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Old 10-09-2016, 17:24   #1
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Laptop chart plotter

I think I would like to use my laptop for a chart plotter. How do I do that?
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Old 10-09-2016, 17:46   #2
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Re: Laptop chart plotter

There is section on this forum for OpenCPN and a website Download OpenCPN | Official OpenCPN Homepage.

This is free navigation software for your laptop. You just need to add a small, inexpensive USB GPS antennae (about $40) and download charts.

US charts and a few others are free. Others you may have to buy.
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Old 10-09-2016, 19:25   #3
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Re: Laptop chart plotter

I've sailed a few miles with a laptop running Maptech Offshore Navigator -

Pretty easy and cheap. Taking a look, it may not be available any longer, but they probably have a newer version available. Personally, I think running a nav program on a laptop is pretty clunky. Pick up a low end Garmin chartplotter that you can use at the helm. I'm happy with my 546S Garmin. The laptop is a backup now.

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Old 11-09-2016, 03:03   #4
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Re: Laptop chart plotter

If you are willing to try something new... check out Navigatrix a linux operating system you can run off a usb stick or install side by side with your current operating system. Add a $30 dollar "hockey puck" gps receiver (usb) and away you go...

OpenCpn installed along with a huge amount of other cruiser needed software. Tide tables, GRIB, airmail, and a bunch of others. Good community support. Works out of the box.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time"
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Old 11-09-2016, 03:25   #5
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Re: Laptop chart plotter

Chart plotters at nav station are not very useful to loo at underway.. unless you have tine. Programming a waypoint takes a few seconds and it's important to have that data accessible from where you steer... AP or helm.

GPS plotter is super to give you context as you sail... and so that belongs visible from the steering "station".

I use an AP and so helm mounted display would rarely be seen... except when I drive through anchorages and in harbors.... and then I more likly need eyeball visuals.

Laptops beiong in nav stations... Perfectly fine for planning and is there is a navigator.

Now the rage is a mobile device. Not a bad idea... Get familiar with touch screen technology.

You may want radar overlay... then you are into networking. You will figure what a makes sense for you. I have an MFD w/ radar and AIS...a portable 7" plotter I mount in a winch under the dodger... Android phone with charts and so forth. Laptop is not used for nav.

I have cockpit dash mounted instruments an NMEA repeaters for the MFD. A waypoint is programed below... data visible in cockpit and the 7" plotter is used most when sailing. I don't usually enter a waypoint in 7". It has no radar input.

Everyone finds what works for their way of sailing. There is no best way!
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Old 11-09-2016, 07:46   #6
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Re: Laptop chart plotter

Also, you want the laptop to be either ruggerized (waterproofed) or else you want it to be in a dry location.

Alternatively you can use a waterproof smartphone or a tablet as a plotter.

There are Nokias, iPhones and Samsung that can be used in the open.

Basically: envision, research, get the components.

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