Current Version 2.3.1

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THE USER INTERFACE
 

 
When your launch The Plotter, for the first time you will be greeted by a green tinted screen with raged outlines of coast lines. A Bulls Eye shows the default location on the U.S. coast at 31.8439 N and 080.7019" W
 
The outline of the installed ENC chart shows as a green square. (Red chart outlines indicate raster charts when loaded).
Default start screen
 
 
Let's get familiar with the Tool Bar.
the Plotter tool bar.

 
The Icons from left to right:

 

 

ZOOM IN and ZOOM OUT - Magnifying Glass
These change the scale (size on your screen) of the chart you are working with. This allows you to see more details. The Plotter now supports the use of the scroll wheel to accomplish this.

New is the overzoom warning feature which indicates a zoom greater than 4x..

 
 

SCALE IN and SCALE OUT

These buttons will allow you to change the scale of chart you are using on RNC and ENC Charts.

If a larger scale chart (large scale = greater detail in a smaller area) is available for the location of you mouse pointer will see more than one segmented bar in the lower left hand corner of the chart window. The segmented colour bars in the Status Bar -BLUE for Raster Green For ENC's, Brown/Yellow for other charts – The current chart displays as a lighter shade of its colour.

When you hover the mouse pointer over the bar a thumbnail of the chart will appear under the SCALE IN/OUT icons. By clicking on the appropriate bar, or using the appropriate HOT KEYS, you will switch to the chart shown in the thumbnail. This feature is especially useful if you wish to view ECN or a Raster chart of the same area.

 
CREATE NEW ROUTE
Click it. Using the cursor keys navigate to the appropriate chart. Left-Clicking sets a waypoint – Right-Click displays the route context menu.
 
If creating a route which extends off the currently displayed chart, move the route cursor into the desired area, Right-Click and select 'MAX DETAIL HERE' or 'Scale Out'. This will give you a chart showing the area under your mouse pointer without ending the route. Continue creating the route, using Right-Click drop-down menu zoom wheel or courser keys as necessary change chart, scale and/or zoom or to move the chart under your cursor. Practice to see which combination and methods work best for you.
 
Activate Route. Turns red - deactivated routes are blue
 
The current version of The Plotter has no provision to hide multiple routes so all your routes will show on the chart all the time.

 
HACK:
To keep the chart clear of useful but un-needed routes follow these steps:
  • Create your route.
  • 'Export to GPX' with an descriptive file name and save it is a created folder called GPX_Routes.
  • Delete the route from the chart.
  • When needed, simply use the 'Import GPX' to re-load the route file.
 
 
AUTO FOLLOW

Click on this to centre the chart display on your current GPS location and engage Auto Follow (sometime called 'Cruise Mode'), for navigation.


TOOL BOX - a.k.a. The Plotter program settings
Settings – Selections are self explanatory.:

Automatic Anchor Mark

Automatic Anchor Mark drops an anchor marker on the chart provided the following conditions are met:

  1. In "Cruising" mode, meaning that speed has at some point exceeded 3.0 kts.
  2. Current speed is less than 0.5
  3. The Plotter has been up at least 30 minutes
  4. And,  The Plotter is going down now by normal exit.
  5. And, there is no "Anchorage" waypoint within 0.25 NM of current GPS location
If these conditions are all true, The Plotter will drop a waypoint at the current location, with the name - "Anchorage created on [Date Stamp]".

Thus waypoints are automatically created for known good anchorages as you shut down the computer. The 0.25 NM condition prevents clogging up frequently visited anchorages with closely spaced waypoints.  The other conditions help to prevent spurious waypoints.

Charts:
Set and/or remove your chart directories

 
Vector Charts: - ENC Chart Settings

 

LANGUAGE / FONTS

Console - the font used in the navigation info window, displayed when a route is activated.
Marks - the font properties used for waypoint marks.
 
ETC - additional settings

GPX - turns the GPX icons in the toolbar on and off.
Radar Rings - display on/off options, number of rings to display, distance between rings and nautical miles/kilometres settings.
Waypoint locking -toggles the lock/unlock of waypoints.
GUI Options - enable/disable middle mouse wheel Zoom-to-cursor option.

 


Show ENC Text
-
Click to display S-57 text on your ENC's
Note: This may not appear to work if you have “Show Important Text Only” selected in the 'Settings/Vector Charts' tab. This setting has no function on Raster Charts.
 

Show Currents
 

To show or hide current velocity and direction arrows. Click the base of the current arrow to display data for that location.

 
Show Tides

Shows Tide Stations on chart. Right Click the 'T' icon to display tide information for that location. Close the box to hide the information.

Hint: The tide icon, 'T', remains the same size regardless of chart scale. Zoom out and the icons will be easier to find.
 

Printer
Makes a remarkably fine cup of decaffeinated coffee and a toasted bacon sandwich, just the thing for a chilly night watch.
If refreshments are not forthcoming, check the printer for a print of the current chart view.
 

GPX Import / Export
The Plotter supports the import and export of GPX (GPS eXchange) files. This format contains one of two types of information, TRACKS or ROUTES.
  • Tracks: are a record of a journey made. It will contain the minimum of a latitude and longitude of a single waypoint. It usually contains additional information such as mark number, timestamp. etc.
  • Routes: are a plan of a journey to be made It must contains a latitude and longitude of at least one waypoint; It may also include other information such as a mark name.
To import a previous track or route, click the GFX-in button and use the file browser to locate the desired file. It will auto load and display in The Plotter. Loaded GPX can be manipulated within The Plotter: For instance, a saved outbound track can be used as return route - right-click on the track and select "Reverse Route". Similarly, addition waypoints may be added or removed from the track.

 
If the GPX Icons are not visible in the toolbar, they can be activated from Settings->Etc.->Show GFX Icons.
GPX Export saves all current routes and tracks into a single file a directory on your hard disc.
Single routes/tracks can be saved to an individual file by right clicking on the line and selecting "export". A file browser will open for you to save to a directory of your choice.
 

Track
By default, the track icon is displayed in the toolbar: If it's not visible, tick the checkbox in Tools->Etc.->Show track Icon. Addition settings control the track points by time interval (in seconds) or in nautical mile (resolution 0.00)

 
Tracking is on upon startup by default. Clicking the icon toggles between enabled and disabled.

 
Right clicking on a track will generate a popup:

 
• Track Properties:
• Delete Track: Removes the current track.
• Export... saves the track as a GFX file. This can be re-imported later using GPX IN.
The tracking function does not use course or speed. It uses only the Lat and Lon position data report from the GPS. If you decrease the logging frequency you will get "straighter" lines. Ensure your GPS is set to produce at least three digits of resolution.
 


GRIB

GRIB (GRIdded Binary) is a mathematically concise data format commonly used in meteorology to store historical and forecast weather data. It is standardized by the World Meteorological Organization's Commission for Basic Systems, known under number GRIB FM 92-IX, described in WMO Manual on Codes No.306. GRIB superseded the Aeronautical Data Format (ADF).

 
In short, it displays weather information on The Plotter.

 
The icon enables and disables the function. If the icon is not visible, it can be displayed from Tools -> GRIB -> Show GRIB Icon. When first used, a pop-up window requests the path to the GRIB information. Any GRIB filename which is greyed out indicates no weather information or data which is unreadable.

 
The Plotter currently supports and displays wind barbs and pressure isobars at sea level.

 
GRIB data available is:
• Wind speed (in Knots).
• Wind Direction.
• Pressure (mBars).
• Significant wave height (in meters).
Please keep in mind The Plotter is primarily an ECN reader and not a GRIB viewer: GRIBs in The Plotter are intended to be a convenience for passage planning. Other programs will provide better analysis and display of complete GRIB data models.
 


Screen Brightness

Clicking this icon will cycle through preset screen/colour/brightness settings for day/dusk/night viewing

 

 

 


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