I run my navigation software
on Windows all the time. Windows is reliable enough so long as you use your computer ONLY for navigation
and it is NEVER connected to the internet
. Its when you start loading all this other crap like firewalls, anti virus software
, ad aware, and all this other stuff that is necessary for a computer that needs to be connected to the internet
that you start having problems. You also don't want to add any other software. Windows XP is relatively stable when all it does is run one software application. Honestly, I have never had Windows on my navigation computer crash. If it ever does I go back to paper charts and a hand held battery
powered GPS...no big deal.
I have 5 Windows computers
on my research
boat. My navigation computer is not connected to any of the other computers
just for this purpose. The internet computer especially is not connected to the other computers. The remaining three computers are for data logging and running oceanographic instruments.
Of course, don't depend solely on Windows, just as you would have a backup for everything else on a boat. What is really nice about Windows are...the windows. You can click and drag them anywhere you like and make them as big or as small as you wish...unlike what you are very limited in doing with proprietary systems like Raymarine SeaTalk
or Furuno NavNet
. Basically, with a Windows based integrated navigation system you don't have to choose one or the other which gives you much more choice.
As for for me...radar is an absolute necessity to do my job. I run through fog frequently on the SF Bay
and at night, running through a fog bank without radar would be absolute insanity.
I have said numerous times in this forum that the best thing to do is to get all the navigation equipment
you can afford because no one piece of navigation equipment
replaces another....they all add to your navigational arsenal.
If you want to do this right, look at what Nobeltec
is offering with a radar image overlayed onto a NOAA chart. This can be integrated with you sounder and a bunch of other functions such as wind
readings and a bunch of other parameters. If something can output a NMEA 0183
sentence or better, then you got it. NMEA
multiplexers are available so you can take a bunch of NMEA
inputs and send the data stream right into your computer via its serial
port or ethernet port. Thats how we datalog our GPS, sounder, speed doppler and metorological information which time correlates to the oceanographic data we collect.
Many companies are offering radar, chart, sounder and other "blackboxes" designed to show an image and/ or data on a VGA monitor
. There is software available to integrate this as well.