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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well I waited and at Boaters World the Garmin GPSMAP 545 I have been wanting finally fell to an acceptable price, so I bought it! That was 3 days ago I think.

Last night I hooked it up to a power supply and fired it up, navigated myself over to my marina and... Hm... There is a nun missing, and these have the wrong numbers... Turns out the charts are about 4 or so years old.

Downloaded the software update from Garmin. Lots of new capabilities but the charts are still old.

Called Garmin. In July they expect to have new charts available. For the tiny little price of $75 (after I pay $200 and get credited back $125 when I return the $12 SD card) I can get updated charts. Will the updates be current? The guy was not sure.

Or I can buy the G2 ot the G2 Vision card, one for $170 and the other for $300ish, but he is not sure if those cards have the updated charts.

So the bottom line is that I have to pay $75 or more to use a GPS Chartplotter I bought two days ago that has 4+ year old charts...

Having bought it at Boaters world, I can't even return it!

I'm sure many will disagree, and I know there is a cost to producing charts, but I feel that in a unit I just bought, I should get current charts at no extra cost :mad:

Okay, done ranting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Nuts! Does it allow you to update the chart display yourself?
I can set way points, but I don't want to compare the new chart to the old chart and make changes. There are depths, rocks, zombies... Although I doubt the torpedo testing area has moved.
 

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Telstar 28
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Proprietary electronic charts tend to be a bit further out of date than the government ones. You'd probably have this same issue with almost any chartplotter with pre-loaded charts on it.
 

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Sea Slacker
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My Garmin 3210 came preloaded with charts. This was 2 years ago and there was no update ever since. Comparing Garmin charts with NOAA ENC's (in the area which I know by heart now) shows that things are out of date and, in general, their charts are anywhere from 2 to 5 years old.

Garmin makes money selling charts, so they have zero incentive giving you an updated set of charts for free. It would appear therefore that whatever charts come preloaded - that's what will be available, and anything newer than that has to be purchased.

Vote with your wallet - chose products that use official free NOAA charts :) It will save you a ton of money in the long run (I know I will do that going forward, but I have a vested interest in chart products :) )
 

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Vote with your wallet - chose products that use official free NOAA charts :) It will save you a ton of money in the long run (I know I will do that going forward, but I have a vested interest in chart products :) )
What chart plotters use the free NOAA charts?

BTW I have never seen a big need to run out and update my charts every time they make a change. The BOTTOM, ROCKS, LEDGES and things that matter when you hit them don't change often unless you are talking sand bars at inlets and even then there is NO chart that can be trusted...

Yes cans & nuns change constantly and no matter how up to date you think you are the big ship will come and move or replace one the next week and you're back to sq 1 all over again. No matter how out of date my charts are Basket Island Ledge is still there and has not moved for, oh, about a thousand years or more...
 

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Computers with charting software for one.
Those are computers not dedicated chart plotters that were designed for the ocean environment.

It's also 5-10 amps vs. .6 amps, poor daylight vis unless you spend HUGE money on a daylight readable waterproof secondary display that can be used at the helm etc. etc........ I'll take the 13 year proven reliability of my plotters any day over the laptop and I do keep one on board but would never personally rely on one as my "plotter". :D

In 13 years of using GPS plotters I have had two failures and that was a poor antenna design by Raymarine not the plotter that same antenna too out the internal Sea Talk buss those were my two failures all at one time.

In 13 years with laptops I have had thousands of dollars worth of repairs & failures across every imaginable brand including Mac. Hard drive failures, crashes, blue screens of death, etc. etc...;)
 

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Sea Slacker
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What chart plotters use the free NOAA charts?

BTW I have never seen a big need to run out and update my charts every time they make a change. The BOTTOM, ROCKS, LEDGES and things that matter when you hit them don't change often unless you are talking sand bars at inlets and even then there is NO chart that can be trusted...

Yes cans & nuns change constantly and no matter how up to date you think you are the big ship will come and move or replace one the next week and you're back to sq 1 all over again. No matter how out of date my charts are Basket Island Ledge is still there and has not moved for, oh, about a thousand years or more...
True, this is why I sail here with the same old Garmin chart. But, as a case in point, the same chart was wrong immediately after purchase about shoals at the entrance to Alligator River in NC (and boy did we run aground - that was one grounding I'll never forget). Stuff happens.

The laptop with chart software is a proper answer but, as you mentioned, it has in general a number of issues:
1) Getting right hardware is difficult even for a specialist (and even more difficult for a regular user). Chartplotter makers take the complexity out of hardware selection and provide a convenient package (and because they are hardware "makers", they enjoy prices that a consumer does not in general, though they don't always pass those prices on).

2) Software stability is an issue because I am yet to see anyone that ever actually dedicated a laptop just to navigation. There is always a temptation to use the laptop for many other things, install a bunch of software and in general bring it to the same condition in which an average computer finds itself (i.e. unstable and loaded with crap). Again, because users simply cannot do that to a chartplotter - plotters are "safe".

3) To compare apples to apples, it is worth remembering that a smallest laptop screen is about 12" diagonal. My chartplotter is presumably 10" diagonal and it is the largest unit Garmin sells (and about as large as plotters get). That affects both usability and power usage (after all primary power users in a computer are a display, a CPU and a hard drive when spinning). However, the numbers are not SO different. My plotter takes about 0.5-0.8 amp. My laptops (a number of different ones connected via inverter) - 1.5 - 2 amp (though it may peak a bit more on occasion). Energy use of a laptop can be easily lowered with proper hardware selection and proper power adapter.

That said, although all these problems "can be solved" clearly someone needs to do the solving because consumers are not generally willing or able to do so (and chart plotter makers are not willing to use free charts precisely because consumers will keep buying their products and then their charts) :)
 

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Retired and happy
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In 13 years with laptops I have had thousands of dollars worth of repairs & failures across every imaginable brand including Mac. Hard drive failures, crashes, blue screens of death, etc. etc...;)
Ah, well. I guess the response to the original issue depends on the nature of one's experience! I have had several laptops over the past 20 years (personal and work), none of which have failed. Presently, I use a Garmin 76 GPS linked to an Acer Netbook (great buy - very clear screen and superbly portable) for the boat, with SeaClear software and NOAA charts (both of which cost nothing) and I am very pleased with the performance of the whole package. I do have to be careful with the laptop and make sure it doesn't get wet, but that hasn't proved to be a problem, even in very rough conditions, with some forward planning.

Stuart
 

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the pointy end is the bow
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Those are computers not dedicated chart plotters that were designed for the ocean environment.

It's also 5-10 amps vs. .6 amps, poor daylight vis unless you spend HUGE money on a daylight readable waterproof secondary display that can be used at the helm etc. etc........ I'll take the 13 year proven reliability of my plotters any day over the laptop and I do keep one on board but would never personally rely on one as my "plotter". :D

In 13 years of using GPS plotters I have had two failures and that was a poor antenna design by Raymarine not the plotter that same antenna too out the internal Sea Talk buss those were my two failures all at one time.

In 13 years with laptops I have had thousands of dollars worth of repairs & failures across every imaginable brand including Mac. Hard drive failures, crashes, blue screens of death, etc. etc...;)
Different strokes for different folks. I keep a computer on board too, along with two separate GPS systems and I wouldn't rely on any of them either. What I rely on is paper charts and the knowledge to use them when the power goes out. The electronic stuff just makes it easy while the power is still on.
 

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.....Vote with your wallet - chose products that use official free NOAA charts :) It will save you a ton of money in the long run (I know I will do that going forward, but I have a vested interest in chart products :) )

What chartplotter is that?
 

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Sea Slacker
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What chartplotter is that?
see my reply to Maine Sail above ;) no current chartplotter maker will let you do that - charts are their bread and butter and they will charge you because they can. In fact, there is a move among software plotters in the same direction, unfortunately (but, fortunately, there are many choices out there so they can't just all defect to proprietary charts).

Incidentally, I am working on a simple, reliable embedded system that will work as a basis for a "soft plotter" (but avoids at least some of the pitfalls of production notebooks). This is my pet project, not really part of our navigation software products (so it takes pretty darn low priority as these things go).

Personally, I prefer to pay once upfront to being nickeled and dimed to death.
 

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Telstar 28
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He's working on developing a new electronic charting program that uses ENC charts called PolarView.
What chartplotter is that?
 

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Home brewed system

I'm working on a total home brewed system. A laptop running windows XP black (a trimmed down version of XP) with Sea Clear II (free), a USB GSP antenna, an AIS reciever and a second remote display with mouse at the wheel. I could drive by display alone but I'm not that stupid. Also with the Sea Clear II software (Free) you can print all the NOAA charts you need (free) I keep a couple on hand for the area I sail in and mark them up all I want. I do work in iT so I have an advantage putting this all together but I also believe that paper charts and the knowledge to use them comes first. :puke
I just love this guy.
 

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one important point for any navigation computer is touch screen. mouse is not a great choice for convenience reasons. touchpad is usable, but being able to just point at things on screen is so much more convenient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I understand that electronic chart preparation costs Garmin money, but it seems that charts should be as current as possible at least at the time of purchase. I think they said that there has not yet been an update for this unit. I was just surprised and annoyed.

As for the PC solution, there are industrial PCs available that are somewhat hardened and have reduced power requirements. There are also LCD displays available that can withstand harsh environments. I was thinking of building one up fro the boat some day, of course this all has to follow bottom painting, dead light rebedding, leak plugging, head replacing, vent fixing...

I suppose i was a little hard on Garmin, but it was just one more expense I didn't expect in a long stream of them :(
 

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Garmin making their own charts is like a butcher making his own bandsaw. Surely they buy charts from specialists? If they don't they should. Then they can be as current as anyone else.

FWIW, I also opted to go the notebook route. I have a dedicated notebook on the boat that has the nav stuff on it (Maxsea and C-Maps), MS Office for boat papers, certificates and other printed stuff and basically storage for photos. And that's it. So far no problems with it and I plan on (one day) duplicating the display that I built into my chart table up on deck.

A touch screen sounds really like the answer up on deck but I don't know that I want expensive kit in the cockpit. I'll stick to the "donated" display and a $50 wireless mouse.:p I can't even conceptualise spending $Gazillion on a plotter.

To me this stuff is really just toys so if it stops working once in a while, well, that's not the end of the world. On a long voyage I don't bother with the toys, I switch the GPS on twice a day for a few minutes to update the paper chart and keep a decent DR going. If everything electronic stops working I go on from there the using old ways.
 

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Telstar 28
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I understand that electronic chart preparation costs Garmin money, but it seems that charts should be as current as possible at least at the time of purchase. I think they said that there has not yet been an update for this unit. I was just surprised and annoyed.
They're actually a lot better about trying to keep hardware and software updates for even their older equipment available.

As for the PC solution, there are industrial PCs available that are somewhat hardened and have reduced power requirements. There are also LCD displays available that can withstand harsh environments. I was thinking of building one up fro the boat some day, of course this all has to follow bottom painting, dead light rebedding, leak plugging, head replacing, vent fixing...
Have you priced these harsh environment capable LCD screens that are daylight readable... you can't buy one for much less than the price of that Garmin chartplotter, never mind the fact that you'd still have to build and harden the computer and make it reliable enough to run in the cockpit, in the pouring rain...with salt water spray hitting it occasionally.

I suppose i was a little hard on Garmin, but it was just one more expense I didn't expect in a long stream of them :(
Ummm...you own a boat. Sailing is not inexpensive as hobbies go... and it beats not having a boat IMHO.
 
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