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GPS for phone while on board?


Canuker
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I'm sure there must be (several?) GPS apps for use with a phone while on board (or anywhere else for that matter).

Can anyone recommend anything, particularly something that is independent of the ship's own communications system, please?

We will be sailing the Alaska coast next year and I thought something like this would help with identifying passing glaciers/mountains (ships!).

Something that gives more than just longitude and latitude, but just that, and a good map, would certainly be a good start.

Any experienced mariners out there, who can share their experience of such software?

 

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I'm most familiar with Android systems.

 

There is the ability to download specific maps from Google Maps to your phone in advance of your trip.  If you download the data in advance, you can get mapping without being connected to either cellular or ship wifi internet.

 

Another option if you aren't necessarily interested in mapping is the app "GPS Test" and "GPS Test +" .  They will provide you with the data from the GPS satellites, but no mapping.  But you can get coordinates, height, course, speed and more.

 

Hopefully that's a start for you.

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1 hour ago, ed01106 said:

IIRC, most phones don’t use true GPS, but rather the locations of cell towers, on a ship the nearest cell tower moves.

 

If you install GPS Test, it will show you the actual satellites being used to determine your location, as well as the accuracy of the fix.

 

So your "cell towers" statement is simply wrong.  And to prove it, you would still get your GPS fix if you turn off your cellular connection.  Or if you are in the middle of the ocean.

 

But if you say so....

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2 hours ago, ed01106 said:

IIRC, most phones don’t use true GPS, but rather the locations of cell towers, on a ship the nearest cell tower moves.

 

Incorrect

 

Pretty much all smart phones have a GPS chip.

 

They also use cell tower triangulation.  Which requires more than one cell tower.

 

Try it, you phone will happily give you GS location while in Airplane mode.

 

From 2 seconds with Google -

 

https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gps-phone2.htm

https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/gps-phone2.htm

https://traveltips.usatoday.com/gps-work-cell-phones-21574.html

 

Edited by SRF
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I use an app called GPS Status. It shows satellite location in the sky and signal quality from each.

 

I like to get a "fix" on the balcony every morning (although this phone is very good at getting a fix while I'm actually in the room).

 

But for your position on a map, just use Google Maps and download the maps for the area where you'll be cruising. A planet-level basemap like the one below is usually available without downloading any extra maps but you might want more detail if you want to identify points of interest.

 

Screenshot_20190612-214929.thumb.jpg.6575a1a270919d10b031a4eb16471829.jpg

Edited by Underwatr
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Navionics (navionics.com) has a free chart viewer download from their site.  

 

Edit:  Aw, sorry.  This is only just a chart view. Not an interactive GPS.  you would need to buy the software and a chart plotter for that.  

Edited by ldubs
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We have a small boat and in addition to the real chart plotter, I have backup apps on a tablet, they also work on phones.

The one I use on cruises, while ashore, is HereWeGo:

https://wego.here.com/

It is the only one I know that works offline. All others require a cell connection or WiFi or the download of memory hungry small maps.

The HereWeGo app is free and you can download the maps for each country you visit. Recently, we were in Cartagena Colombia and we had nice street maps, directions etc. It is also nice while in a taxi to be certain that he is not driving all around town.

I used it in the US, Europe, Caribbean: very accurate.

 

At see, I like to play with some boat navigation apps. It's fun to see speed, course, depth, distances etc. I use mostly MX Mariner but also Navionics and OpenCPN. The apps are free but except for the US waters in OpenCPN, the charts are not free. I have the charts anyway since I use them on my small big boat. It takes a while to learn those apps but I enjoy them.

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I use "US Topo Maps" on my Galaxy. You can pre-download appropriate maps but, it will track your position without any maps. A cell or wifi connection is not needed. Receives the standard GPS constellation. After you get home, you can display the track on a map to see where you were.

 

Another useful app is GPS Test Plus which will display your location (lat and long) without needing a data connection. It also displays speed and heading, GPS time (GMT) and local time, sunrise and sunset for your location.

Edited by TinCan782
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I pre cache maps into two apps on my smartphone, Google and Maverick before departure. Google for just walking around and Maverick does all the tracking etc if I want. Maverick uses Microsoft, OSM and Multimap among other pre loadable maps and like Google is free. Most smartphones can be accurate to about 10ft with clear site of sky and cellular turned off.

Edited by JBare
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On 11/1/2019 at 5:18 AM, FlyerTalker said:

Another option if you aren't necessarily interested in mapping is the app "GPS Test" and "GPS Test +" .  They will provide you with the data from the GPS satellites, but no mapping.  But you can get coordinates, height, course, speed and more.

 I also use this app as well as those I mentioned earlier, its excellent.

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  • 2 months later...
  • 6 months later...

Now available: "Nautical Charts and Maps" $8.99 one time charge for unlimited access to NOAA marine charts.  NOAA only charts US Waters and northern Caribbean.

 

For other locations, I activate a subscription to Marinetraffic's Navigation maps.  It's not too much for a month here or there. (And I activate satellite tracking for the cruise ship I am on)

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  • 3 weeks later...
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On 11/8/2020 at 1:24 PM, MBP&O2/O said:

I use Viewranger. The app is free but you pay for the maps. Reasonably priced. They cover a small area so you can get what you want.

I use it for walking and it allows you to track your path if you so desire.

Are you using a fitness tracker for this?  My question about GPS on a ship is...will it track my walking while on the ship.  I don't really need a map of where I have been, but when I am walking in my neighborhood I find I get better distance measurement when I have the app tracking me rather than relying on number of steps, since steps are not always consistent.  I am using a Fitbit with an iphone.  EM

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No, I am not using a fitness tracker per se .... I use it to measure pure distance and then I view the route on a map. Thinking about it though ... could you use a tracker at sea? If you are on a ship travelling at 20 knots and you are walking on the ship, a GPS tracker will plot your exact position and that will be showing up as, essentially, the position of the ship?

Just a thought.

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12 hours ago, MBP&O2/O said:

No, I am not using a fitness tracker per se .... I use it to measure pure distance and then I view the route on a map. Thinking about it though ... could you use a tracker at sea? If you are on a ship travelling at 20 knots and you are walking on the ship, a GPS tracker will plot your exact position and that will be showing up as, essentially, the position of the ship?

Just a thought.

Sure, and your tracker is going to show the distance the ship went, not the distance you went.  Assuming the ship is moving at faster than a walk.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My experience in Alaska has been that phone GPS can be spotty. I put a visible geotag on photos from one of my camera apps and I have quite a number of them with no geotag. Two trips so far, different phone on each, consistent result. Usually I seem to have problems north of Juneau but be fine starting a couple hours south of Juneau.

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