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  #1  
Old 07-26-2007
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21st century technology on a shoestring budget

Sure, I'd love to have all of the newest chart plotters, sonar, radar, and super-giga-band radios, But after paying the boatyard, Interlux, and West Marine for project supplies I've found myself a little short on cash. Last night I was introduced to Google Earths real-time GPS tracking capabilities and also how to create nautical chart overlays. The result was awesome! I found the interface to be infinitely more appealing and user friendly than any of the navigation software/hardware I have seen so far.

What I would like to know is what other new technologies have Sailnet users found, both software and hardware, that make there journeys pleasant and safe. I have read a little about digital vhf transmissions that contain a ships heading, velocity, etc and I was wondering if there is a way to interface this into Google Earth, or another pc application. I'd like to hear about the emerging technology and "hacks" available to the twenty first century sailor.
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Old 07-26-2007
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Google earth has realtime GPS tracking capabilities?!? How are you going to get wi-fi on your boat? Have they started putting depths on google earth sat photos? And listing nav aids and shipping channels?

Download free raster charts from noaa and get an inexpensive plotting software for your laptop. You will still need at least an inexpensive handheld gps and a usb cable for it but that's about as cheap as it gets.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yotphix View Post
Google earth has realtime GPS tracking capabilities?!?
Yes, Google Earth (Plus & Pro versions) accepts NMEA signals through a USB connection from a GPS unit. And while many people do not have broadband at sea it is possible to load a large cache of Google Earth maps onto your hard drive for use offline.

Here are some screenshots of the chart overlay I made. This is the first one I've done and I expect to be a able to create a better overlay after some practice.

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Originally Posted by yotphix View Post
Have they started putting depths on google earth sat photos? And listing nav aids and shipping channels?
I'm not sure, this is exactly the kind of information I am looking for. Ad-ons and plugins for Google Earth as well as other up-and-coming nav tech.
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Old 07-26-2007
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The biggest drawback with using Googe Earth is the need for broadband. Personally, I prefer regular charthing software, as it gives me all the info I need, backed up with paper charts.

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www.seaclear.net is a FREE charting program. No documentation so it takes a bit of learning to get it figured out, but it is free. Plus all the charts are free from the US gov't.
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Patrick..........where do you get these chart overlays and how do you actually mount them onto google earth......thanx
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Old 07-26-2007
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www.seaclear.net is a FREE charting program. No documentation so it takes a bit of learning to get it figured out, but it is free. Plus all the charts are free from the US gov't.
Thanks a thousand times over!

Here is a URL to go with that to get the free raster charts:

http://chartmaker.ncd.noaa.gov/

I just got detailed charts of my local stomping grounds. Amazing! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

BTW, my downloaded copy of the program did include good documentation.

Last edited by MysticSkipper; 07-26-2007 at 09:39 AM.
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Old 07-26-2007
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This is exactly why I am waiting until 2009 to finalize my navigation electronics purchases. I encountered a middle-aged voyaging couple yesterday (they'd been "out" a number of years, and their boat looks like it) who used an SSB set just for reception, not transmission. When I asked why, they said that paper charts and careful monitoring got them a great deal of weather and local conditions information, and that even in fairly remote places, WiFi was almost always available. They were mulling over getting an Iridium phone, but seemed to find the SSB/mail/Pactor combo unnecessary, because they had both GSM and timecode cellphones, a VHF and an SSB to receive cruiser net info. They said NAVTEX reception was frequently poor in the real world, however.

Sway will appreciate that the only place their tech choices failed them was in Cuba, where WiFi and cell coverage don't appear to exist.

My own inclination is somewhat opposite in that I want full transceiver operation of an SSB for weatherfax and slow data transmit, and might consider a satphone strictly as a backup, because the charges are high, the coverage is spotty in places, and as a "modem", they are very pricey.

Hearing from actual current voyagers that WiFi is becoming ubiquitous was of great interest to me. I don't think it will alter my plans much, but it's certainly an argument in favour of getting or making a directional, boosted WiFi antenna so that you can get Internet connectivity out in the anchoring grounds from a marina on shore.
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Old 07-26-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xort View Post
www.seaclear.net is a FREE charting program. No documentation so it takes a bit of learning to get it figured out, but it is free. Plus all the charts are free from the US gov't.
Thanks for the program link, very cool. Loaded it on my laptop and it works great.
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Val,
Thanks for the unsolicited testimonial, I think.(g) You're great, man.
Sat phone. I agree on the cost being ungodly, especially voice. Data could be justifiable. I had not heard, nor have I experienced, spotty coverage. Areas? I will say this for them, the voice reception is phenomenal. It's like calling your bedroom from the kitchen, without the phone company switching station, except you're talking to an operator in NY from the Indian Ocean. Landlines don't compare.
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