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 EYAA (Endeavour Yacht Association of Australia)
 Marine Communications
 Ipad 2 as GPS
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Chris M
Sheet Hand

Australia
26 Posts

Posted - 22 November 2011 :  4:57:01 PM  Show Profile  Visit Chris M's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I'm thinking of getting an Ipad 2 to be used as a GPS on the boat. I've got the Navionics app for the iphone, which works well, but the bigger screen on the ipad should be much better.

Has anyone had any experience with it?

Cheers,
Chris

"Livia" E28
http://www.flickr.com/photos/livia-e28

doc
Main Sheet Hand

Australia
146 Posts

Posted - 24 November 2011 :  07:58:52 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
No experience with this but it sounds like a neat idea. A few thoughts:

Do all iPad 2.0 models have real GPS capability or is it just 'assisted GPS' (aka pseudo-GPS)? There was some lack of clarity about this with the iPad 1.0 (check out http://www.zdnet.com/blog/apple/apple-ipad-does-it-have-real-gps-updated-yes-and-no/5898)
Are the charts downloaded to the iPad when you buy the app or are they accessed online in real time (like the Google maps app)? I ask because if your iPad suddenly goes offline for any reason, it would be a bit of a bugger if the chart suddenly disappeared from your screen, particularly if you were attempting a tricky harbour entrance.
Can the iPad be connected to an external GPS antenna for better reception? Somehow relying on the consumer spec GPS antenna on the iPad makes me feel slightly nervous, I'd prefer to have a 'proper' marine GPS antenna.
Finally I wonder how robust the iPad is in the marine environment. I'd want a pretty sturdy mount for it.

Having said all that, let us know how you get on with it - I might decide to copy you. If I ever manage to get back on my boat after all the house renovations, grrrr ...

Steve (Echo)

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
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Chris M
Sheet Hand

Australia
26 Posts

Posted - 24 November 2011 :  09:14:34 AM  Show Profile  Visit Chris M's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I've been reading up on it, and you have to get the 3G version to get GPS chip. The Wi-fi only version uses wi-fi for GPS fix, which obviously won't be available offshore.

Assisted GPS simply means the telecom towers are used to speed up getting an initial fix - it still has a real GPS chip which works out of tower range, and you don't need a sim card or phone plan. If you are in phone tower range, the towers let the GPS chip know which satellites to look for first for a signal, hence speed up the initial fix. I read an article in Yachting Monthly which tested the Ipad offshore out of phone range and said it works fine.

You can also pre-load maps at home (through wi-fi), so they will be available offshore.

I haven't found the perfect case yet, they are either waterproof bags, or bump protectors, so I may have to rig up a home made protection system!

Coupled with the fact I'll have email, internet and video player (when in phone range), I'm sold! I'll let you know how it goes.

Cheers
Chris

"Livia" E28
http://www.flickr.com/photos/livia-e28
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Chris M
Sheet Hand

Australia
26 Posts

Posted - 13 February 2012 :  11:35:38 AM  Show Profile  Visit Chris M's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I took the Ipad 2 out yesterday on the Swan River - 3G + wifi version. I haven't got a phone sim card, but it worked fine in getting a fix and tracking our route, proving you don't need a phone plan, and the 3G version has a GPS chip. The interface is identical to that on iphone (Navionics app), although obviously a much clearer large chart on the bigger screen.

Twice the GPS did drop out for a few seconds, but soon updated our track showing a dotted line from last location, about 50m in total over the 2 hour sail. This hasn't happened on the iphone before, so maybe having a phone plan and sim card would give more stability. However it was very accurate apart from that, and more than up to the task.

I've still got to work on the mounting system - I had it hanging in a zip lock bag, but thinking of mounting it on a TV extendable braket, to swing out when sailing, then back inside later to watch videos in the cabin.

All in all very happy with it, and keen to try offshore when my sailing skills are up to the task!

Cheers,
Chris

"Livia" E28
http://www.flickr.com/photos/livia-e28
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Sea Wulf
Sheet Hand

Australia
26 Posts

Posted - 19 February 2012 :  03:26:48 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hi Chris,

I too have been thinking about the same thing as yourself. My main concern with the iPad though isn't so much the reliability of the GPS (I have a "proper" Northstar unit already operational on board) but the susceptibility of the unit to dying a fast death due to corrosion as it certainly isn't designed as a "marine" item!

If someone designs a "decent" case which would keep it well protected from moisture and/or bumps etc. It may be a viable option, but I certainly agree it makes navigation much nicer when you have a BIG screen to see your information on!

Please let us know how it goes and if you have a great design for a case and/or mounting system, I suggest you patent it quick!

Cheers!

Steve

E24 "Birinda"
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