Fugawi X-Traverse

Fugawi Offers Avia Instrument Display Software

Fugawi's Avia Motor Pro Instrument Software

Fugawi's Avia Motor Pro Instrument Software

Fugawi announced today the availability of its new Avia Motor and Avia Sail instrument software.  If you have NMEA 0183 or 2000 data streams, you can use this software to set up a nice monitor configuration that suits your preference.  The software will read 0183 data via a standard serial port input, or using an Actisense USG-1 Serial Gateway that will emulate a serial port in a USB plug.  For NMEA 2000 data, an Actisense NGT-1 NMEA 2000 t0 PC gateway is required. 

One of the neatest things about this is how Fugawi illustrated the software in action — on an HP Tablet PC.  Tablets may have a ways to go before we can all use them in bright sunlight on the flybridge, but in the pilothouse they’re going to be a real boon, soon.  See our piece by Christine Kling on the iPad’s utility aboard a boat for some examples.  Although the Avia software is only available in a Windows version now, I would be surprised if Fugawi doesn’t offer a Mac version somewhere down the road.  Fugawi already offers its iMap Topo Software for iPhones and iPads, compatible even with the latest iOS4 operating system.  And X-Traverse is also iPad compatible.

The Avia software comes in both Lite and Pro versions, for both “Motor” and “Sail” applications.  The Pro versions include more instrument templates and accommodate dual engines and some overlay capabilities.  Interestingly, even though I’m a powerboater, I might choose the “Sail” version because of its integration of wind data.  The Pro version will let you create and save 4 custom displays of instruments you choose, in digital or analog formats.

The software has native compatibility with both flavors of NMEA data streams, but the fact that you need hardware translation to use that data on even a remotely new laptop is just plain dumb.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not Fugawi’s fault, and they’ve handled it nicely by identifying the sweet (if somewhat expensive) Actisense connector/translators.  It’s just another example where the standards in marine electronics (NMEA) are still WAY behind even basic shore-side consumer electronics expectations.  A serial port?  Really??  I haven’t had a computer with a serial port for 10 years.

NMEA rants aside, I like the idea of this Avia instrument software, and I’d like to try it out on my laptop with the Fugawi Marine ENC.  If any of you already have, let me know in the comments and we’ll talk.  Meanwhile, look forward to seeing this at your next boat show.  I’ll look for it at Miami next month.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, seamanship, Technology

Here’s Why You Need an iPad on the Boat

by Christine Kling

 
 

The Apple iPad Loaded with Marine Apps - Photo Courtesy of Christine Kling

The Apple iPad Loaded with Marine Apps - Photo Courtesy of Christine Kling

(Editor’s Note — Chris Kling is a sailor with with more than 30 years of experience on the oceans of the world. She’s also an English professor at Broward College, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the published author of the Seychelle Sullivan series of mysteries, including SURFACE TENSION (2002), CROSS CURRENT (2004), BITTER END (2005, and WRECKERS’ KEY (2007). You can and should buy them at this Amazon page. They’re great page-turners and the protagonist is a female tug captain and salvor through whom I could easily live vicariously (you know, except for the requisite sex-change operation of course). Chris recently got an iPad and has wasted no time collecting and testing marine apps for the sleek new tablet. You can visit her at her main website here or at her new blog, co-hosted with fellow writer Mike Jastrzebski, Write on the Water.)

I have wanted to share this list of some of my favorite boating apps for the iPad.  Some people have looked at the iPad and the high price for the device and they have said they just don’t get it.  Why would someone pay so much for that.  I can only report on my own experience — and this little computer has changed the way I interact with technology.  I find myself using my laptop less and less.  The iPad is so fast, so intuitive and does so many things that I could no more imagine living without one than I could imagine living without a computer.  Today, I will cover boating apps and in a later post, I will discuss writing apps.

To begin with, there is the problem with the screen outdoors.  I have found though, that if I change the setting from auto-brightness to manual and crank it all the way up, it is very easy to see and use for navigation outdoors.  Most of us wear Polaroid lenses when we are out on the water, and the iPad screen goes black when viewed in portrait mode with Polaroids on, but just turn it to landscape and the image reappears.

Navigation:

First, I need to mention that it is necessary to have the iPad 3G to get the real GPS chip in the unit for navigation purposes.  The non-3G units require wifi, which, of course, is not going to work at sea. Some have questioned whether the iPad GPS would work outside the range of the 3G connection, and I can attest that as long as you have already downloaded your charts, your GPS will work fine offshore.  Mine worked continuously on the passage three weeks ago from the Abacos to Charleston, North Carolina when I had absolutely no 3G connection.

iNavX Screen Capture on the iPad - Image Courtesy of Christine Kling

iNavX Screen Capture on the iPad - Image Courtesy of Christine Kling

iNavX – $49.99  I started using the Mac version of this software about four years ago and I love it.  There are other cheaper apps for marine navigation now, but I like using the same software on my laptop, iPhone and iPad.  This one app is universal, meaning it works with both the iPhone and the iPad with full versions for each device.  With many of the other apps listed here you would have to buy separate versions for the iPhone and the iPad.  Yes, it is a lot of money, but it is absolutely worth it to to get this full featured complete navigation system that can interface via wifi with your boat’s instruments.  The program comes with free access to all the NOAA charts, but you can purchase additional charts through X-Traverse. This service allows you to save, retrieve and move data on and off the iPad.  I bought the US and Bahamas Navionics Gold charts for the iPad for $49.99 which do show some marinas and other land features.

Charts & Tides Screen Capture on iPad - Image Courtesy of Christine Kling

Charts & Tides Screen Capture on iPad - Image Courtesy of Christine Kling

Navimatics Charts & Tides/ East Coast – $19.99 You might ask yourself what do I need another navigation program for.  Good question.  This app is by Navimatics and the app does show another type of cartography, but the navigation features do not work as well and are not as extensive as iNavX.  However, what this program does have is Active Captain, the Interactive Cruising Guidebook.   It was well worth the twenty bucks to get this feature that drops dots onto the charts where marinas, boatyards and various points of interest are located.  When you click on the dots you get a ton of info including cost of slip rental, phone numbers, reviews, laundry and grocery info, etc.  This is a sort of Wiki type thing for boaters and once you have your membership to the Active Captain website (free) and you input your info on the iPad, you can click a synch button and you’ll get the most up to date info available. When we were in Deltaville, VA, I saw a review that had been written one week earlier.  This is far better than a print cruising guide.  Yes, the info is available on the laptop if I am on the Internet, but with my iPad and my 3G account, when cruising here in the US, it’s available almost everywhere.

Navionics – $19.99  I have not purchased this, but Navionics has their own nav program which like the one above, includes the nave. program with the charts and for this price you get the East Coast.  You would pay again for the West Coast and again for the Great Lakes.  You can only use their charts.  With iNavX all the NOAA charts are included for free, and then you can add other charts if you want to buy them.  However, I’d like to hear from others who might use this to know how they think it compares to iNavX.

MotionX-GPS $2.99 has recently added marine charts.  I have not gone this route or explored it, but I would love to hear in the comments if anyone else has done so.  As soon as I have the time I intend to explore this — I mean, for three bucks — why not??

AyeTides Screen Capture on iPad - Image Courtesy of Christine Kling

AyeTides Screen Capture on iPad - Image Courtesy of Christine Kling

Tides:

AyeTides XL — $9.99  This tide program is fully integrated with iNavX so that you can click on a tides button in the nav program and get your info.  The program has just released this iPad version (August 2), and it is beautiful.  And it still has more tide stations and information than the tide program included with Charts & Tides.

Marine Day Tides — free   Actually, there are two versions of this program and I use the free one which gives the most tides info I’ve seen, but it will only give you the info for today — not for the future.  The planner version of the program is $9.99 and it is great, but I get enough info to suit me with the Ayetides and it interfaces with my navigation program.

Weather:

I have tried a few marine weather apps for the iPad, but I haven’t found anything yet that I particularly like.  I would be very interested to hear from others what they like best.

Wundermap —free   This great app comes from the folks at WeatherUnderground.  This includes various types of radar and infrared screens which require an Internet connection.  It uses the GPS to determine your location and gives you a satellite map with an information overlay.  Now I just wish they would make a version that includes Marine Weather forecasts.

Weatherbug Elite for iPad — free   This little app has tons of great info on a very tight screen.  I like their wind direction compass rose.

Miscellaneous:

Boater‘s Pocket Reference — $4.99  1,800 pages of boating information including Rules of the Road, aides to navigation, illustrations, photos, buoys, signal flags, etc.  A great on-hand resource.

Shipfinder Screen Capture on the iPad - Image Courtesy of Christine Kling

Shipfinder Screen Capture on the iPad - Image Courtesy of Christine Kling

ShipFinder HD — $7.99  This app shows the AIS feed of ships in your area.  It is broadcast over the Internet so it will only be good as long as you have an Internet connection either via wifi or through a 3G account.  When coastwise cruising, however, it’s wonderful to see the name, course and speed of that ship in the distance. Yesterday, sailing from Fishing Bay to Solomons, we passed a strange gray ship off Point Lookout, and I was able to look it up with Shipfinder and discover it was a Naval High Speed Craft called SEAFIGHTER and she was at anchor.

Nautical Terms for iPad — $0.99 This is a great replacement for the old dog-eared nautical dictionary I had and the numerous bookmarks that I could never find for online dictionaries.

Knot Guide HD — $2.99 This includes 91 knots in 17 categories.  What more could you ask for?

Pocket First Aid and CPR — $3.99 From the American Heart Association, this guide appears to be one of the most complete for emergency situations as it includes illustrations and videos.

Air Display – $9.99 – This turns your iPad into a second display for your laptop.  Currently this only works with Mac OS but they are working on a Windows version. You could run your laptop nav program on your iPad using it as a slave screen and avoid having to buy the costly iPad apps.

Another boating plus is that you can load all your PDF manuals into Goodreads or now into iBooks, and they will be there ready to load in a hurry.

As for waterproof cases for the iPad, I have found the simple for $19.99 that looks like a glorified Ziplock bag to this fancy one from Germany for 280 Euros.  There are also various mounts here and others here that one can get to make your iPad function more like a helm chart plotter, but I am waiting for the swing away arm.

The iPad has become much more than just an eReader for me, and though many of these things I could do on a laptop, I couldn’t do any of them as fast or as easily as I can on the iPad.

Fair winds!

Christine

Original article Copyright © 2010 by Christine Kling. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, Environment & Weather, Gear & Apparel, megayachts, Powerboats, Sailboats, Sailing Gear & Apparel, Technology

Fugawi X-Traverse Now Compatible with iPad

Fugawi X-Traverse

Fugawi X-Traverse

Well, here is reason number 967 why I probably should get an iPad. Northport Systems Inc., recently announced that itsFugawi X-Traverse online map management system is now compatible with the iNavX Version 3 app for the Apple iPad. Fugawi X-Traverse was designed to ensure that map users had ready access to their up-to-date cartography subscriptions and the enhanced mobile access means that iPad owners can have the functionality of their color chartplotter, with the advantage of knowing they always have the most up-to-date charts available from their supplier.

If you haven’t checked out the X-Traverse service from Fugawi, it’s worth a look. X-Traverse is basically an online storage system that allows you to upload, retrieve and transfer across platforms — PC to iPhone, for example — your waypoints, tracks, etc., assuming you’re using compatible software, such as Fugawi’s Marine ENC or Global Navigator or iNavX. You can also purchase Navionics charts through X-Traverse, some of which can be simply downloaded.

We recently reviewed Marine ENC here and thought it was a great PC-based system for the pilothouse, either as primary or backup navigation.

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, Technology
Review: Fugawi Marine ENC Navigation Software

Review: Fugawi Marine ENC Navigation Software

Krogen 58' Delivery Route from Florida to North Carolina -- Screenshot from Fugawi Marine ENC 4.5

Krogen 58' Delivery Route from Florida to North Carolina -- Screenshot from Fugawi Marine ENC 4.5

During a recent offshore delivery of a new Krogen 58′, I had the opportunity to check out Northport System Inc.’s Fugawi Marine ENC charting and navigation software. It loaded painlessly on a new Windows 7 laptop, ran flawlessly for 3 days nonstop, and had an easy learning curve. If you’re looking for something to run on a laptop to backup your dedicated chartplotter, or for the main navigation software to run on a dedicated PC, you should consider Marine ENC for the price, competent features and ease-of-use, especially for chart management using the company’s (subscription-based) X-Traverse system.

Overview of the Software

Northport Systems’ president, Robin Martel, loaned me a copy of the latest version of Marine ENC, Version 4.5.50.* The company has a transparent and easy-to-understand process for updates and upgrades.  Whole numbers of versions are considered the “basic” product and updates all the way to the next whole number are free. Fugawi constantly releases minor updates, typically taking care of bug fixes and compatibility issues, but sometimes including feature enhancements. So, if I owned this copy of version 4.5, I would be entitled to free updates until version 5.0 came out. 

The program has a price of $279.95 directly from the company’s website, which is fairly inexpensive for this type of program. That price seems to be the norm for the other sales outlets I checked. And while you can buy Navionics charts for the program, typically for $189 per Platinum+ area, you can also use free RNC and ENC charts from NOAA. You can pick either raster or vector format for the NOAA charts and you’ll get them with all the latest information, which is a big advantage.  I downloaded a full set of East Coast (U.S.) NOAA ENCs for my test. They were easy to find and quick to download. 

Using the Program

For my evaluation, I brought Fugawi Marine ENC with me on an offshore delivery, which might not be the most difficult task for navigation software (think about running in and out of all the passes, island channels and obstructions of the San Juan Islands in the Pacific NorthWest). Nonetheless, we had some Intracoastal Waterway to navigate leaving Florida and a couple of waypoints along the offshore route to try to keep us in the core of the Gulf Stream while headed north. As we approached our destination in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, there was quite a bit of navigating to do getting in at Cape Fear and then moving over to the ICW to get to the marina.

Screen Shot of Fugawi Marine ENC Track of Fort Pierce, Florida Departure

Screen Shot of Fugawi Marine ENC Track of Fort Pierce, Florida Departure

When you first start the program, you tell it what folder your charts are stored in and the program will go and import them. In my case, it was quick and trouble-free.  I downloaded several collections of ENC charts from NOAA.  Electronic charts for U.S. waters are available from NOAA in both raster and vector format and have the advantage of always being up-to-date when you download them.  Marine ENC also supports Navionics charts, at several levels and if you use Fugawi’s X-Traverse chart subscription service you can be sure you will always have the latest available. We’ll take a more detailed look at X-Traverse in another article here on OceanLines.

Fugawi Marine ENC Supports Many GRIB (weather) File Formats

Fugawi Marine ENC Supports Many GRIB (weather) File Formats

Marine ENC is mostly intuitive to learn and use. There are the familiar text-based pulldown menus at the top of the screen, as well as a customizable series of task-based icons running along the left edge of the screen. Most common tasks can be quickly initiated by clicking on the appropriate icon. You can easily start a route track, set some new waypoints and navigate around the charts. Since I wasn’t using the software to actually navigate our Krogen 58′, I set up the program to track our route. I used a new USB-connected GPS to feed position data to the program, which recognized the device instantly. No messing with ports or USB-to-serial port translations. Had I wanted to, I could have easily fed the autopilot with steering inputs. In fact, the Marine ENC software/GPS combination I was using was more accurate than the other laptop-based system we were using for actual navigation. Nice to know.

Screen Capture of Fugawi Marine ENC Track of Arrival at Cape Fear, North Carolina

Screen Capture of Fugawi Marine ENC Track of Arrival at Cape Fear, North Carolina

Tracks, waypoints and other data are easily imported and exported and an experimental feature on my version was able to use a Google Maps overlay for yet another view of things. In fact, you could use this software for planning even if you use a dedicated chartplotter for navigation. Marine ENC will move waypoints via card or cable (as required) between Raymarine, Furuno, Simrad, Garmin and Magellan units. The first image in this story, above, is a screenshot taken of the wide-view track record of the delivery trip. It shows the dogleg we took to stay in the middle of the Gulf Stream. The program seamlessly switches charts when you cross a coverage border.

Recommendation

If you’re just getting into PC-based chartplotting, Fugawi’s Marine ENC would be a good bet, especially with a number of enhancements coming in the near future. Northport Systems’ Martel says the company is working on some major capabilities for the program, including more support for multiple manufacturers’ products aboard the boat — other radars, AIS, etc.  And although I had no trouble with the software running on a recent load of Windows 7, Martel says the next major upgrade will take better advantage of Win 7 capabilities. You are likely to see more complementary mobile apps, for systems like Symbian and Windows Mobile, in addition to the iNavX app already available for the iPhone and iPad. I think you’ll also find some interesting integration ahead with destination and local knowledge services like ActiveCaptain, although the company isn’t discussing that yet. At this price point, about half what you would have to pay for Nobeltec software, you’re not going to be disappointed with Fugawi Marine ENC. Take the free 10-day preview for a test-ride.

* (full disclosure – Fugawi is an advertiser here on OceanLines. We have an editorial policy that prohibits the practice of “trading” editorial coverage for advertising support and we are in no way obligated to positively review any Northport Systems product)

Copyright © 2010 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, Technology