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ban3 09-12-2009 03:13 PM

GPS via cell phones
Does anyone know if there are any good products out there for navigating using cell phone based GPS? I'm thinking about buying a smart phone with built in GPS and would love if it could double for a handheld GPS unit on the boat.


ERICANDERSON 09-12-2009 04:20 PM

I have tried Active Captain. I like it and there are additional features halpful in finding anchorages, Marinas etc.

I'm not happy w. my cellphone in bright light - so for me it's a backup.

southshoreS24 09-12-2009 04:22 PM

i know navionics makes an iphone app that uses noaa charts. there are a few out there for blackberrys also.

bossk 09-12-2009 04:26 PM

I bought the Navionics software for my iPhone, I don't use it much as I have a proper chart plotter on the boat but it makes for a great backup, as long as you are in an area where your phones assisted GPS will actually work. I use the tide and current functions on it at work when I feel like planning an escape a fair bit too :) At $10 I'm happy with it.

negrini 09-12-2009 06:53 PM

Guys, do they provide charplotting capability on cell as well ?

CarpeDiemGators 09-12-2009 07:09 PM

Hey guys,
I just wanted to make sure you all keep in mind that the majority of cell phones which market "GPS" capability in fact do not use GPS (global positioning system) at all!

Nearly any cell phone can use cell phone tower triangulation to give a pretty descent approximation of where you are - my Palm Centro (great smartphone btw) using the Google Maps "My Location" functionality gives me position to about 1000 ft. However, this functionality does not work at all if you are not on land! This is because your cell phone radio is simply not strong enough to transmit to 3 different cell phone towers simultaneously when off shore. Also, the typical position accuracy of a real GPS is 10' or less - 100X better than cell phone triangulation.

That said, if you DO get a phone that has real GPS capability (it recieves signals from 6-10 sattelites orbiting the earth), you need to investigate if it can transmit the position information (via USB perhaps) to other devices (i.e. a PC). There are definitely plotting tools you can use if you can get the position info to a PC.... but realistically, the integrated plotting features of marine GPS units (i.e. Garmin) is probably worth it!

S/Y Carpe Diem
Wilmington, CA

negrini 09-12-2009 08:39 PM

Sean, iPhone, N95, N96, N97 and several other does use either GPS or tower triangulation, depending on your preference set for "my location" feature.These Nokias and Apple does track real GPS as well. The only drawback are they use a slow 5 channel receiver (I mean, slow locking), what make sometimes useless at town, but great for outdor. There are also several applications to track your speed that includes fixed radar inspection points that warns you as you get close. Also their screen suffice for an eventual use, and doesn't require a laptop at all (that's the good part) I'm an old Palm user, and don't regret the change ....

davidpm 09-13-2009 02:33 AM

Turning on certain extra fuctions on a iphone can use up the battery very fast.
It would be prudent to check battery usage before depending on it.

lynger1 09-13-2009 04:15 AM


Originally Posted by ban3 (Post 522017)
Does anyone know if there are any good products out there for navigating using cell phone based GPS? I'm thinking about buying a smart phone with built in GPS and would love if it could double for a handheld GPS unit on the boat.


I used on on my old boat
There is one on ebay could be of intrers for you
GPS + mobile Moter home Boat & Controller - eBay Electronics, Parts, Accessories, Boats, Watercraft, Cars, Bikes, Boats. (end time 23-Sep-09 09:43:41 AEST)

coppy link

sanderling 09-13-2009 05:21 AM

Iphone makes a great backup....good navigator as well?
There are a number of Apps for the iPhone that are generating great interest from mariners this year. (disclosure I work for Navionics). Feed back we have gotten is that at worst the Navionics App for Iphone makes a great back up, planning and route sharing tool. Navionics has spent 25 years optimizing vector charts for small screens so the iPhone match is a natural. Some actually consider it a bona fide hand held gps. The Iphone screen is great in sunlight,, the maps reside in the onboard memory. This fact along with the active gps reciever in the Iphone 3g models means that a cell signal is not necessary.
Caveats are that a good water-resistant or waterproof case is needed. I use an Otterbox. Also power management is tricky, (read short once the gps is turned on). Other companies to see are XTraverse by Fugawi and INav-X depending on the functionality you want.:)

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