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Author Topic:   Vector Charts and Geo-position Satellites
towboater posted 05-14-2006 08:13 AM ET (US)   Profile for towboater   Send Email to towboater  
Is it possible some new [Geoposition Satellite Receiver] models do not have VECTOR CHART capabilities? If you are shopping for a new GPS you might wanna read this (it's all good).

I recently purchased Rose Point Coastal Explorer Navigation Software for my home PC for a small uncertified survey job. Basically, I take soundings & GPS readings on the boat GPS, then transfer the readings to the program, print it, send. Notebook interphase may be forthcoming if I get more survey work, but thats not why Im writing.

This was the first time I had ever seen/used VECTOR CHARTS. According to the Salesman (Rogers Marine Electronics is the top Dog in Portland), it seems most future electronic charts will be using VECTOR because these charts are user friendly when it comes to high tech interphasing.
Im sure somebody knows more about all this than I do.

What I do know...
Tho Vector Charts look like a cartoon at first, I found the soundings & locations of shoreline structures (including single piles) to be DEADLY ACCURATE & easier to read than the old NOAA charts.

Rose Point auto updates pretty often & has great customer service. I just dont know enough about other programs to rate it. Tho other Nav programs had more the difference between Cannon Photo software & Adobe Photoshop 6.0, more stuff = substantial price difference & the simple Rose Point cost $460!
It did include every friggin Vector Chart in the Nation...just what I needed.

Michael K

jimh posted 05-14-2006 11:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The Geoposition Satellite (GPS) receiver just deduces a position. It is not a chart plotting device. However, the two are often incorporated into a single unit.

Geoposition Satellite receivers are generally considered universal, that is, they all work using the United States satellite system. This may change in the future as there are plans to have other satellite systems which are not controlled by the United States.

Digital Chart Cartography is used by a chart plotter to display electronic representations of charts. Chart plotters are software-based devices which can use various digital chart formats. It has always been the case that various chart plotters are designed to work with various digital chart formats. When you make a selection of a chart plotter device, you lock yourself into the format of digital charts that are compatible with that device.

Some of the chart formats are proprietary and only produced by a single manufacturer. In some cases, the electronic company, such as Garmin, is also the owner and provider of the digital cartography. In other cases, a publisher of digital cartography, for example C-MAP, makes the digital charts and many manufacturers make chart plotters capable of using them.

Recently the United States government released a very comprehensive series of digital charts using the S-57 vector format. This is the format used in commercial shipping. There is a world wide agreement for nations to produce coastal charts in this format. The distribution of these charts produced by the United States is free. Some commercial vendors provide the charts in a convenient form at moderate costs, as well.

The use of a vector format in creating the digital chart is not particularly new. The graphics systems of most modern computers use vector based graphics. The Apple OS-X operating system is a good example. The entire graphics systems of the computer uses a vector graphics system based on Post-Script and Adobe Acrobat format.

A good source of information about digital chart cartography from the United States government:

However, one should not assume that all devices which use a vector format digital chart are the same. There is a wide variation in the actual rendering of the vector graphics for display. A recent article commented on this:

Thus you ought to base your decision on what device to use for a chart plotter not only on its ability to use the free S-57 government charts, but also on how well it is able to render and display those charts.

ASIDE: I did not understand your comment:

future electronic charts will be using VECTOR because these charts are user friendly when it comes to high tech interphasing.

Could you explain what "high tech interphasing" means, please. I am afraid it does not convey any meaning to me. Also, many, perhaps most, current electronic charts are using vector graphics.

towboater posted 05-14-2006 05:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for towboater  Send Email to towboater     
I use a portable color Garmin 370 something daily.
Wasnt aware of Vector charts til 4 months ago. I feel it is reasonable to assume many others arent aware either.
If nobody else learns anything new here, at least I have, thx Jim.

I am trying to point out, tho I dont know all the tech speak & not shopping for a new GPS, there seems to be a big difference in raster & vector chart formatting. As I understand it, Vector is more accurate and user friendly than Rastor. Sounds like ALL of the newer models, whatever brand, has vector capabilities or formating.
I know I would want to make sure it does & I would use vector chartography if I had a choice. Thats about it.

Feel free to decipher my good intentions.
sorry for any confusion


Chuck Tribolet posted 05-15-2006 12:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
FWIW, I don't think Garmin has ever sold raster charts.
The Blue Charts are vector. The chips they sold before
the Blue Charts were vector.

Raster takes HUGE amounts of space. The upside is they just
scan the charts (or, if doing it REALLY right, the plates
used to make the charts), and then do a few mouse clicks to
make some known positions on the chart.


jimh posted 05-15-2006 12:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have one of the oldest and least expensive chart plotters around, a Standard-Horizon CP-100. It uses vector charts, just like all the other C-MAP chart plotters have for years. There is nothing really new about Vector graphics.

What is new in vector charts is that they are free from the U.S. Government (for U.S. coastal waters). This probably is more important news to distribute that the notion that there are vector charts being used.

Vector charts with a lot of detail do require a lot of processing power. Fortunately, processing power keeps getting cheaper. With the charts now free, it ought to be interesting to see what happens to recreational marine chart chartography.

If you want a fishing chart for some inland lake, you will probably not be able to get it for free from NOAA, but it you want a NOAA coastal chart, vector graphics are the way to go.

jimh posted 05-15-2006 12:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I also think it is important to not refer to digital chart plotters and chart cartography by calling them "a GPS". These days a good GPS receiver costs about $20. A GPS receiver has become a black box--just a small piece of electronics that deduces your position. A GPS receiver is built into every cellular telephone sold in the U.S. these days. It doesn't take a $1000 box of electronics to make a GPS any more.

The trend in marine electronics is to completely separate the chart plotter function from the GPS. The chart plotter is a large display device; the GPS is just a small module that plugs into it. The display of the chart plotter can also be used for other functions, like displaying a SONAR black box, a RADAR black box, or even a DVD movie. The days of calling this type of device "a GPS" are over.

The idea of using a general purpose computer or a laptop computer for vessel navigation is also becoming more mainstream. If you consider the price of some of these recreational marine chart plotters, you can buy quite a nice computer for the same amount of money. The only drawback is the daylight viewable display.

The Mac-Mini makes a great on-board computer when coupled with a large color display that has been marinized.

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