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Good, inexpensive, chart plotter

4620 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  harbin2
I'm guilty of taking more than I give to this forum (I get alot and just give a little).

I am fairly new to Marine GPS. I tend to be fairly technical but I'm also frugal. I have a smart phone that has GPS and I recently downloaded the software and purchased (for $20) the charts (midatlantic and Chesapeake) from a website called "Active Captain". I have been out twice now and I am very impressed with the software. I think part of my being pleased is that the software was written with my phone in mind but I'm sure it will work with any Windows Mobile smartphone. I have no stock or aquaintance with anyone who markets the software or phones.
I have an older Garmin Mariner GPS - it works but is limited. I have tried Maptechs PC based trial software on my laptop (with the Free NOAA charts I've downloaded). I like it but it has limitations (it IS free). I have also tried SeaClear2 but had some trouble with it (again - free).
I'm still planning on getting a new (or used Garmin 76cx) but I'd like to see them work the bugs out of the new new handhelds first.
But, for anyone looking for a backup, the Active Captain software is really fantastic.
Islander 30 Bahama
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What smartphone will this app work for? I have a Windows Mobile based HTC Dual Touch.
I have the htc tilt. I think the key is the operating system. But the software seems designed for the buttons at the bottom of the phone - for zooming, centering you location, changing charts, etc. I have had the phone for about a year and a half.
What smartphone will this app work for? I have a Windows Mobile based HTC Dual Touch.
ActiveCaptain Mobile will work on any Windows Mobile Professional (touchscreen) device with version 5.0 or later. There is a free trial and 70 page user manual available for checking it out.

Disclaimer: I'm totally biased. I wrote the software.
I just went to check out, looks great! I'm trying out the palm OS version, but the "X" looks interesting - is it something you have to be online for or can local data be stored on a laptop?
Well, I'm in love with my iPhone and NAVIONICS version for my area. It's simply exactly the same charting I have on my E120 at cockpit, for just 10 bucks (I spent 200 for teh half of coverage on E120!!!). I had the 76Cx for a few days, and these old eyes that hereby wirtes this post, can't afford those tinny images the little display provide, then representative kindly replaced it by a Garmin 276C. Ok, somewhat bulky, but I'm very happy with display size and resolution.
X will require an Internet connection when used in a browser. There's an offline version of it coming too - one of the reasons for switching to "X". It'll work on Mac, Windows, and Linux. It allows regions of charts to be downloaded with all associated ActiveCaptain data. You can still make updates and when you get an Internet connection there's a sync button to upload your changes and download everything else new.

I use the Navionics iPhone apps too. I bought one and they gave me one. It's pretty nice - I do use it. The tide and current display is worth it for that alone. I personally like raster charts especially since my helm has all vector data - it's good to sometimes see the official data (if in the US). iNavX is pretty good for that - I have it too. all of the iPhone products seem a bit immature today but they'll certainly develop. There's nothing better than competition for us cruisers!
ActiveCaptain Mobile will work on any Windows Mobile Professional (touchscreen) device with version 5.0 or later. There is a free trial and 70 page user manual available for checking it out.

Disclaimer: I'm totally biased. I wrote the software.
As long as you state the disclaimer...I think it's very cool to have the software author aboard.;)
I have both applications too!
I have Active Captain on my Samsung Omnia (required extra external memory) and I have Navionics on my iPod (no GPS). The iPod has a better sunlight readable screen than my Samsung but my Samsung has GPS.
I find that the Navionics on my iPod really sucks down the battery power as does any graphics program but it is still usefull for reference. I mostly use the iPod on trips for wireless internet access to weather reports. The Samsung omnia must be kept away from any bright sun to be readable and I am a bit disappointed with the display in that regard, but it does do a lot of other stuff I like.
I also have the Garmin handheld GPS Map76CS with all charts loaded and also find the display a bit small so I am also in the market for a bigger display unit at a reasonable cost. The phone units are a nice to have and are usefull for what they are, but for navigating in the cockpit nothing beats a big display. I am thinking 7" diagonal as the ideal screen size. Not sure I will stay with Garmin charts though, I'll look at alternatives first.
The phone based software is really nice for impulse spur of the moment trip planning, wether at work or play or travel or at the dinner table, you can look up something on your charts no matter where/when you are. Very awesome!
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The only need for an internet connection is to access the Active Captain site for marina and anchorage info. I don't pay the $30 per month fee for the connection so I don't have that feature when navigating. But my phone has wifi so can access it at home or at the marina and that is all I need anyway. I too have found that leaving the software running really drains the phone battery. But I believe it is the power needed for the unit to continually be searching for satellites.
To be frank, I'm still not convinced of the need for GPS. Just got back into sailing a year ago and had no interest at all. But my Garmin Etrex Mariner got me out of the fog once and I do like playing with the thing in light air. But to me, it's a distraction to sailing. But when most of your sailing is line of site (Chesapeake Bay), it doesn't seem extreemly necessary. But it's a great technology and for the price, I think it's excellent software.
Since we have the author with us, a couple comments:
1. I have a 2g memory card so I have room for the set of charts but it would be nice if I could eliminate one's I don't need.
2. Possibley add a track feature in a future release.
3. I know it's a tradeoff between file size and detail but would prefer having less charts and better resolution at the highest zoom setting.
These are not at all complaints.
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