dramatic breakthrough heretofore reserved for professional navigators
aboard commercial vessels, entails the overlaying of radar targetry on
the comparatively small plotter screens of yachts. Nobeltec again is a
player here, with the Si-Tex Radar PC, a 2-kW radar sensor/GPS/personal-computer
combo it developed with Si-Tex. While the power and range of the unit
is fairly low, Nobeltec says it will put gutsier, open-array, primary-type radars on the market soon.
Pinpoint Systems, which sells The Cap'n software navigation system,
offers another approach to the radar overlay concept. Add a Titan Targetmaster
processing board to your PC as well as a Radar Watch upgrade to The Cap'n,
and you'll have a package capable of superimposing transparent radar
images atop charts displayed by the system's SoftChart electronic
in this area is the Raytheon RayTech Navigator PC software mentioned earlier.
When interfaced with the company's 80 Series Pathfinder radars,
it will not only overlay a radar cursor, EBL (Electronic Bearing Line)
and VRM (Variable Range Marker) on Maptech or C-Map NT cartography, but
also, via a Mini Automated Radar Plotting Aid (MARPA) feature, will provide
on-screen collision-avoidance data for up to 10 targets. Whether a navigator
opts for Nobeltec's, Pinpoint's, or Raytheon's product,
the resultant ability to cross-reference radar and chart data with sure-fire
accuracy is bound to prove useful.
The most radical
extras packaged into electronic cartography and software these days seem
closer to science fiction than anything else. The wildest of the bunch
are the programs that show the ocean floor in 3-D. Nobeltec's Visual
Navigation Suite 6.0 offers such capabilities, as does the 3D Cap'n,
an option that delivers simultaneous, split-screen views of cartography
and 3-D bottom structure. Raytheon also expects to package ocean-floor
topography with its next incarnation of RayTech, to be issued some time
this spring. Maptech's Contour program relies on detailed soundings
from NOAA and other sources and, via split-screen imagery, allows you
to plot in 2-D on a NOAA raster chart and in 3-D on a Contour chart at
the same time. What is perhaps even more exciting is Maptech's Data
Collection Module, a related feature that lets a navigator augment or
create his own Contour charts with his own soundings, a tool presumably
useful to professional cartographers as well as amateur ones.
So are there other
useful, cutting-edge tools available? Some manufacturers are offering
automatic update services that bypass having to deal with U.S. Coast Guard
Notice to Mariners bulletins. Maptech has a weekly update feature that
automatically copies corrections from the bulletins to its electronic
charts via the Internet. Nobeltec automatically updates its Passport cartography
four times a year by mail, and C-Map updates twice a year more or less
the same way. The latter manufacturer, by the way, laces its vector-based
C-Map NT cartridges with lots of point-and-click "Quick Info"
windows with oodles of useful information on ports, marinas, fuel docks,
launch ramps, hospitals, and tide tables.
Which brings up
one last point. Virtually all of the electronic cartography available
these days contains way more information than conventional paper charts
do. Consider Nobeltec's Streets, Roads and More, for example, a
feature which extends maps inland for 50 miles. And then there's
Maptech's Light Lists and Coast Pilots, Navionics' new Tides
and Currents package, and the North American Tides and Currents module
available with the latest version of RayTech software. Combine goodies
like these with all the others already mentioned, and it's easy
to see why the field of electronic cartography is growing fast these days
and getting, in the best sense of the phrase, pretty darn far out.
USA (508) 477-8010. Fax: (508) 477-6168. www.c-map.com.
(888) 839-5551. Fax: (978) 933-3040. www.maptech.com.
(800) 848-5896. Fax: (508) 291-6006. www.navionics.com.
(503) 579-1414. Fax: (503) 579-1304. www.nobeltec.com.
(877) 56CHART. Fax: (651) 726-5639.
Systems (631) 288-0264. Fax: (631) 288-0294. www.pinpointsys.com.
Marine Company (800) 539-5539. Fax: (603) 864-4756. www.raymarine.com.
(727) 576-5995. Fax: (727) 576-5547. www.si-tex.com.
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