Exceptional Marine Navigation Software
It's all on the chart
It's all on the chart
Each vessel fitted with an AIS transponder transmits its identity, position, course, speed and other information over a VHF channel. This is compulsory for vessels over 300 tons and all passenger ships. Quite a lot of other vessels carry them as well.
So if your boat has an AIS receiver on board you can track these vessels if they are in range, typically 20 miles or so. If the receiver has a display at all it is usually a bit rude and crude – the real trick is to feed the AIS information into your chart display system. Now you can see the AIS targets overlaid onto your navigational chart and this starts to get useful.
AIS was intended and designed as a collision avoidance mechanism however you really need a graphical chart based display to properly realize this. Nuno™ now supports AIS (hooray!) and makes a great way to display the information.
Even on a smaller boat there is a lot to be said for getting an AIS receiver. They are pretty cheap these days and benefit in terms of situational awareness is brilliant.
Configuring AIS in Nuno™ is pretty easy. You need an AIS unit with a NMEA output and then you just plug it in. That’s it. Depending on your set up the AIS NMEA stream may be multiplexed onto your GPS feed or it may be a separate connection. Either way just plug it in and Nuno™ will find it.
AIS targets are displayed as little green symbols with a vector arrow representing speed and direction. Ticks on the arrow are at one minute intervals. Hover the cursor over the target to see additional information such as name, destination and cargo. The scope of the information being broadcast can vary quite a lot.
Here is a really handy technique: Create a pencil line and drop one end onto the marker for your boat and the other onto an AIS target. The line will display range and bearing to the AIS target. Even better the line will ‘snap’ to your vessel and the AIS target and update as they move. Very useful for keeping an eye on another ship.
Nuno™ with AIS capability is being released soon. Very soon. Maybe even today. This is available as a free upgrade to all users with a current license. There are lots of other improvements in this release and some great new features just around the corner.
How do you get it? Easy. Run Nuno™ up on a PC with an internet connection. If an upgrade is available it will tell you in the Support Centre pane and there will be a download link for you to follow.
Windows 7 supports touch screens. Ok, that’s not very big news, touch screens have been around for a while. Wikipedia tells me that touch screens date from the 60s. Not sure about that but they certainly crop up from time to time in museums, train stations and the sort of demos that look a bit forced. Overall I’d admit to being only peripherally aware of touch screens up to the day I encountered an iPad. Multi-touch, high resolution screen, quality software and suddenly it all makes sense. So much so that using the iPad touch screen felt natural within minutes.
Now sadly Nuno™ won’t run on an iPad (or maybe it does – watch this space) but there are some nice PCs around with touch screens and we figured that Nuno™ should be right at home with these. I find with charts in particular that I really want to reach out and touch them. Once you start doing this on a screen then there is no looking back. The touch screen doesn’t have to the replace the mouse and in many ways makes a nice addition to it.
Technically a touch screen, by default, drives the software a little like a mouse. This means that many applications, without modification, can already be used with a touch screen to some extent. Of course there is always scope for tweaks and improvements. As programmers we can accept the default behavior (ok sometimes) or dive in and create custom touch screen code. The diagram below shows what we have come up with in Nuno™. This seems to work quite well. There may well be refinements in the future.
I have been experimenting with an ELO 2242L 22” Touch monitor which is great fun although I can’t decide which way is best to mount it. Upright works quite well but is a bit tiring to use after a while. Might even cause the dreaded Gorilla Arm. Lying flat (the monitor, not me) is also quite good but it won’t naturally just lie on a table. Would be really nice to make a custom table for it although the ultimate chart replacement screen will probably need to be two or three times as big. Might even have teak edging.
Elsewhere in the CherSoft research labs we’ve been looking at a Motion J3500 tablet PC. This is a very nice bit of kit. Outdoor viewable display and generally pretty tough and portable. I could image using it ashore for planning with a keyboard, mouse and so on. Then taking it aboard and just using the touch screen to control it. The built in GPS works well so along with the automatic route tracking functionality in Nuno you can have a solution that really will just work. I guess in some ways this would be like having a plotter except of course that you could check your emails and browse the web in-between times. It features hot-swappable batteries too which is a pretty neat trick.
Nuno™ 2.5, the touchy, feely edition, will be out any day now.
Why is Britain called ‘Great’. I kind of quite like it, but isn’t it a touch odd? Why don’t we do this for other countries? I mean ‘United’ States is ok if a bit functional. But how about going the whole hog such as Marvelous Mexico, Fantastic Canada or Affluent Switzerland? A more serious minded colleague tells me that technically the country is called ‘The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ which as country names go has got to be about as long and pretentious as they get. Apparently the ‘Great’ bit was introduced to distinguish it from the, presumably less great, Brittany (which is now part of France). Alternatively ‘Great’ has its origins in 1707 when Britain became greater by incorporating Scotland. None of this has anything to do with Nuno except that we like to say ‘Great British Nuno’ and sort of imply that the ‘great’ bit is somehow connected with the Nuno bit.
Nuno 2.3 with UK charts is now launched. This really is UK and not just GB because these charts go all the way around Ireland. Check out the coverage here. Here’s how it works. When you download the Nuno installer it does not come with any charts at all. So when you run the installer it will ask you whether you want to use the US or the UK chart data sets.
Installation finished. Fire up Nuno and you will see there are no charts installed. The World Vector Shoreline will be there but that’s about all.
Next job is to go to the support pane and hit the Update button in the ‘Chart data updating’ section. This will go an fetch a complete set of charts; either the UK or the US set depending on your choice while installing. This will work even if you are using Nuno in the trial mode.
Fetching the charts may take a while, there are quite a lot of them.
While you are at it you may as well hit Update for the ActiveCaptain data. This is really quite small and won’t take anywhere near as long.
Once the clunking and whirring has finished all your data will be up to date and you are ready to go.
Happy sailing. If you get a minute, please tell us what you think about Nuno.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could use Nuno™ for UK waters? Ok, not great for everyone, but pretty good if you happen to be sailing around the UK. So, good news for UK sailors, we’ve got a set of charts for the UK.
After months of intense negotiations with the UK Hydrographic Office we have secured a deal to use ENC charts for UK coastal water. This is the same chart data as would be used by an ECDIS. Now of course Nuno™ is not an ECDIS, if it was then it would be very clunky to use and we’d charge you a fortune. Instead Nuno™ is easy to use and very cost effective. That may sound like vaporous sales talk but consider that this same set of ENC data, 485 cells, would cost you thousands if you bought them for an ECDIS. We are only going to charge you £120 (inc VAT) for all those cells plus the magnificent Nuno™ Navigator application. That has got to count as cost effective.
The chart data comes with this disclaimer:
"Chart material has been derived in part from data that has been obtained from the United Kingdom Hydrographic office (UKHO). The UKHO does not sponsor or endorse the product and the UKHO and its licensors make no warranties or representations, express or implied, with respect to the product. The UKHO and its licensors have not verified the information within the product or quality assured it. © British Crown Copyright, 2011. All rights reserved.”
Updates will be available every three months or so.
Nuno with UK data will be out in just a week or so. Watch this space.