Netbook lake and river software for Minnesota

Newbie here. I was planning on buying a dedicated GPS unit for traveling the Missippi river and lakes in Minnesota. Then I came upon this GREAT site.

I would love to turn my netbook into a GPS unit. What I need to know is what software and hardware would need to be purchased to get it done. Most of the time I am on the Missippi river. I have looked at several of the offerings on the main page here, but am still confused as to what I need to get it done! If anyone could take the time to spell it out or give me search terms it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for helping in advance.
Ken in Regina
Welcome to the forum. The place to start is maps. Until you determine what kind of maps you need, the hardware, and even navigation software are secondary issues. The best hardware and software are useless to you if you can't get the kind of map coverage you want.

Places to look are GPS File Depot, Open Street Maps, and Garmin.

Garmin's site has a wealth of different kinds of maps. You can look at their descriptions and even view the maps themselves with the online map viewer. This will give you an idea of what is possible and available. That's a great starting point. Look for their "On the Water" maps.

Once you see the coverage and the related terminology, you can look at the other two sites and also use your search engine to see where else you might get the kind of maps that interest you.

Once you have a better idea of the maps you want and the format(s) they are available in, then we can help you with suggestions for the navigation bits to use them with.

Also there may be some folks in here who already have a good handle on something like what you're looking for.

When you say that most of the time you are "on" the Mississippi River, do you mean that literally, like in a boat? Or did you mean you like to follow it but on land?

Are you concerned that a netbook could get wet? That would be a problem, whereas dedicated GPS units would be waterproof and some of them even float.

Do you have paper charts/maps? If so, you can scan them and use OziExplorer on a netbook. This type of map is called a "raster image", and since it's just a picture, it cannot be used to calculate routes, but it will show your position and allow you to navigate between waypoints. It does require a little work on your part to calibrate the maps in the program, but it can certainly be done.

See: Official OziExplorer Web Site - GPS Mapping Software for Tracking and Navigation. Supports Garmin, Magellan, Lowrance and GPS
Thanks for responding folks. Ken, I am boating on the Missippi. Boyd made an excellent point about the netbook's worst friend WATER. I had a crazy thought of making a waterproof container for the netbook! I am going to search out maps through Garmin and report back.

Thanks again for the great thoughtful responses.
With Garmin, you may have software issues on a laptop/netbook. They have discontinued all of their PC products now. Does MobilePC properly support Marine maps? I'd be surprised, since it acts pretty much like the nuvi (which will display marine maps, but without some of the features).

nRoute is their older software, long discontinued, but it still works under Windows 7. It does have preferences for marine maps, so it might work. Not sure if it would be compatible with their current offerings, such as Bluechart Vision. Would guess that it's ok for products like the Inland Lakes maps.

Their dedicated handheld and marine units are going to give you additional features though, such as Birdseye imagery (satellite photos) on newer models like the Montana, Oregon, 62s and other handhelds.
Ken in Regina
Hi Boyd,

I'm not recommending Garmin maps. Garmin makes such a complete selection of map types that I simply suggest that it's a great place for anyone with a special requirement to start familiarizing yourself with what is possible so you know what you want.

...ken... About