Navigation / Instrument Acronyms

February 22, 2011

Since users ask about these from time to time, here is the list of acronyms used to denote certain navigation related data items in PolarCOM instruments and elsewhere:

POS – position, that was easy
SOG – speed over ground. Speed of a vessel relative to stationary land.
COG – course over ground. Course of a vessel relative to stationary land.
VTW – speed (velocity) through water. Speed of a vessel relative to water.
HDG – heading. Compass direction into which the bow of a vessel is pointing.
DBK – depth below keel. Water depth measured from bottom of keel
DBS – depth below surface. Water depth measured from surface of water or vessel waterline.
DBT – depth below transducer. Depth as returned by transducer, unadjusted.
AWA – apparent wind angle. Angle of apparent wind as seen from a moving vessel, relative to vessel bow-stern axis.
TWA – true wind angle. Angle of true wind relative to vessel bow-stern axis.
TWD – true wind direction. Compass direction from which the true wind is coming.

VMG – speed (velocity) made good. Speed with which a vessel is moving towards its destination, as measured on a line between current vessel position and destination.
XTE – cross track error. In general, shortest distance from current vessel position to the nearby route leg.
BTN – bearing to next. Compass bearing to the next waypoint enroute.
DTN – distance to next. Distance to the next waypoint enroute.
ETEN – estimated time enroute to next.
ETAN – estimated time of arrival to next.
DTD – distance to destination. Distance to the final point of multi-leg route. Measured along the route.
ETED – estimated time enroute to destination.
ETAD- estimated time of arrival at destination.

ROT – rate of turn.
RDA – rudder angle
SDA – set and drift angle. Used in combined set & drift instrument.
SDD – set and drift direction. Used in combined set & drift instrument.

Any of the direction acronyms above may have a suffix of ‘M’ to denote that they are in degrees magnetic. Without this suffix, assume degrees true. I.e. HDGM vs. HDG.


Happy New Year – 2011!

December 31, 2010

Dear Polar Navy users, friends and chance visitors to this blog!

I’d like to wish you a happy, peaceful and successful new year! Let your routes be free of trouble, your arrivals timely and let wind be always in your sails wherever you may go!


Fun with ENC charts

August 29, 2010

Looks like NOAA may be using automated conversion software to create ENC charts from satellite images. It works great most of the time, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. In this chart (US5NY43) Mid Hudson Suspension Bridge seems to be charted based on a shade of the bridge rather than bridge itself, moving it somewhat North. Stated accuracy of 1:40000 scale chart is about 140′ so this one is probably just about within the limit.

Good navigators always remember that chart is not a substitute for a proper lookout.

P.S. A bit more on this – the following is my guess, correct me if I am wrong.

So, NOAA may be trying to do the right thing. Note that the satellite image is taken from position slightly due North of the bridge, rather than vertically. From that point of view bridge as tall as this one (134 ft) would be visually shifted South relative to anything at “sea”/water level. On the other hand, if the sun was at high noon and directly overhead, shade from the bridge would be precisely under it at exactly the sea level, and would provide a perfect outline of the bridge on a chart. I think this method works “most of the time”, in particular for images taken during summer months in Southerly latitudes.

Here we have a relatively high Northern latitude, and photo likely not taken at noon, so the sun is low in the southern sky. Because of that, the shade is located North of the bridge. The “real” bridge position should probably be charted in the middle between the shade and the bridge on the satellite photo.


User Comments About Our Products

May 18, 2010

We get quite a bit of user feedback – primarily support questions, and such. Sometimes you, guys, send us your compliments – please know that these are always greatly appreciated!

A few “official” reviews:

- Polar Navy Provides Free Chart Viewer, Inexpensive Chartplotter by Jane Anderson
PolarView Review at Panbo by Ben Ellison
Choosing a chartplotter program for ActiveCaptain users by Tom Lochhaas

Here is what our users are saying about Polar Navy products.

I became a PolarView NS customer a couple of weeks ago, which coincides with a couple of upcoming deliveries so I’ve been using it heavily. I am so impressed. PolarView NS is clean and quick, well thought out and well executed. Routing and “what if” scenarios take a fraction of the time I was used to spend with the navigational software I previously used, and I thought it was pretty good. Thanks too for promptly answering my couple of newbie questions which helped me start making the most of the program faster; much appreciated. For me, PolarView NS is indispensable. Great job, and thank you. J.R.
I really like your chart management (really simpler than the one from MacENC). P.E.
I installed Polar View some time back and it is working great. I love your product. R.S.
A very nice program. Great job – I really like what you’ve done. … The GRIB files in particular are great! Keep it up! I look forward to future releases. J.A.
The maps look great! D.Q.
Keeps getting better! I just installed the update for PolarView, works great on my MacBook Pro! P.U.
I’m starting to use PolarView, congratulations, you did a nice job (sorry, I’m French speaking, and writing in English is not so easy). I like your PolarView software, …I will tell friends of mine to download PolarView. V.J.
I love Polar View compared to others, the seamless integration between maps is great. S.C.
Good people at polar navy your app looks great. M.O
Thought I’d pass on how much I like your GRIB data interface. I played around with Fugawi’s 10 day demo tonight and your interface and display for GRIB is much better! B.H.
The search by distance of tide stations works great. Thanks again! I like this even more!! B.M.
I’m glad I found your company and its products. I spent many years programming mobile applications, even before there were really platforms for them. Your software appears to work just fine, and I know how rare that can be! R.O.
Here are my comments about AIS functionality of PolarCOM and PolarView: The software is clear, simple and fast and the user interface is very friendly and intuitive. Many similar products are very “sluggish” but your performance is great. The performance of your graphics is excellent. P.S.
Hello Polar Navy team! It’s really great software! S.E.
You did a great job with that new version of Polar View! Some friends of mine discovered Polar View and enjoy to use it. J.C.
You rock! Installed on both laptops, and it works great. Thanks for all your help – it really makes me feel a lot better about this program! B.H.
I’m up and running – everything seems to work great! Really like the new version of PolarView with scale and coordinates shown. B.T.
I can’t tell you enough how great these apps look on the MiND’s screen. And the tiling of S57 and BSB3 maps! awesome! Of course, with the screen scaling, moving the map around is not exactly zippy, but what do you expect for an 800MHz processor with 512MB. great, great, GREAT software. Really. J.T.
I have spent some time with PolarCOM and PolarView and I’m really impressed. The chart management and grib utilities work flawlessly. In my experience this is no small achievement. And the routing interface is very clean. A.K.
Just wanted to say thanks. It’s nice to see someone doing something like this with Macs. M.T.
Polar Navy is an example of a product that I can see there are other competitors that are free like OpenCPN and SeaClear, but you get what you pay for, and Polar View keeps getting better, and is definitely worth the license fee, it’s in a class of its own. The gauges in particular are something no other software seems to even have let alone the great implementation you’ve given them. T.G.
The user interface is very clean and uncluttered compared with some bloatware cluttered screens. I hope you will keep it this way. R.F.
Looks like a great program, can’t wait to try it out this summer sailing in Massachusetts Bay. W.L.
I am starting to play with your software and love it!! What a great solution for charting and the cost is very reasonable! Thank you so much! I am planning a trip from Portland, OR to Seward, AK to deliver my new boat to her homeport and this is going to be my en route charting solution. J.D.
The program is great. I was showing one of my buddies down at the marina on saturday…..and he went into his boat and downloaded it ! Thanks for the quick support. W.L.
I bought the full version and I love it! Thanks again for a great product! Your response is amazing, so fast!!! I have been telling everyone I know that has a boat (a lot of people!) about how great your software is. D.J.
Great product for viewing GRIB files on the Mac: more power to your elbow. A.W.
Your PolarCom is great in its features of: enabling your own setting for WHAT items to display and enabling HOW to display (dial versus digital), setting the size of the relevant display(s), setting the transparancy. I do wish to compliment you on a great additional navigation tool for the on board PC. P.M.
PolarView is an excellent program to view charts and grib data. I’ts very easy to operate, fast and has a good layout. What I like specially is the fact, that charts with more details (smaller scale) are shown emebdded in the overview charts. T.P.
Quite impressive! … simple to use, intuitive UI. Especially I like that there is only one ZOOM-function integrated with up-and downscaling. I like that the program is in three logical parts, planning/routing(view), instrumentation(com) and actual sailing(is). Very good quilting…. Very easy chart installation, no problems with S57 and BSB. First product at reasonable price, covering S63. Intuitive hotkeys and excellent quick guide documentation. Not bad at a good price! O.M.
I have downloaded PolarView and PolarCOM to my laptop that I use on my sailboat for navigation. I use this time of the year to upgrade my navigation system for use in the spring. Your software products are excellent, I am very impressed, and I hope to rely upon them for the upcoming sailing season. Since I sail in both US and Canadian waters…, the ability of your software to load NOAA ENC S57 charts along with the S63 charts for the Canadian ports is invaluable to me – outstanding! P.B.
As a developer myself, I’d just like to thank you all for the work on the Polar Navy suite. J.J.
Great! Finally an clear, efficient and complete software to display NMEA datas. That I like very much: The general concept and the sobriety of displays design, the fully customisable and scalable window(s) with the on-top fonction, the multiplexer integrated, the facility of configuration. F.B.
Great software!!! Much smoother than OpenCPN. K.D.
I am now back from Bermuda having raced down and delivered back using your software the whole way. It worked very very well. Both the visual vector arrow on PolarView and also the dials in PolarCOM were very easy to use to visualize what is going on. I used PolarView / PolarCOM continuously for 4 days from Newport to Bermuda and 6 days coming back. PolarView worked flawlessly the whole time. Not a single crash or reboot in 240 hours of continuous use. A.K.
I love this software. Even though I am a professional mariner, and have access to Rose Point and The Cap N, I like the cross platform ability of PolarView. I am an oil spill contractor and my work takes me to some tight spots. I always like to take a look on the chart before I navigate to the site. Your software allows me to look at any chart from any computer. P.P.
This program is cooler and cooler the more I play with it. Great job keeping the focus on what’s truly important and working hard to do that as well as possible. It shows. D.C.

Buying and installing S63 charts from ChartWorld

May 17, 2010

This article is out of date and remains here for archiving purposes. Buying and downloading S-63 charts from ChartWorld can now be done with a click of mouse directly in PolarView

S63 vector charts are produced primarily by official government hydrographic agencies around the world. They are sold through a number of value-added resellers. I buy my S63 charts from ChartWorld. In my experience, they have been the most accessible and their ordering process is relatively straightforward. Disclaimer: I don’t have any connection to ChartWorld, other than being their customer from time to time. Note, that while basic principles described here would apply to ordering S63 charts from any other source, specific details may differ.

Step 1
To buy charts at ChartWorld, or any other S63 chart distributor, for that matter, you need to have something called “User Permit”. “User Permit” uniquely identifies your chart viewer or navigation application software installed on a specific computer. S63 charts that you order, will be encoded using this value and could only be used on the same computer and with the same software product for which they were issued.

In PolarView your “User Permit” is shown in a text box in the lower right portion of Chart Manager. Look for a long hexadecimal string, as seen in a screen capture below.



Screen capture of Chart Manager, showing User Permit on the lower right. Your User Permit will be different! Use one from your system, otherwise your would not be able to install S63 charts!

Step 2

To order charts, you need to open an account at Chartworld.com. You will be asked for your User Permit during account set up process. Copy and paste “User Permit” exactly as shown in PolarView. If you make an error while submitting this value, ChartWorld web site will usually tell you – but don’t rely on this.

- Press “Register” button under login box on the top right of ChartWorld.com home page. Enter your personal details and submit. A new account would be created and details will be emailed to you. Your account login name is generated by ChartWorld and is usually a short string like “AB123″.

- Log into your new account. Click on “myACCOUNT” button from the menu button list. You will arrive at a page sub-titled “My Installations”.

- Click on “new installation” link. You will be presented with a form to enter details of your computer and software installation.



Sample installation page filled with details. Make sure to use your own “User Permit” value!

Note the “ENC User Permit/Backup” field. ChartWorld permits up to 2 different “User Permits” per installation. If you provide 2 “User Permits”, any charts you order for this installation will be supplied with keys issued for both of these permits. You will be able to use these charts on up to 2 installations of PolarView.

- Now that you have set up your account, click on “SHOP” button from the menu button list. There will be a “Search” box on the left hand side. You can search for charts by entering keywords such as place names or chart identifiers. For example, you can search for Virgin Islands or for specific chart cell names, if you know them.

- Search results will present you with a list of matching charts. For each chart you will see one or more prices listed on the right hand side. Prices are in Euros. These prices reflect different durations of chart update period. During the update period, you will be able to download any updates to your charts. Shorter update periods will cost less.
Note, that charts you buy do not stop working after update period is over. They will remain available and continue to work in PolarView. However, you will no longer be able to download these charts from ChartWorld – so make sure to have appropriate backup.

- For the British Virgin Islands each chart cell was priced at Euro 5.71 (about $7.50) for a 3 month update period at the time of last check.  NOTE: chart GB302006 is being replaced with chart GB402006, which should be available on ChartWorld shortly. I will post an update here, when available.

- Before adding charts to shopping cart, click on “Select Installation” button above and select installation you created in the first step.

- Add charts to your shopping cart by clicking on price/update period icon on the right hand side. When done, click on “GOTO BASKET” link above. You will be forwarded to your shopping cart and will be able to complete chart order with a credit card.

Step 3
Once your order is complete, ChartWorld will send you an email with link to download chart and permit files over FTP. Here is what this file list looks like for British Virgin Islands charts:

GB302006_DATA_10_1_0.ZIP.S63
GB52020A_DATA_10_1_0.ZIP.S63
GB52020B_DATA_10_1_0.ZIP.S63
Polar_DC3300_20100119.zip.prm

There are three files. Two of these files, with extension “.S63″ are chart archives. The file with extension “.prm” is an archive that contains “Cell permits”, essentially – keys to unlock your charts. All of these files are Zip archives, even though they have unusual file extensions.

- Download these files. Rename each file by removing an additional “.S63″ or “.prm” extension, so that they all have extension “.zip”.

- Unpack these archives in a location where you would like your charts to be installed.

- Chart cell files (with names beginning with “GB”) will extract into a sub-directory ENC_ROOT. You can extract all chart files into the same ENC_ROOT sub-directory. If your Zip archiver program prompts you to do so, agree to overwrite any files that may already be there. These overwritten files are not important for purposes of our installation.

- The last archive will contain a few files, of which you need one, called PERMIT.TXT. Extract this file to any convenient location of your choice.

Step 4
– Launch PolarView and open Chart Manager. Click on a “Manage Permits” button on bottom right. This will open a new window – Permit Manager.

- In Permit Manager click “Add” – a file dialog will open. Browse to location where you saved PERMIT.TXT file and select it. PolarView will read this file and install “Cell permits” for charts your purchased.

Permit file from our example above should install 3 chart permits, one for each chart cell. These chart permits will be listed in Permit Manager.



Screen shot of Permit Manager with new licenses added (and one expired license from previous installation).

- Close Permit Manager. Now, back in Chart Manager click “Add Directory” button, and navigate to disk location where you extracted S63 charts.

- Select ENC_ROOT sub-directory and press “OK”. PolarView will scan your selected directory for S63 charts. It will add all new charts to the list. At that point, your S63 charts should be installed and visible in the main chart window.

That’s all there is to it. Make sure to keep a good backup of all chart and permit files you order.


Under construction

May 5, 2010

Next version of PolarView is (as always) under development. Here is a screen capture of an upcoming feature.


PolarView Waypoint Icons

April 16, 2010

The next version should finally get a new waypoint icon set. Here is a sample. What do you think – how readable are they?

Update: I threw a coin a few times and came up with 3 more icons to make it even. The last icon is my attempt at a diving flag in monochrome.


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