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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance > Electronics
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  #1  
Old 01-13-2013
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View PC navigation system on your Android device with no Internet

After our old Apelco plotter died I decided to try a PC laptop based navigation system rather than buying a new MFD. I'm setting up and testing the new system this winter. I was surprised how tricky it was to view my laptop display on my Android device. Non-geeks must really struggle with this so I thought I would share my setup.

1. Create a wireless Local Area Network (LAN)
A LAN is simply a private network that uses the same technology as the Internet. You need a LAN because you cannot rely on your cell phone Internet connection. Separate hardware routers are bulky. Microsoft built-in ad-hoc networking does not work well. Android devices, in general, will not connect to Microsoft adhoc networks. I installed the free edition of Connectify Hotspot (The Internet, Faster - Connectify Hotspot and Dispatch) instead. Connectify Hotpost uses the wireless card in my laptop to create a wireless LAN. Move your mouse over the Connectify window to see your LAN address. Mine is 192.168.170.1. Your will also start with 192.168...., write down the address, you will need it in step 3.

2. Install a Virtual Network Computer (VNC) server
Most screen sharing applications for Android require an Internet connection because the connections are managed by a server somewhere on the Internet. VNC makes it possible to share control of your laptop over a LAN or Internet connection. I installed TightVNC (TightVNC: VNC-Compatible Free Remote Control / Remote Desktop Software) to make my laptop a VNC server. I used the defaults, adding passwords where prompted.

3. Install a VNC client on your Android device.
The VNC client connects with the VNC server on your laptop using the LAN. You will be asked for the address of your laptop. I installed "androidVNC" available from the Play Store. This is the most popular VNC client for Andorid.

That's all you need to get going. I use PolarView NS from Polar Navy as my PC based navigation system. I like it because maps, gribs and Active Captain data are all easy to integrate. It's also cheap. Polar View includes Polar COM which manages incoming NMEA connections to your laptop.

I don't really want to get into a debate about the reliability of PCs versus chartplotters in this thread... so to fend some of those comments off:
1. I am doing this because our plotter failed. They fail too!
2. We have two laptops with duplicate setups.
3. We have paper charts, several android devices, an iPad, a marine GPS antenna, a USB GPS anrenna and a handheld GPS.
4. I am painfully aware how sensitive most Android devices are to the saltwater environment. Old Android devices are cheap on eBay.
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Old 01-13-2013
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Re: View PC navigation system on your Android device with no Internet

Now that's interesting. I believe the best systems are the simplest ones that get the job done, and frankly your solution, while quite workable for an IT person such as thee and me, has a lot of moving parts and would be difficult for a non techie to troubleshoot.

Is there a reason that Navionics for chartplotting and Nuticharts for Active Captain data, both of which are in the Google Play Store, don't satisfy your needs?

Regards,

Tom
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Last edited by dacap06; 01-15-2013 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 01-14-2013
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Thanks for the feedback. I want centralise the navigation system so I only have to plan a trip on the laptop and view/follow it on an Android device. I don't want to have to download charts and enter waypoints on two devices.

I tried several apps including Nuticharts on my Android. My two favorites are MX Mariner and Marine Traffic. However they are not integrated with my centralised navigation system (Polar View). They are nice supplementary tools.

I purchased both Navionics and Polar View and found Polar View less expensive and more comprehensive. For example, all NOAA charts can be easily downloaded and installed for free in Polar View. The grib manager makes overlaying weather info easy. Polar Com simplifies management of NMEA inputs.

For the record, I have no association with Polar Navy. I just like their products.

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Old 01-14-2013
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Re: View PC navigation system on your Android device with no Internet

Teamview works very well to display my PC screen on my android tablet including control of the cursor from the tablet. A router is all that is required...no internet connection required, but ok if you have it. OpenCPN runs on the PC.

MxMariner will import routes created on the PC/OpenCPN for an even simpler solution.

If only there were a daylight readable tablet available at a reasonable cost.

Bruce
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Re: View PC navigation system on your Android device with no Internet

Thanks Bruce.

I avoided Teamviewer because it needs an Internet connection for initial setup. After setup it can be used on a LAN, but I still don't trust Teamviewer to keep the functionality because the LAN functionailty is not a core feature. I like VNC because it is an open standard.

I also played with OpenCPN. It's a community project so I would generally favor it but I have found it easer to manage charts and NMEA data in Polar View. Polar View also tightly integrates Active Captain data. The Active Captain data is invaluable in US waters. I have considered moving to OpenCPN when I move out of US waters. The integration of MX Mariner and OpenCPN is certainly a plus.
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Old 01-15-2013
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Re: View PC navigation system on your Android device with no Internet

Shane.....I don't believe that full internet is required before you can operate on the LAN.

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Old 01-15-2013
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Re: View PC navigation system on your Android device with no Internet

Quote:
Originally Posted by shanedennis View Post
Thanks for the feedback. I want centralise the navigation system so I only have to plan a trip on the laptop and view/follow it on an Android device. I don't want to have to download charts and enter waypoints on two devices.

I tried several apps including Nuticharts on my Android. My two favorites are MX Mariner and Marine Traffic. However they are not integrated with my centralised navigation system (Polar View). They are nice supplementary tools.

I purchased both Navionics and Polar View and found Polar View less expensive and more comprehensive. For example, all NOAA charts can be easily downloaded and installed for free in Polar View. The grib manager makes overlaying weather info easy. Polar Com simplifies management of NMEA inputs.

For the record, I have no association with Polar Navy. I just like their products.

Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Tapatalk 2
Nice, and nice reasoning too. I shall have to look at Polarview myself.

Tom
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Old 01-15-2013
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Re: View PC navigation system on your Android device with no Internet

As for Android apps, I found that NutiCharts was a big battery drain. Even when I killed the app, it would keep re-launching a background process that would drain the battery. I uninstalled it.

For casual use, I like Marine Navigator. I tried the free Lite version and decided to buy the paid version. During my BVI charter last week, I used it on the dinghy at night to help find my boat at its mooring. I'd set a waypoint at the mooring before leaving to go ashore. For US users, it uses free RNC charts from NOAA, and I calibrated the highly accurate NGA raster charts for the BVI area, which I used with both Marine Navigator on the Android phone and on OpenCPN on the PC.

I have yet to find an Android or iOS app that accepts NMEA data from my AIS receiver. That will be a must before I move to a tablet based chart plotter. OpenCPN does this very nicely on my Netbook, but I've found nothing comparable for Android or iOS. Sorry, Marine Traffic does not count, because it is not navigation quality since it depends on an unreliable network of volunteer monitoring stations.

Plus, the MSI netbook has a very bright daylight viewable display, far brighter than any phone or tablet that I've seen. Fortunately, my protected river allows me to keep the cockpit very dry, so I have a RAM mount in the cockpit to hold the netbook.
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Last edited by TakeFive; 01-15-2013 at 11:06 PM.
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Old 01-17-2013
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I also found both Nuticharts and MX Mariner battery killers. And integrating all the Android apps with NMEA is expensive and a pain. Marine Traffic is a supplementary navigational tool at best, it needs an Internet connection for starters...

The navigation systems for PCs are much more mature. NMEA data can be easily integrated. VNC/Teamviewer allow you to view and have a little control your PC navigation system from an Android device. The centralization of the navigation system seems more efficient and less error prone than importing/exporting etc.

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Old 01-17-2013
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Re: View PC navigation system on your Android device with no Internet

Been using Polarview for a couple of years now. It's excellent. I use it on a netbook and my iPhone. I have a waterproof container for the netbook and all I really need to do is get a RAM mount to keep it in place.

Basically a backup system for the Garman chartplotter, which I'm kind of sorry I bought because of the screen size (441s).
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Last edited by carl762; 01-17-2013 at 06:10 PM.
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