Monday, April 21, 2008
When size matters….
Hydrographic charts for turning your laptop into a chart plotter is one way of getting a big chart display without paying the big bucks.
Memory-Map has made big GPS chart plotting available to boaties who choose not to splurge on big electronics with it's chart packages for PCs. Well established in the USA and Europe, Memory-Map is making its debut to the Australian boating scene at the Sanctuary Cove Boat Show in May with a display hosted on the Boat Books Stand who is their marine distributor in Australia.
"This is for us mere mortals who can't afford a chart plotter that cost more than our boat," Wayne Gallivan of Boat Books says. "You just load it into a laptop, hook up the little GPS and off you go."
What Memory-Map has done is digitally reproduce the familiar Admiralty charts as high resolution raster scans with all the colour and detail found on the paper original. Sold in regions on CD, each CD contains a folio of charts suitable for coastal and offshore navigation. Also included on each regional CD is the program Memory-Map Navigator which, whilst not being the most sophisticated navigation software, has the distinct advantage of being extremely easy to use with all the features you'd expect to find on a GPS chart plotter and a few more besides.
One of those extra features is the ability to load a sub-program and charts to any PDA or SmartPhone running the Windows Mobile operating system. This is extremely good news for owners of smaller boats and kayaks who can now have a full colour chart plotter in their pocket. Wayne also points out that unlike traditional chart plotters, this one works just as well at home, a real advantage when it comes to passage planning or managing your fishing spots. "Being able to print off chart sections on A4 paper with a grid and Lat Long in the margins is an easily overlooked feature" says Wayne. "Even on bigger boats, having a chartlet in the helmsman's pocket, while approaching an unfamiliar landfall or harbour entrance, is entirely consistent with prudent and traditional navigation practice."
If you're thinking that a laptop doesn't quite measure up to your requirements for a chart plotter, a quick look at the Memory-Map web site shows that they have thought this through. Accessory options include basic items like a little USB GPS to a thorough going 15" sunlight viewable, waterproof display that works off the laptop as a remote monitor and can be mounted externally. For the power conscious sailor they offer an ultra low power PC unit and if you looking for a combo, they also have a PC fish finder option.
Whilst some of those accessories might start looking like big buck solutions the basic proposition of turning your laptop into a chart plotter is certainly good value at $250 and well worth a look.
Memory-Map was founded in the USA in 2000 with a mission to provide advanced navigation and map display software to the marine and outdoor recreation community. Since then the Memory-Map product line has grown to include product sets for 7 different countries, coming to Australian shores most recently in 2006. The Australian line up already features a strong land based product set tailored for 4WD and other outdoor recreation activities. Due largely to its technically advanced licence management system, Memory-Map is the first company to achieve a licence from the Australian Hydrographic Service for the digital reproduction of its paper series. Whilst current marine products are limited to the east coast, Memory-Map plans to offer complete Australian coastal coverage in the near future. Charts are updated annually, usually over the winter so the products on sale are always acceptably up to date. Existing users may purchase update CD' at a significant discount.