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Portable Chartplotter options

Discussion in 'Electronics' started by JeffG, Mar 23, 2021.

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  1. JeffG

    JeffG New Member

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    I do deliveries for a few brokers on occasion, and it seems every boat I get on the electronics is grossly outdated or non-functional. I have gone old school with paper charts and used Navionics on my laptop and iPhone, but I want a better solution. I am a river rat, so offshore is not what I'm concerned about. 99% of what I do is run the Western River system, TN, OH, MS, Tenn-Tom Rivers, and the Gulf Coast ICW.

    I have seen an iPad with Navionics loaded on it, but then I read it's not good because it's not real-time. Is there a portable (not handheld) Chartplotter that I can go boat to boat with, or what am I missing on the iPad setup? I'll spend the money to get what I need, but I'm looking for something way more efficient than what I'm doing now. I'm making it work, but I'm looking to be more efficient and less stressed.

    Thanks for any ideas.
    Capt. Jeff
  2. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    IPad (or iPhone) is real time

    We have both Navionics and Aquamaps on all our phones and iPads as back ups or when in the tender or sailing. Works great. As precise as any charplotter

    only thing with tablets is that you can’t leave them facing the sun as they will get too hot. For water protection in small boats i have a Lifeproof Nud case (no screen cover)
  3. Capt Cole

    Capt Cole Member

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    I'm involved in a similar operation on the West Coast. I operate primarily in the S.F. Bay and Sacramento/San Joaquin River area with occasional coastal deliveries between WA and CA. For the past year, I have been using an iPad with a C-MAP program you can get from the app store. The program has some very useful features for measuring distance as well as an Auto Routing feature. So far, I have found it to be very accurate for my areas of operation.
  4. JeffG

    JeffG New Member

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    This is all very helpful. On the iPad, leave the location finder on (find me feature), or do you have to have the cell phone service (Verizon) to work? I have an old iPad without Verizon service capability and didn't know if I need one with the service or not.

    Thank you both very much.
  5. Capt Cole

    Capt Cole Member

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    My iPad is about 3 yrs old and has cell service capability which I believe you need.
  6. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    I used a ruggedized government surplus lap top with built in GPS, WIFI and back lit kbd for years.
    Sadly, not enough HP for Win 7 or 10, The good ole XP based lap top was degaussed and contributed to an artificial reef a long year ago.
    I keep searching for a replacement but not found another free one yet.
  7. JeffG

    JeffG New Member

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    That is what I was thinking but wasn't sure. Thanks.
  8. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    You do not need an active cellular subscription for an iPad to use GPS ... BUT only cellular capable iPads have the GPS chip. If you bought a wifi only iPad, it will not have GPS capability. In this case there are some Bluetooth External receivers that work very well

    as a backup to the backup of the backup I also have a dell laptop convertible (screen flips into a tablet) with nav software and a USB GPS. Works great in an enclosed PH
  9. JeffG

    JeffG New Member

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    That explains a ton. Thank you for the clarification, and no, I think I can get it from here. My old iPad was just wifi capable without the cellular capability. My old one is at least 7 years old, so I think it's time to get a new one with cellular capabilities.

    Thank you all very much for the insight. Smooth sailing to all!
  10. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    I never like counting on computers. Too rough an environment. I always carried a Garmin handheld. Had it loaded with the entire east coast with routes and tracks for the dicey areas. It gave me 8 data boxes and never had a problem with signal strength or accuracy except inside a steel wheelhouse.
  11. mapism

    mapism Senior Member

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    These days, it ain't a matter of liking or not.
    For instance, if you don't trust computers, you should never use an airliner, or count on the results of any health checks, or on your bank account.

    And I don't see a strong case for rugged devices, either.
    Both myself and my wife have the Navionics app installed on our smartphones and tablets.
    Which means FOUR redundant devices, on top of the boat chartplotter.

    I'm not sure the USS Gerald R Ford has more levels of redundancy for any onboard equipment...
    ...if it weren't that probably thousands of crew members also have some navigation app installed on their own smartphones! :D
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2021
    shanti likes this.
  12. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    I should have been more clear. The reason I don't like to use computers for navigating is because they don't do well with water or getting bounced around. When you do deliveries or work as an independent you might be on a 70 footer one day and a 30' open CC the next. Can't tell you how many times my Garmin got soaked or bounced down the cockpit floor. Wouldn't want to subject my laptop or phone to that.
  13. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    Pretty much every phone now is waterproof and as mentioned lifeproof makes waterproof cases for iPads.
  14. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    No kidding.:rolleyes: Whatever works for you. I like a dedicated GPS. Guess I'm a belt and suspenders type.
  15. MBevins

    MBevins Senior Member

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    Quite frankly a dedicated GPS today is a waste of money. Your phone has lots more computing power, if you don't like the Garmin app get c-map one. There's tons of app's. Your sure to find one to suit. Use an Android tablet or phone, use an apple
    The world's your oyster.

    Having said that, on my 23ft Center Consoles I use 9in MFD s as they're out in the exposure.
    My big boat, a NUC with a Large daylight monitor. Again change my software at will if I choose. In 20 years not a single OS or hardware failure .
  16. C team

    C team Senior Member

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    You don't need cellular capabilities on your tablet. All you need is a portable Bluetooth GPS receiver that will work for your table and iPhone. Bad Elf Pro is one of these portable receivers and much cheaper than getting a cellular plan on your table.
  17. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    again you don’t need a cellular PLAN you just need to have a cellular version on the iPad. Yes it cost a little more than an BT gps but easier and you can still use GPS while using BT for music
  18. ranger58sb

    ranger58sb Senior member

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    Or most (?) Android devices have built-in GPS; used to be approx 2/3rds the cost of an equivalent iThing.

    Mostly run the same nav apps: AquaMap, Navionics, etc... AquaMaps USA/Master is possibly most useful for rivers, since they can include recent USACE survey data (at least we've found that useful for AICW travel).

    FWIW, I've gotten in in the habit of first searching for protective cases (Otterbox, etc.) then choosing the largest device model based on what cases are available.

    -Chris
  19. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    THIS, needs to be a cellular capable one, doesn't need a plan. I use an IPAD mini for navigation sometimes and I like it. But it does have it's draw backs. Not totally waterproof, battery life only 4-5 hours if you don't have a place to charge it, and direct sunlight is no good for it.

    That being said I also use a small Garmin handheld and put all of my routes in there. It's totally waterproof, floats, has replaceable 2-AA batteries that last 12-16 hours, and has a small map......it's indestructable and cheap around $200 on sale, I have the 78SC. It's great for a tender to just grab, jump on it, and not worry about. Garmin makes a new one that's rechargeable and has all of the maps in it. I tend to use BOTH items on yachts with no electronics.
  20. NYCAP123

    NYCAP123 Senior Member

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    I don't like anything rechargeable that you can't afford to have down while recharging. The older version of this is what I carried. https://www.google.com/shopping/pro...&ved=0ahUKEwiMiczTn8nvAhXJJzQIHUoFAEsQ9pwGCAs
    This has a lithium ion battery, but also takes AA batteries. It' large enough to give you a good view even when you have the data boxes (which I found invaluable) on the screen, but it's also small enough to carry. It had an attachable sand bag base so it sit on the helm and generally not bounce around, but it's also rugged enough to stand the bumps when it does jump off. Sunlight visible and water resistant made it perfect for my uses.
    Because I've mostly stayed away from the phone and computer navigation apps let me ask: With them can you save routes, tracks and waypoints. I believe the 276 holds 50 routes and DK how many tracks and waypoints. Saves you from having to replot courses every time you go out. It's expandable. I had every chart from the NE to So. Florida on mine.