With a Maretron USB100 NMEA-0183 Gateway and an Actisense NGT-1 NMEA 2000 gateway I was struggling to get the NMEA data to all the applications on my PC, iPAD and iPhone. Many applications can not only connect to the an NMEA data source but also share the data on another TP Port or Virtual Com Port. Originally I was using a complicated stack of software all connected to each other to get data to some of the applications but couldn’t really use them all at once. More importantly which ever app I felt like using at the time might require starting up two applications!
Well in comes GPSGate Client ($40) which lets you connect to a data source and then share it with many other applications.
You can see in the graphic below that I’ve dedicated the Actisense Gateway to Coastal Explorer. GPSGate is then connected to the Maretron Gateway and then it is used to serve up the data to 7 other applications some on Windows and some on my WiFi iPad and iPhone.
Also of note is that my preferred iOS navigation application Navionics works fine on the iPhone since it has a built-in GPS, but on the WiFi iPad there’s no way to get the NMEA data into the application. I’ve contacted Navionics about this and we’ll see if they add the functionality.
This is greatly simplified from the way I was doing it before and I’m very excited to not only have all this finally working but to have it working simply! $40 for GPSGate was worth every penny!
I like Coastal Explorer because it’s UI is easy to use and has a similiar look and feel to Microsoft Office. I believe the Rosepoint Devs are a bunch of former Microsoft folks (me too) so that makes sense. Here are a couple of handy tips to use Coastal Explorer more effectively
The search functionality in Coastal Explorer actually has nothing to do with the charts (WTF!?! yep… I feel the same way). According to Brad the CE Guru, “the Search functionality searches gazetteers [databases of names and places], guide books, and a few other things”. Try it. Seach for La Paz. Did you get any hits for Mexico? Neither did I even after buying charts for Mexico from ChartWorld. To get the place names you need to download the Gazetteers for all the countries you wish to have. You can get the gazetteers on Rose Point’s web site and then you copy them to C:Program Files (x86)Coastal ExplorerGazetteer (on non 64 bit Windows drop the “x86″) and restart Coast Explorer. BINGO now CE works better. Still not sure why they don’t search the chart files, but this works for geographixc features and place namses. I dont’ think it will work for anything navigational though.
I mentioned I recently purchased and download a chart of Mexico. Actually, I tried this over the Holidays just for fun and was really dissatisfied. Chartworld’s website is pretty bad and very confusing. I found it very difficult to figure out what detail a chart wold provide and even to find charts for the location I wanted. Well three months later I wanted to give this another shot because I was certain that despite the bad web site I could figure it out. Well, I did sort of, by NOT using the website!! Chartworld has a desktop application called Chart Browser that let’s you look at different locations on the Earth and the charts available in those ares. From there you can add them to your cart. Calling it cart is a tad unfortunate. They should have called it a shopping list because what you do is save the cart to a file and then upload that chart to the afore mentioned bad website. Chart Browser also let’s you add charts to your “inventory” which let’s you track what charts you already have. The usability of Chart Browser is still not awesome, but its much better than the web site alone and I’m sure it’s how I’ll be building my shopping lists from now on.
One other hint about Chart Browser, as your using it to browse the world make sure on the bottom edge of the screen you’re selecting the right set of charts to be looking at. For Coastal Explorer this is any of the Tabs with ENC in then name. Stick with those and you’ll be fine.
Just some things I’ve figured out which I thought I’d share! I have lots more to learn about Coastal Explorer and you can bet I’ll share it as I do!