Notes and steps
(1) O-SENC charts from o-charts.org are vector (ENC type) charts that can only be viewed in OpenCPN. To learn about this type of nautical chart, see our text Introduction to Electronic Chart Navigation, or see other references listed at the end here.
(2) You will need the latest version of OpenCPN along with latest version of the o-senc charts plugin. We recommend that you copy the program and the plugin to a thumbdrive as a backup to potential need offshore when you do not have internet. (Technically there may be exceptions to needing latest version, but we recommend using the latest version of each.)
(3) It does not matter if you install the plugin first or buy the charts first. You will need the plugin before you can install and view the charts, but you do not need the plugin to purchase the charts. So let's get the plug in first, using the link above.
(4) While you have an internet connection, go to o-charts.org and purchase the chart set you want (ie all of BC Canada for 20 €), and purchase a dongle to be mailed to you (~24 € with shipping)—I think from Spain. The charts purchase and download takes place online, but the hardware will be some days to arrive. You will need to set up an account with o-charts, so recording your login info on your thumb drive might be helpful.
Here is what your account will look like at o-charts after the purchase of one chart set (Poland in this example).
Under System Identifier we see the two allowed slots, but neither one has been used so far.
(5) After you purchased the charts and have your dongle, and have the plugin installed, then insert the dongle and open OpenCPN, then go to plugins and Enable the o-senc plugin, then click Preferences to see the window below.
On first view you will not see the System Identification file (xxx.fpr) showing as it will not have been created.
So first thing is to press the "Create USB key dongle System ID file creation" button and then wait patiently a few seconds to let it proceed. In a few seconds a pop up states it is done and the name appears with extension .fpr (finger print) and a copy is saved to the desktop. Now we are done with this stage, and can close OpenCPN and go back online to o-charts.org. Note we are not using here the other create button; that is for assigning the charts to this particular computer.
(6) Now we return to o-charts.org, log in and go to our list of o-senc charts as before. This time we will tell the program what the identifier is for our dongle. The view below shows what we see after the process we describe.
When we first get here, the system info at the top will be blank. Then follow these steps.
6-1) Press Choose File, meaning the fingerprint file we created above. We do not need a name. Navigate to that file on the desktop, till the name shows in the field, then
6-2) Press "Add new system identifier."
6-3) After that is accepted, we will see the dongle id show up below under system identifier. Then Press Assign button, and you will see possible options, but in this case we have only the dongle so you will see and accept your dongle ID.
6-4) Once you have assigned the charts to the dongle ID, you will get a notice (green above and gray to the right) that the chart order is being processed. You can wait if you like, or close the browser. In a few minutes you will receive an email that looks like:
This email includes a link to the charts for downloading... or you could return to o-charts.org and now there will be a download link next to your purchase that you can come back to later as needed. It is important to download the charts and save them to a thumbdrive while you have internet connection. The package is way too big for satcom download at sea.
(7) Once you have the charts copied to a computer that is running OpenCPN with the dongle plugged in, just open the charts tab in options, and assign the location of the charts. Always insert dongle before opening OpenCPN.
You should see the green chart outlines showing. If not use the bottom right menu to turn on chart outlines so you can see the boundaries of individual charts. Then you can shut this off if not needed. NOTE: this computer does not need to be the one we used to identify the dongle. It can be any computer (mac or pc) running OpenCPN.
Here are a few videos showing this process.
O-SENC 2 of 3. Buying an O-SENC ChartBuying an O-SENC Chart