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Old 28-01-2010, 09:23   #1
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Raymarine / Furuno N2K Integration Experiences?

I am getting ready to outfit our new boat with instruments and (for various reasons I won't go into unless asked) have decided on a primarily Raymarine package (Chartplotter / Autopilot / AIS / Radar / ST70 Displays / DST800 Depth Speed Temp Transducer / Masthead Wind Transducer with Raymarine Wind Pod / Raymarine SeaTalk NT network). However, while it may be old school, I would really like an analog wind instrument and a larger multifunction display on the companionway pod. Raymarine's new larger multifunction display will not fit on the companionway pod and Raymarine does not offer a N2K compatible analog wind instrument.

This seemed like a perfect case for taking advantage of the supposed interoperability that N2K promises and after looking at displays from various companies I found I really liked the Furuno FI-501 Wind Instrument and the FI-507 Multi XL Display. I checked with the tech guy at the yard that will be comissioning our boat and he seemed dubious of mixing equipment from different vendors, but I believe he was thinking along the lines of mixing proprietary networks and not looking at it from a N2K perspective. At my prompting he contacted Furuno and received the following reply:

"Thank you for contacting Furuno USA, Inc.
We havehad good luck with interfacing our FI series units with just about any NMEA 2000 network. Unless Raymarine has changed their sensors/software, the Seatalk NT units will NOT work with the Furuno FI series. This is because we discovered that the Raymarine units don't announce themselves on the network and don't follow standard NMEA 2000 communication. They might have fixed this issue but about 6 months ago, I had a customer with the ST70 series and the Raymarine sensors would only display data, on their unit. They would not work with the NavNet 3D or the FI50 series instruments. You might ask Raymarine if they have made any changes on how their units announce themselves.
Thanks again for contacting Furuno USA, Inc. We hope we have been able to answer your question. Please feel free to contact us with further questions in the future."

I found this very discouraging and was hoping that someone may have a success story of using Furuno FI50 series instruments on a Raymarine SeaTalk NT network. It sounds like Furuno is saying that the ST70 displays do not repeat data correctly, but what about the actual Raymarine transducers that generate the data and are transmitting the information onto the SeaTalk NG (supposed N2K compatible) network? Is Raymarine really so out of spec with the N2K standard? This seems like it would make their claim of being N2K compliant a misstatement to say the least.

Any thoughts or experiences will be greatly appreciated.

Steve
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Old 28-01-2010, 10:00   #2
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Panbo has done a considerable amount of testing of N2K equipment from different manufacturers and has found they all play well with each other, which was the whole idea of the N2K. I would forget Raymarine, IMO, if you are building a new N2K system. WG
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Old 28-01-2010, 10:32   #3
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I did check out the Panbo site and it looks like they have primarily tested Maretron or Airmar sensors on a Maretron N2K network. They have tested many display units with these sensors, I couldn't find anything about using "proprietary" sensors from a manufacturer like Furuno or Raymarine on the network and then repeating the information on a display from a different vendor. For example, in this case will a Raymarine transducer put data on a N2K network in a way that it can be read from a third-party display?

What baffles me is it looks like the DST800 transducer Raymarine sells is the same transducer as the Airmar DST800 Smart Transducer, and both supposedly output NMEA 2000 PGNs directly. The same for the WindPod, it is translating the analog signal from the masthead sensor into NMEA 2000 PGNs and transmitting them directly onto the SeaTalk NT network. Am I missing something here?
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Old 28-01-2010, 10:34   #4
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Steve,

I think you are about to make a big mistake. Now, I know you think "here we go" but I'm just trying to spare you the trouble I am in now, ripping out about all the electronics and replacing it at huge cost.

Yes, N2K is good, but pls. spend a little more and buy decent sensors and displays. Your shortlist would be Maretron and Airmar for sensors (Maretron sonic wind/temp/barometer without moving parts, Airmar combined GPS&compass or GPS, depth/speed, compass etc. from either), and Maretron or Airmar standard N2K cabling&connectors plus indeed Furuno for their range of analog displays. I also like the digital Furuno displays but the two prominent spots on our boat (cockpit and pilot house) will get an expensive Maretron color display instead. You can download a simulation program for that display from their website to check it out, it's more than just a display (like it can repeat that GPS highway display to a waypoint for the helmsman, our reason for buying it).

But you must also understand that your list of Raymarine kit already includes Airmar components, like that DST-800 so that one at least should work with the Furuno displays. But why not buy the Airmar sensor with it's standard N2K connector instead? This makes it adaptable to any brand but I would never ever put in non-standard network cabling. Both Maretron and Airmar sell standard cabling and it's excellent. I choose Maretron because they have this free application on their site with which you can design the network and save you a lot of trouble.

For chartplotter I would choose Furuno or Garmin, for radar definitely Furuno but can understand a choice for Garmin, for AIS I would choose Furuno or a stand-alone version like the Simrad AI-50 or that new one (check Panbo: The Marine Electronics Weblog).
And before spending all that money, I would check on navigation software like the new MaxSea TimeZero or even think about the announce Apple iPad tablet with nav software. There are many new things around and they cost the same or less than the old stuff.

My reason for not buying (well, getting rid of it even) Raymarine radar/chartplotter is that it breaks too often, they ship units that are dead already too often and their service center is a nightmare. I vowed to not spend a single extra dollar on it but understand that they are bankrupt now so that is easy enough.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 28-01-2010, 12:32   #5
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Nick,

Thanks for your thoughts and honest opinions, your points are well taken. I would like to list a few things that formed my decision to go with the package I am considering and then ask for your opinions again:

1) After using Garmin, Raymarine and Furuno chartplotters on a multitude of yachts over the years, I have found that display real estate is at a premium and an important factor in how I used a chartplotter. For my day to day use I found I really struggled with an 800x600 screen and that even 1024x768 wasn't really adequate when I had things setup the way I wanted. Because of this, screen resolution is probably the single biggest reason I am not going with a Furuno system (the Furuno MFD12 is only 800x600, the Raymarine C120W is 1280x800). And no, I am not putting a 17" Furuno display in my cockpit to get a comparable resolution.

2) I really value the ability to overlay radar data on my charts. I sail in a relatively narrow and commercially busy place (Puget Sound) so radar and AIS are very helpful at night or in the not infrequent fog. When using separate radar and chartplotter displays, I found I spent a lot more time than I wanted with my head in the cockpit trying to figure out what I was interpreting on both displays and doing a mental overlay. With a combo unit, this simply was not the case and I find this to be a significant factor in my decisionmaking. I know you can do overlays on a Furuno, but with the 800x600 resolution I was always zooming in on the low-res screen to see sufficient detail and then I would be frustrated that I couldn't see out as far as I would like so I was zooming in and out. Displaying charts at two scales would work great and is my preferred solution but is not practical on a low-resolution screen. This is all relatively simply addressed by a higher resolution display.

3) Again, I really want to have the ability to overlay radar on my charts and this is one area that you do not get interoperability between companies. Only Furuno chartplotters will display data from a Furuno radar. Same for Raymarine and Garmin. So I am locked into a single vendor for my chartplotter / radar solution (crafty vendors). Given my experiences detailed above, I am willing to forego some radar performance (and that may be splitting hairs as Panbo recently gave the new Raymarine Digital Radomes high marks) for the ability to overlay radar on a high-resolution display.

4) So I have nailed down a chartplotter / radar vendor based on the above criteria. At this point I looked at the other components and decided there wasn't enough difference in performance (between the Raymarine DST800 and the Airmar transducer for example) to warrant the inevitable finger pointing that will ensue if I have problems integrating the systems. I have been a system administrator for years and the first (and second and third ad nauseum) lines of defense by software and hardware makers is to point at the other guy and say it is their fault. In my experience, ultimately the burden of proof falls upon the user to establish who is actually at fault before a company will address the problem. I have also seen this on friends boats where mixed systems are in use, and some companies (Furuno) seem to be better than others when it comes to customer satisfaction, but it is still a huge problem in my opinion and just not worth the hassle that will result if (when) something goes wrong.

5) And yes, I realize that I am violating Item #4 with my desire that started this thread in the first place... using Furuno displays in a Raymarine world. However, in my mind the two displays are optional as I can get the same information from other displays (i.e., the chartplotter and ST70) if necessary, and they are filling a non-critical (or at least less) role. Why go through all the hassle then? Like I mentioned in the original post, I like the larger old-school analog display for wind and would really like a larger multi-display that is visible throughout the cockpit for races where I have crew that need to see the information from a distance. Ultimately however, this may not be worth the hassle...

6) Lastly, quality. In my admittedly limited personal experience, I have heard of problems with all the major players and no single vendor seems to be better or worse than another as far as overall quality goes. My friends that have had problems with Raymarine will badmouth Raymarine and some have changed brands when given the chance. Same for Garmin. And in all cases, there are also happy customers as well. Raymarine's financial problems aside (though troublesome), I just don't see them as being any worse than the Garmin or Furuno systems on the two dozen or so boats I have experience with. That said, I don't discount your experiences or opinion in the least and you have me thinking very hard about Raymarine in this respect.

7) I guess one last thought... what about Garmin. The biggest strike against them for my purposes is they do not have an integrated autopilot that works well for sailboats. I have even spoken with Garmin representatives and they admit that their autopilot really isn't ready for prime-time as far as sailboats go. And referring back to Item #4 above, an integrated system is a big deal to me.

So, given the tangled thought process I try to lay out above, I hope my decisions are more clear. They are certainly not set in stone and I will appreciate any additional effort you put into steering me in the right direction!

Thanks again,

Steve
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Old 28-01-2010, 13:15   #6
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Nick, you seem to have a major issue with Raymarine, I have had their gear for some time, in general its good stuff, I have also seen the Furuno lesiure range stuff fail too, its a long way from the Furuno commercial stuff, NAVnet3D is Windows Xp for gods sake.

OP , The easiest way to solve your problem is to use the raymarine ST60 range , fine its not 2K , but who cares, connect it through the ST 70 or into the plotter and away you go.
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Old 28-01-2010, 15:44   #7
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Surprisingly, when looking into just using an ST60 analog wind display with the rest all N2K / ST70, Raymarine said it would not work and that I would have to wire the masthead windspeed instrument directly into the ST60 display and go from there. I did consider going with the ST60 range but it is not really compatible with N2K and I just can't handle starting out with a new boat using nearly obsolete technology (no offense meant to ST60 owners). I am committed to making this work using N2K if at all possible.
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Old 28-01-2010, 16:46   #8
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Raymarine & NavNet3D

I went with the Raymarine ST70 and NavNet3D about 18 months ago. Would I do it again? Maybe with some tweaks. At the time, Furuno was not yet shipping their FI stuff and I was a little leery of the mixing N2K too much. If I did it over, all transducers would be native N2K, no proprietary stuff (btw, Airmar is moving here very fast)

That said, NavNet3D network on ethernet is fine, but the other sensors would all be N2K (afterall, NMEA fell short with N2K, IMO, hence ethernet for radar/chartplotter connections). My experience with various vendors radar is limited, I've always had Furuno, but I've never questioned it and find it extremely good. The NavNet3D radar extended my faith in Furuno, it's fantastic. Also, I do find the ST70 displays very good. A wide range of display options and they behave well on the N2K network (or course, they are only a display.) I do believe the ST70 might have trouble if there is more than one of any kind of sensor on the network - I haven't found how you can 'chose' which source to display. I have the Raymarine X-10 autopilot and I find it's significantly better than the old S-1, the X-10 and ST70 display/controller are very good. I recently added an Airmar G2183 GPS to the N2K and disconnected (saved for spare) my Furuno GP320B. Also, the Furuno has no problem using the fluxgate compass headings from the Raymarine X-10 over N2K, hence ARPA works great on the radar.

The issue with mixing/matching N2K devices comes down to how to 'program' any options that the device offers. Furuno won't program the Airmar, hence I installed Actisense NMEA gateways and use a PC with Airmar's WeatherCaster to program their GPS. I think NMEA should take on a project to standardize device configuration.

What I consider 'ugly'.

1) Raymarine's tranducer pods are NOT N2K, so don't expect to view the data they produce on Furuno. (I installed an Actisense N2K to 0183 gateway, now I have wind on the MFDs)
2) Raymarine's STng cabling is OK, but you'll be cutting it up and adding 'normal' N2K connectors on it as you expand. Obviously, STng not needed if you don't go with the ST70s.
3) NavNet3D is in it's adolescence phase. Much better than 1 year ago, but still a few quirks. (Airmar's weathercaster on the N2K causes the MFD8/12 to reboot.)
4) NavNet3D charts are getting better, but the vector charts are still not as good as you get when you download them from NOAA (for free) and use with OpenCPN (for free). BTW, the Actisense N2K to 0183 gateway works fine connecting to a PC.

This has been my experience, hopefully it helps.
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Old 15-02-2010, 08:50   #9
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Quote:
Raymarine's tranducer pods are NOT N2K
Always check if a device is actually NMEA 2000 certified, the list is on the NMEA website: NMEA 2000 Certified product list
The first thing the NMEA says on that page is:
Quote:
Only the NMEA 2000® certified products below have met all requirements and have full NMEA 2000® certification.
Products that are marketed or labelled : "NMEA 2000 compliant" or
"works with NMEA 2000" are not NMEA 2000® certified
and may not perform to the standards of NMEA 2000® certification.
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Old 17-02-2010, 14:50   #10
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using the NMEA list as a beanchmark, all we should be buying is Garmin. furuno has only 6 devices listed for example
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