Monday, December 20, 2010

Recommended Navigation Programs

Open CPN opensource software created by sailors for sailors. The best feature is the price of FREE. This is one of the few software programs that will run the complete portfolio of CM93 charts which are in wide distribution and offer a sailor the possibility to have nearly every chart in the world at their fingertips. This is looking like a better and better solution to using a legacy version of MaxSea as many cruisers are today.

Opening CM93 charts in OpenCPN 2.3.1

On the top tool bar click on the 'Tool Box' (i.e. Wrench icon)
Click on 'Charts' tab.
In the upper dialog box 'Available Chart Directories' select the CM93 folder. Something similar to 'C:\CM93'
Click 'Add Selection'
In the lower dialog box 'Active Charts Directories' you should now see the path for CM93 file folder.
Click OK
CM93Charts should now load automatically.

For a second time click on the 'ToolBox'
Click on the 'Vector Charts' tab
You can experimental with the setting on the 'Vector Charts' tab.
Here are some recommendations:
Chart Depth Units = Meters
Display Category = 'MarinersStandard'
Check the box for 'Show Soundings'
Colors = 4
CM93 Zoom Level = 5

To speed up the program, again click on 'ToolBox'
Click on 'Settings' tab
UNcheck the box 'Show Chart Outlines'

As a final catch all...If in doubt reboot the computer

IF your sailing will be limited to US waters then my favorite program is Coastal Explorer is superb for the USA as one can download Electronic Navigation Charts (ENC) for free (USA only). The program is $300 plus, but the trial is great for 15 minutes then requires a restart of the software. Very cool interface that brings together charting with live GPS, AIS as well as NOAA weather, Coast Pilots, tide and current streams.

Not sure what navigaiton program to use? Run several at the same time using a Virtual Serial Port Emulator. This VSPE software will enable physical serial port data such as a USB GPS to be shared to several applications. Very cool.
One of the best is Franson GPSGate 2.6+ and I find ti worth every penny of the $40 purchase price.
another I just came across, but have not tested can be found here: this free version is for 32 bit machines only. The 64 bit version is around $25.

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