I am setting up another laptop with the free seaclear software and I recalled that I wrote this help file back in 2009. GLAD I DID...so, if you want to set up FREE NAV software with FREE charts, then read this WORD DOC...or see steps below.
NOTE: The Word document includes helpful screen captures; below is a copy of the text only.
How to set up SeaClear Free PC Navigation with all NOAA Raster Charts
This can be a little confusing, so I wrote this right after setting up a second system on my new Vista Laptop. The overall sequence is, download and install Seaclear, download and unzip NOAA Raster charts, copy all the .KAP chart files into the Seaclear charts folder, calibrate the new charts with MapCAL, then run Seaclear and your charts are loaded. In addition to this you can add a USB GPS for position data, and you could also add an AIS SR161 radio for AIS ship data. Approximate cost for this nav system is about $200 to $250 US. Seaclear and charts are free, AIS cost about $150, GPS $50, wiring and mounts about $50. Listed below are the sequential steps to complete this set up.
Steps to Follow:
1. Download SeaClear from Spring.com/seaclear at
a. Save the file to your desktop
2. Install SeaClear, follow all the default settings.
a. You now have a navigation system, but no charts
b. Notice you have two new programs
i. SeaClear and MapCal
ii. MapCal is used to index and calibarate maps into the SeaClear program
3. Download NOAA Raster / BSB charts from NauticalCharts.NOAA.gov
b. Click the download FREE RNCs
c. Scroll down to find the AGREE button, and proceed
4. Use the Graphical selection method
a. Click OK to RUN the JAVA app
5. Change your button to ZOOM, because when you enter the chart selection process it will be on the selection button by default. You first need to zoom into your area before selecting your charts.
Note: You may have to select this ZOOM button twice; the button will change color when selected.
6. Notice how I have zoomed into Maryland where I can now select some charts. The maximum amount of charts you may select at one time is 100.
7. Change tools to the selection too, and click and drag a selection box around the charts you want to download. You will notice that the selected charts will turn BLUE and the non selected charts will remain RED.
8. With charts selected, click ADD TO CART and your charts will be listed in the cart, ready for you add more charts or to place your order. We will place order and move on in this demo.
9. The next screen will present your list of charts ordered and you will now be able to ORDER SELECTIONS. Obviously, all your charts are selected, and will next be zipped up ready to download. Click ORDER SELECTION and move on.
10. Your charts are placed into a ZIP file, ready to download. Click DOWNLOAD and save to your desktop.
11. Find the ZIP file, unzip the charts into a folder on your desktop called NOAA Charts, or any name you want to call the folder. When unzipped you will see a folder called BSB_ROOT. Inside this folder will be folders with chart numbers. Inside the chart numbers will be several versions of charts and calibration data. You want to find, sort, and copy ONLY the .KAP files. That’s what SeaClear wants.
12. Note: If you use search and search your BSB_ROOT folder for KAP files, then all of them will show up. Then simply use VIEW DETAILS to turn on your column headings and sort the files by file TYPES. This will place all the KAP files in order making it easy to select only the KAP files.
13. COPY and PASTE all these KAP files into the SeaClear CHARTS folder. This is located on your Drive C, in Program Files, SeaClear, then CHARTS
14. Now with the new charts in the charts folder, use the MAPCAL program to index, add, and calibrate the charts into the SeaClear Program.
15. Close the MapCal program, it is only used for this indexing and adding aspect.
16. Now, launch SeaClear! You have Charts.
17. List your Charts. Click FILE, CHART, LIST ALL
18. Select one of your charts, you now have a free PC Navigation Charting Program up and running! CONGRATULATIONS.
19. To learn how to use SeaClear, look for the PDF manual inside of the SeaClear folder in your Program Files/SeaClear. It is very well written. It is called: SeaClear Manual MMV En
Next Challenge For you…
1. Install or connect a simply USB GPS and SeClear will integrate your latitude and longitude.
2. Connect an AIS, Automated Identification System, radio, SR161 to display ship data from commercial ships within your area.
a. The SR 161 AIS receiver, about $200.00 US
i. Mill Tech Marine is the place to get this AIS radio
b. How to connect GPS NEMA into the SR161 which will serve as a multiplexer and combine the GPS stream with the AIS stream and send this combined data out via one USB plug.
c. RS232 DB9 to USB cable
i. Search for USB 2.0 to Serial (9-pin) DB-9 RS-232
COMPLETE....just finished this set up onto a rebuilt Dell e1505 that I installed a 500 GB new hardrive and Window 7 Pro. I installed SeaClear, download 785 NOAA RNC charts for the entire East Coast, installed these into SeaClear and connected this re-build unit into my AIS, GPS NMEA stream via USB to SERIAL cable to the SR-161 AIS radio.
I must say....I am amazed that this all worked so well on Windows 7. This: SeaClear and AIS SR-161 are old systems, 2007 and they are now up and running in about 2-3 hrs of work.
$50.00 for a new 500 GB harddrive from
$100 for Windows 7 via Google Shopping, downloaded and bought KEY
$0 AIS we had on the boat
So for $150 dollars I have a new spare laptop with AIS, SeaClear and Windows 7....VERY COOL
This SeaClear and NOAA charts is really worth the look...
Hayden onboard Island Spirit Rock Hall, prepping for MAINE 2011
I am so happy for you that you have set up SeaClear, it is fantastic. We just ran it again 1200 miles up to Maine and Back and all over New England. We really enjoy the system. I am glad my doc has helped.
Hayden, Thanks for the instructions. I too was able to down load Seaclear II and all the charts for the ICW, and the program is working fine in planning mode. I can't get the program to receive data from my Garmin GPS 45. The same computer has Maptech light on it and Maptech is able to communicate with the Garmin 45, so I suspect that it is just a program setting. Any ideas? The computer is a Dell Latitude (an oldie)with Windows 98. It has an extra 2 gig harddrive that has all of these programs and charts with slightly less than 1 gig still available. The GPS 45 supports NEMA 0180, 0182, and 0183 version 1.5. I would appreciate any suggestions that you might have. Thanks, VicC
Your issue is mosrt likely that the port you are connecting your GPS to is not set to the correct communication speed. Commonly the speed is 38400 bps. You can adjust this port speed in MY COMPUTER / MANAGE,/DEVICE MANAGER / PORTS. But you also need to verify that is the speed of the comm being sent via your GPS.
An easier way to deal with this is to buy a simple USB GPS and plug it into the laptop. See this one...