My unit is an RL70C, Pathfinder Plus Series from Raymarine running the latest 4.11 software. I have been running this software version for several years. My boat is located in Marina Del Rey, CA.
This year I thought it would be a good idea to update the NT+ chart chip for my RL70C chart plotter. I had never updated the original chip (2004, charts for the US West Coast) and thought it would be a good idea to update to the latest. I took my original chip to Maritime Communications in Marina Del Rey after confirming that they were able to perform the update there. They updated my original chip, erasing the old charts to have the latest installed. This decision has turned out to be a bad one as it has completely hobbled the use of my chart plotter.
I installed the updated chip in my chart plotter and powered on normally. The plotter was sitting at 1.5 mile range centered in the marina and I saw the normal chart display that I expected to see. I then ranged out and at 6 mile range the screen went to a hashed grey screen only showing my stored waypoints, the ship symbol and the breadcrumbs. The words "No CHART data" appeared on the lower left corner (see picture). Hmmm, so I ranged out again, at 12 miles the chart display came back and remained for all further out ranges.
Next I ranged in and was able to range into 1/2 mile and then grey hash again :-(
Alright, I went in and changed the chart plotter mode like I saw suggested elsewhere (MENU->CHART SETUP->PLOTTER MODE) has configured to OFF. No - I repeat NO difference in the chart display results at the different ranges. Next I tried other chart settings until I discovered that changing the (MENU->CHART SETUP->CUSTOMIZE CHART->CHART DISPLAY) from SIMPLE to DETAILED made a difference, albeit a frustrating one. In the Detailed mode, the 6 mile range appeared and the 12 mile range failed (No CHART data). Even worse however, when moving around the area lots of other ranges resulted in grey "No CHART data" screens. Can't use the Detailed mode - it had worse results than the Simple mode.
So, you might say - don't use the 6 mile range - well aside from that being an undesirable solution, especially for around the Santa Monica bay area, the problem is that the failure varies depending on where you are. If you are say in Two Harbors, Catalina, sailing across the channel and as you approach the PV peninsula, you may range down to 6 mile and you have a chart. Then as you sail past PV into Santa Monica Bay while remaining in 6 mile range, the chart just turns to a grey hash (No CHART data) unless you either range down to 3 miles or up to 12 miles. This is unacceptable. The problem of which range works gets much worse if you head NW up the coast towards Ventura and Santa Barbara.
I contacted Jeppsen (C-Map is their product) and have been dealing with their Tier 2 tech support. They decided to send me 2 new chips (NT+ and NT) for the same area to try out just in case there was something wrong with my chip. Unfortunately, I got the exact same results for the same areas of the charts with both the NT+ and NT chips that they supplied.
I have 30 years of software development experience and this is clearly a chart data and chart plotter software compatibility problem. Electronic charts are divided into sections and range data and stored as files on the chip. It is pretty obvious that the latest charts have files for some chart sections that are either too large (could even be a filename issue) for the older chart plotters to digest or that contain data/constructs that the chart plotters are choking on which is what results in the grey hashed, No CHART data screens at various ranges depending on the location. If my boat were based in Long Beach, I may never have noticed this problem because all ranges seem to work around there but, at Avalon, Catalina you start getting missing ranges again.
Either the current chart data is being compiled such that some of the file sizes are too large for the older RL70C firmware to handle or the files are using constructs/formatting that the older plotters do not understand. Either way, the problem could be corrected by Jeppsen if they wanted to or the problem may be able to be corrected by a software update from Raymarine which I suspect would require an act of Congress.
I strongly recommend that you do NOT update your NT+/NT C-MAP chart chips unless you are willing to deal with this issue. You might be getting more current charts but you may discover that there are several ranges in which you have no chart data.
Ideally it would be nice if my report here would make a difference in solving this trouble as I suspect that very many RL70 and RL80 chartplotter owners (and there must be thousands out there) have been suffering from this problem without even realizing it or perhaps they just accepted it.
Any help on this would be appreciated but I'm not holding my breath. If anyone has an old NT+ C-MAP chip for the US West Coast/Canada-Mexico) from around 2004-2006 I would be interested in buying it. I need my chart plotter back.
To verify what is going on, you need a chip reader and hook it up to your PC/lap-top. Enter the chip and check that you have all the files from A to F in the selected area. Another option is to use the Route Planner and check. I have seen from time to time that C-map omits certain resolutions in different areas when up-grading their chips and CD's and I always recommend people to buy a new chip and keep the old and not to format and re-load old chips. After changing from RL70C's to C95 I've changed from C-map to Navionics which seems to be better when it comes to 'leisure' activities. C-map however still seems to have the upper hand when it is about commercial mapping.
Unfortunately as I mentioned, I doubt that there is a problem with the chip because Jeppesen sent me 2 more chips for a later set of charts (about 6 months newer) than the charts that were loaded into my original chip. I find it highly unlikely that the chips that I received from Jeppsen are defective. Interestingly I think you are describing the same problem that I am having but you seem to just accept it and I believe that is why Jeppsen is unaware of the issue. So many people just accept that a non working range is a 'normal' problem.
It is not considered a 'problem' with the chip, it is as designed. Had a neighbor boat receiving a new chip some time ago and what happened was that some local areas were quite improved, however he 'lost' a bit of zoom-function further up in the Andaman Sea. The exact reason for this I do not know, but it might be memory capacity of the chip/system. Increased info will give increased memory usage of the chip and the plotter and if already on the limit, you increase some places and will have to reduce on other. I'm not a designer of the system, just observes what seems to be happening. The old NT chips are a bit limited, the newer ones quite improved but does not work in your plotter. It is possible, for those having access to the data base, to customize the area you want covered in the chip. However if buying an 'over the counter' std area chip, the problem you describe is what you might run into. In general those zoom-levels that have been omitted are levels with no added info compared to lower zoom level, it just makes it more convenient on smaller screens. (Zoomed in low res).
I appreciate your input however, you are describing the exact same problem that I am reporting - defective and incompatible chart data. This is a DEFECT and not something to just accept. It should NOT be happening to you, your neighbor or anyone else. The reason it hasn't been fixed by now is because too many people, like yourself are willing to explain it away and just live with it. Unfortunately your answer is just plain wrong. Each zoom level must work without non-working ranges in between working ranges. I realize that data may not change from one zoom level to another but that is no reason for one zoom level to work and the other not. While there may be an ultimate zoom in that finally greys out (say at 1/8 mile more closer) - all zoom level above MUST work - period or the charts are broken.
BTW, my 2004 NT+ charts would zoom in from 2400 mile range down to 1/16 mile range in the Santa Monica Bay/Marina Del Rey area and I see absolutely no reason why the new chip should not be able to do the same thing today. This is particularly important for integrated radar/chartplotter systems. I would be willing to give up the 1/16 range but no way am I going to give up the sweet 6 mile range which is perfect when having to operate in fog in this area with radar overlay.
Thanks for the heads up. I have sent a note to my C-Map counterpart to ensure that she is aware of this issue. Until such time as this issue is resolved, it is recommended that customers heed the recommendation specified within the last sentence of the What cartography should be used with a Pathfinder Series Display FAQ.
Please note that in support of this problem report, C-Map has supplied Raymarine with the NA-C612 and NA-C601 C-Cards. In preparation for duplication of this problem, my hsb2 Pathfinder Plus Series Display was updated w/v4.11 software and was Factory Reset. Detailed test results may be found at the end of this response. In short, my results essentially duplicate those which C-Map Technical Support had reported to you. It is recommended that the following be performed to address the issue which your are reporting:
1. That waypoint and route data be backed up to a C-Map User Card or to a device capable of capturing the display's NMEA 0183 data stream when exporting waypoint and route data via the display's NMEA 0183 output port.
2. That a Factory Reset operation be performed to the display:
3. Waypoint and route data be restored from the C-Map User Card or from the device which had captured the display's NMEA 0183 data stream.
4. Leave the PLOTTER MODE feature configured to OFF (this is the default state for this feature) any time that the you desire to view detailed cartography. While leaving the MFD with its default settings configured, test the MFD's ability to view detailed cartography. As has been posted on this subject, the ill-named PLOTTER MODE feature is designed to hide detailed cartography and instead display a detailed lat/lon grid to support plotting waypoints via lat/lon grid lines.
C-Map testing results: NA-C612.23 @ Santa Monica Pier / Lat 33 57.852N Lon 118 27.761W
Same results were found with older chart, NA-C601.09
1. Plotter Mode: OFF
2. Plotter Mode: OFF
3. Plotter Mode: ON
4. Plotter Mode: ON
I have the same problem. Is the fix to leave the chart plotter mode off?
It is recommended that you first verify that your are using the correct type (NT or NT+) of C-Map cartography for your display. To view the FAQ addressing the correct type of cartography to be used with a hsb/hsb2/SL Pathfinder Series Radar, Chartplotter, or Fishfinder Display, click here. Also, verify that the chart card being used features cartography for the geographic area which your are attempting to view in with your display (i.e. check the chart card's label and/or check with C-Map regarding the boundaries of coverage supported by the chart card).
If operating with the correct cartography, then it is recommended that you ensure that the display's Plotter Mode feature (MENU->CHART SETUP->PLOTTER MODE) has been configured to OFF. Plotter mode is designed to permit the user to plot waypoints using a lat/lon grid rather than on cartography.
If Plotter Mode has been configured to OFF and the problem persists, then it is recommended that the C-Card's contacts be cleaned with a pencil eraser and that the C-Card then be tested in each of C-Card slots of the display's Raychart memory card reader. Should the problem persist, then the display should be serviced by Raymarine's Product Repair Center.
I just realized that I hadn't replied back to this forum way back in April after I reported my problem.
I want to confirm the Moderator's findings from his posting on April 8, 2013 above. I found that once I Reset my unit to factory defaults as described by the moderator above and then turned the Plotter Mode = OFFf that all chart zoom levels worked normally. Clearly some bit was stuck somewhere that was fixed when I performed the factory reset.
Before resetting my chart plotter, I saved all of my waypoints by copying them to my other chart plotter using the built-in function to copy waypoints to other SeaTalk linked chartplotters. After resetting, I ran the same tests as the moderator did above and got the same results as the moderator. I confirmed that with Plotter Mode = Off all zoom levels displayed charts correctly and both Detailed and Simple chart mode displays worked correctly. I then copied all of my waypoints back into the chart plotter and re-confirmed that all zoom levels still worked normally. I then repeated the reset procedure on my remote chart plotter and confirmed everything was working properly there.
In the end the combination of the Factory Reset and turning Plotter Mode = Off made all chart zoom levels work correctly. If just setting the Plotter Mode = Off does not fix all of the chart zoom levels for you then you'll have to go through the Factory Reset procedure like I did. It is a bit of a pain in that you have to backup/save your waypoints to either a user chip (if you don't have one you'll need to buy one) or another linked chart plotter. You'll also need to setup all of your various preferences after the reset (time zone, display & chart prefs, etc). From a silver lining standpoint this required me to re-familiarize myself with all of the various chart and display settings which gave me an opportunity to re-evaluate the legacy of my past preferences while sitting at my Nav station with a beer. ;-)
I wish I had posted this earlier and I would like to thank the moderator for his help.
I purchased a new card a few months ago and verified compatibility prior to purchase. It did seem to work initially and recently was giving this problem. I have played with the settings over the last month and probably turned the chart plotter mode on so I could enter way points using Lat/Long. I will turn chart plotter mode off before doing anything else and report back after. Going fishing tomorrow so I will play with it then.