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Old 20-09-2005, 07:34   #1
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Software - hardware interface

We are close to purchasing new nav hardware and software. I will be using The Cap'n and Explorer charts on my laptops. My question is: when the data is sent from the laptop to the hardware (gps/plotter, autopilot), does it make much difference if we have a GPS instead of a Chartplotter?

My thinking is that with the charts on the laptop & paper charts, why spend the extra money on a chartplotter and the additional software? I will be tracking our coarse on paper charts as well, so the GPS should be suffucient.

I will appreciate any thoughts that you might have.

Roger
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Old 20-09-2005, 08:05   #2
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Re: Software - hardware interface

Quote:
rleslie once whispered in the wind:
We are close to purchasing new nav hardware and software. I will be using The Cap'n and Explorer charts on my laptops. My question is: when the data is sent from the laptop to the hardware (gps/plotter, autopilot), does it make much difference if we have a GPS instead of a Chartplotter?

My thinking is that with the charts on the laptop & paper charts, why spend the extra money on a chartplotter and the additional software? I will be tracking our coarse on paper charts as well, so the GPS should be suffucient.

I will appreciate any thoughts that you might have.

Roger

It shouldn't make any difference at all, except that you will have to look at your laptop for your chartplotting. This may be a real pain if it's not mounted up in the cockpit.

Maybe a 2nd monitor and a KVM switch would do the trick?
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Old 20-09-2005, 13:22   #3
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Chartplotter at the helm position is a great tool in difficult pilotage conditions. It is also more robust (and most are waterproofed) than a laptop. The energy required is abt 0.5 amp/hr. however voyage planning is very difficult on the small screen.

The laptop has a good screen size but uses a lot of power, and its battery is not terrifically appreciative about being used 24/7.


I have a plotter (Navman 5500) which I use all the time.
I have a laptop with its own dedicated GPS feed as a planning tool and backup electronic system.
I have a hand held GPS set up to provide positions at the main chart table where I have a planning chart, and I have pilots for the close work near to the harbours.
(I also have a sextant, and know how to use it!)

This might be overkill, but it makes me happy!
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Old 26-09-2005, 12:31   #4
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Roger, for those of us with more limited cruising kitties (or maybe it's just that many of us venture farther, over longer periods of time, and so the kitty needs to stretch further and cover more...) your logic is quite sound and what you'll normally find on long-distance cruising boats. Cockpit-mounted chart plotters provide visual assurance...altho' it's fair to ask just how appropriate that is. OTOH the point Talbot makes - on occasions when clarity of the nav plot dissolves - you or the crew will have to hop below to reconfirm it. So what? We've been cruising without a chart plotter for 5 years now, in all kinds of waters, and I can't say it has been missed more than a handful of times...when one of us simply swings the laptop screen so we can see it from the cockpit or dives below.

For my money, a far better use of the money (were you thinking of purchasing a chart plotter) is the purchase of a back-up computer. The back-up can be used, be simple/small and therefore cheap, and yet it gives you redundancy protection for all kinds of things, not just navigation.

Jack
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Old 26-09-2005, 19:24   #5
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The first issue with a laptop is that unless it is weatherized, you can't mount it permanetely at an outside helm station. It can just get too WET. I was coming on a friends 54 Hatteras on the Sunday before Ophelia was to hit the North Carolina coast. We were coming up from Bald Head to Wilmington. We were running through the Cape Fear Inlet for a significant portion of the journey. We were in the Upper helm station, a good 16 feet above the water and we were drenched from breaking "Spray". We could not keep the laptop up there!!

For open water navigation, having a laptop or charts in a location beside the helm is just fine. You can put the old autopilot on and plot to your hearts content. But, after coming through various inlets on the eastern coast of the U.S. I am sold on having a plotter at the helm station. With markers for the inlet and markers for chanels and markers for the intercoastal, it can get VERY confusing, VERY quickly. Since these inlets seem to be tricky all by themselves, it is very welcomed to have a helping hand.

While coming up, we had originally intended to do a comparison of the Cap'n to the Raymarine system. With all the spray, we largley abandoned that idea. But, the Raynav system worked wonderfully!!!! It made a challenging passage, less stressfull. (Well there was that part where we lost an engine while trying to pull into the peer <chuckle>) The point being in the worst of times is when you often need assistance, not when the sun is shining and you can see for miles anyway.

Keith
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