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Old 13-10-2009, 22:36   #1
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Describe Your Ultimate Integrated Instrument Setup

Hi,

This is gonna be the last big item on our refitting project list and guess what... it came up on top! ;-)

I have been researching this for a week now and came to the conclusion that is gonna cost me big time.... but I can do it slowly to spread the cost.

Right now, my Raytheon radar and B&G Hydra wind instruments are shot and I vowed not to spend another cent on those brands (B&G is good but just too costly for non-racers; Raytheon doesn't exist anymore).

So, I guess I'll have to fire up this thread with sharing my research report ;-)

Yes, it's gonna be NMEA2000 (N2K). This is the 3rd time I researched it and now finally I think it's mature enough for me to jump on. This means that I will prefer equipment that supports the standard N2K PGN's (sentences) above vendor specific stuff.

So, looking at what I have, there's only the Simrad auto-pilot that's allowed to stay. It's SimNet is basically N2K with different cables but easily (and cheaply) adapted to a standard N2K backbone. All the rest I have is obsolete and my SmartRadio AIS transponder is even called the "Pirate AIS" nowadays. Ah well, that's what you get when you are about the first with that stuff aboard.

I will follow up with separate posts for each brand that I selected, explaining which components and why....

I hope others do the same or comment on my choices and who knows, may be we can come up with the ultimate setup!

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 13-10-2009, 23:28   #2
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Simrad

The first brand I come up with is Simrad. The reason is that we have Simrad (Robertson) components for the autopilot and this is the only system that's compatible with N2K aboard Jedi... so it's gonna stay.

We have the AP25 control head, which is now discontinued but the new heads are basically the same (they dropped RobNet and changed over to a SimNet rudder sensor... nice!).

We also have the AC40 processor unit which is still current and can drive the steering with 40A max. Last component is the solid state rate gyro electronic compass which is good and actually made by Maretron (the SSC200).

All the modern Simrad autopilots can be controlled with the Simrad WR20 remote, incl. our 2 year old AP25.

SimNet is N2K with different cable, different connectors and it allows daisy chaining which is "not done" with N2K. It is easily adapted to N2K however, using a replacement plug which can make the whole SimNet network an extension of the N2K backbone, or you can connect each individual SimNet device onto the N2K backbone as a separate node. I will probably go for the latter because I will be adding SimNet components and also using SimNet sensor data with other devices/displays around the network.

I intend to go for the Simrad AI50 class-B AIS transponder. The big reason is that this is about the only N2K AIS transponder on the market and finally NMEA approved the class-B specific PRN's and these are now implemented in the equipment's firmware. The other reason to go for this unit is that it has it's own display which supports most features I use and thus can work completely independant. The transmit function can be turned off to "go invisible" and it even has the old NMEA0183 output too in case I come upon compatibility issues. Finally, the street price has come down a nice bit.
Competitors I looked at: Furuno: no N2K; ACR: no N2K, Navico NAIS300: does have N2K but no display, no remote indicators for correct functioning and no VHF DSC control feature (I am not 100% sure but the manual doesn't even mention it).

Next Simrad item is the VHF. I am looking at the RS87. The features that brought me here are:
  • N2K interface. This isn't just used to get GPS info into the VHF but also to allow outgoing DSC calls from the AIS. On the AI50, you can point to a target and request the system to call that target using an individual DSC call. The AIS supplies the MMSI number and you only have to press 1 button on the VHF to make the call. Very nice integration. They use vendor-specific PGN for this as the NMEA standard for this doesn't exist (yet)
  • multi station support, up to 4 stations. I am looking at 2 or 3 wired stations plus a wireless one. The handsets look decent and come with separate speakers.
    The base system comes with support for 2 stations. An expansion module is needed for 3 or 4 stations and that same module is also needed for most other features.
  • Loud hailer + fog horn support. We use the loud hailer for listening mostly (works amazingly well) and we'll travel to foggy areas soon so we wouldn't want to miss the fog horn. The expansion module is needed for this.
  • AUX audio input. This is a nice option that also comes with the expansion module. It allows you for example to connect the audio from the SSB to the VHF so you can listen to the weather and the nets over the VHF remote stations and speakers. Music is another option. The VHF mutes this when the squelch opens.
  • Black box design. No waste of precious space at the navstation.
  • Telephone style handsets. We like these much better than the handmikes. When you pick up the handset, the separate speaker is muted.
  • Supports the SimRad WR20 remote. This remote will be mentioned for about every piece of hardware in the system as it can display about everything from the N2K bus, control auto-pilot and can even take control of a blue-tooth enabled cellphone.
Competitors I looked at: Garmin 200 and Garmin 300. The new 300 has an AIS receiver but I don't believe in receive-only. The 200 has a nice buddy boating feature but that will quickly fade away as more cruisers will buy AIS transponders. But these units have N2K interfaces and probably make sense if you go for Garmin plotters. I am going to stay far away from those (will go Furuno) and also think Garmin is a wee bit young on the VHF market.

My current VHF is an Icom 602. It is a big disappointment for this "flagship" unit and the mike-cords (both base station and remotes) are the worst part of that.

Next item will be the simplest one: the Simrad AT10 bi-directional N2K-N0183 converter. We will need that because we will not replace all the old equipment at once.

That's all I'll need from Simrad!

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 14-10-2009, 00:11   #3
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I have a Furuno NavNet 3D system with the black box. Its been flawless and the tech support is outstanding.
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Old 14-10-2009, 00:15   #4
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Furuno

I currently have one Furuno device and that's the GP-32 GPS unit. It is also the best GPS I've seen up till now.

Our Raytheon radar dome needs a new magnetron and I've vowed never to spend money on RayAnything again so it'll have to go, incl. the C80 display and the Fisfinder/plotter/repeater. The RN-300 GPS went long ago when that utterly flawed design drove me mad enough to toss it out of sight.

I have always been happy with our B&G Hydra 2000 instruments but I had to replace the transducer once, it's paddlewheel countless times and now the wind sensor broke down. All that stuff is just too expensive. I have hopes that I will be able to sell the excellent displays (I even have a 20/20 display) and computer.

So, I am looking at NN3D components and the new MaxSea TimeZero Explorer:

Display: I really really like the black-box options and the multi-displays but my pockets ain't deep enough for that plus I don't have the room for all that kit because we install it all in the pilothouse dashboard (see http://www.sv-jedi.org/photos/extra_...ot/photo00.jpg). I am going to buy 1/4" thick black starboard to create a new center-front for that dashboard where a lot of new equipment will be installed.

So I came to the following components:
  • MFD12 display. It's gonna be tight but I'll fit it in. We are going to reduce the total number of displays so I will need a big screen to fit more data on it. Yes, it has native N2K support.
  • I still want that 3.5' open array scanner but will probably settle for the DRS4D dome. I don't think many cruisers realize how far ahead Furuno is with this radar. Garmin is a toy compared to this. Some features that got my attention are the true 30-target ARPA (not just the mini (MARPA) version of that... this one supports auto target aquisition!) and the true dual-range feature, where the magnetron is pulsed twice. The competition mostly allows a zoom window which is just a zoom from the single radar image.
  • DFF1 fishfinder. Radar and sonar data is too much for N2K so I accept a vendor specific network for those. Over the years I have come to appreciate fishfinders but not so much that I will spend a lot of money on the transducer so it'll be a cheap 600W version.
    I would really like a CH270 "spotlight" sonar instead....
  • Fax30. This is a combined weatherfax and navtex module, coupled in the same ethernetwork as the other NN3D modules. These sources for weather are what we use most. What I really like about this module is that you can also look at the received charts and messages with a PC with web browser. That means that even the iPod Touch with wifi will work. This makes up for the unit not having a N2K interface.
    The price for the Fax5 coupler (antenna) was a shock but I see that the streetprice is somewhat nicer. I built a mount for it years ago but I would like to hear where others put their weaterfax/navtex antenna's. I might go for a spreader instead of the bimini.
    What I like is that this unit will receive and store all data without the need to have your SSB and computer running. This means you are less likely to miss a broadcast too. We now get this data from Winlink but it just takes too long sometimes.
  • FI501 analog wind display unit for the cockpit. The best looking analog wind display I found and with native N2K interface. I might go for a second display and that would be the 504 multi.
    I am not going for the Furuno wind sensor. My eyes are on the Maretron ultrasonic N2K sensor instead. So, the 501 display will just display the wind data from the N2K network.
  • MaxSea TimeZero. We are a long time MaxSea user and have always been happy with it. Now, with full NN3D integration, we will finally get radar, sonar etc. integrated. Best news I found is that the chart licenses are shared with the NN3D displays and that MaxSea can even act as a chart server.
    We will buy a new Apple Mac Mini ("biggest" version) and hope it will run this software. You need NVidia graphics and dual-core 2 GHz CPU and that's what the Mac Mini provides.
Our Furuno GP-32 GPS will be the backup GPS and it's NMEA0183 output will be converted to N2K by the Simrad AT10 converter.

That's it for Furuno. I found better compasses, wind sensors and even better GPS elsewhere. That is the advantage of N2K: you get to pick the best of each brand and it'll work together.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 14-10-2009, 00:19   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David M View Post
I have a Furuno NavNet 3D system with the black box. Its been flawless and the tech support is outstanding.
You are a lucky man David, I envy you. Don't tell me you have a Furuno display with that or another 19" monster or something because that will cost you a lot of rum & cokes to calm me down ;-)

Now that I think of it.... I actually can afford it and I might be able to install some fans to get temperature under control in a space where that black box might fit... hmmm...

What radar scanner do you have David? And do you have other NN3D components?

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 14-10-2009, 06:37   #6
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My experience of SImrad equipment is that it is expensive and no more reliable then say RayMarine. Furuno is great kit , but very expensive. and with NN3D the non-US charts issue still is resolved so much of the features are not usable. Actually I'd prefer the original Navnet stuff

Despite what you say and having sailed many boats, The Raymarine stuff isnt bad, you can get it almost anywhere, The integration is the most complete on the market, the new autopilots are very good. Look at the equipment survey taken each year on the ARC, Raymarine come out well. Their new HD radar is very good too , see www.panbo.com.

I wouldnt discount Gamrin either, its probaly the best price performance ratio on the market. I have a 406 Garmin Radar, , its a great radar. You really dont need all this Arpa bells and whistles , multi speed etc. Its marketing bum fluff.
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Old 14-10-2009, 10:52   #7
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Garmaphile here! I'm still using a 10 year old Garmin handheld VHF. They are NOT new to the radio business. My inexpensive GMR 18 does yeoman service, and MARPA is just a couple of buttons and done. I've just received my new Garmin VHF 200 and I'll be playing with it soon. The N2K connectivity is what sold me, because I'm totally blown away by the instant gratification I've already experienced, plugging in an Airmar PB200 for compass, full weather data and additional GPS receiver. Ditto for Lowrance fuel flow sensors. Ditto for N2K depth and speed. Make sure you have totalled all the costs; I suspect you will find Garmin offers the best price, and means no compromise for quality and service.
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Old 14-10-2009, 11:49   #8
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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
My experience of SImrad equipment is that it is expensive and no more reliable then say RayMarine.
That is good to know but can you elaborate on that? Which Simrad units failed on you? My experience is the opposite because the AP25 pilot is the best piece of equipment aboard Jedi and I hear the same from every other owner of that unit.

Raymarine got so much heat on the trouble with the RN300 GPS and the similar technology GPS sensors that they just gave up, took them off the market and left owners hip deep in ****. And that was a very expensive GPS. More recently, friends have been replacing radar domes and display units again and again until Ray managed to send them a functioning unit. As this was in Panama, it cost them about $1,000 in shipping cost alone. Ray didn't check, they just sent the next one and those must have been returned-before units because they didn't work.

Quote:
Furuno is great kit , but very expensive. and with NN3D the non-US charts issue still is resolved so much of the features are not usable. Actually I'd prefer the original Navnet stuff
I looked into that chart thing and think it is under control now. I also compared to Garmin and the cost of charts for the Garmin is just ridiculously high if you travel around a lot. If you always sail in the same area, this isn't an issue of course, so much depends on the individual user.
Furuno list prices are high but the discounts are steep too, almost 30%. When you compare street price the difference ain't that bad.

Quote:
Despite what you say and having sailed many boats, The Raymarine stuff isnt bad, you can get it almost anywhere, The integration is the most complete on the market, the new autopilots are very good. Look at the equipment survey taken each year on the ARC, Raymarine come out well. Their new HD radar is very good too , see www.panbo.com.
I agree with a lot you write there. When it works, the radar is good indeed but a generation behind Furuno and failure prone. I know most boats have Ray but that only shows that their marketing is top; at the same time they get bad support reviews. I tend to look at the product itself and don't care much about marketing.
Integration is certainly not the most complete on the market, I think that even Garmin beats them at that. I also don't like the new ST70 displays, too much panel used for buttons so the LCD's are smaller than the competition. They are N2K compatible though but when I read their marketing about that next generation sea talk I can only laugh because it's not much more than a poor excuse for a N2K bus.
Quote:
I wouldnt discount Gamrin either, its probaly the best price performance ratio on the market. I have a 406 Garmin Radar, , its a great radar. You really dont need all this Arpa bells and whistles , multi speed etc. Its marketing bum fluff.
I had a very good look at Garmin and their touch displays. I have some serious issues with it though and they only came up after I went way into the manuals and Internet forums. N2K implementation started out as a joke with just engine information, not even depth or speed or wind. They are working on that but it needs more time.
The other issue is the radar. If you have never used radar before, the Garmin is a great unit to start with and their horizontal angle even beats that of Furuno (24" dome). But Arpa, multi-speed scanning and true dual range are no marketing hype; they are what puts semi-professional units apart from the "toys" and the reason that people who need it for their work choose it and believe me that they don't like to spend more money for "marketing bum fluff". When you have used your Garmin for a couple of years, not just to see that big ship but also for small vessels and in bad conditions, you will be ready for a step up. Before that, you can't appreciate these features because you don't miss them yet.
And of course, you are a lucky b*&^^$% and have a 6' open array scanner which is a whole different thing than a 24" dome. You get horizontal angles close to 1 degree so you will beat even the best 24" HD dome but that isn't a fair comparison. If you put your unit next to a Furuno 6' array with HD, true dual range and more speeds (you have two speeds too of course), the Furuno will win hands down. With your scanner however, edpending on how you use your boat, you might never need a better radar. With radar, bigger is better and when you have to go smaller, all you can do is get those advanced features to try and close the gap a little.

But in general, when we are talking about dome scanners, the factor again is where you sail your boat. If you are always in the same, familiar, area you might be able to do without advanced features. But when you go places that aren't even charted, good radar and sonar become a nescessity for safe navigation; even more so when you are short handed. What I will give Garmin is that their HD radar units are better than my old Raytheon and I am willing to believe they will catch up. But I need it now and Furuno is the only affordable solution that gives me what I want.

cheers!
Nick.
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Old 14-10-2009, 12:14   #9
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Garmaphile here! I'm still using a 10 year old Garmin handheld VHF. They are NOT new to the radio business. My inexpensive GMR 18 does yeoman service, and MARPA is just a couple of buttons and done. I've just received my new Garmin VHF 200 and I'll be playing with it soon. The N2K connectivity is what sold me, because I'm totally blown away by the instant gratification I've already experienced, plugging in an Airmar PB200 for compass, full weather data and additional GPS receiver. Ditto for Lowrance fuel flow sensors. Ditto for N2K depth and speed. Make sure you have totalled all the costs; I suspect you will find Garmin offers the best price, and means no compromise for quality and service.
Hi Sandy,

Yes, that Garmin 200 looks good and the new 400 even better. I did not know they made VHF radios that long, thanks for bringing that up. Make sure to tell us about that N2K interface!

The radar: how do you use it? where do you sail? etc. are questions that will provide the scope of your raving words on the Garmin GMR18. I truly believe you are happy with it but I also know of some situations we've been in where even our 24" Raytheon let us down. That's why I would love to go for that small open array (3.5') that Furuno offers.... I doubt that the modern advanced features of the 24" Furuno dome are that much better than my old Raytheon (which is a good radar for that period).

Let me take another approach and rewind to an experience 6-7 years ago at Key West. After an overnight sail from Naples in the gulf, we were approaching Key West on a glorious day. Entry/approach is tricky there, with submerged jetties and stuff like that. We round up into the wind to lower the sails and within minutes the fog came down so hard that I couldn't see Jedi's bow from the cockpit anymore. We let the boat slowly drift on a safe COG and fire up the radar. We decide to try to find a marker relatively far enough from those jetties. At some point my radar says it's there right in front of us; the radar overlay shows them right on top of the markers on the chart, I can _feel_ the buoy, but still can't see it. Josie is on the bow and I can hardly see her. At 30' she yells that it's there and positively identifies it. I plot a course to 30' off the safe side of the next marker and go there as slowly as possible. I notice 6 others following me in (Ah big yacht, they sure must know what they are doing... yeah right, my first time there and first passage aboard Jedi ;-). Sure enough we get along safely and then I see a big echo approaching us from behind at 30 kts. The wake from that big ass fishing boat at full plane makes me spill my drink. But he went straight in without hesitation.... because he knew the place and did it on radar many times. That is the difference when you are in familiar surroundings.
In this example, your GMR18 would have been fine. But no way it would have picked out the small pirogues between St Lucia and Martinique in 8-10' swell and I must admit my 24" Raytheon only did so after I got a visual on them so knew where to look on the screen (and I was on top of them already, I saw them way too late). Now in that situation, I believe the new Furuno with the same size dome will make a difference. Open arrays would have them picked out too of course.
Another good comparison would be a reef close enough to the surface for big breakers, like in the Pacific atolls or just like Abrahams Bay in Mayaguana. Can you pick that up? We arrived at day there and I was too busy to play, but I wonder.

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 14-10-2009, 12:20   #10
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I dont dispute your ascertions in regards to Furuno. There do make possibly the best radar units on the market. The FI50 series of instruments is quite nice, though missing the now expected digital colour unit.

Quote:
When you have used your Garmin for a couple of years, not just to see that big ship but also for small vessels and in bad conditions, you will be ready for a step up. Before that, you can't appreciate these features because you don't miss them yet.
I have the radar for about three years and its very good at small targets, I see small poles etc in the estuary where I sail. I am not a fan of arpa on small boats as without a rock solid heading reference it just lies too much. I have a satellite compass ( from hemisphere) and this does make it useable, but my experience doing deliveries in many types of boats is that arpa/marpa is very poor on all lesuire units.


I had a complete rundown on NN3D at Mets two years ago and was very impressed, lots of bells and whistles. However I am idealology opposed to 3d anyway so there. ( nice integration with the furuno autopilot).

My experience with Simrad was that the kit failed just as regulary as most others, yet its premium priced, repair was difficult to access and expensive

There autopilots , derived from robertson ones are very good,however outside of B&G, I think the new range of pilots from Raymarine is very good, really excellant in a big quartering sea.
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Old 14-10-2009, 12:28   #11
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Great Timing Nick because I have been pouring over marine electronic sites for the last 4 days for a project I am working on.

I have been a big fan of Furuno for years and I am leaning towards the NavNet 3D system since it is so easily expandable and designed for all sizes of boats

Good to hear that David is happy with his.

FURUNO NavNet 3D
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Old 14-10-2009, 13:24   #12
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Airmar & Maretron

This post was going to be about Maretron but Sandy pushed me into Airmar first and now I decided to do both because there will be comparing units between these two exciting brands ;-)

Yes, I will be buying Airmar parts but for my masthead wind instrument I am looking at the Maretron WSO100 instead. It will be replacing a B&G instrument that's broken so moneywise both alternatives are much friendlier than B&G.

What I don't believe in (and I know I'm right here ;-) is to put a GPS and compass on top of the mast. That's just not optimal, even if the results are as reported on the net (Panbo). That GPS and compass would work better when down at deck or railing level. Also, it's quite a bulky thing and I would be worried about it staying put there in the kind of weather we tend to get... believe me, I wish for no one with a PB200 up there to test that (like 120 knots sustained and stuff like that).

The WSO100 is wind, air temperature, barometer and humidity only. Even if the wind data is less accurate than that of the PB200, I would still select the Maretron unit for it's streamlined shape. We are not racing; if we were, I would put a B&G back there.

But I am very interrested in the Airmar GH2183 !! This is the GPS and compass part of the PB200 and I have just the spot for that on top of our hard-top bimini. I even believe it's compass specs are a bit better than for the PB200 but that might just be missing detail on the PB200 spec sheet.
When I check availability of the GH2183 I find that it's on back order everywhere (point to to a place when I'm wrong!). If so, I will probably go for a PB200 instead, to be mounted on the same low position.

My Simrad pilot has the Maretron SSC200 sensor. I have always been happy with it and it also worked great for my MARPA and chart-overlay radar. But I would like to have a backup compass and the old B&G will go.

On the GPS front: does anyone have the Maretron GPS? I am puzzled why it provides position 10 times a second. Can that be lowered to once a second? I see that people tested it but can't find much to read about it. Looks to be a good unit though but a bit pricey.

Back to Airmar: they cancelled the DST900EM tri-ducer (sonic speed, depth and temp). If I want something without paddlewheel I need to go to the Airmar C4500 unit, which is speed only. We have a lot of trouble with our B&G paddlewheel but the C4500 isn't N2K.... the other option is the DST800 tri-ducer with paddlewheel which is available with N2K interface so I will probably end up with that for now.

I am looking at Maretron ultrasonic tank level sensors. Anyone using those or different N2K sensors?

For displays I am looking at two Maretron 250 color displays: one in the cockpit together with the Furuno analog wind, and another one inside at the navstation (mostly for alarms and use when the computer is off, remember, no plotter screen down there anymore....) I wonder if anyone has experience with the DSM250 displays in bright sun... doable?

Maretron USB100 N2K-to-USB converter is also on my list. It'll come with software for programming sensors and provides me with 0183 backwards compatibility for older software too.

I am completely puzzled by all those switch/run/engine modules. I read even about chain-counter modules. It all sounds good but also like a lot of work. That's another nice feature of N2K: you can easily plan for later additions.

Which brings me to the raw N2K cabling, T's, plugs and wire. What do you guys prefer, Airmar or Maretron or something else? I am going to design using that free Maretron N2KBuilder software, adding all the sensors that I can think of to make sure I select cabling that will provide enough power/voltage for all those additions. It is gonna be amazing how much wires can be pulled out and replaced with just one new one!

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 14-10-2009, 13:56   #13
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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
I dont dispute your ascertions in regards to Furuno. There do make possibly the best radar units on the market. The FI50 series of instruments is quite nice, though missing the now expected digital colour unit.
Yes they do miss a full graphics color unit. The thing is that I would want a very complete N2K implementation in it so I can virtually access every N2K sensor and program most if not all. For those reasons, I am leaning towards the Maretron DSM250 which is also a tad bigger.
I can't get excited about the Raymarine and Garmin displays though. There's something I miss in them, for the ST70 it's the small display area and for the Garmin it's probably questions about the N2K implementation, plus it's smallish (but attractively priced!).

Quote:
I have the radar for about three years and its very good at small targets, I see small poles etc in the estuary where I sail. I am not a fan of arpa on small boats as without a rock solid heading reference it just lies too much. I have a satellite compass ( from hemisphere) and this does make it useable, but my experience doing deliveries in many types of boats is that arpa/marpa is very poor on all lesuire units.
Yes your 6' open array makes a big difference. My first MARPA experience was a disaster, using B&G fluxgate for heading. Worthless like you describe. But after I got the Maretron SSC200 solid state rate gyro compass (came with the Simrad pilot and quickly wired to the Raytheon radar) it improved enormously. On a stable MARPA tracked target, the CPA and tCPA are very very close to the AIS values. Your satellite compass is another step up and even provides 3D stabilisation which is also usefull for high end sonars.
With the improvements I will get from my Furuno radar and maybe the even better Airmar compass, I am sure that the ARPA will be better than what I had and that was already acceptable.
I think ARPA will be good on most leisure radars as long as that heading sensor is high end. Without accurate pitch and roll information and gyro compensation of the compass itself (plus at least 10 Hz updates from the network), it will be so far off that it presents more danger than safety. I think it's a shame that manufacturers enable the MARPA/ARPA modes with an unusable sensor. I think Furuno might keep it disabled.

Quote:
I had a complete rundown on NN3D at Mets two years ago and was very impressed, lots of bells and whistles. However I am idealology opposed to 3d anyway so there. ( nice integration with the furuno autopilot).
I am not a big 3D fan either. But who knows, I might change my mind after having it a couple of years. I remember the days that I preferred my Garmin GPS12 with a paper chart over anything else. I still have that GPS within reach ;-)

Quote:
My experience with Simrad was that the kit failed just as regulary as most others, yet its premium priced, repair was difficult to access and expensive
There autopilots , derived from robertson ones are very good,however outside of B&G, I think the new range of pilots from Raymarine is very good, really excellant in a big quartering sea.
Yes, the pilot is basically a Robertson product. But the only failures I heard about were on the rudder-drive part. I must admit that I don't use a Simrad drive, mine is an industrial/commercial one from WH pilots, with dual motors and pumps for redundancy. The only damage with those was caused by lightning and I won't call that a failure.

I am not impressed by the Simrad wind/depth instruments, not by their plotters either. But I am impressed with the AIS and VHF. I've read about people installing them being happy etc. but not a single failure.
See, that's the nice thing about a good N2k implementation: it allows mix and match between brands. I like Furuno but not their AIS, so I can pick that Simrad AIS and it'll work great. I am going for two different instrument display brands, something what was unheard of not so long ago. They would laugh at you until you left the shop if you suggested something like that. Now, we can pick a good Airmar sensor, use it with a Furuno radar and display it on a Maretron display or even the computer. The customer has become the master instead of the slave!

Sean, describe your boat and your complete collection of gear. You don't happen to have one of those retractable spotlight sonars do you?

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 14-10-2009, 14:36   #14
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Originally Posted by Pelagic View Post
Great Timing Nick because I have been pouring over marine electronic sites for the last 4 days for a project I am working on.

I have been a big fan of Furuno for years and I am leaning towards the NavNet 3D system since it is so easily expandable and designed for all sizes of boats

Good to hear that David is happy with his.

FURUNO NavNet 3D
Hi Pelagic,

I know where you're at, it almost drove me crazy. I was even at a point that I told my wife it was gonna be Garmin radar, switching back to Furuno a couple of hours later.

But I think it's very important not to pin yourself onto one brand too much. Let's take Furuno as an example. Radar is an easy one. Chartplotter... well there have been many issues and I really like that Garmin touch LCD. The reason that I pick Furuno there is because I need that display for the radar (there you go... still customer enslavement ;-) but also because I am a big fan of MaxSea and believe in the TimeZero version. I know there will be trouble down that path but I am willing to overcome a lot of trouble because I like MaxSea that much.
Furuno has always been at the top for weatherfax... many boats still have those paper receivers. When you look at the images they print, isn't it amazing how well they look when you compare it with modern solutions?! The only thing I ever saw that clearly beats it is downloading with Pactor from saildocs.com... which is a 2-way digital transmission with error correction so not a valid comparison. Now the (not so new) NN3D offering, the Fax30. It's all I will ever want. I will take that over any Sirius or XM offering even if I stayed within their footprint. The only thing that can ruin this is when NOAA stops their weatherfax service but I don't see that happening. When you cruise the world, weatherfax is still the first requirement for weather aboard imo. All the nets, routing advisors etc. are an addition to that base. Same for navtex. I know one thing better than Navtex and that is Inmarsat C. You get the same navtex messages but always error free and you can choose for which area(s) even long before you reach the outer-range limit of the local transmitters. My Inmarsat C burned up in a fire at the distributor when it was back for warrenty repair. That whole issue pissed me off so much that I never bought a new one. Also, that doesn't give you weatherfax!
Now to the sounder. Yes, a fine NN3D sounder. But we must keep in mind that it is a toy. I much rather have the Furuno CH270 or even those new structure scan and sidescan units! But it's either cost or usability that keep me away from them for now. Did I mention that I like that $13k CH270 sonar? ;-)
And now we get to Furuno offerings that I see no good reason for selecting. First the GPS. It will surely be good but it does cost $350 to $400 on the street! (GP-330B). I think anyone selecting this level of equipment needs data from two GPS units on the N2K network. It makes sense that one of them is a Furuno (when you have NN3D) and the other one a completely different brand. I have my trusty Furuno GP-32 and the Simrad AT10 converter will nicely convert it's NMEA0183 data onto the N2K bus. So, my 2nd unit must be native N2K and not Furuno and that leads me right to Airmar with their great combo-units like the GH2183 and PB200.
Furuno AIS: I don't think anyone can come up with a good reason for that. It doesn't have N2K so you only get it's data on N2K when you switch on your NN3D display (I know it'll work in sleep mode but I like to switch stuff off). Even the Furuno class A (model 150) doesn't have N2K. And there is no valid reason to put AIS data on ethernet because N2K is more than enough bandwidth... even 0183-HS is enough. So, I go for a unit that will work independently and the Simrad AI50 is the best I found.
The Sirius weather module is nice for people in US waters who don't mind to spend money on subscriptions. We are just not within that group for both reasons.
Furuno VHF isn't integrated at all so I would never buy it. The Simrad works nice with their AI50 AIS and the only other N2K enabled VHF radios I found are the new Garmins and that cheap one from Lowrence if I'm correct. Not much choice.
Furuno instrument displays look okay but like Sandy first wrote here, they don't have the full graphics color displays yet. I do like the OLED backlighting though and think they might be the first with that.

For sensors it's all Maretron and Airmar I think. Even if you buy a Furuno transducer, you get an Airmar one and it's the same for all the other brands. I am impressed by both Maretron and Airmar but Maretron looks a bit more high-tech to me while Airmar are more like the sonar transducer people.

For all the cabling and connectors I am looking at Maretron.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 14-10-2009, 20:32   #15
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New post on Panbo

I just found a new post on panbo about the radars: Panbo: The Marine Electronics Weblog: 18" radomes #6, MARPA & True Wakes edition

It's about true echo trails and that's another feature where Furuno shines. When you look at the photo's of the three systems Raymarine, Furuno and Garmin, it's very obvious to me which one I want. On the Furuno it almost looks like a computergame and it's even hard to believe that it accurately shows the shipping movements around you in real time.

The Raymarine has limited true echo trails and the Garmin has no support for this at all.

Looking at the pictures I even think I'm gonna like the Furuno 3D chart display. I would not be able to work with the 3D display of the Garmin as pictured in this article.

cheers,
Nick.
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