Saturday, June 25, 2011

SeaMaps US HD

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Nautical Chart Viewer
Cost: $.99 iPhone, $1.99 iPad
Rating: *

Chris Lukassen is a busy guy. He has developed a library of apps for the nautical community. These include SeaMaps US, SeaMaps, DeckHand, SeaMaps Baltic, SeaMaps EU, Track By Mail, Holmes, Anchor Watch and World Tides.

SeaMaps US for iPhone and the HD version for iPad are his latest versions released this month in the App Store. This is a basic chart viewer that allows you to view NOAA nautical charts.  There are no GPS navigation features included.  The app allows you to download and view the free official NOAA Raster charts.

Features:
  • NOAA US raster charts
  • 1700 charts covering US, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands
  • 5 different zoom levels
  • Offline use of maps stored on your device
This is a basic chart viewer which can be used for planning purposes. The app does a nice job of displaying, panning and zooming of the charts.  Beyond the charts viewer there are not alot of bells an whistles in the app. There is no quilting of the charts so you have to select the chart you want to view in an area.

I hope the developer will add some navigation and GPS features to take the app to the next level.  I know there is a lot of competition our there for navigation apps but another player would be welcomed.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

iNautical

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function: Chart viewer
Cost: Free app, charts $15.99
Rating: *

Waterproof Charts LLC has been around the marine industry since 1984.  They are well known for their high quality paper marine charts.  They were the first company to repackage the NOAA charts and provide them on a waterproof and tear resistant paper.  Now they are providing these same charts electronically.  Their new app, iNautical was just released June 17, 2011 and provides access to these same great charts on your IOS device. The charts display beautifully on the iPad as shown below.

The app is free and they do provide one chart to get started.  The chart of Florida to Puerto Rico & Mona Passage is included for free.  Additional charts can be purchased for $15.99.  Their regular paper charts cost between $26.95 to $29.95 so the electronic versions are somewhat cheaper.

Features:
  • This is a basic chart viewer, no navigation features are provided.
  • High resolution 10 megapixel charts.
  • The charts provide combined multiple NOAA chart regions.
  • Chart include big colorful display of soundings, navigation beacons and lights.
  • Include fishing locations, boat ramps, restaurants, marine services, waypoints and GPS coordinates.
  • Charts can be purchased for Bahamas Crossing-Bimini&West End, British Virgin Islands, Central Bahamas-Bimini to Georgetown, Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay Fishing, Corpus Christi Inshore fishing, Florida Bay, Grand Bahamas and the Abacos, Hilton Head and Beaufort, Lower Keys fishing, NW Lake Erie and the Detroit River Fishing, NW Lake Erie and Detroit River, North Bahamas Islands, Northwern Bahamas Bathymetric Fishing Pennekamp Park- Islamorada Fishing, Pine Island Sound and Matlacha, The Thousand Islands, Thousand Islands Fishing and West Grand Bahamas and Berry Islands.
The charts quality is great and you will appreciate having multiple NOAA regions on one chart.  This app and charts are a great backup for your other navigation systems. These charts can be used for planning and reference.  With many other great charting apps out there I would probably not use these charts myself.  I can only hope that navigation and GPS features will be coming in future releases.   If you are a fan of the Waterproof charts you may find this app useful.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

SkippersEye

Application: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Function:  Boating Navigation and Data Display
Cost: $64.99
Rating: ***

With all the electronics on board yachts these days there is a need for a quick and easy way to view this data.  GBS Global Business Solutions Group has developed a slick looking app called SkippersEye that allows the yachtsman to view just about any navigation data or video source available.

Through the use of TCP/IP and WiFi networks the ships navigation system and data can be connected to your favorite IOS device.  Client and server software need to be set up to take your ships navigational data from your onboard computer and wirelessly transmit it to your iPhone, iPod or iPad. Programs like Franson GPS Gate provide the TCP/IP data transfer capabilities. There are other PC and Mac navigation programs that provide a TCP/IP server.  If your yachts PC is not connected to a WiFi network the app will display whatever data is available from the onboard GPS or locational services on your device. This will likely be only position, course and speed.

On most modern yachts there is a ton of navigational data that can be viewed.  SkippersEye lets you create and save your own customized navigation instrument layouts. Numerous layouts can be built and saved to display your favorite data. Creating displays is as simple as tapping the displays and templates to select the data you want to display.  This versatility is one of the best features about the app. 

One unique feature that I have not seen before is the ability to set up and view video feeds.  There are other NMEA display apps out there, but none of them have the video capabilities of SkippersEye.

Features:
  • Ability to set up to four video webcam views.
  • Display multiple instruments on a display.
  • Show 6 instruments on an iPhone or iPod touch and 8 instruments on an iPad.
  • Versatility to choose the background, text, and frame color of the data displays.
  • Options to create day and night time displays.
  • Monitor NMEA data.
  • Supports NMEA 0183 sentences.
  • Set up English or metric units for temperature, depth, speed and distance.
  • Data includes, position, Speed over ground, Speed of current, Water speed, Velocity made good.
  • Wind data includesTrue wind angle, True wind direction, Apparent wind angle, Apparent wind speed and True wind speed.
  • Navigation data includes, Heading, Bearing to waypoint, Range to waypoint, Waypoint name, Estimated time of arrival, Time to go, Course over ground, Cross track error, Arrival alarm and Log.
  • Depth, Water temperature and Core Location data from your device.
As you can see, if the data is on your yacht, you can get it to your IOS device for display on the SkippersEye app. For you techies our there, it supports the following NMEA 0183 sentences:

AAM, APB, BEC, BOD, BWC, BWR, BWW, DKB, DBT, DPT, GGA, GLL, HDG, HDM, HDT, HSC, MWD, MWV, MTW, RMA, RMB, RMC, RPM, ROT, RSA, VBW, VDR, VHW, VLW, VPW, VTG, VWR, VWT, WCV, WNC, XTR, XTE, ZDA, ZFO, ZTG

Virtual Sentences:
AAL, ALTI, ALT, AWA, AWS, BRG, COG, DEPTH, ETAx, POS, RNG, SOC, SOG, STW, TMP, TTGx, TWA, TWD, TWS, UTC, VMG, WPN


Locations Services :
POSi, COGi, SOGi, HDGi, TIMi (iPad and iPhone only)


I like the options the app provides to set up and display almost any NMEA data sentence.  It has some flexibility that other NMEA apps don't have.  The only problem I found was the price. I might actually give it a try  if it was not so expensive. I know it takes alot of work to put these apps together. Maybe their shooting for the high end market, but $65 seems a little high.

If your a cost conscious app shopper like me, NMEAremote at $11.99 might be more in your price range. Even cheaper is NMEAremote Lite at only $1.99. These apps don't display as many functions but are more reasonably priced.  If you need the video feeds your going to have to go with SkippersEye.

Download one of these apps and start setting up your NMEA network.