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Old 14-09-2008, 20:44   #1
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New Fangled Navigation Systems

Could somone give be laymans synopsis of current offshore/ocean navigation equipment. (GPS was only just released last time I sailed offshore). What is the best system to purchase, and do I need a computer system, if so can it be an Apple Mac?
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Old 14-09-2008, 21:12   #2
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Basicly there are basically two types of navigation systems which display an electronic chart. One type is computer driven and uses software to display your chart on a computer monitor. The other type of system is proprietary like Furuno's or Raytheon's system which uses their processors and memory which are either inside a black box or are built into the display unit itself.

The is no "best" system. Although there are systems which are clearly better than others. Generally, the better systems are more expensive.

There is chart software available for the Macintosh.

Personally I think electronic charts are well worth having because at a quick glance you can see where you are and which direction over ground you are traveling along with a number of other features. Don't though give up the paper charts!
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Old 14-09-2008, 22:23   #3
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I've been using MacENC, and like it enough that I am now putting a sunlight-readable display at the outside helm, with a dedicated Mac Mini.

Cheers,
Steve aboard Nomadness (currently here)
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Old 15-09-2008, 00:33   #4
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I have both a chart plotter at the helm with the radar overlay, and a PC based charting sofware, and both work off the GPS. I mainly use the PC for preplaning, and as a back up to the chart plotter. Most chart plotters today have sun light readable screens, not so with PCs. Garmin is also a good system, along with the others listed above. If you use both systems it's good if both of their softwares can talk to each other, as that makes it easier in transfering waypoints and routes between each system.
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Old 15-09-2008, 10:27   #5
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If the Garmin: MapSource - BlueChart satisfies your needs, then I have heard a lot of good things about the garmin chartplotters. When I go sailing that is what I plan on getting!
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Old 15-09-2008, 13:00   #6
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Originally Posted by JiffyLube View Post
I have both a chart plotter at the helm with the radar overlay, and a PC based charting sofware, and both work off the GPS. I mainly use the PC for preplaning, and as a back up to the chart plotter. Most chart plotters today have sun light readable screens, not so with PCs. Garmin is also a good system, along with the others listed above. If you use both systems it's good if both of their softwares can talk to each other, as that makes it easier in transfering waypoints and routes between each system.
There are waterproof and very bright PC monitors available. They are of course more expensive than what you might find at Best Buy.
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Old 18-09-2008, 22:50   #7
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There are waterproof and very bright PC monitors available. They are of course more expensive than what you might find at Best Buy.
You're right on both counts.
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Old 21-09-2008, 15:10   #8
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They are also more expensive than some same-sized Chart Plotters. One is left to wonder why someone would buy one, unless there is some PC function missing from available chart plotters? Solitaire for those miserable night watches, perhaps?

OK, there are some new on deck touch screen monitors that don't cost as much as a touch screen Chartplotter. But you still have to buy a computer, software, charts, etc. to achieve the same functionality, but that adds many unnecessary airgaps (connections and interface issues) in a hostile environment. These potential problems probably contribute to keeping the market too small for economies of scale.
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Old 21-09-2008, 15:25   #9
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They are also more expensive than some same-sized Chart Plotters. One is left to wonder why someone would buy one, unless there is some PC function missing from available chart plotters? Solitaire for those miserable night watches, perhaps?

OK, there are some new on deck touch screen monitors that don't cost as much as a touch screen Chartplotter. But you still have to buy a computer, software, charts, etc. to achieve the same functionality, but that adds many unnecessary airgaps (connections and interface issues) in a hostile environment. These potential problems probably contribute to keeping the market too small for economies of scale.
I am using a computer running Nobeltec software because I do some pretty complex things sometimes. No plotter that I know of has a mouse interface. Many plotters have charts that don't come close to resembling an original NOAA paper chart with all the same detail. Also some plotters cannot do the same things that can be done with Nobeltec and if they can, it takes a lot longer. I have used both plotters and computer chart software on a number of different boats. I would not want to run a research boat using solely even the best plotters. In fact, I have ordered a new Furuno Navnet 3D system and am dedicating one screen to the Furuno system and another monitor for running the Nobeltec/computer display, because I know both have their distinct abilities and limitations.
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Old 21-09-2008, 15:29   #10
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They are also more expensive than some same-sized Chart Plotters. One is left to wonder why someone would buy one, unless there is some PC function missing from available chart plotters? Solitaire for those miserable night watches, perhaps?

OK, there are some new on deck touch screen monitors that don't cost as much as a touch screen Chartplotter. But you still have to buy a computer, software, charts, etc. to achieve the same functionality, but that adds many unnecessary airgaps (connections and interface issues) in a hostile environment. These potential problems probably contribute to keeping the market too small for economies of scale.
I prefer playing Freecell when I get bored....never on watch though.

I am using a computer running Nobeltec software because I do some pretty complex things sometimes. No plotter that I know of has a mouse interface. Many plotters have charts that don't come close to resembling an original NOAA paper chart with all the same detail. Also some plotters cannot do the same things that can be done with Nobeltec and if they can, it takes a lot longer. Overall, plotters just don't have all the tools, detail and flexibility that chart software has. I have used both plotters and computer chart software on a number of different boats.

I would not want to run a research boat using solely even the best plotters. There are just to many limitations and things which take too much time to do.

I have ordered and received a new Furuno Navnet 3D system. I am dedicating one screen to the Furuno system and another monitor to running the Nobeltec/computer display, because I know both have their distinct abilities and limitations. I have not installed the Furuno system yet but I will keep people posted.

One screen (Furuno) will show a chart, radar image, quasi-ARPA or at least Furuno's idea of ARPA and AIS contacts...overlaid. The other screen (Nobeltec) will be for showing exact (vector or raster scan) copies of NOAA charts, interfacing with the autopilot and for doing the fancy research stuff.

I will have to remember to look out the window once in a while as well. This I get teased about...a lot!

Whats really fun is when people ask me if the computer is steering the boat. People ask me jokingly sometimes thinking there is no way that the boat is being steered by the computer. What I do is click and drag the next waypont over a bit...and then the boat turns towards the next waypoint. You should see the look on some peoples faces when they find out the boat is being steered by the computer. I allay their fears by telling them the computer is using Microsoft XP....which of course never crashes.
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Old 21-09-2008, 16:11   #11
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David - LOL!

Sandy - Besides charting, there's a lot that I do aboard with the computer... even at the helm. In fact, the combination is so useful that I'm installing both an appliance chartplotter and a sunlight-readable Mac display.

Navigation aside, there is the ship's webserver with all N2K and data collection, the live documentation database, front end to a video switcher with 8 camera channels, music library, email and web browsing (heck, just seeing the next anchorage or marina is useful), notetaking environment, and so on. Having all this integrated at the helm station is nice... though I certainly agree in general about reliability issues (not that the Mac ever crashes - really - but it's certainly not made to the same harsh-environment standards that are, or should be, the norm in the chartplotter business).

I came awfully close to the NavNet 3D, by the way (even having a couple on order for quite a while), but pulled back when hearing of way too many growing pains with the product.

Cheers from Nomadness, currently right about here: N4RVE Location

Steve
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