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Old 25-11-2009, 08:43   #31
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This is educational and fascinating. We bought our boat this past spring, 20 years old, including electronics, all of which work but several generations obsolete.

So I've asked one of the good local marine electronics guys to propose an undate package. I think the keepers in our current system are the Furuno 1833 radar, the Alpha Spectra autopilot, and the sailing instruments, Datamarine Link 1500, everything works.

Candidates for replacement are the SSB SEA 322, VHF SEA 156 (no DSC), EPIRB first generation ACR, not GPS enabled, weather fax Furuno. Everything works, just old. Chart software is Captn, using an HP laptop. GPS is Raymarine, AIS recieve only. There is no charting capability at the helm station, which i would like to have.

Objective is to use internet, where practical, for all sorts of info download, such as weather (Sirius/XM on board), e-mail, to a robust laptop. I'd like to integrate the GPS with chart software, VHF, and EPIRB. I'd also like to have either the nav station or helm station chartplotter be primary. A question here, should both chartplotters be smart, or is it ok for the helm station to be a repeater only?

Over the next few years, objective is to live aboard by 2011, cruising as far as Canadian Maritimes to deep Caribbean, maybe across to Baltic and Med at some point.

My wife and I are experienced sailors, and since we often double hand, having nav info at the helm is pretty important. When navigating close to land, I usually drive and she navigates.

Thanks in advance!!
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Old 25-11-2009, 16:50   #32
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Originally Posted by s/v Jedi View Post
@Fish: I truly do not understand why everyone is so enthusiastic about broadband radar. It must be because it's a new thing for low-end consumer radar. These units only make sense as your 2nd, short-range radar unit. I seldom see sailboats with the dual radar setup, but most motor boats do that. It's not suited for a single-radar equipped off shore sailboat (but great if you sail the Chesapeake every weekend!)
I guess I'm fishing for an opinion. The broadband system has better resolution overall and the best close-in resolution of any I've seen in the same power range. I would expect less power usage as well. Wondered if anyone had seen these yet, up close and personal.
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Old 25-11-2009, 22:10   #33
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Originally Posted by HHNTR111 View Post
So I've asked one of the good local marine electronics guys to propose an undate package. I think the keepers in our current system are the Furuno 1833 radar, the Alpha Spectra autopilot, and the sailing instruments, Datamarine Link 1500, everything works.
I would not ask advise from the people selling this stuff. They have a conflicting interest. Best to just ask them "how much for this and that". They all try to sell what helps them to good profit, which might not be the best choice for you.

It seems like SSB (Icom 802), VHF (that new Standard horizon with built in AIS, see panbo), Epirb (McMurdo or ACR) and Weatherfax (easy one, Furuno again but their NavNet version this time; doubles as Navtex) are all easy choices.

Even the chartplotter stuff is easy: Furuno 3D in combination with MaxSea TimeZero (fully integrated incl. radar if you ever buy a Furuno 3D scanner).

The trouble starts when you want new sensors: wind, gps, compass, depth, speed etc. That's where you need to make the choice to switch to the N2K network.... at which time you loose the capability to use the old instruments. But you're not going there yet so that's easy... just make sure the new stuff you buy can adapt to N2K later.

Forget about sirius/xm for weather, it'll only work "at home". Get that new Furuno weatherfax as the most often used source and think about a Pactor modem with SailMail or Winlink. That stuff works worldwide.

For Internet: check out Wi-Fi for Boats That's a friend of mine and it's the good stuff at a very reasonable price. It's so good that it's all sold out at the moment ;-)

I don't know about how you sail your boat... we almost never do, the autopilot does all that steering and stuff. So we don't really need a chartplotter at the helm because we're almost never there. I plan on using a laptop with a full wireless (wifi) feed of all instruments/GPS/radar. That's where MaxSea comes in the picture.

Quote:
My wife and I are experienced sailors, and since we often double hand, having nav info at the helm is pretty important. When navigating close to land, I usually drive and she navigates.
The less crew aboard, the more important the AP becomes. I would advise you to buy a new one no matter that the old one still works. You must be able to engage it in-shore and trust it. I really recommend the Simrad Robertson with below-decks electric-hydraulic drive. If you switch to that system of using the AP, one can navigate while the other can do the look-out with AP remote in the hand. You just won an extra crew member!
Keep the old AP as a backup!

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 25-11-2009, 23:17   #34
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I have been on a lot of boats.....Most installations I have seen seem to be cobbled together.......There are only a handful of installations that have made sense to me.

The key to it is that they were fairly intuitive, meaning that anyone coming aboard to pilot the vessel while on watch could easily operate the equipment.

It seems that people "get off" on being bombarded with info........not me.

I want to know how deep the water is and what's around me in the dark/fog.
Chartplotters? I can take'm or leav'em

(I actually had one guy want me to wire up his bigscreen TV for the chartplotter......I said I don't have the expertise to do that............
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Old 26-11-2009, 06:56   #35
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It seems that people "get off" on being bombarded with info........not me.

I want to know how deep the water is and what's around me in the dark/fog.
Chartplotters? I can take'm or leav'em

(I actually had one guy want me to wire up his bigscreen TV for the chartplotter......I said I don't have the expertise to do that............
The info presented must be to the point and accurate and I think most sailboats have that. On motorboats I see too many screens showing engine dials etc. Those screens could just come up when a reading is out of normal range or when requested and not show at all otherwise.

I think the info presented by a chartplotter is very much to the point for coastal sailing and see no reason for not wanting to have it, other than someone being too old to understand chartplotters and new tech in general.
Presenting the chartplotter screen on bigscreen TV is entertaining for guests and off-watch crew, just like in the airplanes. But you're talking motorboats there I guess.

What's important: the less crew you have, the more important the electronics package becomes. The autopilot and chartplotter are a must for safe two/single-hand in-shore sailing in unfamiliar area's on a sailboat. A motorboat can easily stop, requires less attention while underway and can go in any direction and make any course-adjustment so the pressure is off a bit.

You can use just a GPS with pre-programmed waypoints but the trouble starts when you need to divert from that planned route.

With paper charts, you just can't plot quick enough and sail the boat and keep a lookout in waters with reefs all around. You would need to do it like in the old days: very slow, with many hands on deck for sail-changes.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 26-11-2009, 09:31   #36
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NKE autopilot - dual, wind instruments, depth/sound, wireless MOB autopilot remote, compass, etc. Everything from one vendor to sail the boat. Closed system. Simple, redundant, highly reliable and preferred by many high performance solo sailors.

Furuno NN3D 12", Radar DRS4D, MaxSea Time zero on a Mac, AIS transponder.

Radios - SSB M802, VHF not sure yet, Iridium openport, Practor Modem,

Possibly 15" touch screen monitor at outside helm wired to both PC running Maxsea and NN3D to provide engine instruments over N2K at helm.
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Old 26-11-2009, 13:15   #37
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Interesting thread... Thanks Nick... So what was the budget, and what did it all end up costing?

You're sailing a 60' sailboat so lots of your approach is not applicable to a 40' yacht. It would be interesting to read the same exercise for a re fit in that size range.

My old gear keeps on ticking and I am sailing now mostly in local waters so little pressure to get better electronic "eyes". Aside from fog or dark we hardly need instruments for the familiar waters we sail in. But our instruments are gonna crap out, not at once, but over time so we will need to consider an upgrade strategy.

And this raises another perspective aside from size... the type of sailing and how often are you navigating in unfamiliar waters? Would a month cruise to Nova Scotia merit better eyes (cost/benefit)? We might very well end up living on board in the tropics with local sailing down there so we would have those considerations as well.

Winning the lotto would simplify matters... I'd get Nick or Sandy to spec out the whole ball of wax! Stay tuned.
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Old 26-11-2009, 14:33   #38
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Interesting thread... Thanks Nick... So what was the budget, and what did it all end up costing?
I'm a lucky man: no restrains on the budget. I'm not done with it all yet and when the list is complete, I need to discuss discounts etc. (remember, I'm Dutch ;-)

Quote:
You're sailing a 60' sailboat so lots of your approach is not applicable to a 40' yacht. It would be interesting to read the same exercise for a re fit in that size range.
You know what: for electronics, there's not a single piece of kit that I can think of that we need for our 64' as opposed to 40'. The only difference would be the hydraulic drive for the AP, which we already have. So, I'll list that: we have dual 1/8 hp hydraulic pump-sets which can be paralleled or just use a single one. We've been through some scary **** (named storm in the Mona Passage) with just one engaged but that was upwind. I don't really think we'll ever need more than 1/8 hp but it's nice to have two for redundancy. They are the hydraulics as supplied by WH pilots but they work with any brand... we use Simrad/Robertson. The WH drive is commercial/industrial grade and general parts that you can buy anywhere and from different brands.

Quote:
My old gear keeps on ticking and I am sailing now mostly in local waters so little pressure to get better electronic "eyes". Aside from fog or dark we hardly need instruments for the familiar waters we sail in. But our instruments are gonna crap out, not at once, but over time so we will need to consider an upgrade strategy.
And the problem is that with any little change you need to replace everything because it's not compatible. And that is why N2K is so important: I can just choose to buy displays from Raymarine (not that I would... but they would accept N2K), Furuno, Maretron and even Garmin and all the rest that --will-- come to N2K because customers will demand it. On the sensor front not much changed because it was always the few that manufacture them and the many that re-label them. Airmar and Maretron are the two names there for compass, gps, wind, depth, speed etc.

The plotter is something different. Most of the time, you talk about the radar at the same time because those are integrated and the scanners not compatible with other brands. Up north radar becomes RADAR; you can't do without. So you need the best and that's Furuno imo. But if you're not a full time liveaboard, a Garmin set would be fine too I think.

Quote:
And this raises another perspective aside from size... the type of sailing and how often are you navigating in unfamiliar waters? Would a month cruise to Nova Scotia merit better eyes (cost/benefit)? We might very well end up living on board in the tropics with local sailing down there so we would have those considerations as well.
That is exactly my point. If you sail from the same port every weekend, you can do without most of the instruments. I would go for depth, speed, wind, gps-with-display (Furuno GP-32) and radar... not even a plotter or AP. The GPS is for programming the set of waypoints that are always used. Radar for fog if you're in that area or for after dark stuff.

Our setup is very different because the only time we are in familiar waters is when we backtrack a bit, making that the 2nd time we are there. We're 7,000 nm from home!

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 26-11-2009, 18:50   #39
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This is all fine and good until the N2k network becomes self aware.

If you wake up one morning tied to the deck with Maretron cables, and n2k-compatible sensors inserted in to places you didn't know they could fit, don't say I didn't warn you! Networking your Margaritaville™ in to the system will give them the upper hand!


... I've been following this thread for a while, excellent info.
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Old 27-11-2009, 07:57   #40
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Old 27-11-2009, 10:50   #41
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Nick, old buddy, we share an unbridled enthusiasm for all things electronic, but we differ in many ways. I am an unrepentant Garmin enthusiast for reasons I'll detail later, and your objectivity is colored by a sense that Garmin is not top-drawer stuff. You are not impared by economic concerns, and I am an elderly pensioner with a small, fat, old catamaran [sniff, sniff] that's paid for and worth more to me than anybody else.

I have an Airmar PB200 at the top of my 40' mast. It's GPS is affected by motion in a seastate, and amplified because a catamaran has a sharper motion than a monohull. But the PB200 can be set to dampen that motion. It is still more erratic than a cabintop mounted GPS antenna, so I choose to not use its signal outside the PB200. The motion sensors do an excellant job of rectifying the wind data. It is rock solid. I use both the NMEA 0182 and 2000 data inputs for different purposes, and input the data via usb to my home-made computer.

The great virtue of N2K is the ability to shop around, mix and match components with a reasonable expectation of everything working together on the first try. Having paid my dues with "tower-of-Babel" 0183, this is a constant gratification.

I will be mounting an Airmar DST800 in the next week or two, replacing the next to last vestige of my 1980's-era Raymarine ST-50 instruments. With the reliability and accuracy of N2K transducers, I anticipate very credible displays.

I bought my Garmin GMR18 radar in a bundle with my Garmin 4208 Chartplotter. Part of my decision process was the lower cost of cartography for a circumnavigation (which I do not plan to do). I was surprised that you thought another system would cost less. Then I wondered why you would 'economize' on charts but not on anything else!

I am satisfied with the radar. There are better units out there, but it is the least weight aloft, very inexpensive, and dramatically exceeds the performance of my previous radars from Raymarine and JRC. Marpa on it is amazingly easy to use, highly reliable, and effective at ranges out to 16 miles in actual practice. I can see 14' boats (or at least their engines) at 7 or 8 miles in really obnoxious weather. In less than 4' seas I can see the poles in fish wiers, and the lead floats on crab traps at 1 or 2 miles. When I get closer I can see the floats on my toy IR camera project at 300 feet, which means I can thread that minefield at the mouth of every river at night with confidence that I won't have to go into the water to untangle one from a prop or rudder. Hooray!

I lust for the features of Navico's BB radar for two reasons; low power consumption (I could leave it running all night) and distinctively better close in target resolution. I have NO INTEREST in paying for longer range radar. Thirty minutes warning of colision is perfectly adequate; even at that close range, only minor course correction is required, and the proliferation of AIS equipped vessels argues that total reliance on radar for collision avoidance is not only unecessary, it it ill-advised.

About Garmin. You know I sell marine electronics. Garmin owns the lion's share of the market, from the tightest pockets to the Gold Platers. What surprises me is that while I sell more Garmins than anything else, they are the fewest returns for any reason. Whether it's Garmin's customer service that keeps owners happy, or their incredible durability, I cannot say. Another point is their longevity. Owners replacing old electronics are a large (and kind of sad) part of the business. There is a lot of old equipment out there, still working. But I swear, owners of old Garmins have OLDER stuff than any other brand, and its harder to pry those old, old of date, lo longer supported units loose from those guys than anything else! You haven't been able to get an updated chart for a 215 in something like 10 years now, and you'ld think I had committed Apostacy suggesting someone get a chart made since the last 12 hurricanes!

So. Price is no measure of quality in Marine Electronics. Nor is it in Women's Clothing. Sorry, that's another rant.

Garmin provides durable, effective product for less money that Raymarine or Furuno. If I had unlimited resources, I would buy Furuno for the technical aura of superiority, just to gloat a little. But in truth, a garmin will work as well or better, for as long or longer, and be easier to master in ordinary and unusual circumstances than any other product. To me, a lot of Garmin stuff in a cockpit tells me there was a judicious but demanding buyer at work.
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Old 27-11-2009, 20:48   #42
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Sandy,

I agree with you on Garmin: good, solid & reliable product for a reasonable price. But let me give some examples of what I don't like with Garmin:

  • N2K support started with some engine dials only (not even GPS was supported!). They defended that by stating that the engine-data wasn't available on 0183. Sure, that's a way of looking at it, but it's not my way ;-) I just don't like the knowledge that this is the way Garmin looks at things.
  • That N2K color display is nice... but by far not as nice as the Maretron display. Better than Raymarine though.
  • Sure that radar is okay. But if you compare the picture in real time with that of the new Furuno's you find how much it can be improved. Scan panbo.com, they have those pictures on-line.
  • Features. Example: the true dual-range feature of the 3D Furuno radars. Furuno is just always some steps ahead; I think it's because they have these features for a long time already on their commercial line of equipment so the knowledge etc. is there which makes it much easier to bring it to the consumer line of products. I understand that from a "Garmin view" that ain't very fair because Garmin doesn't sell ship-radars like Furuno... but who said it was fair?
  • I know this is a stupid test but here it is anyway: I have a Garmin 128 GPS and a Furuno GP-32. Both have an external antenna. When you take the garmin antenna off it's mount, put it upside down and duct-tape it like that... it doesn't work. That sounds reasonable, until you do the same with the Furuno and find it does work. This means that the Furuno (just for this example) provides a wider margin for dealing with sub-optimal location of the antenna. I like those margins. I tried the same test with my old Raytheon but they already lost their fix in the normal position (now and then) and just holding your hand over it is sure to loose the fix. That is absolutely not good enough. If you feed the same Raymarine GPS 24V instead of 12V it suddenly works better. But they state 10-30V range... bad.
So, imo, if you don't need the advanced features of Furuno units, Garmin is hard to beat. I can't come up with another brand that comes close.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 28-11-2009, 08:20   #43
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Thanks, everyone.

On our previous boat, we had B&G instruments and a Raytheon RL 70 radar/chartplotter. The B&Gs were great, but I never got comfortable with the radar.

On our new boat, I liked the Furuno radar right away, even thought is is just analog. So, I think I might go with a Furuno-based system, bearing in mind the importance of N2K compatibility.

I will be running a part time consulting business from the boat, so I need internet and good phone service, since most of the interactions will be in either of those two ways. I've seen a NOAA-based internet weather service that looks, at first glance, pretty good. Does anyone have experience with this system, and should I get the Furuno weateher fax as well?

Budget not unlimited, but I would like to get good quality equipment.

Thanks!
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Old 28-11-2009, 08:22   #44
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Nick: you pick periods in history to criticize Garmin today! You said
"N2K support started with some engine dials only (not even GPS was supported!). They defended that by stating that the engine-data wasn't available on 0183."
But that lasted less than 3 months, there have been 5 major (painless) updates since then, and now a Garmin GMI 10 is a better choice to read a myriad of other manufacturer's N2K sensors than any other. You have to walk before you can run, and thats true for some very competitive Olympic class runners. Garmin is not a "take it or leave it" manufacturer, and continues to accommodate an expanding market with timely updates.
"Features. Example: the true dual-range feature of the 3D Furuno radars." I don't see that as a particularly important feature. What is important is the ease of using the Garmin; it's gently learning curve. Further, when it comes time to access a more obscure feature, its still easy, perhaps even intuitive to find, especially under pressure, which means that a user isn't locked into a tiny screen while the outside world goes to hell in a hurry! This is a truly important feature, that can save lives, even for someone who has mastered all the common applications of an instrument. You have to admit that searching for an obscure feature on any other system requires more inside time.
"I know this is a stupid test but here it is anyway: I have a Garmin 128 GPS and a Furuno GP-32. Both have an external antenna. When you take the Garmin antenna off it's mount, put it upside down and duct-tape it like that... it doesn't work. That sounds reasonable, until you do the same with the Furuno and find it does work. This means that the Furuno (just for this example) provides a wider margin for dealing with sub-optimal location of the antenna." Well, no, that example is not stupid, but it is dated. That generation of antennas was less forgiving of position than the current crop. But that's my point! Today's Garmin GPS antenna is eons better, but it still can't read through a body. No GPS antenna can. But now the Garmin even comes with a mount for placing it under a fiberglass surface. Just make sure no one is sitting on the top of that surface; then you will only read the lower satellites!
When the Garmin 128 was available in stores, it offered great performance compared to its contemporaries. So the only "stupid" part of your example was suggesting that it had any meaning today. Further, if you still have that 128, it works today as well (except for the WAAS bird change) as it did then. And there's no reason to think it won't still be working ten years from now. But you will be able to buy a new Garmin then, for a lot less of your paycheck, with a lot more capability.
You are still stuck with your dated image that Garmin is "Second Rate". I don't think it ever was. You condemn with faint praise, and you have to compare old to new to do so!
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Old 28-11-2009, 10:21   #45
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I am waiting for a wireless network. The NK2000 to be a big step forward in wired networking, but wiring these devices is such a PITA. We need to solve the power thing but once that's done we could be free of wire and all the problems associated with it.

Could there be universal rechargeable batts instead of 12v wiring? So you had a stash of them and you just pop one in when you get a low batt warning? I'd prefer that approach to 12 power wiring for everything.

What say you?
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