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post #61 of 72 Old 12-19-2019
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Re: Charts and Chartplotters

No need to buy an expensive Bluetooth GPS transmitter. I know there are free apps for Android that do this, and I would hope that there are iOS ones too.

I keep an old Nexus 4 phone on the boat. It's not activated on any cellular network, but works fine as a Wifi device. On that phone I have some critical boating apps, such as a very good anchor alarm, a Bluetooth GPS app, and a Wifi diagnostic tool that I can be used to find an unused Wifi channel at the dock for my own marine router.

So if you have an old phone lying around (or your current active phone, if you prefer), I'd suggest getting an app to send the phone's GPS information out by Bluetooth.

If you want to buy a dedicated BT transmitter, the Globalsat ones get some decent reviews, though you should check for yourself because models change over time. I'm sure Garmin is fine, but you'll pay a lot more. If it has special proprietary features it may be worth it, but sending GPS NMEA sentences over Bluetooth SPP is pretty mundane and common, so not a whole lot of reason to spend big bucks for it.

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post #62 of 72 Old 12-22-2019
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Re: Charts and Chartplotters

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Originally Posted by smurphny View Post
Had the same experience with OpenCPN. It constantly crashed in earlier versions and I deleted it. Now it is my goto program...
OpenCPN has had a complex history, and not every version is a seamless upgrade. I usually spend the winter testing out the latest version at home, and will only put it into real-time action on the boat after I've confirmed reliability.

I believe that v4.0 was rock solid, and was built on WXwidgets v2 libraries. IIRC, for v4.2 they had to move to WXwidgets v3 and rewrite all the plugins, and there were numerous glitches. (That may have been the version you had problems with.) I never rolled that one out on my boat tablets. 4.6.1 and 4.8.4 were very solid for me.

This year's 5.0 version sports a totally different look, two-pane capability, and other nice features. It has some issues that I'm trying to get them to fix, but it was good enough for me to roll out on my boat this season. I also keep 4.8.4 available for route planning, since one of the glitches in 5.0 makes route planning more tedious. But the .gpx files exported from 4.8.4 work perfectly fine on 5.0.

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post #63 of 72 Old 12-23-2019
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Re: Charts and Chartplotters

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OpenCPN has had a complex history, and not every version is a seamless upgrade. I usually spend the winter testing out the latest version at home, and will only put it into real-time action on the boat after I've confirmed reliability.

I believe that v4.0 was rock solid, and was built on WXwidgets v2 libraries. IIRC, for v4.2 they had to move to WXwidgets v3 and rewrite all the plugins, and there were numerous glitches. (That may have been the version you had problems with.) I never rolled that one out on my boat tablets. 4.6.1 and 4.8.4 were very solid for me.

This year's 5.0 version sports a totally different look, two-pane capability, and other nice features. It has some issues that I'm trying to get them to fix, but it was good enough for me to roll out on my boat this season. I also keep 4.8.4 available for route planning, since one of the glitches in 5.0 makes route planning more tedious. But the .gpx files exported from 4.8.4 work perfectly fine on 5.0.
The evolution of a software product has an up and down side. Who wants to deal with a buggy product which is "in perpetual development"? ON the other hand upgrading it seems like a good thing. Fixed mount products don't seem to go thru this sort of evolution... and are more user friendly as in plug and play.

It seems now a days plotters and charting software are very robust packing in many features and becoming in a sense less user friendly / plug and play. I suppose this means that you are buying features and capabilities you many not use, need or want. This is in the nature of software which can do more and more. Look at how the mobile phone features evolved... from a portable phone to a hand held computer with www access and all manner of features not even seen on a desktop.

pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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post #64 of 72 Old 12-23-2019
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Re: Charts and Chartplotters

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The evolution of a software product has an up and down side. Who wants to deal with a buggy product which is "in perpetual development"? ON the other hand upgrading it seems like a good thing...
All programs, on every platform, have bugs. All good programs are in "perpetual development." In the vast majority of cases, those developments are needed improvements to respond to customer requests/expectations, as well as to address the unavoidable changes in new hardware and unavoidable changes to underlying OS software, drivers, and firmware.

One advantage of Open Source software like OpenCPN is that the prior versions of the program are always available. Nobody forces you to upgrade to the latest version. "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." This is very different from commercial software for computers, tablets, and phones, where the trend is increasingly for the software supplier to "push down" updates without giving the user any option to decline an update.

Freestanding chartplotters that are fully offline will never have forced updates in the background. Your 10 year old chartplotter will be exactly as it was when you bought it - including the 10 year old charts. And after 10 years, it is highly unlikely that chart updates for that chartplotter can be bought at any price (in my case, the memory card format for my Garmin 2010 is totally obsolete and unavailable). And one other thing is virtually guaranteed - a replacement chartplotter will not fit in the same hole you made for your prior chartplotter, and you'll need to buy a new Navpod. On the other hand, with OpenCPN I can update my charts yearly or monthly, and in the US the NOAA charts are free and very easily updated online.

FWIW, while I was sleeping last night Apple forced my iPhone to update to iOS 13. I had been staying with iOS 12 because I had heard that Garmin Bluecharts Mobile, which I had been very happy with, does not work under iOS 13. So when I woke this morning and saw the unexpected update, I immediately launched Bluecharts to test it, and sure enough, it's broken forever. Any program that is not in "perpetual development" is destined for end of life.
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Last edited by TakeFive; 12-23-2019 at 10:20 AM.
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post #65 of 72 Old 12-23-2019
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Re: Charts and Chartplotters

The a 10 year old unit working perfectly is quite powerful and maybe more than most need.

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post #66 of 72 Old 12-23-2019
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Re: Charts and Chartplotters

Quote:
Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
All programs, on every platform, have bugs. All good programs are in "perpetual development." In the vast majority of cases, those developments are needed improvements to respond to customer requests/expectations, as well as to address the unavoidable changes in new hardware and unavoidable changes to underlying OS software, drivers, and firmware.

One advantage of Open Source software like OpenCPN is that the prior versions of the program are always available. Nobody forces you to upgrade to the latest version. "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." This is very different from commercial software for computers, tablets, and phones, where the trend is increasingly for the software supplier to "push down" updates without giving the user any option to decline an update.

Freestanding chartplotters that are fully offline will never have forced updates in the background. Your 10 year old chartplotter will be exactly as it was when you bought it - including the 10 year old charts. And after 10 years, it is highly unlikely that chart updates for that chartplotter can be bought at any price (in my case, the memory card format for my Garmin 2010 is totally obsolete and unavailable). And one other thing is virtually guaranteed - a replacement chartplotter will not fit in the same hole you made for your prior chartplotter, and you'll need to buy a new Navpod. On the other hand, with OpenCPN I can update my charts yearly or monthly, and in the US the NOAA charts are free and very easily updated online.

FWIW, while I was sleeping last night Apple forced my iPhone to update to iOS 13. I had been staying with iOS 12 because I had heard that Garmin Bluecharts Mobile, which I had been very happy with, does not work under iOS 13. So when I woke this morning and saw the unexpected update, I immediately launched Bluecharts to test it, and sure enough, it's broken forever. Any program that is not in "perpetual development" is destined for end of life.
Rick,

You are much more a computer geek than the majority of us who really donít need continual updates or want to be bothered by them. I doubt the area we sail in has had that many changes in the topography which will affect us. The stand alone MFD of course will suffer from becoming newer in terms of advanced programs. These changes really donít warrant the inconvience of having a computer at my helm.

I certainly can see their advantage at my nav station and am trying to figure out the open CPN during my current down time. I certainly am not computer illiterate , but I must tell you itís not a plug and play program, and to even have tides and AIS it appears a need for other programs. Does radar display on the open CPM chart?
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post #67 of 72 Old 12-23-2019
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Re: Charts and Chartplotters

Predicted tides and currents are built into the program at all the NOAA/USCG stations. Click the button and you'll see arrows that show the present level/speed/direction prediction. Click/tap on the arrows and you'll see a forecast for other times/days. There's also an included plugin, OTcurrent, that will show current vectors for future dates on the chart - very nice for planning your timing through the C&D canal and through the Delaware Bay. This is all built into the program - you just need to learn how to do it.

AIS display does not need another program. You do need to connect the signal wires from your AIS receiver, but you also need to do that for a dedicated chartplotter. A small level of complication is added since computers no longer have serial ports. Best way is generally a serial-USB adapter or serial-Bluetooth adapter. On OpenCPN you do need to set up a connection with

I've never worked with radar, but I understand that there are free plugins available for the various brands/models of radar that will overlay the display on the chart.

I agree, and have stated on this thread, that many people walk away from OpenCPN because they can't configure it. It's a global program for displaying information. That information varies for different people, especially for charts in different regions. In the US NOAA provides easily downloadable charts that are 100% free, and the Chart Downloader plugin has made that even easier. Still, many don't want to hassle with this and will just buy a freestanding chartplotter and be done with it. That's fine for those who don't want the hassle.

A "computer at the helm" is not really needed. I have an 8" Windows tablet (less than 1/4" thick) mounted which works great. I've been tempted to just velcro it onto my chartplotter cover, but I like the rotating RAM mount so I can view it sitting in my transom seats, which is where I usually sit while underway.

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Re: Charts and Chartplotters

We have tablets....but they donít show the radar on the chart.....


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post #69 of 72 Old 12-23-2019
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Re: Charts and Chartplotters

Interfacing radar with OpenCPN will require some wiring and setting of communication parameters, just as it would for any MFD.

https://opencpn.org/OpenCPN/plugins/radarPI.html

Quote:
Note: Radar PI replaces GRradar, GXRadar, and Navico Radar plugins for OpenCPN ver 5.0 and up.
This plugin overlays the radar picture on OpenCPN. A versatile plugin that can be easily adapted to most broadband radars.

Support for OpenCPN V 5.0 and multi canvas with simultaneous overlay of two different radars.
Revised multi radar type architecture.
Adding a new radar only requires radar knowledge and can reuse the existing display technology.
Support for four simultaneously active radars. Multiple brands can be mixed.

Display and UI:
Real time true motion image
Multi canvas support with simultaneous overlay of two different radars
Look forward and look aft in radar windows
Dragging and zooming in radar windows
Performance and stability improvements
Radar support
Garmin HD and xHD radar support. Navico ďnewĒ 3G support.
Older 3G radars are still supported via the BR24 type.
Navico HALO-3, HALO-4, HALO-6 and HALO24 support

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post #70 of 72 Old 12-23-2019
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Re: Charts and Chartplotters

Given the expense of a MFD versus a tablet or laptop believe vendors are becoming more sensitive to allow heritage models a longer effective functional life. As time goes on they realize their market share will decrease faster if they donít so they are incentivized to do so.
Personally find having radar, AIS, current depths (i. e community edits) most helpful at landfalls in new to me places. Find most coastal can be done line of sight with very little resorting to a screen. Have sailed whole seasons both in the BVIs and Massachusetts Bay without looking at any screen. Would turn stuff on periodically to make sure it still worked but didnít feel the need to use it. Same old-same old. Of course offshore you can look at the screen(s) less often.
So any navigational aid is there to lower your stress, make you safer and get you where you want to go. Donít see the updates (other than charts) as serving those functions. Would wish commercial and government interests would continue to allow heritage software and hardware to have access to up to date charts

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