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Old 03-01-2014
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Chart plotter or IPad

I've been using my old 3GS iPhone with navionics for navigation also my old Garmin gps map76 as a back up. I'm now considering a larger screen option because I now need glasses to view both. People I talk to have mixed opinions some say Ipad because you can do more than just chart plotting which I totally agree with. Others say chart plotter because everything can network on one unit, radar, sonar, AIS, autopilot and Dsc which I agree with also. After looking at the new Garmin 741 touch screen and pinch to zoom it's obvious that they feeling the pressure to make these more like tablets. Is it possible to network the ipad with all other electronics or is it still in the works, someone has to be working on an app for that?
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Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

I actually use both. Have a dedicated chartplotter at the helm, plus utilise an ipad with Plan2nav app running the nav software. Biggest limitation with the ipad is that it is not waterproof. I have a waterproof bag that I keep it in, however then you cannot connect charges and cables, which means it will only run for 6-8 hours. The ipad is great for zooming in and not needing glasses. However, due to the waterproof issue I only use it as a backup and the chartplotter is the item driving the boat.

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Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ilenart View Post
... Biggest limitation with the ipad is that it is not waterproof ...
Ilenart
And daylight visibility is poor.

I also run both a chartplotter and IPad (for route planning only). That said, the industry generally does a poor job supporting waypoint/route sync between different brands / applications.
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Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

I am seeing fewer and fewer reasons to buy a chartplotter with every year that goes by. NMEA capable instruments and AIS can be networked to a tablet with relatively inexpensive wifi multiplexer. I have not had issues with sunlight visibility. Water resistance is not that difficult to accomplish. I just use a ziplock and if I want to plug in just make sure the cord is routed out the bottom with a drip loop. The big advantages to a tablet are free or inexpensive chart updates, non-US chart add-ons are much cheaper, the screen size, and the multitude of other uses the device can have when not sailing. Also the price is a big advantage considering a chartplotter with a 10" screen costs as much as 3 or 4 4G enabled iPad airs. The main shortcoming of a tablet at this point is radar. I believe the only options for getting radar on a tablet are to either buy a wifi enabled chartplotter and link it to the tablet (which defeats the purpose) or to use a windows tablet running OpenCPN with a radar display plugin (which is not officially supported by the radar manufacturers). This can also be gotten around by just using a standalone radar system.
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Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

Quote:
Originally Posted by 4arch View Post
I am seeing fewer and fewer reasons to buy a chartplotter with every year that goes by. NMEA capable instruments and AIS can be networked to a tablet with relatively inexpensive wifi multiplexer. I have not had issues with sunlight visibility. Water resistance is not that difficult to accomplish. I just use a ziplock and if I want to plug in just make sure the cord is routed out the bottom with a drip loop. The big advantages to a tablet are free or inexpensive chart updates, non-US chart add-ons are much cheaper, the screen size, and the multitude of other uses the device can have when not sailing. Also the price is a big advantage considering a chartplotter with a 10" screen costs as much as 3 or 4 4G enabled iPad airs. The main shortcoming of a tablet at this point is radar. I believe the only options for getting radar on a tablet are to either buy a wifi enabled chartplotter and link it to the tablet (which defeats the purpose) or to use a windows tablet running OpenCPN with a radar display plugin (which is not officially supported by the radar manufacturers). This can also be gotten around by just using a standalone radar system.
Ok so how do you get an ipad to recieve NMEA data from an autopilot or AIS and what's a wifi multiplexer?
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Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

Love the iPad's overall capabilities aboard. However, a hard wired chartplotter is the most appropriate primary nav tool. That said, I have needed to pull the ipad out when my plotter went belly up.
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Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

I started using the iPad (3rd gen, GPS) last season. It's not networked, but was running as a full chart plotter (iNavX running Navionics charts) I bought a fully waterproof protective case, which worked flawlessly. I also have RAM mount bracket that worked with the case.

Our main chart plotter is a Garmin handheld (76CSx).

The iPad worked well. The big screen was definitely nice, and the charts are good. However, the screen is hard to view in bright sun -- direct sun makes it virtually impossible. The other major drawback was battery draw. Running the iPad with a full bright screen (to make it more viable in bright sunlight) while running the GPS sucked the battery down quite fast.

We could work around this most of these issues but what we found over the season was that we used the iPad less and less, and went back to the Garmin. The Garmin is just a better tool as a cockpit GPS chart plotter -- at least for us.

The iPad made a great backup for us. And I can see mounting it at the chart table instead of in the cockpit. This would allow you to plug it into the house battery (via a DC plug), and solve all viewing problems. I am very interested in setting up a wifi network to share NMEA data (AIS, GPS, etc). This is looking increasingly easy. But for us, I found the old handheld to be better for cockpit use.
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Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

I use the iPad too. I use iNavx, iSailor, Navionics, WindAlert, BayBuoy, etc. The point is that the convenience of having everything in one place can't be matched with a chart plotter. I'm ambivalent about having the chart plotter in my face at the wheel because I believe that instruments belong where the crew can see them. So I keep the iPad at the chart table and don't worry about water. I too have a bag that I may use outside. What I do find most useful is having an iPhone with the same software in my pocket for navigating harbor entrances.

Since our family uses the iPad on land and on the boat, it's highly versatile and meets the need, even during endurance sailing (30+ hours sailing & racing). I prefer to save the money that I'd spend on a chart plotter and use it on better rigging and sails.
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Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainRahnn View Post
I've been using my old 3GS iPhone with navionics for navigation also my old Garmin gps map76 as a back up. I'm now considering a larger screen option because I now need glasses to view both...
I think that you should keep your gpsmap76 for rainy day use, and for dry conditions consider an iPad, though I'd also encourage you to consider other tablets (Win8, Android) unless you are 100% invested in iOS with your phone. Part of the benefit of using a tablet is the ease with which you can move route, track, and waypoint data between a computer at home (where I do the vast majority of my planning on the nice, big screen) and the tablet that you will use on the boat. IMO, iOS is too closed a system to move the data effectively. Win8 and Android offer you much easier options for sharing data via gpx files, for instance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WoobaGooba View Post
And daylight visibility is poor...
I agree that one needs to be careful to select a tablet that his strong backlighting and good gamut. But the brightest ones out there (iPad, Lenovo Miix2 8", Nexus 7) are equal to many turnkey chartplotters that I have seen. You can also purchase matte finish screen protectors, if reflections are a problem for you.

You should also install a 12v socket in your cockpit, so you can run the tablets at full brightness without losing battery life. I wired a 12v pigtail through my steering pedestal, back to my battery.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WoobaGooba View Post
...the industry generally does a poor job supporting waypoint/route sync between different brands / applications.
I have had no problem transferring things between Android, Windows, and my Garmin handheld via gpx file format. I've also succeeded at transferring NMEA data via RS232, USB, Bluetooth, and WiFi.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to transfer any data in/out of my iPad. What I do in iPad, stays in iPad. Maybe other software would do better, but I moved on to more flexible options.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4arch View Post
I am seeing fewer and fewer reasons to buy a chartplotter with every year that goes by...
I agree. Phones and tablets could make chartplotters obsolete just like they have done for dedicated car GPSs.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4arch View Post
...AIS can be networked to a tablet with relatively inexpensive wifi multiplexer...
I would be interested in what mux you use. All of the ones that I have seen are pricey. I'd like to consider one if it's at the right price. Brookhouse's website has no price list, and my emailed request for quote has gone unanswered for over 6 weeks.

Up to now, I have avoided this issue by sending each instrument signal to my computer separately via multiple COM ports. USB/Serial converters are dirt cheap, so you can do a lot of them for very little money. Bluetooth/Serial converters (which I use) are a little more expensive.

These inexpensive options are vastly greater working with a Windows laptop, netbook, or tablet, because all the chartplotter software supports data inputs via emulated COM port. Most also support WiFi. iOS (iPad) severely restricts your options for this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4arch View Post
...The big advantages to a tablet are free or inexpensive chart updates, non-US chart add-ons are much cheaper, the screen size, and the multitude of other uses the device can have when not sailing. Also the price is a big advantage considering a chartplotter with a 10" screen costs as much as 3 or 4 4G enabled iPad airs...
SO TRUE. For US sailors, I also like the ability to use real NOAA charts, downloaded directly from NOAA's website, and updated for free as often as you want. This eliminates the delays and costs in updating proprietary chartplotters, and also the transcription errors when the chartplotter company copies over NOAA's information.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 4arch View Post
...I believe the only options for getting radar on a tablet are to either buy a wifi enabled chartplotter and link it to the tablet (which defeats the purpose) or to use a windows tablet running OpenCPN with a radar display plugin (which is not officially supported by the radar manufacturers)...
More and more I am hearing "that can only be done by using OpenCPN." That software just gets better and better, and has totally displaced Garmin HomePort and iPad Bluecharts for planning trips. And it's totally free! It is so nice to fire up OpenCPN on my big-screen home computer for planning, and transfer the routes to my tablet running OpenCPN in the cockpit. I also transfer them to the Garmin handheld, so I have the exact same routes on everything. And it's nice to know that my routes on the handheld were actually plotted using NOAA's charts - that eliminates most of the concerns that I have over Garmin's inaccuracies in their charts.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptainRahnn View Post
Ok so how do you get an ipad to recieve NMEA data from an autopilot or AIS and what's a wifi multiplexer?
Actually, you want to send data from the chartplotter to the autopilot, not from AP to tablet. The AP can use incoming route, location, and speed information to steer the boat.

The WiFi mux is about the only way to get the data into the iPad. For Windows or Android, you can get data in/out via Bluetooth. For Windows, you could do it by USB, as I described above (maybe Android too, not sure about driver support). The older NMEA 0183 standard is very easy to do on Windows, because it aligns very well with the old RS232 COM ports that Windows/DOC have supported for 30 years. Windows has adapted to USB and Bluetooth by emulating COM in the OS, which takes a lot of the headaches out of it.
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Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

I also wanted to share some pics of the RAM mount setup that I have in my cockpit. First, this pic shows the 10" netbook that I have used for the past 3 years. You can see the Garmin handheld also there, always running and recording my tracks. But because the netbook shows AIS output, and I always have a lot of large ships around, I pretty much use the computer display exclusively:



One of the benefits of a Windowing environment is that you can run the chartplotter program twice, with different areas showing, or the same area at different zoom levels. iPads, Androids, and most turnkey chartplotters cannot do this:



Here is my brand new tablet, on my still-covered boat. It's brighter than my netbook (which was already plenty bright for outdoor use), longer battery life, higher resolution, more compact, and easier to waterproof if I need to. You'll note in the pictures that I can also orient it in portrait or landscape mode, depending whether I want longer range to the sides or to the front/back. Also, the RAM mount will pivot 360 degrees around the base, so I can aim the tablet at me no matter where I am sitting in the cockpit. It interfaces with the navigation equipment via Bluetooth, just like my netbook did:





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