With the upcoming support for underwater positioning systems (like the WaterLinked system), and QGC not having any charts available for marine use, Jacob had asked me what resources might be available to make this happen. I know a bit about charting standards and what products are out there, but if anyone else has anything, please chime in. I also have more of a background with US charts made by NOAA, but I know our international friends have other hydrographic agencies, but I have not had a chance to use these.
Charts authorized for use for navigation are available in two different formats: Raster Navigational Charts and Electronic Navigational Charts. We will also get to other charts that are used for “situational awareness” but not authorized for navigation.
Raster Navigational Charts (RNCs) are what most older mariners are accustomed to and what vessels navigated by before computers. These have been traditionally made of paper and corrections had been done by hand. Now, paper charts are considered relics and no longer officially manufactured. However, RNCs are still available in a number of formats and can be printed if desired. Below is what an RNC looks like:
Products available for RNCs:
- PDF/BSB through the chart locator: http://www.charts.noaa.gov/InteractiveCatalog/nrnc.shtml
- Seamless Raster and Web Map Services via Esri REST: https://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/csdl/seamlessraster.html
- RNC Tile Service: https://tileservice.charts.noaa.gov/
An Electronic Navigational Chart (ENC) is a database (as opposed to a sheet) created by a hydrographic office for use on an electronic chart display. Data is in a vector format so resizing the screen will amplify or shrink details so the display is less cluttered. It is also possible to select units and desired details. Below is what an ENC looks like of the same area:
You’ll probably hear of a few different standards for ENCs:
S-57: This is the current standard for ENCs to be accepted by the International Hydrographic Office (IHO) for navigational purposes.
S-63: This is visually identical to S-57 but adds encryption and digital signing.
S-100/101: The next generation of electronic charts. Still in draft phase, not available to the public. S-57 will remain a standard for many years.
Products available for ENCs:
- ENC by region: http://www.charts.noaa.gov/ENCs/ENCs.shtml
- ENC to GIS services (with KML support): https://www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/csdl/ctp/encdirect_help.htm
Other Chart sources I am aware of (these are not free and come on chart cards):
Desired: S-57 ENCs at the highest zoom level that QGC can support. The issue with this is that ENCs are in vector format and QGC only works with map tiles. I am unsure go to get that working and there is probably a good reason NOAA doesn’t have an ENC tile service.
Recommendation: See if we can get the RNC tile service working as another map database we can select or figure out a way to get either the Esri or Mapbox token function to work and individuals can set up their own map server.