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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
I called Garmon and apparently there is a button push combination that locks and unlocks the touch screen on the oregon.
I went to pickup the Oregon but found that the Colorado was $100 less and the Oregon was out of stock anyway.
So I'm now messing about with the Colorado.
So far it is pretty good. Beautiful screen
I'm getting used to the wheel.
Standard batteries get eaten up really fast will have to pickup some lithium.
 

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Grasshopper
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I called Garmon and apparently there is a button push combination that locks and unlocks the touch screen on the oregon.
I went to pickup the Oregon but found that the Colorado was $100 less and the Oregon was out of stock anyway.
So I'm now messing about with the Colorado.
So far it is pretty good. Beautiful screen
I'm getting used to the wheel.
Standard batteries get eaten up really fast will have to pickup some lithium.
There are adapters available to run the GPS in either 12V (cigarette lighter) or 110V (step down transformer), and that saves a lot of batteries.
 

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I just bought garmin 76csx to help with my upcoming cruise around the vancouver island. But now I cannot figure out if I also need to buy the Blue Charts or does the unit come with one unlock code with basemap so I don't need to buy another unless i need more than one regions. I only need the BC coastal waters around puget sound and up. pls help. thanks
 

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GPS chart plotter's all seem to have the exact same core problem - up to date electronic charts.

I think the real question here and in all these threads is (or should be), what services offer the most up to date, reliable charts, and how much do they cost for a subscription, or how much for an update ? That is the real question, because who cares what screen the chart is displayed on or what gizmo does what, they all do basically the same thing, what we are REALLY interested in is are the charts up to date and where do we get them, then we can figure out what to display them on be that a hardware plotter or a laptop.

So, with that in mind, who DOES have the most up to date charts, and how much do they cost, are they by subscription ? Does NOAA have anything other that raster charts that are useful on chart plotters ? If the chart subscription is from a vendor, do they make their charts available in a format that they will work on a lot of different plotters or in a lot of different software applications on laptops, or are they trying to force you into using their hardware only ?

I don't really care about the plotter hardware, it is an LCD screen, who cares, they are a dime a dozen, everyone sells them. What I care about is having accurate charts that I can update for a reasonable fee, what those charts are displayed on is secondary.

If a vendor is dumb enough to think that they are going to trap us into using their hardware exclusively by making some proprietary chart standard, I say screw 'em, don't buy their stuff. I'd rather we end up with a standard for raster and vector charts that we can all use, that way it can be supported by a lot of vendors. The vendors can then focus on what we the customers really care about which is (1) keeping their charts UPDATED and (2) coming up with new whiz bang LCD and software products to display them instead of spending all their time trying to invent new marketing strategies to trap us in their product line.
 

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In reference to my last post ...

After doing some searching it looks like the best/only real standard out there at the moment for vector charts is the International Hydrographic Office (IHO) S-57 international exchange format and the IHO ENC product specification, that is the standard that the various world governments seem to be creating electronic vector charts for.

It appears that NOAA offers these ENC charts for free, and the British Admiralty seems to be licensing these charts via various third parties on a chart by chart basis.

So when I choose a charting package or a chart plotter, that is the standard I am going to demand as a starting point, and I doubt most of these little hardware gadgets support it, so you'll probably be trapped in whatever their proprietary charting standard is, get updates whenever they make them for whatever they decide to charge you, etc. In the end they are probably just repackaging the government provided information, slowly, and charging you extra for it. I seriously doubt any of these vendors who are selling LCD this-and-that's are out there surveying channels to provide more accurate data than NOAA or the British Admiralty.
 

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In reference to my last last post ... :D

How's this, a linux compatible open source charting package that uses the above mentioned ECN charts from NOAA (available for free online) ...

Free, Open Source Chart Plotter | Jib Notes

So there ya go, the latest free charts, chart updates whenever you want directly from the government, free software that runs on linux, mac, or windows, how can you beat that ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
I got to test out the Colorado 400c last weekend in a trip from Atlantic City to Anapolis via the Delaware River.
Worked pretty good.
Lithium battery lasted over 28 hours but I shut it off a lot as it gets a signal in about 15 seconds after being turned on.
 

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Grasshopper
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In reference to my last last post ... :D

How's this, a linux compatible open source charting package that uses the above mentioned ECN charts from NOAA (available for free online) ...

Free, Open Source Chart Plotter | Jib Notes

So there ya go, the latest free charts, chart updates whenever you want directly from the government, free software that runs on linux, mac, or windows, how can you beat that ...
This is not a stand alone, any any environment, at the helm plotter. It's laptop navigation software like Maptech or Rose Point (but free I think), and better used below decks, not at the helm.

The companies that make at the helm plotters (like Garmin for an example), take NOAA vector charts and convert them through special software so they work in their plotters only. NOAA raster and vector charts will only work with laptop navigation software. Updates for your laptop navigation software are free from NOAA, but on true helm plotters the updates will cost you from the company that made your plotter. Garmin is charging $200.00 for a chip with 2009 updated charts for the whole U.S. (if you bought a pre loaded charts plotter from Garmin), and when you return the chip after updating your plotter they refund $125.00.

I updated all the charts on my laptop running Maptech (now I use Rose Point's Coastal Explore), and I have almost all the west coast along with Hawaii and some south pacific charts. I have over 150 raster charts, and over 80 vector charts. It took me two long evenings of work to identify the charts that I needed to update, download the needed charts, and install those charts on my laptop. If I wanted to update all the charts on my plotter, I'll be you it would take a week to do that. After I saw how much time and effort it took to update what charts I have, I'll gladly pay $75.00 to Garmin for all the updated charts of the U.S. The only thing about the Garmin updates that's not so good is (I'm sure other plotter makers do the same thing), they only update charts once a year. On my laptop using NOAA, I can update any chart, any time there is an update for that chart or charts that I want.
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 · (Edited)
Final Report on Colorado 400c
I've been using the Colorado for several weeks now and on two long trips so I suppose I owe a final review.
First off I'm planning on keeping this unit.
I really thought hard about swapping it out for the Oregon, it is almost exactly the same unit except instead of a rocker roller interface like the Colorado the Oregon is a touch screen.
First things first you should know what I'm used to. We have an old Map 76 black and white with only the base map. We have a color, I forget the model, but it is a small color chart plotter with no external antenna mounted by the nav station.

The Colorado 400c has all the coastal charts for the US and is so much better than the base map only map 76 it is used completely differently. The main difference is that on the Map 76 we had to program in the buoy’s we were interested in. The Colorado has all the buoy’s already in. The first thing I did was program in my local harbor buoys. Now I know I didn't have to bother. In fact I don’t really program in way-points anymore. Now I know you can get detailed maps with Map 76 but I hear they are expensive and only cover a small area and we don't have them. The color is more than very nice too and the depth is especially important as our depth finder is on the fritz.
One complaint I read on-line is that you cannot see the details of a buoy such as light flash and buoy number unless you hover your pointer over it. This cannot be turned on as Gamin feels that makes the screen too hard to read. I agree it should be a setting but it was not a deal breaker for me. The other on-line complaint was the screen dimness. Indoors with the back-light turned up all the way it looks OK. Outdoors at first I could not read it. As I got used to it I found that if you just tilt it a little so your eye is not at 90 degrees it is readable in sunlight with no back-light. At first the screen brightness was a problem but after a couple of days I get used to it. Another complaint on the web was battery life. I got some good Lithium batteries and again at first I was worried that I was going to have to use a couple batteries every 24 hours. Again as I got used to it, the problem dissipated. I found that the back-light was the battery eater. During the day I stopped using the back-light once I found the tilt the screen trick. During the night I set the back-light to turn off in 15 seconds. Also I would often just shut it off. This unit would acquire a signal if it was on recently in about 15 seconds so it didn’t matter too much to turn it off. I can’t give you good numbers on the battery life but I carry a couple of spare sets and don’t worry about it.
The flux-gate compass did not work at all so I turned it off as it uses battery power too, a big disappointment. It does not have a COB button, really dumb what are they thinking?
I always wear a type 3 jacket that has a couple of pockets in the front. I keep the GPS and my glasses in these pockets. I spend a lot of time taking the GPS out of the pocket and putting it back in my pocket. I can’t imagine how I would do that without mussing up the screen on the Oregon. Yes I know there is a button sequence to turn touch off on the Oregon but still. The Oregon has a screen that is supposed to be even a little dimmer due to the touch layer. I’m concerned about that because while I got used to the Colorado dim screen I not sure I would want dimmer.
Naming a way-point or anything else on my Colorado is the slowest stupidest process you could ever imagine using the wheel. It is supposed to be really easy and natural on the Oregon touch. But again that is not a good enough reason for me to switch as I mentioned that I have no reason to enter way-points any more. I recently took a 5 day charter out of a Haven harbor near Rock Hall, MD. We found three harbors and two anchorages using the Colorado and frankly I doubt if I would have been successful without it. The boat compass was at least 20 degrees off. It was almost as good as a full size chart plotter and I had it in my hand at the helm as I was effectively single handing as my wife does not sail. In fact the only time the water got a little skinny was coming into Rock Hall. As soon as I got past the breakwater I put the Colorado away because I could see the buoys and I figured I didn’t need it. Well I headed for what I thought was next buoy and didn’t notice the loop I was cutting because I was missing a mark. I didn’t run aground but it was close. If I had followed the pretty picture I wouldn’t had had that event.
In short I went to the store to buy the Oregon but they were out of stock. The salesman talked me into the Colorado; it was cheaper and available so I bought it. I’m sure if I would have started with the Oregon I would have stayed with it. As it is I’m planning on staying with the Colorado.
 

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
One more anomaly I just remembered on the Colorado, don't know if the problem is the same with other units.
The GPS speed is not damped so it fluctuates a lot within a single second. It can do 4.3,4.6,5.0,4.4 within a second and half which makes using it to test sail trim less accurate than it could be.
Maybe a firmware upgrade will fix it.
Of course in a year I'll be annoyed at the cost of a chart upgrade as has been mentioned by others.
Even though the device is small the chart size is very workable with the zoom wheel.
 

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Final Report on Colorado 400c

The flux-gate compass did not work at all so I turned it off as it uses battery power too, a big disappointment. It does not have a COB button, really dumb what are they thinking?
davidpm -

Did you ever figure out the issue with the compass? Also what is a COB button?

I started looking at GPSmap76cxs first and now almost ready to purchase the Colorado. I also considered the Oregon, but like you read a lot of iffy reviews about it that I'm worried about.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to WM after work today to buy the Colorado but I just wanted to get a last minute opinion from you since you own one already.

Not that the compass is a big deal, but it should work if you paid for the feature. Any last impressions for me?
 

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Telstar 28
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COB—Crew Over Board... which is the button you press and hold to mark an emergency waypoint for when you have a Man Over Board situation. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #33 ·
No real updates. I use it every week. It's not perfect but I like it better than not having it.
It has tides and currents which is handy.
Has some stopwatch features that I may use for racing.
 

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We sail Paloma mostly offshore, I have both a Map 76 and the 76Csx - the Csx is much nicer. But, either one is all you need offshore, sailing from port to port, unless you just happen to like the "Linus blanket" of a chart plotter. It is always good to have paper charts aboard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
We sail Paloma mostly offshore, I have both a Map 76 and the 76Csx - the Csx is much nicer. But, either one is all you need offshore, sailing from port to port, unless you just happen to like the "Linus blanket" of a chart plotter. It is always good to have paper charts aboard.
It depends on crew also.
If you are in a tight place with an old style GPS with no charts and all you have is lat and long, it is not trivial to accurately plot that position on your chart in the dark in the rain in the cockpit while trying to steer and listen and see.
I like my "blanket" a lot.
 

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It depends on crew also.
If you are in a tight place with an old style GPS with no charts and all you have is lat and long, it is not trivial to accurately plot that position on your chart in the dark in the rain in the cockpit while trying to steer and listen and see.
I like my "blanket" a lot.
Keep your "blanket", but think about moving up to bit more modern GPS, like one of the Garmin 76 Map series - the days of lat-long are yesterday, they don't call the 76's "Maps" for nothing.
 
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