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Old 18-06-2014, 10:40   #1
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Why widescreen chart plotters?

The fairly new Simrad NSS EVO2 line of chart plotters looks pretty cool, and I'm thinking of getting one for my new-to-me boat, replacing a 5" or so Garmin whose tiny, low-res screen I can barely read.

However, I see one very odd thing about them. They are now using the newfangled widescreen orientation instead of the more traditional higher but narrower screen.

I would think that in a typical course-up presentation, screen height would be considerably more desirable than width. That is, you would want to see what's in front and back of you much more than what's on your side.

Am I missing anything, or is Simrad (and, I think, other manufacturers) selling out practicality to look good and be trendy?

Makes me think that an iPad in vertical orientation might actually be a better chart plotter than a "real" chart plotter, as well as being enormously less expensive.

However, the catastrophic accident that happened with the poor sailor navigating with his iPad whose screen was frozen by pop-up messages gives me pause. This was reported in Changes in Latittudes by Latitude38 magazine in either the May or June issue. I find it a little odd that someone would be so dependent on his chart plotter that he couldn't see the big rocks and pounding surf to his left, but hey, nobody wants unreliable equipment.

Thoughts?

David
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Old 18-06-2014, 11:08   #2
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

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I find it a little odd that someone would be so dependent on his chart plotter that he couldn't see the big rocks and pounding surf to his left, but hey, nobody wants unreliable equipment.
Well, he was blind.

I don't think this is such a new thing - we had a Magellan chart plotter back in 1999 or so that was a landscape display.

We generally have our boat icon offset toward the bottom of the screen in HU/CU mode. That gives us equal display distances in all directions around us except directly behind.

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Old 18-06-2014, 13:13   #3
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

Since many of the chart plotter screens are MFDs (multi function displays) it is common to devote the left side of the screen to data readouts for depth, speed, wind, etc. In that case you still get a square(ish) display for the charts while simultaneously showing other data.
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Old 18-06-2014, 13:28   #4
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

A couple of things.

First of all, "typical course-up display?" Argh! Chart plotters should be used in North-up mode, for a host of reasons maybe not worth going into here (would be major thread drift).

Second: New chart plotters will show lots of stuff in a split screen, and you can even adjust the proportion of the split. So wide screen is great for this -- you get practically two squarish sub-screens. So don't worry about it -- wide screen is all good. Besides the chart, you will get radar, or instruments, or a wind plot (on the Zeus version of what you're looking at), or various other things.
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Old 18-06-2014, 14:16   #5
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

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Originally Posted by David Dennis View Post

I would think that in a typical course-up presentation, screen height would be considerably more desirable than width. That is, you would want to see what's in front and back of you much more than what's on your side.

...

Makes me think that an iPad in vertical orientation might actually be a better chart plotter than a "real" chart plotter, as well as being enormously less expensive.

Sounds like you prefer a course up or head up orientation? Not everyone does.

I prefer north up about 99% of the time, but in any case I can move the boat icon all over the screen... so I can show both geographic context and current navigation at the same time... especially when traveling either easterly or westerly.

What Dockhead said, about split screens.

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Old 18-06-2014, 14:32   #6
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

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Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
Sounds like you prefer a course up or head up orientation? Not everyone does.

I prefer north up about 99% of the time, but in any case I can move the boat icon all over the screen... so I can show both geographic context and current navigation at the same time... especially when traveling either easterly or westerly.

What Dockhead said, about split screens.

-Chris
Since you and Dockhead started it I will jump in on the screen orientation. I also prefer north up 99% of the time but when zoomed in close like navigating a channel, especially something twisty and turny, I do like to switch to a course up.
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Old 18-06-2014, 14:45   #7
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

continuing the drift, some years ago when we were bringing SeapawII up the East coast I had my chart plotter on heading up as I like it. I am a surveyor by trade and I can orient myself on a map in any direction but that is not what this is about. We ducked into Bald Head Island for a fuel stp and my crew mates got all over me because I had it set that way, that confused them. So to humor them as we continued up the East coast I switched it to North up and everyone was happy me included since we were basically headed north.
I still prefer Head up , it matches the Radar, do you use Radar on North up?
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Old 18-06-2014, 15:08   #8
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

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I still prefer Head up , it matches the Radar, do you use Radar on North up?
I do the radar to match the chart plotter. North up when looking at the big picture, offshore, etc. Course up when close in or in a tight channel.
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Old 18-06-2014, 17:46   #9
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

Years ago I upgraded my small RL80 Portrait display to the (at the time) state-of-the-art E120 Landscape display.

This was because of my physical limitation. I suffer from CSS (Can't See Stuff), so the larger display was a big help, even when the orientation is not optimum for the course.
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Old 18-06-2014, 23:45   #10
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

I'm going to go with the thread drift here and ask why you would want north up. Course up, after all, would make what's on the chart plotter correspond more or less exactly with what you are seeing from the boat.

Why wouldn't that almost always be preferable?

D
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Old 19-06-2014, 05:05   #11
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

I can think of a number of reasons for north up, at least reasons valid for my own personal preferences.

1. Stable reference point to maintain your awareness of geographic position in a changing situation. Example. Planning a route on a chart wouldn't you keep the chart north up and trace the course at different angles across the chart? You wouldn't constantly rotate the chart as you look at different course changes.

2. If north is up on the plotter it's easier to match a compass bearing to the angle on the chart. If you have course up and are sailing at 213 degrees and see a light at a bearing of 98 degrees magnetic......... quick which way on the plotter do you look to try to identify the light???

3. It's what I'm used to, at least for the big picture. Looking at maps, charts, globes, etc north is always up, the writing is always oriented for north up so I'm just used to seeing north up for a large view.

4. if you are changing course, either in a twisty channel, or big seas where the boat yaws a lot or whatever reason, the screen orientation will keep moving around.

5. For me personally it's just easier to visualize internally where I am on the chart vs where I am in the world with north up.

The one exception as I mentioned earlier, when zoomed in very close and navigating a channel and constantly looking ahead for the next marker, buoy, etc I might prefer course up so what I see on the plotter is where I look ahead for the next marker.
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Old 19-06-2014, 05:18   #12
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

Nothing but course up display for me, 100 percent of the time. It's much easier for me to glance at a display and associate that with what I see when I look back at the world.
Using a North up display...well which North are you looking at? There are two of them.

I like the nav display to match the radar and the human display. If I see something of interest on the radar or nav, and it's 45 degrees off to the right of my direction of trave, it's much easier to just alter courst to the right rather than then include a compass and mentally calculate that I need to add 45 degrees to my current heading unless one is true and one is magnetic, then I need to add another correction....and what's the point of North "UP". which directions is "UP" on the surface of the earth, anyhow? I don't see any advantage to having North up. I didnt' want the extra layers of potential confusion and accumulation of errors when I was flying, and I don't want them when navigating on the water, either. Simple, intuitive, and real.
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Old 19-06-2014, 06:49   #13
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Dennis View Post
I'm going to go with the thread drift here and ask why you would want north up. Course up, after all, would make what's on the chart plotter correspond more or less exactly with what you are seeing from the boat.

Why wouldn't that almost always be preferable?

D

North-up was what I learned on. Decades ago, probably before course-up was invented.

Well, at least it was more difficult to read placenames if you rotated the map upside down or sideways

I often find course-up/head-up confusing. And I seem to mostly always know where north is, with or without maps/charts.

OTOH, I'm perfectly happy with the radar in head-up mode, and the plotter in north-up.

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Old 19-06-2014, 06:54   #14
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

A full computer screen makes more sense than a dedicated unit (if a pop up puts you on the rocks, you had other issues going on). Luckly, we have a place to secure the laptop out of the sun and rain. If not a seperate daylight viewable monitor linked to a computer offers better options.

As far as the north/course up, the last thing I want is for it to be changed back and forth. Makes it too easy to confuse direction.

One reason we prefer north up is the swirly map effect. If we are making a lot of turns in a tight area, it annoys me. Also, I generally have a good intuitive sense of where north is even if I've been below for a while. Unless I stop and check the instruments, I don't neccessarily have the same intuitive sense of course (not that I can't handle it but just quicker to assess where north is).
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Old 19-06-2014, 07:48   #15
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Re: Why widescreen chart plotters?

I always use course up and have radar overlay on my chart. Much easier for me. I am an Architect, so reading charts upside down is not a problem for me to decipher. I have a 2003 RL70 and it has vertical orientation. I think when I upgrade to the newer digital electronics with the wider screens I will use an IPad hooked into the wireless Raymarine system more except when I am actually at the helm hand steering. I split my screen when going into an anchorage so I look at chart on top and sonar on the bottom. The sonar with the chart screens helps avoid grounding in shallow areas.
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