Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between GPS and Chartplotter

GPS vs Chartplotter

Navigation has gone a long way from compasses and maps of the old days to more advanced systems like GPS and chartplotters. But the often interchangeable usage of GPS and chartplotters may get people confused about what they really are and how they differ. “GPS” stands for “Global Positioning System” which is composed of a group of satellites orbiting the Earth and constantly transmitting positional data. This is received by a GPS receiver which is then able to calculate its location from the positions of the satellites. A chartplotter, on the other hand, is typically a stand-alone computer that is able to show a map and plot significant objects or places on it.

A GPS receiver is only capable of giving the longitude and latitude of your current location and is not able to provide any context of where you are. This is where the chartplotter comes in. It takes those coordinates and plots it on maps stored in its memory. You can then search for locations and set a destination. Advanced chartplotters are also able to suggest an optimal route to your destination by calculating the distance travelled. Some can even take other factors like traffic, one-way roads, and even unexpected blockages caused by accidents into consideration to provide the fastest route.

Because of their complementary nature, GPS chips are often embedded into chartplotters to create an all-in-one navigational package. This is what we commonly refer to as GPS navigation devices. Still, there are GPS-only devices that are often used only by experienced navigators who know how to read the coordinates and plot them on an ordinary map.

Chartplotters are not only useful in GPS navigation but also in other positional applications. Large ships use chartplotters to provide the captain with an eagle’s eye view of his ship and other vessels around him. Chartplotters can even get the velocities of the vessels and predict where they will be in a few moments. This is a very helpful tool considering how crowded some ports can get and the long, stopping distances needed by big ships in order to prevent very costly collisions.


1.GPS determines your location while a chartplotter provides you with a graphical view just like a map.
2.Chartplotters are much easier to use than ordinary GPS devices.
3.Chartplotters typically have an embedded GPS receiver.
4.Chartplotters also have other uses aside from GPS navigation.

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  1. hi
    thx for ur good informations

  2. What about radar systems attached and autopilot?

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