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Old 25-01-2011, 03:19   #1
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Best Electronics Suite for Largish Cruiser Today ?

OK, guys, I am flirting with the idea of tossing my aging electronics suite. The reason is a persistent heading data problem, and poor radar performance of the existing gear. I threw some money at the problem last year with no result. Maybe it's about time to bite the bullet and upgrade the whole system.

Here is what I have:

Raymarine RL80CRC+ at the nav table
Raymarine RL70RC+ (monochrome) at the helm
4kW radome on the mast
Raymarine 6000 series hydraulic autopilot with non-gyro course computer
Raymarine networked ST60 series wind, close-hauled wind, depth
Non-networked Echopilot Gold forward looking sonar
No AIS

I am happy with the functionality of what I have. I would like to have a color display at the helm. I would like to have AIS. The autopilot works very well. The wind instruments work very well. The radar works very poorly. I would like much better imaging from the radar, and I would like for the MARPA to work properly.

I crossed the English Channel, the busiest shipping lanes in the world, six times last year, twice at night. I shudder to think what that stretch of water would be like in an unexpected fog. I plan to do much more long distance and night sailing this year and I don't think my existing radar is really up to it.

I am not really up to speed on the latest developments -- is digital broadband radar ready for prime time? Is it worth switching to? Better to wait? Is the Raymarine E series already getting to be obsolete? Worth buying or better to wait for the next generation? How about Garmin?

On the contrary, maybe someone has some advice to upgrade the existing course computer, to somehow improve the imaging of the existing radar. Maybe this is a good radar but loses its imaging ability as the magnetron wears out? Advice?

I will be very grateful for the advice of those who have been studying the latest trends more closely than I have!
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Old 25-01-2011, 04:07   #2
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I had nearly an identical system. Found it too costly to scrap the whole thing. Upgraded the chartplotter to a C90W, along with a new digital radome and the latest GPS antenna, and it works great with the existing ST60 equipment. Didn't opt for the AIS.

Your needs may be greater than mine since I only coastal cruise and hop over to the Bahamas on occasion.
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Old 25-01-2011, 04:58   #3
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The technology is fast changing and NK2 NMEA is where it seems to be heading. We are halfway there so it's an awkward time to upgrade as not everything is NK2 compatible and many don't support NMEA 183. These are the languages that electronics use to convey data from one instrument to another.

In addition NMEA 183 involved wiring tiny wires and NK2 now uses proprietary snap in connectors and "hubs".

If you are transitioning you might want to look at systems which support both protocols. Good luck with that.

You'll want an MFD which supports all sorts of data inputs: radar, AIS, GPS (charting), AWI, speedlog. And one which exports as well and supports additional displays in the cockpit where you're supposed to be when underway.

Garmin, Raymarine, Furuno and others offer such MFDs and each has advocates and strong and weak points.

Go to Panbo and read up on this stuff and get educated and confused! Panbo: The Marine Electronics Weblog
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Old 25-01-2011, 06:13   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dennisjay View Post
I had nearly an identical system. Found it too costly to scrap the whole thing. Upgraded the chartplotter to a C90W, along with a new digital radome and the latest GPS antenna, and it works great with the existing ST60 equipment. Didn't opt for the AIS.

Your needs may be greater than mine since I only coastal cruise and hop over to the Bahamas on occasion.
Well, but if you changed your displays, radar dome, and GPS then you've pretty much swapped out the core of the system. I was also not planning to ditch the ST60 gear for a while as it works fine and AFAIK is compatible with everything. I'm more concerned about radar performance than anything. How do you like the new digital radar? Does it make a big difference?
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Old 25-01-2011, 06:38   #5
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Oh, and one other, related question:

On one night crossing of the English Channel, in stormy weather and hard on the wind, heeled over about 30 degrees, I REALLY wanted my radar to work. What little function it normally has entirely disappeared when I was heeled over, leaving me to rely on my eyeballs.

Is that normal? My radome is mounted on the mast around the level of the first spreaders. Does it makes sense to put the radome on a gimbal mount? Does it make sense to take it off the mast and put it on a radar pole on the after deck?
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Old 25-01-2011, 17:03   #6
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You shouldn't be heeled over 30. Reef and stand the boat up. Radar returns from the beam are affected as the boat heels but not from fore and aft to about 45 off the CL.
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Old 25-01-2011, 17:35   #7
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IN my mind, and based on the fact that youre in the UK. I'd stick with Raymarine. I find that both Simrad and Furuno are more expensive( especially in Autopilots) then Ray. Garmin is about the same. Hence its a tossup between Garmin and Ray.

Id suggest

(1) Keep The ST60 displays
(2) Upgrade to two C90W , one at helm one at nav table. The C90W supports networking of two units and is better value then the E in such situations.
(3) Buy the best radar dome from Ray you can aford. Go for the R424HD unit.
(4) Ray X30 Course computer, retain yoru existing drive installation, Choice of control heads I think the ST6000 control head can be used with the X30, but not sure, anyway, theres the ST6002,7002, st70 control heads. Any other autopilot may require a drive swap out ( Garmins certainly will) X-30 has built in gryo. Rays autopilots are very good in my opinion.
(5) Ray AIS500, make sure the C90 has latest software, Rays AIS which is a transsceiver, connects via nmea2K ( seatalkng). Its very good too, I used it recently.

Now all you need is money!.

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Old 26-01-2011, 07:07   #8
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Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
IN my mind, and based on the fact that youre in the UK. I'd stick with Raymarine. I find that both Simrad and Furuno are more expensive( especially in Autopilots) then Ray. Garmin is about the same. Hence its a tossup between Garmin and Ray.

Id suggest

(1) Keep The ST60 displays
(2) Upgrade to two C90W , one at helm one at nav table. The C90W supports networking of two units and is better value then the E in such situations.
(3) Buy the best radar dome from Ray you can aford. Go for the R424HD unit.
(4) Ray X30 Course computer, retain yoru existing drive installation, Choice of control heads I think the ST6000 control head can be used with the X30, but not sure, anyway, theres the ST6002,7002, st70 control heads. Any other autopilot may require a drive swap out ( Garmins certainly will) X-30 has built in gryo. Rays autopilots are very good in my opinion.
(5) Ray AIS500, make sure the C90 has latest software, Rays AIS which is a transsceiver, connects via nmea2K ( seatalkng). Its very good too, I used it recently.

Now all you need is money!.

Dave
Thanks, Dave! Good advice.
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Old 26-01-2011, 07:33   #9
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Upgrading the entire electronics suite looks like will cost in the neighborhood of $15,000. Wow!

Before making such a decision I guess I need to be sure I understand what can be done with the existing one.

I see that Raymarine charges a flat $850 to repair/overhaul their radar scanners. Maybe it's worth trying again to repair what I've got?

Does anyone know how to diagnose a radar set like the Raymarine Pathfinder?
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Old 26-01-2011, 08:32   #10
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For a larger cruiser I would choose a Furuno NavNet MFDBB Blackbox system. They are expensive but you get what you pay for in quality. I have had no problems with mine and the tech support is fantastic. You can even choose which tech support guy to talk to.
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Old 26-01-2011, 08:56   #11
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I'm in almost an identical situation as the OP. Same Raymarine equipment, except my downstairs plotter does not display (but it works), and my helm display is color. Also have B & G wind, that does not work. Here's what I'm looking at:

Replacing wind, depth, speed instruments with Nexus ($1100).

Keep the Raymarine Autopilot (it works, and works well, for now)

Replace radar and plotters with Garmin. Last weekend I had the opportunity to sail with a buddy with brand new Garmin plotter, AIS and radar. It's simple, easy to use, and it WORKS. The Garmin solution he says is about $3500.

I have a laptop with Maptech, for backup, as well as a waterproof Android phone (I LOVE my Motorola Defy)
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Old 26-01-2011, 09:00   #12
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If you are receiving reduced performance on the radar, definitely look at the magnetron in most cases that will cure your problem. If you can go to an open array on the scanner, that will improve your performance. Reports I get from the experts is the Garmin radar is still not very good. We still use Furuno electronics on the large commercial vessels and I swear by their radars. I am looking at the integrated systems for my own vessel, and one of my electronics guys doesn't like them, due to if there is a failure of one of the central boxes then your whole system is down. I like Garmin GPS plotters and Furuno radars, JRC makes a very nice AIS which not only gives you the basic information it also gives you CPA and TCPA which makes for very good information when it comes to interacting with large commercial vessels.
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Old 26-01-2011, 09:18   #13
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I think the idea of mini upgrade is a good, especially if the autopilot and ST60s are working, perhaps a 5 year plan.

Afterall were will the technology and cartography be in 5 years? well any ones guess, but looking at the Tacktick wireless instruments 18 months ago at the Southampton Boatshow was interesting. They were sat in a fish tank but still worked well and there was sufficient light inside the marquee to keep them running for the length of the show.

Chart plotters? are we going to see wireless chart plotters looking like an I Pad so you can take it home or down to the chart table for planning but have it mounted at the wheel for navigation? certainly be much easier to wire up.

So a mini refit now of Raymarine E series at the wheel including radar and AIS. Leave the RL80c at the chart table, all you need is Lat + Long and speed etc for chartwork and the log. Keep the ST60s and autopilot. This would give the manufacturers 5 years to sort out the new radar technology, because I do hate paying good money only to be a manufacturers test bed.

How about head up display sunglasses with all nav data displayed and then switch to compass bearing of the target you are looking at or one of these complete with sonar 3D instead of a chart:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/tech...s/news/4217348


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