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Old 07-10-2010, 19:52   #1
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Queries for Australian OpenCPN Users

Hi guys,

I have done a great deal of searches on the forum and have also read heaps and heaps of the existing threads and also the OpenCPN user manual as well.

After getting to this stage I have a few questions that I have not been able to find answers to so I am seeking advice from some current Aussie OpenCPN users.

- I do not have a GPS at this stage to connect to my notebook pc so I am contemplating if it is better to go for a USB one which certainly sounds like it would be more convenient or to go for a handheld GPS unit which I could pick up on ebay.

- If you have used a USB GPS unit what makes & models have you found to perform well and give good signal strength?

- Also what handheld GPS units have you used successfully - I have read that Garmin units can give some issues with configuration into OpenCPN.

- It also appears that Australia does not have the luxury, like the U.S.A. for example, of free charts to download & import into OpenCPN as it looks like we need to purchase ENC charts through an authorised reseller of the Australian Hydrographic Service. Is this correct & if so do you know how much the charge is for the East Coast?

- Any other pointers would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Steve
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Old 15-10-2010, 07:07   #2
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OK, I'm not Aussie but we spent a bunch of time there & I just installed OpenCPN on an Aussie friend's boat.

GPS: I gave that friend one of my hockey-puck style USB GPSs. This means I'm now down to my last 4 GPSs on board - 2 built in units (Garmin & RayMarine), a USB hokey-puck as backup (Ambi-Com), & a hand-held eTrex for the ditch bag. GPSs are cheap & incredibly useful. Why have only 1? Get a good built-in unit AND a hockey-puck style for backup, at the very least. The hockey-puck USB GPSs are only ~$40 now. Ours is from Ambi-Com & it works fine but I don't know how it compares with others.

Hand-held GPSs usually do NOT come with serial-port (or NMEA) emulation software, which is what most nav software (including OpenCPN) wants to see. Even if they come with a USB, they usually only talk to their own, proprietary software. Some do, but usually only the more expensive units. Better to get a real GPS.

Once you integrate with the international cruising community, you will probably find copies of CM93 charts (of dubious legality) that cover the whole world. It's one of the dirty little secrets that isn't talked about much...
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Old 17-10-2010, 16:47   #3
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Hi Jon,

Thank you for providing this information which is most helpfull. You certainly have the GPS situation well covered with 4 on board and I agree with your philosophy of the more the better.

I'll have a look into the hockey puck style GPS units that you mention.

By the way your last name is very coincidental as my local waterway is called Port Hacking!

I have also taken a look at your website and compliment you on the fantastic job that you have done with it. There is a wealth of information here that will provide me with many hours of great reading. By the way, just a related question about the website as I plan to also do one when I go cruising - how did you go about creating it - any tips on this?

All the best,
Steve
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Old 17-10-2010, 19:20   #4
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Hi Steve,

Thanks for the kudos on our site - it takes us a lot of time, & it's very nice to know someone appreciates it.

BTW, we DO carry paper charts, but we also have 4 computers (currently) all with OpenCPN & all setup to plug into my 4-port serial/USB adaptor that interfaces to our nav gear (GPS, other instruments, AIS, & Pactor radio modem). Being an Engineer, I believe in belts AND suspenders.

There appear to be some Hackings down by Melbourne that got off one of the early ships. We visited some when we were down there in 2006.

For website-building info, I suggest you read my FrontPage 101 & my FrontPage FAQs. OK, they're both FrontPage centric (that's our authoring tool of choice) but there's some good general info in there as well, like planning your site & hosting companies.

All the best!
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Old 17-10-2010, 20:09   #5
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Thanks again Jon.

I am a big fan of paper charts as well and always chart my passages on paper in conjunction with the GPS.

I thought you may have been using Frontpage and will have a look at the links to it on your site.

As you are an engineer have you had a look at the website for Katiekat Welcome to Siudzinski KatieKat as Joe is also an engineer and there is lots of great techo infomation on his site.?

Regards,
Steve
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