into some incredible places. We have a plotter at the wheel so the iPad is an auxiliary system and we havenít bothered with a waterproof case (keeping it down below of tucked well under the canopy away from any rain/spray). One annoying thing is that because the Navionics software is different for iPhones to iPads weíve ended up buying it for both. Useful to have it on a phone when meeting people who want to tell you where a great mooring is. This even more annoying as the chart plotter also has Navionics charts so we are buying them three times. The automatic routing on the Navionics software is great. Very easy to get estimates of passage lengths when planning.
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