NMEA devices on PC: wind sensor, log, AIS & more

Adding NMEA devices to a PC laptop isn’t hard! All of the below options can be added to my navigation laptops. Please discuss with me what you need, and I’ll suggest a unit that can do it all, as well as the adapters to connect to your other equipment. Note that there are separate pages about radar and fish finder, as well as autopilot and NMEA adapters.

NMEA devices on PC: AIS receiver

The automated information system (AIS) will overlay the positions of all the vessels in the area which have transponders on your charts in real time. This doesn’t require an Internet connection. I can bundle any of my units with an AIS receiver and antenna for $200. I also have a wireless AIS receiver with antenna for the tablet versions of my systems for $225. Receivers do not require registration.

NMEA devices on PC - AIS receiver overlay

The green triangles are the AIS overlay above. Additional information can be viewed about each vessel by clicking on them. To transmit your own position to other vessels, you need a transceiver (transponder). Take a look here for more info on them.

NMEA devices on PC: electromagnetic log

These units measure speed through the water with no moving parts. All my systems can show speed over ground (SOG) via GPS, so this sensor is only needed in some special cases.

Wind sensor (anemometer)

Clipper Wind Sensor is a compatible unit for under $200. Another option is the Vantage Pro2. A wireless model is also available. Wind direction can be displayed right next to the charts, along with other info such as speed, etc.

Why use a navigation laptop or tablet as a chart plotter alternative?

My navigation laptop or tablet systems can be much more affordable than GarminLowranceSimradB&GFurunoHumminbirdRaymarineSi-Tex. I will also support my units forever! Furthermore, I believe that some of the commercial chart plotter brands gouge their customers. Large companies force their clients to upgrade by no longer supporting older units with chart and software updates. In addition, they charge outrageous fees for simple things like a larger screen size. I don’t do any of these things, and never will – guaranteed! In addition to these, please take a look at other advantages as well.