I just had the opportunity to use OpenCPN V2.3.1 for a crossing of the Gulf of Mexico
from Galveston, TX to Marathon, FL; about 800 nm overall. I am runnning OpenCPN under Windows 7 (32 bit) on a Dell E1505 laptop
. The only thing connected to laptop
was a DC-DC power adapter and a BU-353 hockey puck gps
. The gps driver was downloaded from USGlobalsat Corporate
. Must install driver and then reboot computer. Windows 7 can't find the driver by itself.
This was my first opportunity to use OpenCPN under realistic conditions for more than a day at a time. The program is spectacular and almost perfectly meets my needs. I appreciate the fact that authors have resisted the temptation to bloat the program and with this in mind, I hesitate to suggest unnecessary changes. I do, however, have a few suggestions listed below from highest to lowest priority:
1. The positive-named mark (ie, anchor
watch) feature was very helpful the first night while at anchor
awaiting our departure from Galveston the following morning. The negative-named mark feature, in which one names the mark with a negative value, could be even more valuable if the allowable negative value allowed was increased. It seems that currently, any value greater than 1000 meters is ignored. When passing through the region of densely populated oil
platforms, this would have been very helpful to gain an early warning when approaching a wide expanse of oil
2. Allow more than one negative-named mark. Sometimes passing through the high density of oil platforms is like threading a needle. If one could put a negative-named mark on both sides of desired course, it would guard against straying too far left or right. I would say having just two would be a terrific enhancement, but 3 or 4 might satisfy other situations.
3. After running the program for many hours the arrow keys tend to stop working. This was easily fixed by exiting and restarting the program. Since tracking was enabled, the program automatically started a new track. I wonder if upon restarting, the option can be added to append to the most recent track or start a new track? I had hoped to have one continuous track for the entire passage
. This option could occur when starting the program if tracking was already enabled (preferred) or as a separate option in toolbox.
4. Change the tracking icon such that background color brightens when tracking is enabled and darkens when tracking disabled. I would like to see at a glance the status of tracking. I've since learned that when tracking is enabled, a track shows up bolded in the Route
Manager window which helps. One can also enable tracking here. Bug: shouldn't the 'Start Track' button be greyed out when tracking is already enabled? Or even better, maybe it should be replaced with a 'Stop Track' button?
5. I am using the dashboard which, by the way, is very nice. When I activate a route
I expected VMG to show a value, but it's just blank? This is not a significant concern, but was just a bit confusing that the option was there, but it didn't work. I sometimes find VMG to be helpful in trying to determine how far off the wind
to point given leeway considerations. In the final analysis, I stopped using the dashboard, since filtering is not available. I recommend that it be added.
6. When at anchor, I enable a new track to keep track of position. The toolbox is set to record
a new position every 60 seconds. Nothing new appears? This suggests that a certain distance traveled is actually controlling things despite the option selected. If one is able to record
new points on a time basis, one will actually see an arc
develop at anchor depending, of course, on how much the wind
shifts. Once the arc
develops one can set the anchor watch pretty exactly to allow for wind shifts, but set to alarm
shortly after a drag.
7. Sometimes a track is very important to me. For example, if one eye-ball navigates through a cut and wishes to repeat it later at night, the prior track is very helpful. If the computer crashes, the track could be lost
. For this reason, I would like an option that allows the track to be periodically written to disk at a user-selectable interval.
8. I like to keep a -1000 mark available on the screen
and move it around as needed (to alarm
if headed towards some obstruction). This works well except that the program occasionally crashes when I move it outside the area of visible chart. I do this to force the program to load a new chart, but it doesn't seem to like that.
It's probably normal that people expect certain things to happen based upon other similar programs they've become accustomed to. In my case, I've used Microsoft Streets & Trips for years as my street charting program. It has a feature whereby you can display a user settable view by dragging the mouse while pressing the right mouse button. This is handy when you wish to fill the screen
with a very specific area. I realize this conflicts with the current
use of the right mouse button which opens up a context menu. This would certainly be a significant change and I mention it just as a point of discussion rather than a suggestion to see if this possibility would be of interest in the future.
Thanks again for a terrific program. Wish everything aboard performed as well