Electronic Navigation and battery life

Discussion in 'General Paddling Discussions' started by M2G, Jun 25, 2015.

  1. M2G

    M2G Paddler

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    I'm interested in hearing from those of you who use a phone or electronic "tablet" to run your charting/navigation tools for multi-hour paddles, and what kind of battery life you are getting.

    My iPhone 5's screen is pretty small and I can only seem to get about 3 hours of paddling in before it's dead, running Bluechart Mobile. The screen size is better than my Garmin GPS, but I can get a lot more out of the batteries in it. I've turned most everything off in the iPhone that I can think of to extend the battery life but 3 hours seems to be my limit.

    If you're able to get 6 or so hours of operation running a chart/nav program I'd really like to know the details. iPads? Android based tablet? (never owned or used one)

    Thanks and cheers.
     
  2. tiagosantos

    tiagosantos Paddler

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    an iPad would probably last longer, the battery is pretty big.. The iPhone battery is just too tiny. If you can handle the extra weight and bulk, you can use a portable battery bank that plugs into the iphone and keeps it charged (or recharges it). A nice 10,000mAh portable battery would probably extend the battery life 5 or 6 times..

    Here's an example (no idea if this particular model is any good, just a reference in case you don't know what I'm referring to)

    http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.as ... AtIQ8P8HAQ
     
  3. M2G

    M2G Paddler

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    Thanks TS! I do a fair amount of expedition-style bike touring and thus I'm familiar with many of the charging and recharging possibilities. I think the battery pack is a great option for multi-day kayak touring. It wouldn't work so well for long day paddles though, nor would solar charging.

    I like Bluechart Mobile but it's the only electronic application I've used and don't know if it demands more or less battery life than other possibilities, like iNavX, etc.

    [shortyoutube]http://youtu.be/bmtuk7Kyq4A[/shortyoutube]

    I'd love to hear what kind of phone/tablets people are using and what kind of life they are seeing while running nav applications.

    Thanks and cheers.
     
  4. designer

    designer Paddler

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    I'll be using an iPad Mini and will put experiences in my trip reports. At this point I'll be using AyeTides and Skipper as they seem to be the only apps that will provide current direction and speed info without an internet connection.

    That's the question to ask when looking at software. Does it require and internet connection via WiFi or Cell tower? I don't plan on having it on full time. As I use my GPS now, I just use it to check on a bearing to destination or my speed, then turn it off. A Note on speed ... it just gives the speed, not the direction. So if you get in a strong current - say off of Toe Point on the east end of Patos Island, you may be going 1.2 kn but not in the direction you are paddling.
     
  5. M2G

    M2G Paddler

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    Good to hear Designer and thanks. The iPad Mini would be my target type of device.

    Another valid point of consideration is that depending on the application, at least in some cases, after the route info has been downloaded with a connection, little to no connectivity is required. That's what I've experienced online for navigation purposes. Most, if not all phones and tablets have a built in GPS module which knows where you are. To check this, load up a route in your phone or tablet, driving, riding walking, etc. through remote areas near you where you have no service. The routing will still work as long as you have power.

    I'd think that there are many places out on the water with no cell service so I'd hope that these nav apps download the needed route info in advance but I guess we need to confirm this.

    I want to see if I can make my primary system on the water a smartphone or medium-sized tablet and my handheld GPS as my backup, with paper maps for anything gnarly, of course. I'd like the primary system on the whole time so I can record the track or log.

    I'll look into the applications you mentioned in the next couple of days and see what I can find about cellular service dependency for Bluechart Mobile, which is quite inexpensive BTW.

    Cheers and thanks!
     
  6. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    I own a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 tablet with a Li ion battery, and 4 hours of continuous use, browsing, word crunching, whatever, that's about it. I think it is screen size that determines battery lifetime. OTOH, my ancient Garmin Map 60C, with its 2.4 inch screen gets about 10 to 12 hours out of two 2400 mAhr NiCads. Sure, you have to squint, and supplement with paper charts, but I would carry the paper anyway for redundancy.

    I don't think it is the connectivity that consumes the power.

    Buddies who use an iPad and Navionics free charts report the same problem, so that they do not use the iPad continuously unless they are running a power boat with a 12 V jack to keep the battery charged. They run a separate HH GPS, also.
     
  7. NuclearTester

    NuclearTester Paddler

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    I second tiagosantos suggestion to use a powerbank. You are saying that it will not work for multi-hour paddling. I'm not sure I understand why. If you want a really portable solution and only need to extend battery by a few hours and don't mind paying more, buy one of the waterproof power cases. Lots to choose from for most phones.
    Here is one example: http://www.lifeproof.com/en/fre-power-case-for-iphone-6/ You can find one for your iPhone 5 too.

    If you need app that doesn't use data, here is the best I found after evaluating a bunch:
    Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=it.navionics.singleAppMarineLakesHD&hl=en
    iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/boating-hd-marine-lakes-charts/id744966613?mt=8
    I can't say how much power it consumes though, as I never keep the screen on continuously. Feels like a distraction. I can't see a reason to keep it on continuously on a kayak.
     
  8. M2G

    M2G Paddler

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    OK, now that is cool. A waterproof smartphone case with a built-in battery augmentation. Never seen that one before. I'll be going down this road if it works out.

    The reason a battery bank as TS linked to doesn't work *for my intended use*, is because I'm paddling for 3-5 hours without stopping. If I do stop, it's for a short time just to walk around. While the separate battery bank might be able to partially recharge my nav device IF I stop for a short time, that won't help me at all on days that I don't stop.

    Dave:
    IMHO, battery life has to depend on more than just screen size and battery capacity. I don't keep my screen display on, if it doesn't time out after a few minutes, I manually turn the display off until the next time I want to see something. The last paddle I went on, I never had the screen on after getting started. How the program you are using utilizes GPS is a large factor. Some programs allow you to dictate the interval in minutes, as to how often it links up to GPS. More research to do when I get the chance.

    Thanks and cheers.
     
  9. NuclearTester

    NuclearTester Paddler

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    Try turning off Background App Refresh. This could theoretically stop your navigation app from using GPS while the screen is off.
    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202070

    If you decide to go Android someday, consider Sony Xperia, which has much better power control than iPhone. They are waterproof and come with Stamina mode, which turns off a lot of power consuming features while screen is off. I tested Stamina mode with GPS navigation and it reaquired GPS location in 2-3 seconds after turning screen on.
    http://developer.sonymobile.com/2013/04/03/how-sonys-battery-stamina-mode-works/
     
  10. M2G

    M2G Paddler

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    Another waterproof case with extra battery capacity for the iPhone 6, which is said to be coming in "late June". ...like now.

    http://www.mophie.com/shop/battery-case ... pack-h2pro

    This is a very promising option. Thus far, all I've seen waterproof cases with the auxiliary batteries for is the iPhone 6, but the site I provided a link to sells many non-waterproof cases with a range of battery capacities for a variety of phones/devices.

    Cheers
     
  11. tiagosantos

    tiagosantos Paddler

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    M2G, my suggestion with the power bank was to keep it plugged in, essentially using up the big power bank battery rather than the iPhone's. Hence my heavy and bulky remarks :D I was imagining strapping the power bank to the back of the iphone somehow (zip ties? double sided tape? velcro? sticky mouse traps?) and using it as one unit. Yes, the integrated battery cases are a much cleaner solution :D
     
  12. M2G

    M2G Paddler

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    Before I loaded and bought maps for Garmin Bluechart Mobile, I searched the web and read much discussion comparing Navionics, iNavX and BM. In the end, I picked BM because it seemed like a wash with regard to user satisfaction and functionality, but BM only cost me $32USD, including all the maps I need. That's quite a bargain compared to buying Bluecharts for a Garmin device.

    I was planning on a solo paddle today but had a contractor move me up in his schedule, and thus I'm here delving deeper into shadowy depths of Bluechart Mobile. So far, I don't see any evidence that leads me to believe I can alter its GPS connection rate, whatever that rate is. One thing I did do when I downloaded the app, was immediately change the chart detail to "more". I've now reduced that setting to "less". The options are least, less, normal, more and most. I didn't note a change in actual chart detail but I'm hoping that it will ease the work the app does while in use, in some way.

    TS: Waterproofing was my biggest concern with utilizing an external battery source on deck with my phone. Secondly the added bulk and keeping all that in place. Along similar but slightly different lines is replaceable batteries for smart phones. This is going, going, almost gone but you can still get the Samsung Galaxy S5, which has battery swapping capability, an SD card slot and are "water resistant".

    Waterproof. My plan is that if the device itself isn't waterproof, put it in a waterproof case and then in a waterproof electronics sleeve. If it is a waterproof device, put it in a waterproof electronics sleeve.

    We all know there are kayakers out there using smartphones and iPads for chart nav and route recording. It would be great to hear how you are getting along with daily battery life and with what applications, etc.

    Cheers and thanks.
     
  13. M2G

    M2G Paddler

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    Went ahead and downloaded Navionics as well since it too was inexpensive to test.

    I like the interface and tide displays better with Garmin Bluecharts Mobile. I like the chart overlay options better with Navionics. I'll do some tests over the weekend just walking, driving around with the apps on to see which kills my phone the fastest and to see which route recording I like best.

    Cheers
     
  14. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Ron,

    IIRC, Navionics uses the free NOAA charts. Cost must be for the interface SW only, correct? I was very impressed with the image quality on my paddling buddy's small format iPad. He uses it exclusively when paddling in FL, and as a supplement to his Garmin 72 when running the houseboat.
     
  15. M2G

    M2G Paddler

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    Good question Dave. Rather than download Navionics Mobile for free, I also bought the Navionics US and Canada map overlays. Navionics also has a sonar map layer which has been built by users, running sonar equipment on their fishing rigs, etc., over the years and is continuously updated. The data I read said I get to use the sonar maps for the first year free. I don't know what it would cost beyond that. This is why I like the program better for mapping options, over Garmin Bluechart Mobile. The Garmin product seems more polished on my iPhone 5 however.
     
  16. M2G

    M2G Paddler

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    I found the app, Skipper : https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/skipper ... 71276?mt=8

    It looks like a pretty slick implementation and the note about V 2.1 including "Reduced power usage when recording tracks." makes me think they are keeping the handheld device users in mind.

    Do let us know what you think about the execution.

    Cheers
     
  17. Longwing

    Longwing Paddler

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  18. designer

    designer Paddler

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    An early note on Skipper ... I was immediately stopped from entering my waypoints because it only accepted DD MM SS and I use DD MM.MM. Of course I could go to a conversion site and transform them, but in a discussion with Gaia - who supports Skipper - they said that Skipper's main function was somewhat specialized for USA waters and boats with instruments and usually internet coverage.

    It was suggested that for what I wanted to do - just watch my track on a screen bigger than Garmin's hand-helds - I could use their "hiking" app - Gaia. It offered more base map options and was more flexible with waypoint formats. I don't know about battery hits, but if it is not poling an instrument cluster for updates, it is probably more efficient. So I'll dump my downloaded maps/charts in Skipper and either re-enter or transfer my waypoints to Gaia.

    The beat goes on ...
     
  19. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

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    I have the Xperia Z3 and generally like it - a big change from the flip phone I used until a few months ago. I am amazed to be still learning what these devices can do. However, it's only waterproof until it gets dropped the first time. Glass back as well as a glass front, this phone is as slippery as a wet fish when not in a case. The phone without a case was so slippery that if I put it on a smooth surface that I thought was level but wasn't quite, it would very slowly slide toward the edge. The back of mine is now smashed to heck and so I am assuming that my waterproof phone is no longer waterproof. Cases are hard to find for this phone, for instance neither of the battery waterproof cases that were linked above are available for this phone. I wish I had it in a more rugged style case such as the Otterbox (which I had never seen one in person that fit my phone) before I dropped it.

    So even if your phone is waterproof, don't assume that it will stay that way. Next time I would rate availability of a good waterproof case way higher than any inherent waterproofness of the device itself.

    Bryan
     
  20. Rick_M

    Rick_M Paddler

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    I have been using a Tab 10.1 and the app "Memory-Map" http://memory-map.com/ I really like this app and the interface for both recording tracks and displaying track data, as well as the route following options. One can use chats and topos with it. Memory map is available for IOS, Android and PC.

    I use Route converter http://www.routeconverter.com/home/en to convert tracks in to routes.

    For Topo (land based) I use BackCountry Navigator http://backcountrynavigator.com/ (on my phone) .

    For remote charging I use a small 12VDC Gel-cell and Samsung car charger.

    I have the Tab set to dim-turn off the screen when not in use. all I do is tap the screen to turn it on. I store it in my deck bag or attache it to my chart case via Velcro strip when I want it out and within reach.