Laptop chartplotters.

Bergman

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Yes

I use the Hydro office cd for charts - £100 for all charts from Thames to Forth on 2 discs - about 30 Admiralty charts and the plotting software.

Connected data output from GPS into 9 pin socket on back of elderly Packard Bell laptop and away you go

Works very well can sail into the marina lock with it. Nice view on a 14 inch screen, not one of these silly little 4 inch jobbies.

Charts are only guaranteed of 1 year but keep going with an occasional warning that they're out of date.

And I've got the laptop for tide data, Navtex weatherfax, and all the rest.
 

raquet

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Yes.

I have been doing some testing with a couple of retired laptops. They are too old and tired to be or much use elsewhere so I have stripped them of all old, useless, software and they zip along nicely with a small set of navigation toys. I have charts from Maptech which came with a poor piece of software since replaced by the excellent Chart Navigator – it comes free with a CD of charts – mine cover Cherbourg and the Channel Islands – all for under £50. I also have an evaluation copy of WinGPS4 which can use the same charts. I am testing both to see which I like. Both can be downloaded in evaluation form so you can try before you buy.

I bought an adapter to convert from the 15 pin D connector to USB and can use my cheap old Garmin IV on either of my laptops. There is a problem because the laptops see the GPS as a mouse and you suddenly find that windows are popping open and the pointers moving all by themselves. This is the GPS playing at being a mouse. This can be annoying but can be overcome.

The results are very pleasing – I have an excellent chart plotter with tide height and stream prediction. The laptops were junk and so were effectively free. My total investment is under £100 in software, charts and connectors. And I have a spare!
 

Becky

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We are just changing over to a lappie, using Maxsea software, recommended by another Forumite. We use a Garmin GPS linked via a cable and a bit of software, and will be using an AIS engine as well.

To my knowledge the best source of info would probably be Talbot. You could do a lot worse than pm'ing him for full details.

At least, that is what I have done. /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif
 

ShaunG

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We reguarly install laptops as chart plotters. First you need to select which chartplotting software and charts you are going to use, then connect your GPS and instruments if required using serial ports. Not all laptops have serial ports and you may need a convertor to make one from a USB. If you would like more info then please feel free to PM me

Regards

Shaun
 

fireball

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Interested to know where you got Chart Nav for under £100 from!

We have an old laptop (PIII 256Mb 14" screen) as a chart plotter - but it has to be mounted at the chart table. We use the Maptech stuff - with Offshore Nav Lite (the crap one!) - it is fine for seeing where you are ... and where you're going - but doesn't include a track of where you've been and the free software doesn't output NMEA data to a GPS repeater ....

IMO Laptops are fine for secondary Nav, but the issue comes in when you want to see the data from the cockpit - which is when you need a waterproof screen ... the price of which will get you a good Chartplotter capable of radar interface too.
 

Blue5

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If you plan to use laptop linked to GPS it needs careful thought.

My fixed Garmin GPS is linked to DSC radio requiring NMEA feed.

My laptop chartplotter requires GPS protocol set to Garmin so they conflict so I need separate GPS to power the laptop, given the choice again I would go for a fixed chartplotter.
 

jb2006

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I did download the SoB chartplotter - looked really good and cheap - but you have to buy C-map charts - good but not cheap ! SoB connected to my old Garmin Etrex with a USB/serial connector. Could see my position (ashore at the time) on the background map ok so it seems to work.

Eventually went for a purpose built plotter/radar but the screen size to price ratio of a laptop is tempting
 

raquet

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[ QUOTE ]
Interested to know where you got Chart Nav for under £100 from!

[/ QUOTE ] Chart Navigator comes free with a chart CD - Chart Navigator Pro is not free. I bought the chart CD with Offshore Nav Lite and I completely agree with your judgement. I upgraded to Chart Nav for under £20 (as I recall) including the cost of mailing to France. I didn’t say in my last post that I have a PDA (handheld Pocket PC) for work so I spent another £60 to get an OS map of southern Scotland which came with Pocket Navigator. I copied my charts to the PDA and now I have a cockpit plotter (in a plastic bag).

[ QUOTE ]
My laptop chartplotter requires GPS protocol set to Garmin so they conflict so I need separate GPS to power the laptop

[/ QUOTE ] What software are you using on the laptop? Isn’t it capable of configuration to a different protocol? I can and do use NMEA.

If you don’t have a laptop or PDA anyway then the cost is probably excessive. However if you do have some form of portable PC then it is cheap to acquire sophisticated planning and plotting capability. I was lucky enough to have the hardware. I now have an extremely versatile land and sea navigation system on a laptop with a handheld position plotter. Even if I factor in the cost of the OS map of S Scotland which I had to buy to get the ‘free’ Pocket Nav software I still spent less than £130.
 

KINGFISHER 8

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Thanks for the info ... give me something to think about. Shaung - I'll be in touch soon - boat being craned in tomorrow so will need a few days to sort things out ... like what you're offering - have bookmarked your site before you get zapped for advertising!
 

fireball

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My confusion .... I thought you mean the Chart Nav Pro - that sells for £200 ... and would be very handy for the AIS overlay ... I do have an old PocketPC, but no easy way of connecting to the laptop - so no easy interface with the GPS and I doubt it will overlay the AIS data anyway.
 

SimonD

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I went down this route last year. I now run SoB using C-Map charts on a Panasonic Toughbook (just over £100 from Ebay) driven by a handheld GPS. The only downside is that the Panasonic screen is not bright enough to be useable in sunlight so it lives on the chart table. Otherwise, it's the mutts nuts.

Powered through a dc supply it takes about 2 AH with the screen on and half that with it off. Good sized screen, reasonably fast redraw, tough as old boots. SoB is slightly idiosyncratic, but works well.

I planning to add Navtex software and would not want to lose the flexibility of laptop by changing to a chartplotter.
 
G

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[ QUOTE ]
If you plan to use laptop linked to GPS it needs careful thought.

My fixed Garmin GPS is linked to DSC radio requiring NMEA feed.

My laptop chartplotter requires GPS protocol set to Garmin so they conflict so I need separate GPS to power the laptop, given the choice again I would go for a fixed chartplotter.

[/ QUOTE ]

Get rid of garmin Plotter software !! OK so its paid for ... OK then download free of charge Seaclear and scan a few relevant sections of paper charts you need ... calibrate and pc is fed nmea same as dsc !

You'll find it a much more pleasant environment than Garmins plotter !

Or some reckon you can download all sorts of charts of internet and plotting s/ware ... via psp such as Shareaza etc.
 

Toutvabien

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I have been using Euronav Seapro for a couple of years and it works very well. We run it on an IBM laptop wired up to a Garmin 76 on the chart table. Used to run GPS on AA batteries but now wired into the boats mains, laptop runs on ships 12v via ciggy lighter socket. Excellent and held in place by some shock cord has coped with much bouncyness with no problems. Seapro Lite with all UK and Ireland charts can be had for £99.99.

Also run DVD cinema for the children on the laptop as an additional function. Cannot beat a bit of Norman Wisdom after a long beat to Dieppe.
 

chrisgee

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Using the same with Admiralty ARCS charts and one of those small "mushroom" GPS`s with USB plug.
Absolutelt brilliant with just the info you need, not all the other crap like flashing lights etc.
 

Luanda

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You say you can run your laptop off the boats 12v supply. How does this work? My laptop runs off the mains, through a transformer down to 19v. There is a good bit of difference between 19v and 12v, so I don't quite follow how you do it. Running off the mains on the internal battery the laptop only gives me ½hr, so that is hopeless. Could you sed me a PM? Thanks
 

ShaunG

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Luanda, you can obtain a DC-DC converter that uses the 12v supply, effectively stores a small amount of voltage and passes 19v to your laptop. DC-DC convertors can be purchased for as little as £15 from Ebay, Bladesman 333 is the name of the seller if i remember correctly If you are planning to use any SSB software on your laptop for receiving weatherfax or Navtex, you need to be aware that the DC-DC convertor can add a fair amount of RF Noise to your soundcard.

Regards

Shaun
 

fireball

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Or - if you need 240v for other appliances then you can just use a suitable Inverter ..
We've got a 300w modified sinewave inverter installed with a red key power switch to turn it on easily. The output is fed into the boats 240v circuit as though we were plugging into the shore power (just remember not to turn on the immersion heater!). I can then plug the laptop in to a 13amp socket at the nav table ...

but not all powerpacks like the modified sinewave - my crapard hell laptop powerpack didn't.

If I was going to do this again I would probably get a dc2dc converter ... but the 240v away from the shorepower means I can use an electric soldering iron, energy saving 240v bulbs (actually takes less than 20w including inverter wastage!), but that could always be achieved with a small can inverter ....
 

RobBrown

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I've got one of those, but find the internal fuse blows with monotonous regularity with my Toshiba laptop (5A 15 V DC). An I doing something wrong?! /forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif
 
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