Friday, August 14, 2020

New: One-click download of Satellite Maps for any Point of Interest


Enhance your charts with the visual cruise-planning benefits afforded by satellite images. View detailed satellite maps of marinas or anchorages.

If you have ever approached an unfamiliar marina, or anchorage, with a slight apprehension due to insufficient or outdated details on your chart, fear no longer. With the latest release of the plugin, you can now download up-to-date Google Maps satellite images directly from OpenCPN and watch them render right on your chart, perfectly overlapping your raster or vector chart.  

Google Maps download for sQuiddio Points of Interest (POI) has been available for sometime from the squiddio web site. For OpenCPN users, however, this approach required a few extra steps (locating each POI on the web site, selecting the zoom level, copying the KAP file to the correct OpenCPN chart directory, updating the chart database).

You can now zoom in on one or more marinas, anchorage or any other type of sQuiddio POI, right click on the chart and select sQuiddio: Download Satellite Images for POIs from the contextual menu. Wait for the chart database to update and there you have it!

The how-to...

If you don't have the sQuiddio plugin installed, OpenCPN version 5.2 has a easy new way of downloading plugins in a semi-automated fashion through their new Plugin Manager (if not, you can always follow the instructions on the OpenCPN page).

Once you have the plugin installed and activated, to download Google maps for a set of POIs:

  • Zoom in/out in your viewport so that only the POI(s) for which you want to download maps are shown
  • Select sQuiddio: Download Satellite Images for POIs from the contextual menu. A separate map is downloaded for each POI and for each level of zoom specified in the Download tab of the plugin settings. The plugin follows the Google Maps zoom levels, the default values being 17 ( ideal for, e.g., seeing the layout of a marina ) and 15, useful when planning an approach to an anchorage or marina. You will be provided an estimate of the size of the compressed file to be downloaded, and asked to confirm the download.
The Chart Database will be automatically updated when the download is complete and the Google Maps will appear on your chart (Note: if you have created a Chart Group for your Google Maps, you may have to close out and relaunch OpenCPN in order for the maps to show)

To change the zoom levels of the Google Maps to be downloaded, as well as the directory where you want your maps saved (maps are saved as raster files in the KAP format), click on the sQuiddio plugin icon in the toolbar and go to the Download tab

You can also choose to download a Map to cover the entire viewport, in addition to the individual POI-specific maps. See the option Include Viewport Map in the Downloads tab

Wind and wave data from a buoy near you

With the release of OpenCPN 5.2, the sQuiddio plugin has also undergone a major upgrade, adding new functionality such as one-click Google Maps download for all sQuiddio Points of Interest,  NMEA logs data sharing etc. More on these in upcoming blog posts or on the Quiddio plugin manual on OpenCPN.

The new super-handy feature we wanted to highlight today is the addition of NDBC Buoy reports right in your OpenCPN chart. Check out the lastest wind and wave conditions for locations near you before you cast off!

NDBC Buoy reports hold wind, wave, and other marine data collected by the NOAA National Data Buoy Center (NDBC). The data are collected from NDBC moored buoys and from C-MAN (Coastal-Marine Automated Network) stations located on piers, offshore towers, lighthouses, and beaches. Parameters reported by both buoys and C-MAN stations include air temperature and pressure, wind speed and direction, wind gust, and sea surface temperature. The buoys (and a few C-MAN stations located on offshore towers) also report wave data, usually including wave height, wave period, and wave spectra. 

NDBC Buoy reports are downloaded and displayed on OpenCPN charts by means of a new round, organge sQuiddio marker. Clicking on the marker will display the latest 24 hours worth of data available for the buoy.

To view buoy reports on your chart, activate the sQuiddio plugin (make sure you have varsion 1.3 or greater), then turn on the NDBC Buoy Reports checkbox in the View tab of the plugin settings. 

If you don't have the sQuiddio plugin installed, OpenCPN version 5.2 has a easy new way of downloading plugins in a semi-automated method through their new Plugin Manager (if not, you can always follow the instructions on the OpenCPN page).

Buoy reports are handled just like any other Point of Interest in the sQuiddio plugin. Just right click on the relevant area of the chart and select sQuiddio: Download (Update) local Points of Interest from the contextual menu.

Important: the data is cached locally with each download, and available offline if you lose your internet connection. To view the most recent reports, you need to download the POIs again (in other words, no automatic updates of Buoy Data!).

Also, most buoy reports currently available for the United States, though there is a sprinkling of buoys around the world as well, and coverage appears to be expanding as the NDBC adds new partners, such as the British MetOffice

Let us know if you enjoy this new feature and perhaps suggest ways to improve it.