Saturday, 9 February 2013

Our iPad On Board

iPad Can Display Your Existing PC Navigation System

Many cruising sailors have PC's installed onboard, running navigation applications such as Fugawi, C.Map, MaxSea, OpenCPN or other programs.  Then along came the iPad and muddied the waters somewhat.... well quite a lot actually !

The iPad is great for reading e-books, handling email, web viewing, skype calling, music listening, video replay and a million other tasks. It connects simply to our PC and has changed the way we communicate with others.

Like many other sailors, we use the excellent Navionics HD charting application on our iPad - it's a great tool.  Intuitive and simple to use, it keeps getting better with every upgrade.  I understand that Navionics sales via the Apple iTunes store are enormous.  Of course with the Navionics app the iPad is not linked to the boat's instrument systems, so it won't display ARPA or AIS targets, wind, depth or any of the other NMEA data relating to the boat or its environment.  But the mobility of the device is attractive - we can use it anywhere on board, subject to prevailing weather. 

However there is a simple way to have the best of both worlds - the mobility and convenience of the iPad and the complete suite of information that is already displayed on your PC screen.  You have two options ........

1.  Upgrade to the very capable iNavX iPad application, adding appropriate hardware and NMEA converters. Its a great application, but the overall cost is not insignificant, and of course you have to buy new charts again.

2.  Use a simple "remote desktop" application to connect the iPad to your existing PC chart plotting system.

We've been using the Splashtop remote app on the iPad and can now view our PC screen from anywhere aboard Crystal Blues. The iPad app costs only $4.99, though you do also need a wifi router onboard.  We have a small one made by D-Link, that runs directly off our vessel 12vdc power supply.  To use the system you download and install the Splashtop app on your iPad (or iPhone!) and also download and install a small software module to your PC.  Both processes are simple, and the applications well mannered.  Then the fun begins - with the iPad connected to the boat wifi network, simply tap on the Splashtop app, select your computer and your PC desktop will appear on the iPad screen.  Its very simple.

AIS Target Display, Via Transas Navigator & iPad
A range of controls are also available, so you can manipulate the PC software from the iPad screen, though this does take some getting used to. The image at left shows our Transas Navigator PC screen, viewed on the iPad.  You can see the AIS target displayed.

Splashtop automatically controls your PC screen resolution to exactly match the iPad screen, so on the iPad the image is perfect.

AIS Target Information On iPad
This app also works over the cloud - if your boat PC is connected to the internet, Splashtop can display it from anywhere you have a network connection on the iPad.  Of course it works with all of your PC applications - not just the navigation suite.

We now routinely use the iPad as our cockpit information tool, and can swap back and forth easily from our master Transas charts and  information screen, to the Navionics screen.  We can also simply swap to other apps - last week our grandson Harrison called in on Skype video - we were able to walk the deck and show him the boat under sail, moving north up the Thai coast. Quite a thrill for him and us.


  1. OK, I'll be first. This is a great article and not only allows me to see the benefit of Splashtop and an Ipad, but how to do it, and with links! Thannks

  2. Greetings. I am thinking of trying to join you (technology wise) in the 21st century. Please, without too much bother on your part, do you know the amp draw for your PC, the wifi router and the ipad in the 12v system? I have no genset so running the main engine is the limiting factor and possible discouragement to the PC/iPad route.
    Thanks for any thoughts.

  3. Unknown .... hmmm. Anyway, mr router (D-Link DIR-655) draws about 6.5 watts. The PC (HP Laptop) draws much more of course - that will be your main consideration. Allow between 30 and 50 watts, depending on the model, hopefully a small one. The iPad draws very little. N./

  4. For what it's worth. Get your self a multiplexer with wifi and you can get all your instuments, gps and autopilot on to the laptop, tablet and ipads all at the same time. I am using ShipModul miniplex 2 - WiFi

  5. Works well after couple of hiccups re our antivirus programme and flickering mouse cursor were solved using the Splashtop support pages.


Have something to say ? Let us know your thoughts ....