pc navigation software

Maybe You Don’t Need 3G on Your iPad 2?

iPad 2 3G Version -- Photo: Verizon Wireless

iPad 2 3G Version -- Photo: Verizon Wireless

Brian Chen, at Wired, has a piece today that suggests a clever way to avoid having to pay the extra money for a 3G version of the iPad 2 just to get GPS and phone data network capability.  The solution basically involves using your current Smartphone as a wireless hotspot. 

Here’s an excerpt of his piece:

GPS transplant

The Wi-Fi iPad doesn’t have built-in GPS, but if you want to use that beautiful Maps app for navigation, you still don’t need a 3G iPad, so long as you have an iPhone. It turns out that if you hotspot with an iPhone, the connection transfers the GPS to the iPad.

Just connect the iPad to the iPhone’s hotspot, then launch the Maps app, and you’ll see the blue dot tracking your location.

(We’re not sure if this works when hotspotting with an Android phone — if you can confirm, let us know in the comments.)

For the complete article, visit the Wired article here.

There are some questions still.  For example, if the GPS data is being imported by the tethered iPad, can it be used by other nav programs instead of the Maps app?  I’m betting so, but I need to hear from somebody with the gear who is willing to experiment with it.  My best sources for iPad info are Jeff Siegel at ActiveCaptain, Christine Kling at Write on the Water (an amazing writer/sailor/geek), and my friend Ben Ellison at Panbo.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, seamanship, Technology
Nobeltec:  The Future Has No Dongle

Nobeltec: The Future Has No Dongle

Screenshot of Nobeltec Time Zero Trident 3D Nav View

Screenshot of Nobeltec Time Zero Trident 3D Nav View

I have seen the future of Nobeltec, and it has no. . . okay, okay, I couldn’t resist.  But c’mon, let’s admit, that dongle was the only real thing we hated about Nobeltec navigation software.  And yes, I know all the reasons they had for using it, but it really got in the way.  And now that you know that the future Nobeltec nav software won’t require a dongle, let me tell you that that is the least important of all the improvements coming.  Nobeltec gave journalists and industry insiders at the Miami Boat Show a  peak at the next-generation software, code-named Trident, that has been under development for some time at the company.  The future is very bright, indeed.

In fact, Nobeltec liked the code-name so much they kept it for the new product, married to a term that underlies the technical philosophy of the new products — “TimeZero.”  The full name will be TimeZero Trident.  The TimeZero moniker refers to the high-speed chart-drawing engine that will be the basis for all Nobeltec software going forward.  This is the result of the purchase of Nobeltec by Signet S.A., in October of 2009.  The TimeZero codebase is shared between Nobeltec, MaxSea and Furuno (who is a 49% shareholder of Signet).

What does this mean to you?

The major benefit to you as a navigator using software based on this chart engine is the nearly instantaneous, seamless chart re-draws, no matter what you’re trying to do — pan, zoom in or zoom out. You don’t wait for anything.  And when that kind of speed is available, then integrating full-time 3D is easy to do. In fact you can fuse photos into the 3D view as well and with a feature called Depth Shading, you can keep the high resolution satellite photos in place and watch it become more transparent with increasing water depth, allowing you to see where shallow water ends and deeper water begins.

The Charts?

TimeZero Trident will run MapMedia 3D charts, including official S-57 vector and raster charts from hydrographic offices around the world, as well as vector charts from C-MAP by Jeppesen and DataCore by Navionics.  The bottom line on this feature is that you will have access to the best cartography available and you can run in and out of the different charts without any work on your part.

The software is fully integrated, as you might expect, with the latest Furuno hardware, including NavNet 3D and the FAR 2XX7 series of radars, as well as a host of other Furuno and Insight (Nobeltec) hardware.  There are nice integrations of NMEA data streams, too, so a real glass bridge can be even more flexible and functional.

The Best Part

Despite all the previous gushing, what I liked best about the Trident product is the new user interface.  A couple of extremely useful and flexible toolbars are placed around the periphery of the screen, allowing you to configure your activity and views with nearly limitless customization.  But you don’t have to dig through a foggy manual to learn how to do it.  For example, in the screenshot at the top of this piece, you can see a small ribbon at the top of the screen, which allows you to select the “workspace” that you are in.  You can move with a single click from an active navigation (monitoring) workspace, to a planning workspace, without disrupting the former to get to the latter.

On the right side of the screen above you can see a transparent sidebar with a new key instrument view.  This, too, is customizable.  To read all about the features in TimeZero Trident, download the attached brochure PDF (6+MB).

You can see the screenshots in this special OceanLines Gallery 

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The Future

While TimeZero Trident will be a stand-alone product, distinct from the current Nobeltec VNS and Admiral 11 software, eventually, its TimeZero engine will be the basis for all Nobeltec software in the future.  I think it’s fair to say you can expect to see TimeZero VNS and Admiral versions, which do still have somewhat different feature sets from Trident.  The Nobeltec folks didn’t say so, but it seems logical to me that at some point down the road, I don’t know when, everything will become Trident labeled (hey, it’s a cooler name, right?).  Nobeltec expects TZ Trident to be available later this spring.

Copyright © 2011 by OceanLines LLC.  All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Electronics, seamanship, 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

VIDEO: Active Captain Integrates with MaxSea-Furuno

ActiveCaptain Will be Integrated into MaxSea Time Zero Chart Software

ActiveCaptain Will be Integrated into MaxSea Time Zero Chart Software

Jeff Siegal of ActiveCaptain recently notified users of the fabulous online cruising database that the information from ActiveCaptain will shortly be available inside MaxSea’s Time Zero charting software. The MaxSea folks were demonstrating a beta version of the software and Jeff did a short video of the demo, which is below.

An impromptu demonstration at the Miami Boat Show showing the very latest ActiveCaptain support in MaxSea/Furuno Time Zero.

I don’t know for sure what kind of computer the MaxSea folks had in their exhibit at the Miami Boat Show, where this demo was filmed, but the chart zooming and panning are perfectly seamless.  And switching from vector to raster charts is literally just a click of a button. The best thing is that anytime the system has an Internet connection it will check, then download and cache all the updated info from ActiveCaptain.  All of this is done in the background.  Eventually, MaxSea will build in a feature so that users can simply enter their own ActiveCaptain updates right into the MaxSea software and it will be sent upstream to the database.

In this demo video from MaxSea, you can see how the software works. The video has a music soundtrack for some reason, but you get a good look at the functions. I guess it’s time to have a closer look at MaxSea’s Time Zero software, which, by the way, integrates seamlessly with the Furuno Navnet products and so would be a logical choice for a PC-based nav solution that includes black-box sensors from Furuno. Naturally, MaxSea also includes NMEA 2000 connectivity, so other brands should be usable as well.

Jeff is going to have the MaxSea software available for ActiveCaptain users (ActiveCaptain is free to use, by the way). He expects the price for the non-Navenet version to be less than $350.

If any of our readers are MaxSea users, I’d love to hear from you in the comments as we begin a review of that software. And if you’re not already an ActiveCaptain, you should be. There is no better way to find the kind of information you need to more easily enjoy your cruising, whether it’s the latest fuel prices, a marina recommendation, or info on hazards provided by the locals who know.

Update: I’ve just learned that my friend and colleague Ben Ellison of Panbo actually helped get ActiveCaptain and the MaxSea folks together. You can read more about his assessment of the new confab on Panbo.

Copyright &copy 2010 by OceanLines LLC. All rights reserved.

Posted by Tom in Cruising Under Power, Cruising Under Sail, Electronics, Industry News, Passagemaking News, Powerboats, seamanship, Technology

Fort Lauderdale 2009: First Stop – Toys for the Boat

The 50th annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show opened Thursday to a relatively good VIP turnout and a cautiously optimistic mood among the exhibitors.  By Monday we will know if any boat buyers showed up, but just from the first day, it seems like component and accessory suppliers might do fairly well.  I spent the day looking at new “stuff” for the boat.  Here’s a quick look at a couple; with more to come over the next several days.

 
MaxSea TimeZero 3D Chart View

MaxSea TimeZero 3D Chart View

TimeZero Technology for Your MaxSea Navigation Software

 

Furuno announced that MaxSea has incorporated the TimeZero display technology into its own navigation programs, giving PC navigators the same high-speed functionality available on NavNet 3D chartplotters.  The updated program, available in two versions, referred to as MaxSea TimeZero Navigator and MaxSea TimeZero Explorer, includes an all-new graphics engine, new tool sets and Work Spaces.  Each package includes a DVD set loaded with NOAA raster and vector charts for the entire U.S. coastline. In addition, you can load high-resolution satellite photos to further enhance the charts.

According to the company, “one of the key new features of MaxSea TimeZero is the ability to switch from a traditional 2D chart display to an incredibly realistic 3D view with a click of the mouse. MaxSea TimeZero runs in a native 3D environment, which means there is no mode or trick to make the charts look like they are in 3-dimensions. This new 3D environment offers you a true perspective and wider area of view around the vessel, which will allow you to better plan your routes and navigation.”

MaxSea TimeZero Navigator has a list price of $450, while MaxSea TimeZero Explorer has a list price of $1,250.

SeaBob Water Sled In Action

SeaBob Water Sled In Action

A SeaBob as a New Water Toy for the Boat

Cayago AG, a German company, builds a line of luxury water toys, at the center of which is the SeaBob water sled.  This is something you have to see to believe.  It’s basically a battery-powered propulsion device to enable a swimmer to race through the water at up to 22 km/hr, approximately 12 mph, which is unbelievably fast.  The devices can dive and are perfect for extending a snorkel or SCUBA trek.

SeaBob V7 in Red

SeaBob V7 in Red

There is a range of models available, varying in levels of thrust from the motor and trim and accessory complements.  A top-of-the-line model includes a sonar system for navigation through murky water.  Prices are on the company’s website, listed in Euros, and range from approximately $10K to $16K; not cheap but for the boater looking for truly unique waterborne entertainment, worth thinking about.

Copyright © 2009 OceanLines LLC

Posted by Tom in Industry News, Technology