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Old 27-04-2015, 21:16   #1
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Newb needs OpenCPN help

I think I got in over my head as I read thru OpenCPN's manual.
I have a Windows 8.1 laptop. I purchased the GlobalSat GPS dongle and loaded it via its own software.
I also downloaded 3 of NOAA's San Francisco Bay raster charts.
The GPS unit is working perfectly, as I worked with it today around Mare Island Strait.
The charts open up fine in OpenCPN, but herein lies a possible conflict: the group of maps in my downloads is signified by Folder 20150423_145544, which is what I loaded into OpenCPN's Options > Charts. However, in the Downloads file, that group of maps breaks down as follows, for instance: Folder 18650 opens to Folder BSB_Root, which opens to Folder 18650, which opens to 18650.BSB, 18650_1, 18650_2, and User Agreement.
I could not find in the User Manual, which of the folders or files should be placed in OpenCPN's Options > Charts window.
Nonetheless, with the GPS running, and OpenCPN running, there is no connection between them, and the Boat icon can be placed anywhere by the Rt-clk options.
Again, going thru the manual, there are all kinds of suggestions for additional downloads to try, such as trying different Runtime components, downloading Classic Shell, changing the .ini file, creating a Portable Windows Version, and so on.
If somebody can suggest some "easy" fix(es), and tell me which of the charts or chart folders I should place in OpenCPN, I would be grateful. If a bunch of changes to the laptop are required, then I'll just get rid of OpenCPN and use my handheld or dongle GPS's to get position fixes that I can translate to my paper charts.
Many thanks.
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Old 27-04-2015, 22:49   #2
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Re: Newb needs OpenCPN help

I moved all of the KAP and BSB files to one directory and it works fine - make sure chart quilting is enabled and you should be able to zoom in/out with -/=.

You can download all raster charts for California from
http://www.charts.noaa.gov/RNCs/CA_RNCs.zip

Read the manual section on connections to see how to connect the GPS dongle to OpenCPN via a COM port.
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Old 27-04-2015, 23:41   #3
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Re: Newb needs OpenCPN help

You should place the root folder containing all chart sub folder in the charts window.
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Old 28-04-2015, 08:13   #4
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Re: Newb needs OpenCPN help

jmkinsfbay,

The manual is a pretty good source for getting started. file:///C:/Program%20Files%20(x86)/OpenCPN/doc/help_en_US.html

Once you have downloaded some charts from NOAA, they need to be unzipped into a folder. I, and a lot of others, name this folder 'CHARTS'

Then Options>Charts>Add Directory>CHARTS

Check the Force Full Database Rebuild box and then click the OK button.

Position the chart to the SF area and then Zoom in until SF Bay fills the screen.

The chart bar will show the charts for the area displayed. Each oval represents a chart. Click on the oval to display that chart.
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Old 28-04-2015, 11:56   #5
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Re: Newb needs OpenCPN help

Thanks for all the good comments. I should have mentioned that my Comm Port settings are all matched between the GPS and OpenCPN.

My thought at this point is that I'm not going to be able to make the system work unless there is somebody I can actually talk to on the phone, while completing the fine points of setup.
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Old 28-04-2015, 13:58   #6
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Re: Newb needs OpenCPN help

For the charts, I should have said "try the chart downloader plugin" - makes downloading and keep them up to date really easy - installing all of the California charts takes ~10 minutes with decent Internet connectivity.

Check the settings for COM port and baud rate in the program used to test the dongle with and make sure they match in OpenCPN's connection settings. Make sure you don't have any other software that uses the GPS device (including the GlobalSat test program) running when you try to connect it to OpenCPN - only one program can use a USB device at a time.

Both the OpenCPN and GlobalSat manuals are pretty good.
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Old 29-04-2015, 11:53   #7
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Re: Newb needs OpenCPN help

Again, thanks to all who responded. Return comments: 1) the "master" root folder and directories are what I have placed in the "Charts" window of OpenCPN. I even tried to make the system work from the subdirectories without success; 2) chart quilting was enabled under all circumstances;
3) I read the complete manuals for both the GPS dongle and OpenCPN, but other than the numerous possible computer changes and add-ons, nothing seemed to help; 4) just before replying to these emails, I went ahead and did the "Force Full Database Rebuild", but won't be able to test the system until I am back at the boat in next week or ten days.

Maybe last question, then: I'd like to know 2 or 3 commercial softwares that I could use instead of OpenCPN, if the software(s) has/have a technical support team(s) that one can call for setup walk-through. Thanks for recommendations.
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Old 29-04-2015, 12:31   #8
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Re: Newb needs OpenCPN help

jmkinsfbay...
To be honest, I'm totally lost in what does and what does not work for you.
Do you see the charts?
As in https://vimeo.com/61686997
Are you sure you unzipped the charts? And as others suggested, the chart downloader plugin will do most of the heavy lifting for you.
As far as GPS connectivity goes:
  • Make sure no other program connecting to the GPS runs at the same time (What does "GPS is running" mean? If it means you are checking it with some program that came with it and see the position, that is exactly the reason why OpenCPN can't connect to it)
  • Check what OpenCPN receives, if anything, in the NMEA Debug window

Pavel
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Old 29-04-2015, 20:27   #9
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Re: Newb needs OpenCPN help

Pavel: my charts are downloaded, unzipped, and appear perfect and quilted within OpenCPN.

I'm confused about what you're saying about the "GPS running". Nothing happens at all unless I Rt-click the GlobalSat Desktop icon, and Start the GPS - at that point it locates satellites and starts giving position data.

I'll have to do the NMEA debug, and the Screenshot, separately, and get back to you.

Anyway, what perplexes me is that there never seemed to be any operation in which I should have started a connection between OpenCPN and the GPS receiver (is that done automatically within the software?).

Thank you.
Jerry
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Old 29-04-2015, 20:45   #10
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Re: Newb needs OpenCPN help

There was a blank screen in the NMEA debug screen.

It's been long ago that I've done a "screenshot". I tried to do a Print Screen then copy it into this reply, but that didn't work. Help on that issue, please.

Nonetheless, the Connections screen looks like this: Enable is checked; Type=Serial; D=5; Priority=1; Parameter=4800; Connection=Input; Filters=None and None.
Lower down on the same screen: Properties: Serial is checked; Data Port=5; Baud=4800; Priority=1; Control Checksum is checked.

When the GPS connection is checked, all of the same data are entered, including Comm Port 5. By the way, is Comm Port different than Data Port?
Jerry
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Old 30-04-2015, 00:17   #11
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Re: Newb needs OpenCPN help

In the drop down menu for selecting COM ports, which ports are there available?

If you unplug/re-plug the GPS, what does happen when you check the drop down list?

And assure the point Pavel was talking about: there can't be any other programs using the port the same time. Only exactly 1 program can communicate over a COM at the same time. This is as well true for virtual COM-ports like those created by USB-serial devices like USB mice.

Hubert
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Old 30-04-2015, 09:57   #12
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Re: Newb needs OpenCPN help

Thanks, Hubert.
Jerry
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