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electronic charts format

Discussion in 'Boat Electronics' started by Josce, Mar 25, 2008.

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  1. Josce

    Josce Guest

    I am thinking of writing my own navigation software.
    Not to save money, but just for the fun of it, and
    because I would like it to be an "open system" so that
    I can easily add features to it from time to time.
    I have sorted out the hardware but I am having problems with
    the electronic charts. The charts I would need right now
    have to cover the Baltic sea.

    When trying to find documentation about the "S-57" format
    I only find very "strange" documentation which is not
    very helpful. It is as if someone has made it obscure on
    It is very likely that I just haven't found the right
    documentation for this, but the ones I have found like:

    Edition 3.1 - November 2000
    Special Publication No. 57

    are not very intuitive, compared to nearly any Internet RFC, which
    you just read and then start implementing it ...

    Are there any commercially available charts that can be used on a PC.
    And to make it clear, I have no intention of cracking any codes and
    I am more than happy to pay for these charts and "lock" them to the
    computer that I install them on.

    And how do you read these charts?

  2. Larry

    Larry Guest

    Maybe you guys should be introduced to the Maemo (Linux on Nokia
    Internet Tablets) Mapper crew:

    I think what you're looking for is already open sourced and only needs
    marine navigation modules and chartography added to what has already
    been accomplished. It's all GNU and open sourced. The source code is
    there for your hacking pleasure.

    It's written in C, as you say. There are no roadblocks, whatsoever, as
    this is a large group effort for the Maemo OS for tablets with full
    support of Nokia, the largest cellphone company on the planet. The
    website is their donation to the open source Maemo community.

    A little information that may help you understand a little better if you
    have no tablet experience. OS2006 was for the Nokia N770 first attempt
    at the tablet. OS2007 was for the much-upgraded N800 tablet. OS2008 is
    a rewrite of OS2007 incorporating most of the suggestions of the Maemo
    community and adding more support for Bluetooth devices, the N810
    tablet's slide-out keyboard, etc. N800 tablets upgrade to OS2008 for
    free with a Windows bootloader that simply reflashes the whole tablet's
    EPROMS through its USB port. If you destroy the OS, you simply reload
    and start over....not send it back forever to some company.

    N800 isn't a cellphone (or sellphone). It uses Bluetooth DUN to tether
    to cellphones for internet...or connects to any wifi it can find with
    the most sensitive 802.11b/g receiver I have ever seen. N800 uses an
    external Bluetooth 20-channel WAAS GPS receiver that runs off a
    cellphone Li-Ion rechargeable. I'm using Nokia's model LD-3W:
    but they have a new LD-4W model out, now. The LD3W is so close your
    vehicle lane changes on any highway with the unit laying on the dash is
    plainly visable and very accurately depicted by Maemo Mapper.

    Go to and put Maemo Mapper into its search box to see
    the videos the various instructional bloggers have added.

    I'd sure LOVE to have a "Marine Navigation Mode" you could switch to
    with Maemo Mapper. What a cool device this GPS-sized tablet would be.
    It already uses Virtual Earth, Google Earth and other data servers to
    download maps, terrain charts, satellite photos, overlays of maps on top
    of satellite photos, and tracks very well....about the width of a dock

    When you got to that exotic island, you'd stick the little GPS in your
    pocket, boot the tablet to pre-downloaded satphoto mosaics of the exotic
    island and walked down the dock, using it on land as well to find Points
    of Interest, plan land routes, already does very well.

    Contact the team and talk to them about a Marine Mode for this open
    source system we all love. Thanks!,n810,n800

    No reason Maemo Mapper couldn't be ported to another Linux box...but
  3. Josce

    Josce Guest

    The BSB format (NOAA raster charts) is much easier and additionally a
    Yes, this is probably what I'll have to start with. Ones I have everything
    up and running I can switch to the "S-57" charts. (If I can find some
    documentation that is usable :)
    I am a computer programmer by trade, so the C/C++ part is no problem.
    My idea was to make it run on Linux and Windows, but haven't decided yet.

    I will certainly have a look at your project, but haven't done much in python
    so there is a small learning curve for me.

    My end goal with this project would be a very complete "marine system"
    Some of the things I would like to do with this system is:

    - Basic navigation
    - Control the autopilot drive unit directly
    - Connect a "3d-piezogyro" (?) so that the autopilot can follow and correct
    the waves - and ignore them when it should
    - Have an internet browser so you can check weather/harbour info
    - Connect a radar
    - Feed all the info to a secondary display below deck so if someone wants
    to know where we are right now or the speed or the wind conditions ...
    - etc

    Right now I am using a standard ITX motherboard (12W) and a daylight readable
    touchscreen display (12W). If I get the system usable I will have to look for
    some less power hungry hardware.

  4. Josce

    Josce Guest

  5. Josce

    Josce Guest

    Maybe in their efforts to keep everyone happy they have rendered it
    Thanks for the links. I will have to start going through them and
    hopefully find the documentation that I need.

  6. Josce

    Josce Guest

    I gather the OP wants to do it the hard way, hence his insistence on
    I actually already have a chartplotter with the some Baltic charts
    in vector format. But I can't access the charts from my PC.
    The only nice thing I can say about this chartplotter is that
    the screen is pretty good, the rest is rubbish.
    Interesting idea, so:

    - Microsoft makes Internet Explorer, so Firefox-people you are just re-inventing the wheel..
    - Microsoft already makes Office, so why do the Open-office group bother ?
    - etc :)

    No seriously, I would like to do it because it amuses me.
    Besides, can't sail here between November and April so maybe working on
    this project during the winter gives me some feeling of how nice it is to
    be out there sailing...

  7. Josce

    Josce Guest

    It will be interesting to see how you get on with this project.

    Probably fail miserably, but having a good time doing so :)

  8. Josce

    Josce Guest

    I do not know much about the electronic charts format but I thought that you

    This will be a good place to get charts to test against. Sadly
    I haven't found any decent documentation on the S-57 format yet.
    And if I don't find any soon I'll have to write to first version
    with raster charts.

  9. Larry

    Larry Guest

    Join the team. Sure would be a great addition to the Maemo Mapper to have
    a Marine Mode....
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