More about chartplotters
Aside from GPS, chartplotters can also be connected to sonar for more detailed information displays. They can also get input from weather stations, radar and echolocators to determine safe sailing courses and read sea depths at a particluar spot.
Charts made for plotters must conform to international maritime standards, and are usually complied by the national hydrographic board. When charts pass the standards of these bodies, the plotter can substitute for paper-based charting. Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) certified charts can be used solo in navigating active channels, or areas with high traffic, but paper records must be kept otherwise.
Two charting systems
Raster charts: this works in chartplotters by superimposing a hydrographical map on a screen, referenced to GPS coordinates. The accuracy of this method depends on the projection method used (Mercator scale or Conic scale) and the referencing interface implemented.
Vector charts: create a track based on successive readings of coordinates (bearing as well, or water depth) made at regular intervals. This methods needs less processing memory to accomplish, and can be used to identify shallow water or sandbars that can run boats aground and thereby alert the captain in order to avoid them.
Chart plotters can perform as a sort of fish finder, or sea bed video. Split or dual screens can be toggled back and forth or juxtaposed to give a more intelligent input for the boat captain's needs, whether it's tracking down fish or finding how far it is to the nearest reef.
An Automatic Identification System, a feature common for chartplotters on ships over 300 tonnes, can prevent fatal collsions at sea. Some chartplotter models can now even emit alarms in order to call attention to imminent encounters or significant off-course navigating. Vessels or boats in these situations must establish contact one with another and work out possible clashes in position and bearing based on readings from their chart plotters.
Vessel monitoring systems from a centralised coastal station can take over chart plotters in navigating a bunch of vessels in water traffic, but are mostly for coordination of many ships coming together in busy waterways.
As you can see, chartplotters work best with a range of input devices like fish finders, GPS readers and two-way communication tools.
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