My paper chart / existing non-chart-plotter gps, back up system. Used for route planning and back up system under way.
Old laptop (Dell Studio 1535) $0.00
8gb usb stick $10.00
GPS rcvr $45.90 (incl shipping)
Linux based OS $0.00
NOAA Raster charts
Total cost ~$56.00
How to install.
Connect laptop to internet.
Download NOAA charts and extract to directory you can easily find later. (30 min depending on your internet connection. See Notes below)
Download Navigatrix and follow instructions to install on USB stick as bootable device (15 minutes)
Setup laptop to boot from inserted USB device and reboot using USB stick.
Will not mess with your current OS. (5 min)
Plug in USB gps receiver. (30 sec)
In Navigatrix open Menu > Navigation > GPS-Panel to verify receiver is working
In Navigatrix open Menu > Navigation > OpenCpn
In OpenCpn open Options (Wrench Icon) > Display Make sure Enable Chart Quilting is checked
In OpenCpn Options switch to Charts > Loaded Charts Click on Add directory and maneuver to where you stored the extracted NOAA charts. Click on BSB_ROOT and then hit enter. Make sure "Scan Charts and Update Database is checked, then click apply. When DB is done thrashing around, click on OK.
Restart OpenCpn and click on "auto-follow" (Ship Icon)
You should see your current location on the appropriate chart. Zoom in if need be.
Total time ~ 30 minutes to install the base system.
GlobalSat USB GPS Rcvr Great little unit. Cheap and easy, its waterproof (IPV6) but mine works fine below decks on the chart table shooting through the fiberglass overhead. Your mileage may vary
Navigatrix This linux based OS has a great bunch of other apps that ship with it, and is designed as a marine operating system. While you can run it direct off the USB stick as above, it works better installed to the hard drive. Can be installed side by side with your existing OS (Window$) for dual boot. As it is a relatively new distro (based on Ubuntucore and Debian) it has some glitches, but support through the referenced website is good. Crew at Navigatrix is scattered worldwide from Europe to Panama to Fiji to Australia. All cruisers. Any problems or questions you can ask on the forum or PM myself. I probably won't be much help, but I can hook you up with the guru's.
NOAA Raster Charts These are the raster based (look like paper charts) offered by NOAA. On the page referenced in the above link, one of the first links you will see is for "ALL CHARTS" Current size around 2 gig includes all NOAA charts available. Optionally you can download zip files of a single Coast Guard district or a custom package of up to 20 files at a time. I downloaded em all as you never know where you might end up without a proper paper chart. These charts are updated weekly but as I usually rely on paper and the Mark-I eyeball twice a year is enough for me.
OpenCPN Only problem I have with OpenCPN it supports so many options, it can be a bit daunting to figure out. Good news is getting help is never a problem. Still learning myself.
Hope this helps someone looking for a minimal navigation system.