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Pilot Plug laptop with marine charts

Class A AIS Transponders have a special Pilot Plug that is intended to allow a Commercial Pilot to quickly and reliably connect their laptop PC when they arrive onboard using a USB cable such as one of these or via Bluetooth adapter like this. However, you need a reliable and suitable laptop for marine navigation. I can supply you a ready to use pilot plug laptop with GPS, AIS, 12V, outdoor viewable touch screen, and other options.

Any questions about getting a Pilot Plug laptop? Please contact me!

Pilot Plug Laptop Requirements

  1. At least 4GB RAM, with 8GB being optimal. If your Windows is clean with zero junk (like I configure on my navigation laptops), 4GB should be fine.
  2. solid state drive (SSD) is highly recommended to speed up load times. Otherwise you might have to wait for a couple of minutes. SSD is also reliable, so a great thing to have on the water regardless. 128GB or above is usually enough. If you have other needs such as storing photos or videos unrelated to navigation, a larger size may be warranted.
  3. Integrated GPU is OK for marine navigation.
  4. The Pilot Plug will pass AIS & GPS info. However, you can also consider having an integrated or external hardware GPS antenna.
  5. rugged laptop is best for a marine environment. You want the pilot plug laptop to stand up to vibration, be drop resistant, and waterproof or water resistant. This is why I use Panasonic Toughbooks for my navigation laptops. In my opinion, having supplied >3000 units they are absolutely the best for use on boats.
  6. A matte display can be important on the water. What good is a navigation system if you can’t see anything? If you use it down below only, a glossy one may be OK. However, outside or in a bright wheelhouse an outdoor viewable display is the best way to go! Again, some of the Panasonic Toughbook models I carry such as the 10 inch and the 13 inch are such screens with a strong anti-glare coating as well. This is pretty rare in laptops, and it’s one of the reasons why I use Panasonic Toughbooks.
  7. A stock installation of Windows is poorly suited for marine navigation. Windows constantly runs all kinds of background tasks and can decide to restart and update for an hour when it feels like it. I absolutely reject this behavior – it is unacceptable. Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t offer any ways to turn this off. On my systems, I tweak Windows 7 and 10 to turn off all this Microsoft junk and to adapt the system and give you the control you need for marine navigation. On my systems, Microsoft has NO control and you have ALL the control.
  8. A Pilot Plug laptop (and marine navigation in general) must be reliable. I cannot stress this enough. Hardened laptops with a solid state drive like Panasonic Toughbooks are the best choice. Many of them are MIL-SPEC and can even be used outside in salt water spray.
  9. Don’t rely on battery power alone, have a way of charging it onboard. Preferably, more than one way. I have native 12V chargers (cigarette plug adapters) which are a very popular option people order with my navigation laptops. In my experience, most people just run their units on 12V constantly rather than using the battery power of the laptop. Make sure to have a way of charging your Pilot Plug laptop on board while navigating.
  10. Make sure your Pilot Plug computer has enough ports to connect whatever external equipment want to connect. A GPS antenna usually requires one USB port. An AIS receiver might take another port. An NMEA adapter of some kind may require another port. Some older equipment you may have might need an RS-232 serial port. All of my 10 (2 x USB), 13 (3-4 x USB), and 15 (4 x USB) inch navigation laptops have a native RS-232 serial port as well. I also have an internal expansion card which adds 2 x USB ports to any of my units.

Premium Pilot Plug laptop

Waterproof 10 inch Pilot Plug laptop Waterproof 13 inch Pilot Plug laptop 15 inch Panasonic Toughbook for marine navigation

Any questions about getting a Pilot Plug laptop? Please contact me!

These are the highest performance and brightest screen units in their respective sizes that I carry. The 10 and 13 inch models are the most waterproof (full rugged) and are suitable for use outside.


Midrange navigation laptops

10 inch Toughbook for marine GPS Computer for TimeZero 13 inch waterproof PC for TimeZero 15 inch

Any questions about getting a Pilot Plug laptop? Please contact me!


Why get a navigation laptop for me?

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.