Advanced Tools

Software-On-Board Online Manual



The Chart Settings Toolbars

Chart Levels Toolbar   [F2]


Particular Chart Levels can be quickly selected using these toggle buttons. They will automatically toggle while SOB is being zoomed using any other methods to indicate the current displayed Chart Level. (This will always be the same as the chart level reported on the Status Bar - see next section).

The Levels equate to following scale ranges:
Background Levels  Levels for Navigating  Virtual Levels 




1,500,000 : 5,000,000
500,000 : 1,500,000
150,000 : 500,000
 50,000 : 150,000
 15,000 : 50,000
 5,000 : 15,000
 1,500 : 5,000


500 : 1,500
150 : 500
 50 : 150

Chart Toggles Toolbar   [F3]



Chart panning/zooming controls
ChartLock  only allows panning to an existing chart. Will move up levels (to less detailed) until the first with data is found whenever the screen is panned into a “grey” area (ie: no coverage on current level). 

NOTE: If you experience display errors (mostly with PastTracks when navigating near the edge of a detailed chart) then turn ON Chart Lock will solve the display discrepancy.

OverZoom will allow over/under zooming of each chart level - should be ON for most chart configurations and chart usage. 
SkipEmptyLevels  will display only levels that exist when zooming - should also be ON for most usage. 
VirtualCharts  will allow unlimited zooming – but to “course scale” charts at times (ie: heavily over-zoomed), typically useful for accurate calculations and measurements.
MixLevels  fills in the regions beyond the detailed chart levels with chart data from a less detailed level. This can be slow on weaker computers, however aesthetically useful for drawing a complete chart and avoiding the “grey” areas when there is no detailed coverage. 

NOTE: charts of different creation scales will be side-by-side, the larger scale chart will be less accurate and not always line-up precisely with the more detailed chart.

Chart symbol display
Tides & Currents  show/hide these symbols on the chart
Sea Bed  display abbreviated codes for type of Sea Bed (eg: Mud, Clay, Silt, Sand etc)
Refer to a marine cartography reference book (eg: Bowditch), or C-Map's Chart Legend, for symbols used on nautical charts.
Depth Soundings show/hide display of depth markers on contour lines, and inter-use with the [F5] key to toggle display of Spot Soundings (where charted).
Bounding Boxes  show a grey-outline around areas where more detailed charts are available. See Quick Start Page - Chart Levels 
Graticule  show/hide the lines of Latitude and Longitude
Extra chart options and feature toggles
Text Labels Toggle the display of all text labels on the chart.
Roads Toggle display of Roads (where present in the cartography)
Animate Lights Toggle light animation mode. See SOB Manual - Networking Information
Land & Sea Shading Show/hide extended colour shading of the land elevations and water depths. 
See MAX Page - New features
Perspective View Toggle Perspective View mode. See MAX Page - Perspective View

Navigating to a Destination (N2D)

see also Easy Tools

In N2D mode, a red "Destination"
 Information Panel will show all
 necessary data to help you navigate to
your destination - be it a Man-Over-Board
position; specific Waypoint; or 
next Turn Point in the Active Route.

SOB will automatically provide extra information in a ViewPanel whenever a Navigate to Destination scenario is active.

There are three such scenarios in SOB. In order of priority they are:

  1. Man-Over-Board
    Enabled by pressing the MOB button. 
  2. Navigate to Destination Waypoint
    Any waypoint can be set as a destination, by pressing the "Navigate to..." button on it's Waypoint Form. Also, for a destination waypoint, an "Arrival Zone Alarm" can be set. The arrival zone will appear on the chart as a red "hashed" circle around the destination waypoint.
  3. Next Turn Mark on an Active Route
    If neither (1) nor (2) apply, AND a Route is currently marked as active, then the "Navigate to..." panel will show details pertaining to the next turning point on a Route if it is marked as active (press the "Activate" button on the Route Form).
    The active route is displayed on the chart as thick red lines, any passed TurnMark is drawn as a green dot with the next TurnMark shown as a yellow dot. The current leg and the Destination ViewPanel is automatically updated as the turn marks are passed (either by sailing within the arrival zone, or passing a "perpendicular" from your course to the mark).
TTG & ETA on this Destination ViewPanel are calculated based on VMG (Velocity Made Good).
VMG represents that component of your speed and heading which is actually helping you get to the destination. If VMG is negative, then you are receding from your destination (getting farther away).

XTE is the "Cross Track Error" value sent to the AutoPilot when under remote control, and represents the perpendicular distance away from the original course line to the destination. 

    Waypoints as Destinations

Waypoints nominated as a Destination create a "Navigate to Destination" (N2D) scenario in SOB. Any N2D scenario (also a Man-Over-Board, or Active Route) will display the red N2D ViewPanel, providing constantly updated information to help you navigate to this location. The Waypoint text on the chart surface will also supply basic navigation information if enabled. 

To make a Waypoint a destination, press the [Navigate to Destination] button on the Waypoint Form, the FIRST one found in the list, that is set as a destination waypoint, will be the one used for on-screen navigation. If this waypoint is consequently un-set then the next one found in the list set as a destination will be used, etc.

The waypoint's status as a destination waypoint is reset once its ArrivalZone has been breached, or the [Navigate to...] button is reset. 

NOTE: A Man-Over-Board is a regular Waypoint set as N2D.

Sequential Waypoints set as destinations can be used as a simple route, as illustrated by the following examples ...


Example 1 - A day's fishing

Place Destination Waypoints sequentially along your intended course ...

A fisherman might place a series of 6 Waypoints at the following locations: 

  1. crab pot 1 
  2. abalone headland dive 
  3. crab pot 2 
  4. start trawling 
  5. stop trawling 
  6. back home 

Set each as a destination waypoint, then once you reach each waypoint in turn, the "Arrived at ..." message will be printed in the Messages ViewPanel, the next waypoint is then used as the next destination, allowing you to take appropriate action... 

  1. stop the boat to retrieve the crab pot 
  2. stop for the dive 
  3. stop the boat to retrieve the other crab pot 
  4. slow to 8 knots trawling speed 
  5. fast as possible back home 
  6. prepare mooring/berthing gear

Example 2 - Harbour entry/departure
A sequence of rounding marks for entering or departing a harbour or river mouth.

Two separate waypoint files would be constructed: "harbour-in.wpt" and "harbour-out.wpt".

First, consecutively create waypoints for the IN file, then using the AllWaypoints form, save them to their own file. Repeat using a different sequence and (probably) different waypoints for the OUT file.

When creating the waypoints, mark each as a destination (and optionally set the ArrivalZone alarm and distance). Load and unload the appropriate waypoint file when entering or leaving your harbour.

If the waypoints where created in the correct order, the N2D panel will help to guide you to each one in turn.

   Active Route

Click this ScreenShot and use the window for full scale reference for the Active Route example that follows.

To activate a Route, it must first be drawn on the chart, or loaded from a file. (Refer to the QuickStart card for instructions on drawing or loading a Route).

Select Route mode, then touch any TurnMark on the Route to make active (the TM will be drawn as a solid red dot when selected). Now touch the same TurnMark and select the [Route Details] button from the quick menu. 

An Active route will be drawn as a thick red line, with the previous TurnMark drawn as large green dot, and the next as a yellow dots. A TM  is considered as been passed, when either the ship has passed a perpendicular to the mark (ie: the mark's bearing is now "aft of beam") and is on a heading for the next; or when the ship has come within a certain distance of the mark.


Depress the [Activate] button on either the Route Details form (pictured) or the AllRoutes form to begin the "Navigate to Destination" scenario.
If no other N2D scenarios are active, then Navigation Data will appear in the red Destination ViewPanel (DestVP) for arrival at the next TurnMark (TM) along the Route.

As a TurnMark's perpendicular is passed, or its nominated ArrivalZone has been breached, then the DestVP will show data for the following TM.
Summary Route data will be written to the 
Navigation ViewPanel


Complete up-to-date information about the current Route is available from the Route Details form. (Touch a Route TM twice then choose [Route Details] from the button menu).

The Green, Yellow or Grey indicators will match the drawing of the corresponding TurnMarks on the chart display. Green TMs have been passed, the Yellow TM is the next ahead (whose data is in the DestVP), and the Grey TMs are further ahead.

If visible, the LegLabel is always more detailed for the active leg. The TTG and ETA on the label are based on an estimated speed pre-set (on the RouteDetails form) for that Route leg.

Set the LegLabels to 1 to also show the names of the TurnMarks on the chart. Rename the TurnMarks on the RouteDetails form by clicking on the name in  the list. Type the new name, then press [TAB] or click somewhere else on the form to refresh ... avoid pressing [Enter] as this will close the form.

Once a leg has been completed, the LegLabel will display true time on leg and arrival time at the end of the leg.



Wind Tools  


When an Apparent Wind sensor is connected (and it sends NMEA sentence: V W R - "Wind Angle and Speed"),
several helpful indicators can be drawn on the chart...

  • Wind Vector Arrows: open the Ship's Data Form (click the Ship's Target at any time) and check "Show Wind Tools", then check your choice of Apparent and/or True Wind Vectors.
    The apparent Wind Vector is drawn as either a red or green arrow, dependent on whether you are sailing on port or starboard tack. The apparent vector is read directly from the Wind Instrument, and shows the relative wind direction as felt on the deck of the yacht (actually - from the masthead, or where-ever the anemometer is fitted). 
    The True Wind is calculated based on the ship's "Speed Over Ground" and "Course Over Ground" (SOG & COG as provided by the GPS) and the apparent wind speed and direction supplied by the Apparent Wind device. The true wind vector is displayed on the chart as a blue arrow
    NOTE: The apparent wind vector is ALWAYS closer to the bow of the boat than the true wind vector (when moving forward).
  • Ship's Wind Shadow
    Ideally designed for optimum upwind sailing, select (from the Ship's Data Form) either or both "Show Shadow" and "Show Laylines" and input your yacht's particular minimum angle that it can sail to the wind.
    The shadow thus displayed, represents the sector of the "Wind Circle" that your yacht cannot sail. Sailing along the laylines, if the Wind ˝ Angle is set correctly, represents the closest point of sail that your yacht can sail to the wind.
    NOTE: On some displays, the Wind Shadow may (A) flicker annoyingly, or (B) slow the computer down too much. If either of these situations occur - uncheck the Wind Shadow box and utilise only the Wind Laylines.

  • Waypoint Wind Shadow
    The Waypoint shadow is best used when the Waypoint is positioned to represent your upwind destination, it will help you sail optimally to this windward destination point. Once the Waypoint is correctly placed, click the Waypoint with the Waypoint selector button enabled to display this Waypoint Form. Now check "Show Shadow" and/or "Show Laylines" and set the ˝ Angle as described for the Ship's Wind Shadow. Generally speaking, the ˝ Angle for the Waypoint shadow should be the same as for the Ship's ˝ Angle, however in practice you may find that making the Waypoint angle slightly larger will ensure that you will clear the windward mark.
    NOTE: the laylines are drawn exactly to the ˝ Angle, the shadow is drawn 2° narrower than the ˝ Angle.
    The Waypoint shadow works slightly differently to the Ship's shadow. The ship's shadow represents the sector where your yacht (under sail) CANNOT go, the Waypoint shadow represents the region where your yacht SHOULD remain to optimise your upwind leg (ie: sailing outside the Waypoint shadow means that you will cover unnecessary ground whilst sailing upwind).

Auto Pilots  

(typical NMEA sentences used by SOB and AutoPilots are included in square brackets)

Refer to your AutoPilot manual to learn how to enable it for remote data.
Refer to SOB Manual - Technical Information for wiring schematics to connect the AutoPilot to your computer (and SOB)

One, or all of three, options may be available with the AutoPilot device: 

  1. Steer to Course
      - as supplied by an electronic compass or SOB [APA, APB, BOD, XTE]
  2. Steer to Apparent Wind
      - select the Wind tickbox on the NMEA form to forward any wind sentences to the AutoPilot. Note that SOB does not process any autopilot/wind functions, but simply repeats the incoming wind commands to the PC output for the pilot. [usually VWR]
  3. Steer to Destination Waypoint 
      - the destination waypoint information is sent via NMEA 
        [RMC, BWR, BWC] from SOB, or a GPS, or some other NMEA devices

SOB will send any of the highlighted NMEA sentences if ticked on the NMEA Raw Data Form.

NOTE: A Navigate to Destination scenario must be active before SOB can send AutoPilot commands (except the Wind commands). 
The red Destination ViewPanel must be activated, by any of these conditions:

  1. A Man-Over-Board scenario
  2. A Waypoint marked as a Destination
  3. An Activated Route

(SOB must be Registered or Licensed and Unlocked for AccessLevel=1 or higher to enable the autopilot commands on the Raw NMEA Data form)

Auto-Search Routes


Use the [Create AutoRoutes ...] button on the AllRoutes form

Select whether to draw a grid or circular, and 
choose the leg direction to determine the shape of the auto route.

As well as these four shapes, a further four configurations can be 
achieved by Reversing any of the auto routes after creating them.

Once the auto-route is ready, it can be used as is any 
other route: Loaded, Unloaded, Activated, Analysed etc

If the Centre of the Search Area is unknown, then estimate it using the set and drift calculator on the form.

Raw NMEA Data Form

Click an active area of the form to jump to the relevant topic

  NMEA Data Source
Shows the current source of the streaming data. The options are: COM from a connected device through a serial port (or "virtual" port from a USB connected device); FILE when a NMEA data file is being replayed; or WAN when connected to a remote data source via the internet or LAN connection. 

Some extra information to aid in diagnosis is also displayed: 
counts the total number of sentences received by SOB. 
Bytes read
and Total bytes accumulate the amount of received data.
A.I.S. Rx: counts the dedicated sentences received from a connected AIS Receiver or Transponder.
Skipped: is a count of sentences that SOB did not process. They are either NMEA sentences that SOB does not recognise, or are incomplete or corrupted sentences that SOB will not process.

  Synch PC
If valid NMEA UTC data is being received, then use this feature to synchronise the PC clock to UTC time from the GPS. Your GMT offset as set in Control Panel will be retained. 
  Ship Data, Wind Data, Misc, GPS Route Data
These fields are continuously updated with any incoming NMEA data. The data window will show streaming data like in the example image. The values extracted from the received sentences are shown in these fields and used throughout SOB. 

NOTE: A connected Wind Anemometer will only send Apparent wind data. The True wind values displayed here are calculated by SOB using apparent wind and GPS course and speed over ground.

  Next Waypoint Data
When a connected GPS is set to "Goto" or "Navigate" mode, it will transmit this data to SOB. Cycling sequentially through the wpts as set in the GPS.

Use the [Show GOTO NMEA Wpt on Chart] to create a waypoint in SOB using this information. If more than one wpt is being transmitted, then you should temporarily close the data source with [Close COMx] for a serial connection, or [Pause] for a replay file, before capturing the waypoint data, otherwise the captured wpt may have a combination of data from different waypoints.

  FIX: Feet -> Metres
Some depth devices send incorrect data, notably DataLine and VDO Logic devices. Use this tick box to apply a manual correction if your displayed depth data is incorrect.

FIX: AIS Latitude/Longitude
If you find that your AIS targets are incorrectly displayed on the chart, then apply the appropriate FIX to correct the incoming data.

  LOG Files
NMEA file replay controls. Any standard ASCII text logfile containing NMEA sentences can be replayed in SOB. This file can be saved from any NMEA source external to SOB, or the SOB_NMEA_DATA.log file saved by SOB.

NOTE: Do not try to replay the SOB_NMEA_DATA.log while SOB is running or an error will occur. First quit SOB, then rename the file before restarting SOB. The renamed file can now be replayed.

  NMEA Output
Tick the box to enable NMEA data logging. All incoming data will be logged to the file SOB_NMEA_DATA.log and can be replayed at a future time. (see previous point).

The RMC sentence can be ticked for output to the first serial port for redisplaying navigation data on other instruments, eg: RADAR, or other PC terminals.

The specific NMEA sentences (APA, APB, BOD/XTE, BWR/BWC) can be selected for output to control an Autopilot. Different makes/models of autopilots work with different sentences. Consult your autopilot manual, or experiment, to find the most appropriate sentences for best control. Most newer autopilots will be best with either the APA or APB sentences.

Wind output will relay any incoming wind NMEA sentences directly to the output of the primary COM port. Your autopilot must be capable of sailing to the wind for this command to have any effect. Refer to your autopilot manual for further details.

NOTE: Only Registered SOB versions with AccessLevel=1 or higher will have the Wind, APA and APB commands enabled.

  NMEA Input

Ignore any received NMEA data with no checksum, or a wrong checksum. The checksum is added to the end of the NMEA sentence as an error checking mechanism to ensure the integrity of the received data, although not all NMEA instruments make use of the checksum, and of those that do, some of them append an incorrect checksum!

Generally, you don't need to use the checksum, although if you discover some inaccuracies with the received data, then enabling checksum checking should  prevent SOB from trying to process corrupt data. 

  Open Serial Connection, (Next/Previous)

SOB can receive data on two simultaneous COM ports. The configuration of these COM ports is controlled by the external program SOB_COM.EXE located in the \SOBvMAX\ folder.

Only the first COM port in use is used for outputting commands for autopilot control etc. The Open/Close and port selection buttons on the form can be used to override the setting of this port (except baud rate). This is useful for diagnosis purposes.

  WAN Connect

Refer to SOB User Manual - Networking Information


This button doesn't really do anything as the form updates itself a couple of times a second, or whenever new data is received. But please press it if you want to...

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