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Old 28-12-2014, 12:03   #1
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Using PC as secondary plotter

Looking at upgrading my chart plotter's. In a perfect world I would like a good touch screen unit at the helm and a touchscreen PC inside that I could plan routes on and use underway. I know there are lots of apps out to connect to I pads and android tablet. Will any chart plotter out there connect to a PC too?

Thanks,

Len
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Old 28-12-2014, 12:48   #2
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

You can connect a chartplotter to your PC through an NMEA connection, but why would you want to? There are any number of inexpensive GPS's that will plug into a USB connection (something that chartplotters won't do) and that gives you a completely independent redundant navigational system as well as a large screen planning tool. Some of the newer chartplotters will connect via wifi but they are primarily set up so you can control them from a smartphone app, not a PC.
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Old 28-12-2014, 20:57   #3
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

I find my PC easier to plan routes on and if it was wireless the portability would be nice. I know this can be done on a tablet but prefer a laptop. I have found some android emulators that I can run so that may be the way I'll go.
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Old 28-12-2014, 21:10   #4
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

We have a laptop with Maxsea charts and the AIS transceiver connected.Also use an IPad with Navionics on the "dash".
Personally I prefer the IPad but cannot fault the laptop.
Recently bought another boat that has a dedicated Raymarine plotter displaying,Sonar and Radar as well and even though it can be viewed from the helm and inside the boat I still prefer the IPad.
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Old 28-12-2014, 21:57   #5
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

I haven't used it yet.. but I picked up a cheap ($200) Microsoft Surface Pro 1 and a nice mount for the helm. I plan to run OpenCPN with a GPS puck as my backup/second source.

Nice thing about the Surface Pro is it runs on 10-15V so it can be hardwired. It also draws a pretty measly amount of power.
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Old 29-12-2014, 01:47   #6
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

we set up our pc with opencpn and a gps puck as both a back up to our chartplotter and as a planning tool. we got a tablet this past year to act as a backup to the chartplotter as it is smaller and easier to put where we can see it better. again we use opencpn on the tablet and it has it's own gps feed.
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Old 29-12-2014, 02:11   #7
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

Not quite clear... It appears that you are wanting to share routes between devices. It is easier to generate a repeat display than to share files across differing operating systems. Most of the solutions mentioned involve different programs running independent of one another. I use a garmin and a tablet. Frequently, the actual route is on the garmin and the tablet is used as a sanity check. Most of my routes are in proximity to land and transit times are less than 24 hours. A different approach would be required off shore.
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Old 29-12-2014, 08:31   #8
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

I have a Raymarine c90w at the helm connected to a large screen laptop pc at the nav station via ethernet. Raymarine software is loaded on the pc so functions as a repeater. I think there are several advantages of this setup: PC not entirely devoted as chartplotter; larger screen size makes it easier on old eyeballs. I also have an ipad and iphone all loaded with navigation software as back-up.
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Old 29-12-2014, 13:06   #9
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

Quote:
Not quite clear... It appears that you are wanting to share routes between devices. It is easier to generate a repeat display than to share files across differing operating systems. Most of the solutions mentioned involve different programs running independent of one another. I use a garmin and a tablet. Frequently, the actual route is on the garmin and the tablet is used as a sanity check. Most of my routes are in proximity to land and transit times are less than 24 hours. A different approach would be required off shore.
OpenCPN saves waypoints and routes as .gpx files. It would appear that any nav program that can handle .gpx files should be able to use the files generated by OpenCPN. Is there a genuine expert out there who can authoritatively comment on this?

I keep going through the "buy a chart plotter thing" but when I do the numbers on the screen size comparison between a notebook with USB GPS using OpenCPN and a chart plotter with a reasonable size screen the notebook/OpenCPN combination wins hands down every time.

I have run the autopilot from the computer/USB GPS/OpenCPN combination via a USB to RS422 converter and it works however I do not have as much confidence with this arrangement as with a dedicated GPS driving the autopilot via hard wiring.

I have just purchased a cheap greyscale chart plotter with external antenna for $300 which should allow me to do my route planning on my PC with OpenCPN then transfer the .gpx files to the chart plotter via the USB to RS422 converter and hopefully the cheap chart plotter will look after the nav information flow to the autopilot.

My problem with chart plotters is that if you can get one at a reasonable price they have a tiny little screen which is useless for route planning and in addition I don't have the patience to scroll through endless menus on the chart plotter when I can do the job on a notebook or laptop with a decent sized screen, full keyboard and mouse.
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Old 29-12-2014, 14:20   #10
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

Personally I would not want any touch-screen devices on an open bridge or helm. Take a wave over the side on to the screen, have someone touch it or just brush against it and...... A couple of guys came very close to killing themselves trying to find a harbor entrance in the middle of the night off of Kona, Hawaii recently with a hand-held touch-screen device. The boat lurched, a finger or hand slide over the touch-screen and their guidance info disappeared. The boat was destroyed and they were nearly skinned alive by the jagged lava coastline trying to get ashore. But they survived. Fine at a nav station below but not exposed to weather or careless mishaps. Use a purpose-build marine navigation chartplotter to drive the autopilot and a laptop (or two or three) with OPNcapt for planning and backup. Good laptops are less the $300 now. By two or three GPS receivers for the laptops.
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Old 29-12-2014, 15:19   #11
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

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Originally Posted by RaymondR View Post
OpenCPN saves waypoints and routes as .gpx files. It would appear that any nav program that can handle .gpx files should be able to use the files generated by OpenCPN. Is there a genuine expert out there who can authoritatively comment on this?

I keep going through the "buy a chart plotter thing" but when I do the numbers on the screen size comparison between a notebook with USB GPS using OpenCPN and a chart plotter with a reasonable size screen the notebook/OpenCPN combination wins hands down every time.

I have run the autopilot from the computer/USB GPS/OpenCPN combination via a USB to RS422 converter and it works however I do not have as much confidence with this arrangement as with a dedicated GPS driving the autopilot via hard wiring.

I have just purchased a cheap greyscale chart plotter with external antenna for $300 which should allow me to do my route planning on my PC with OpenCPN then transfer the .gpx files to the chart plotter via the USB to RS422 converter and hopefully the cheap chart plotter will look after the nav information flow to the autopilot.

My problem with chart plotters is that if you can get one at a reasonable price they have a tiny little screen which is useless for route planning and in addition I don't have the patience to scroll through endless menus on the chart plotter when I can do the job on a notebook or laptop with a decent sized screen, full keyboard and mouse.
No doubt open CPN is the right stuff. All comments about big screen vs little screen are spot on. If going off shore, a reliable device must drive the AP. It needs to run for days at a time unless you get a vane...my old boat was way ahead of my new one...silly AP cannot be coupled and the flux gate is way off, more so south headings than northerly ones..nevertheless main sail and rigging come first.
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Old 29-12-2014, 15:50   #12
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

We have used OpenCPN as a backup to the chartplotter, and for planning routes, it worked very well for that. We also used it as the primary navigation source when we brought our new to us boat from Massachusetts to Maryland, and the boat did not have a plotter. Again, it worked well for that use, and I thought I would be happy with it as the primary source.

Then I took a job at a marine service/sales company in Maryland, that happens to be a dealer for Nobeltec. I was able to install the software onboard so I could get used to it (Trident, but Odyssey would work for many if not most users here) I was and am blown away at how comprehensive and fast the software is. I had installed a sunlight touchscreen in the cockpit, and have a big monitor down below. It took some time to learn the interface, and how to use some of the more advanced features, and I am still learning. openCPN is great, there is nothing better than free, but it has a long way to go before it can compare to the features/benefits of the Nobeltec software. It has improved over time, and I am sure it will continue to do so as long as there is active development.

I have now installed it on two computers. The boat specific computer is a low power (AMD E-450) but with an SSD and 8gb or ram. The program is very slow to load, but once it is loaded, it is VERY fast in operation. The second computer is a higher-end laptop. It loads and runs very fast.

I would NOT rely on any chartplotting system that had any component in the cockpit that was not waterproof, and somewhat sunlight readable. I also would not rely on any tablet solution.

A GREAT solution for getting GPS and AIS to the computer is the EM-TRAK B100 transceiver. I imagine there are other products to can do the same. One black box, two sources of needed data.

Chris
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Old 29-12-2014, 16:34   #13
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lennie View Post
Looking at upgrading my chart plotter's. In a perfect world I would like a good touch screen unit at the helm and a touchscreen PC inside that I could plan routes on and use underway. I know there are lots of apps out to connect to I pads and android tablet. Will any chart plotter out there connect to a PC too?

Thanks,

Len
My shopping list is the same as yours Len.

A 14“ chartplotter at the outside helm specifically for radar use at night as we have many unlit fishing bancas to thread thru and also for entering unmarked anchorages using saved tracks.

My wish list is to use my high end business PC to research and plot upcoming routes ashore where I have good internet that allows me to download info and attatchments and reply to emails.

This PC would have all my navigation Info and programs installed.

Then back on board I can refine my route on the laptop and export it to the Chartplotter.

I like Furuno TZ14 but it is not clear if the wireless capabilities allow importing of Routes from a laptop PC (not Mac).

I originally was against touch screen plotters for the dangers described above, but I understand that they have a safety to disconnect the touchscreen function when rough
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Old 30-12-2014, 00:23   #14
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lennie View Post
Looking at upgrading my chart plotter's. In a perfect world I would like a good touch screen unit at the helm and a touchscreen PC inside that I could plan routes on and use underway. I know there are lots of apps out to connect to I pads and android tablet. Will any chart plotter out there connect to a PC too?

Thanks,

Len
I have a laptop with OpenCPN with puck GPS antenna (CMap charts).
Then we have a Raymarine chartplotter (Navionics).

I have decided deliberately not to connect the two systems.
When the passage is complicated, I prepare the sailing plan twice on both systems and check whether the results are similar. If there is a discrepancy - I look for the mistake/problem.
When passage is simple/known area - we use only the main RM chartplotter
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Old 30-12-2014, 09:20   #15
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Re: Using PC as secondary plotter

Dear Len and other Cruisers,

On board I've a built in Pc and and a laptop for back-up and use in the cockpit / outside.
The board instruments (Raymarine), AIS and VHF are all connected to a multiplexer with Bluetooth connection. The multiplexer is connected to the built in pc by cable and to the laptop via Bluetooth.
So I can use both computersystems (MS W 7 winth OpenCPN) connected to the complete board instruments at the same time. It operates great!
At the moment there are also multiplexers with Wi-Fi instead of Bluetooth to connenct to your laptop.

"Horus"
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