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Author Topic:   Chartplotters
Hoosier posted 08-28-2008 05:15 PM ET (US)   Profile for Hoosier   Send Email to Hoosier  
As a result of the North Channel trip there has been an off line discussion about Chartplotters and combined Chartplotter/GPS units and the third party digital charts to use with them. Jim asked that the subject be moved to this forum since the discussion is relevant for anyone looking to upgrade into the digital mapping world. Here are some of the exchanges;

What SD card(s) did/do you use for navigation in the Canadian
waters up north? I'm going to get a chartplotter/GPS but need to
know what SD add-on to get. Right now the Navionics #900P, Eastern
Great Lakes, looks like the best coverage.

The SD is an acronym for Secure Data, which is a type of
memory card. It really does not have much to do with the digital
cartography on the card.

When choosing a chart plotter you more or less lock yourself into
their brand of cartography or to the brand of cartography that is
used with that device.

There are two companies that just make cartography: C-Map and
Navionics. They're like Ford and Chevy. It is typical that a chart
plotter can use one or the other, but usually not both. Some chart
plotters can be ordered in different versions to fit them to the
desired cartography.

My chart plotter uses C-MAP cartography. One thing I like about C-Map
is that it is global in scope. They have charts for everywhere. It is
also useful in several brands: Standard Horizon, SiTex, Furuno, and a
few others.

The price of digital cartography has been coming down. In some cases
you can get the whole USA for $100 (from Navionics). C-MAP is more
expensive and more localized. All of the Great Lakes costs about $200.

David Pendleton
I think if I were in the market for a new plotter, I would probably go with
a Garmin and their Bluecharts.

Raymarine has switched from C-Map to Navionics, which I am unfamiliar with
so I don't know that I would buy another Raymarine plotter. Furuno uses
C-Map, but their card format is proprietary.

I own several Garmin products, including BlueCharts. Even though I don't
have a Garmin chartplotter, it was worth it to me to be able to view (and
print) charts from my laptop.

Jeppesen (C-Map's owner) has a hardware/software solution that allows you to
use C-Map charts with your PC, but I was never able to get it to work
reliably on any of my computers. The software was pretty dated anyway.

The subject is now open for discussion.

jimh posted 08-28-2008 06:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In the modern chart plotter we want good cartography, of course, and localization of the vessel position. At one time that was about it, but now there are many other possible overlays to be shown against the background of the cartography.

RADAR echo returns can be overlaid. For small boats this is an unusual option, but modern RADAR sets are not very large and not very expensive. RADAR may become more common on small boats.

SATELLITE WEATHER RADAR received via a specialized data receiver with its own antenna can be overlaid on the cartography.

AUTOMATIC IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM (AIS) can receive data from nearby vessels with AIS transponders via a special receiver with its own antenna. The vessel position can be plotted on the cartography, and the vessel data can be displayed on demand.

SONAR rasterized signals can also be displayed. This is really quite common for chart plotters combined with a SONAR.

ENGINE and VESSEL DATA from NMEA-2000 networks is also likely to be displayed.

jimh posted 08-28-2008 10:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you have an engine that has an NMEA-2000 certified engine controller and offers data for display on an NMEA-2000 network, I think it is important to give weight to this factor when deciding what brand of chart plotter to buy. With an NMEA-2000 engine you have a very strong incentive to get a chart plotter than has an NMEA-2000 network connection and can display data from your engine. In this regard, LOWRANCE has a big jump on everyone else.

Here is a shot of a Lowrance chart plotter set-up screen where the NMEA-2000 display is being configured to show data from an engine: lowranceETEC_Screen619x439.jpg

By way, Ferdi over in Europe took this picture, and note that the legends of some of the menu items are in German. That is a good example of global marketing of a product. I think LOWRANCE isn't just for lakes in Kansas anymore.

floatinghat posted 09-03-2008 01:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for floatinghat  Send Email to floatinghat     
Jim, What is the percent engine load on the nmea 2000 pic?
an86carrera posted 09-03-2008 03:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for an86carrera  Send Email to an86carrera     
I just purchased and installed the Lowrance 520c on my 15' that has the 90 E-Tec. It is very nice to have all of that data available. This data can be graphed in a few formats too. Some are bar graphs, analog gauge and digital numbers, they can be made semi-transparent also to overlay your maps or sonar data.

The engine load is just that: how much of the torque available you are using. Which equates fairly linearly to fuel consumption. I display it also just trying to understand it's real usefulness?

They have new software update that allows direct recording of screenshots. Going to try it tonight. Will post some when I get it to work. Wish I had this ability when I was testing props;o)


SJUAE posted 09-03-2008 06:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE    

LOWRANCE has a big jump on everyone else

I don't think so according to Garmin 4000 and 5000 series manuals they look a bit more sophisticated to me.

They also have several other NMEA-2000 devices like their GPS antenna

Is Lowrance just a numeric overlay and not a digital or analogue representation?

Here's a shot from the Garmin 4008 manual FYI


jimh posted 09-03-2008 08:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Steve--Do you have any screenshots showing the GARMIN device hooked to an NMEA-2000 motor such as an E-TEC or Suzuki?
an86carrera posted 09-03-2008 09:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for an86carrera  Send Email to an86carrera     

GPS module?

Lowrance LGC3000 LGC3000GPSmodule_0154-651_11-30-06.pdf


an86carrera posted 09-03-2008 09:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for an86carrera  Send Email to an86carrera     
The overlays on the Garmin do look good
lavieve posted 09-03-2008 10:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for lavieve  Send Email to lavieve     
Because I have a limited amount of space for electronic gear on my 93 Outrage II, and I want it visible at all times while I am underway, I went with a Garmin 176CS which I connected to my Raymarine DS600. The Garmin does not take a chip. It has a memory that I load from a disc in my laptop. The memory is large enough to hold the charts for the North Channel and the Georgian Bay. I have traveled these areas for the last 3 years on the Whaler. This system has functioned flawlessly. It tracks where I have been, I can chart a course on the computer and feed it into the GPS, and the charts have been reliable. I purchased the Garmin off e-bay for around a $100. Access to the charts cost extra. It is low budget but reliable.
jimh posted 09-03-2008 11:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
A state-of-the-art 20-channel parallel SiRF-chipset GPS with WAAS correction cost $35 new these days. The GPS part of the chart plotter is really not much of an issue for debate.

The chart plotter is more about the display, the size, and what it can show you. Also, how easy it is to operate plays a role, too.

SJUAE posted 09-04-2008 10:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE    

Sorry can’t find any pictures of real life.

I found several threads on successful Yamaha and Suzuki none for ETEC as of yet. You seem to need a EP-20 Suzuki Engine Interface adapter.

Seems this is only started earlier this year as a software update was required, although Garmin stated their compatibility to NMEA2000 in 2007.

This recent update seems to show Garmin are moving forward, but maybe lagging behind Lowrance, unless we can find a real picture. product=010-00592-01&cID=162&pID=8114

This Garmin link shows the now familiar backbone arrangement and more interestingly the Garmin 4000/5000 and MNI 10 PGN (Parameter Group Number) for NMEA2000. pdf

I only started looking in to this after some faults with my Navman and toying with the idea of radar combo unit. I certainly don’t want to be a a 2kUSD Guinea Pigs for Garmin.


jimh posted 09-05-2008 09:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Steve--I do agree that the on-screen glyphs and graphics on the GARMIN unit are attractive. Their instrument display technology seems to be one notch higher than LOWRANCE, although I believe there is also a higher price to be paid for it, too.
SJUAE posted 09-05-2008 10:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for SJUAE    

Garmin do tend to do sexy graphics and they seem to get the most thumbs up for ease of use.

Their BlueChart g2 Vision which gives 3D mariner’s eye view or fish eye view provides you with a 3-dimensional perspective of map information, both above the waterline and below.

Also high-resolution satellite images and aerial photographs can be overlaid.

They have now introduced a newer High definition, digital 18-inch radome, with 4 kW transmit power and 36 nm range

XM WX Satellite Weather service and XM Satellite Radio in the US.

Plus sonar and a range of transducers, video etc etc

As you note this all comes at a hefty price tag for a small boat owner.

The advantage/attraction on these newer multifunction chart plotters being you can expand at your leisure without adding more holes in your dash vs dependency on one system display.

I think some of this expense can be offset if you are considering any of the following options.

Replacing older analogue gauges to MNEA 2000 (you can keep the old and also display on your new plotter, plus you don’t have to fill any holes in the dash)

Considering LCD radar and new GPS or sonar or fuel gauges, as a future option.

It seems to maintain your engine warranty with Yamaha, Suzuki and ETEC you must still retain at least the main OEM gauge with alarms etc, so you can’t just have the chart plotter display engine info.

ETEC I-command gauges show more engine data than the plotters as some of the PGN codes are OEM specific.

You may need to have these gauges regardless to get the Garmin system to work but this is not confirmed.

I think there is a NMEA conference coming up in November maybe we will see what Garmin/Lowrance and other have install for us.

Sorry for only going on about Garmin but as there is no main Lowrance dealer here locally so my research is limited, maybe someone can address the balance for us.


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