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Old 02-03-2015, 13:27   #16
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Hello! This is my first post on this forum.

I was intrigued by "Dockhead's' comments about having duel Zeus2 displays to display sailsteer and a chart at the same time. We have just bought a Catana 472 catamaran that had a B&G H2000 system in place. We have updated her with the 16" Glass Helm version of the Zues2 at the nav station in the salon. We have the "Go Free" wireless with the thought of using an iPad at the 2 outboard helm stations. We have just finished this installation and are away from the boat for 2 months. We didn't have much chance to sea trial our new electronics before we left.

We are now thinking of updating the autopilot processor and adding 7" Zues2 displays (instead of the existing "Hercules Pilot" controls) in the small pod at each outboard helm. I'm assuming the 7" Zues2 can toggle between sailsteer, chartplotter, radar, and pilot control. I would be interested in hearing other sailor's thoughts about optimizing our system. My wife and I are small cat (F16 & F18) racers and haven't put a lot of thought into marine electronics until now.
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Old 02-03-2015, 13:33   #17
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric on El Gato View Post
Hello! This is my first post on this forum.

I was intrigued by "Dockhead's' comments about having duel Zeus2 displays to display sailsteer and a chart at the same time. We have just bought a Catana 472 catamaran that had a B&G H2000 system in place. We have updated her with the 16" Glass Helm version of the Zues2 at the nav station in the salon. We have the "Go Free" wireless with the thought of using an iPad at the 2 outboard helm stations. We have just finished this installation and are away from the boat for 2 months. We didn't have much chance to sea trial our new electronics before we left.

We are now thinking of updating the autopilot processor and adding 7" Zues2 displays (instead of the existing "Hercules Pilot" controls) in the small pod at each outboard helm. I'm assuming the 7" Zues2 can toggle between sailsteer, chartplotter, radar, and pilot control. I would be interested in hearing other sailor's thoughts about optimizing our system. My wife and I are small cat (F16 & F18) racers and haven't put a lot of thought into marine electronics until now.
I think it's a fantastic idea. The 7" Zeus is so cheap --- like an ordinary instrument was a few years ago -- why not have several of them, if you have space? If I had space, I'd have one 9" one and two 7" ones -- keep one on SailSteer, one on radar, one on chart all the time. Shut one or two down offshore.

The pilot control on the Zeus is excellent, and does not really require the plotter to be set to it all the time. You can evoke it in an instant by pressing the "stby/auto" button. This works superbly well in combination with a Triton and the pilot keypad. Because the Triton can be used as an ordinary instrument most of the time. So you have just fantastic flexibility compared to what we used to have.
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Old 04-03-2015, 17:36   #18
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Really hate it when working for a living gets in the way of planning modifications on the boat. Am back now. REALLY appreciate all of the input. Have been reading up on some reference material as well, and am leaning toward a B&G system with 4G radar. Some questions though:

  • Dockhead, you said Sailsteer is really cool. I wonder what the application will be on a cruising boat. I raced trimarans for many years and we used SailComps to pick headers and lifts and react accordingly. However that was a nimble Corsair 28R and not a 33 ft cruising cat that - although sails well for what it is - doesn't pay to play windshifts. How is Sailsteer going to benefit me?
  • Several people have written there is little power consumption difference between regular and broadband radar. The B&G 4G specs say 20 watts typical operating, vs GMR 18 at 34 watts typical operating. That is about twice the power consumption for the standard radar. Am I missing something.
  • Concern about how much of my current system I can keep, and integrate with a Zeus chartplotter. I have ST60 wind and an ST60 boat speed and depth. Also a Raymarine S1 wheel pilot. It is not important to me for the wheel pilot to be integrated because I have the control head right at the wheel. Does the Sailsteer or other require wind or paddle wheel speed from the other instruments? Can that be fed without expensive boxes, etc?
  • Looks like a heading sensor is required. Can that come from the S1 wheel pilot? Anybody done this? I cannot see changing out a wheel pilot I like and works well.
  • I have read some nightmare posts from people who bought this Zeus and 3G or 4G system and has real problems getting things to work, plus really felt the technical support was horrible. One said he was happy he got it at West Marine with their satisfaction guarantee, because he eventually just returned it all. That was almost two years ago. Any better now? I have had decent experience with Raymarine support, and I read some pretty bad complaints about them too.
  • Internal GPS. Is this really going to work if the unit is under a fiberglass hard top? Right at the edge, and near windows, but still?
  • Would like to have AIS tracking at least. I am not in love with my VHF radio, so am free to change it out with an integrated AIS unit. Is there some disadvantage to this? Got a good recommendation?
I am sure I will think of more. But last time I typed this much, the damn Windows 8 hot key kicked in and jumped me to something else, and killed the post before submitting. Not pushing my luck again.
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Old 04-03-2015, 17:43   #19
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

More:

  • I see units labelled Zeus, Zeus2 and Zeus Touch. I assume Zeus and Zeus touch are the same thing, and maybe Zeus2 is new generation. Some retailers are packing Zeus Touch and 4G radar. I don't see anyone doing same for Zeus2. Anybody seeing such?
  • My chartplotter will be located in an open saloon. We usually remove it and lock it up below. Are the connections to Zeus units such that it can be done easily, and not damage things?
  • As we are heading to Bahamas, I would like to use Explorer Charts. From what I have read, NavNet or Nav2 are explorer based and will work on B&G systems. I may have my product wrong. Can someone confirm? Been there done that?
  • Is the 4G radar always on standby? I know power draw is low (3 watts), but if you are daysailing it seems funny that it would have to be on standby. Maybe I don't understand what standby is. Anyone?
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Old 05-03-2015, 04:57   #20
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

I am also in the market for a new radar and the B&G is on the shortlist. I was put B&G off by the bad experience reported in this forum posting:
Simrad/Navico MARPA problem

I would hope the problem will be solved and it seems Dockhead's system is working well, so maybe a glitch specific to Tanglewood, maybe not?

The front runner for new radar is Furuno. One really good feature with the Furuno radars is they do ARPA. Pretty much every other radar system does only MARPA. The attraction of this is if it works properly ARPA will automatically pick up the small boat that doesn't have AIS and alert you if there is a conflict. With MARPA you have to manually set up the target tracking.

Another attractive feature of certain Furuno models is you can use it and the charts with MaxSea if you pay the extra for the MaxSea Explorer software. Their charts are good for the Bahamas and include the Explorer info (not to be confused with MaxSea Explorer by the way).

I don't think power use is really an issue. The B&G really only saves power if you have it on standby. The way I use radar, it is either on or it isn't. If it is off, it doesn't take that long to start up. I don't see much advantage of having standby.
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Old 05-03-2015, 05:25   #21
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailjumanji View Post
Really hate it when working for a living gets in the way of planning modifications on the boat. Am back now. REALLY appreciate all of the input. Have been reading up on some reference material as well, and am leaning toward a B&G system with 4G radar. Some questions though:

[LIST] [*]Dockhead, you said Sailsteer is really cool. I wonder what the application will be on a cruising boat. I raced trimarans for many years and we used SailComps to pick headers and lifts and react accordingly. However that was a nimble Corsair 28R and not a 33 ft cruising cat that - although sails well for what it is - doesn't pay to play windshifts. How is Sailsteer going to benefit me?

Well, have a look at the screens on the B&G website and decide for yourself. It's certainly not something you need on a cruising boat. But sailing offshore, especially hard on the wind, I find it extremely useful, because it gives you absolutely all the sailing data on one screen, which saves you from having to look around at different screens and synthesize it in your mind.



[*]Several people have written there is little power consumption difference between regular and broadband radar. The B&G 4G specs say 20 watts typical operating, vs GMR 18 at 34 watts typical operating. That is about twice the power consumption for the standard radar. Am I missing something.


Well if 14 watts is meaningful on your boat then by all means. That amount of power is not noticeable on my boat.

[*]Concern about how much of my current system I can keep, and integrate with a Zeus chartplotter. I have ST60 wind and an ST60 boat speed and depth. Also a Raymarine S1 wheel pilot. It is not important to me for the wheel pilot to be integrated because I have the control head right at the wheel. Does the Sailsteer or other require wind or paddle wheel speed from the other instruments? Can that be fed without expensive boxes, etc?

Naturally Sailsteer (and lots of other functions) needs network data -- wind, boat speed, rudder angle, heading. Actisense makes relatively inexpensive boxes to get that data into your plotter. You will want a multiplexer, I think, to put it all into the 0183 port on the Zeus (or any other modern plotter you buy). Perhaps your pilot computer performs that function -- you will need to read the manual. But for sure, it hardly makes sense to upgrade to any modern plotter, and not have all the data on it.

[*]Looks like a heading sensor is required. Can that come from the S1 wheel pilot? Anybody done this? I cannot see changing out a wheel pilot I like and works well.


See above.

I would add one thing, though -- MARPA and radar overlay, and indeed radar bearings, need accurate heading data. It is doubtful that whatever fluxgate you're using with your wheel pilot gives data adequate for these functions. You will want a modern gyro-stabilized heading sensor, to make these functions work at even a minimally acceptable level. Expensive, but worth it -- the best sub-$1000 one is the Airmar H2183.



[*]I have read some nightmare posts from people who bought this Zeus and 3G or 4G system and has real problems getting things to work, plus really felt the technical support was horrible. One said he was happy he got it at West Marine with their satisfaction guarantee, because he eventually just returned it all. That was almost two years ago. Any better now? I have had decent experience with Raymarine support, and I read some pretty bad complaints about them too.


No guarantees. I had fairly grandiose problems with mine, but they seem to have been mostly software problems, now solved. Tech support from Navico varies from superb to utterly useless. People tell horror stories about other makers, too, especially Raymarine.

About Raymarine, however, I can say this -- I used Ray electronics for about 10 years, and can't tell you anything about their tech support -- why? Because the stuff never malfunctioned. I don't know about the present generation, but the Pathfinder and RL gear I used to have was bulletproof; military spec type quality.


[*]Internal GPS. Is this really going to work if the unit is under a fiberglass hard top? Right at the edge, and near windows, but still?

Sure.
[*]Would like to have AIS tracking at least. I am not in love with my VHF radio, so am free to change it out with an integrated AIS unit. Is there some disadvantage to this? Got a good recommendation?




.
AIS is t*ts. Don't go to sea without it. I would recommend a black box unit, which will display on your new plotter. I have Si-Tex, but there are various types available, all of which seem to be good. Cost is about $600, plus you'll need to spring for an antenna splitter, or else install a second VHF antenna. If you have space for a freestanding unit, then Vesper, but you need this display at the helm.
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Old 05-03-2015, 05:32   #22
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailjumanji View Post
More:

  • I see units labelled Zeus, Zeus2 and Zeus Touch. I assume Zeus and Zeus touch are the same thing, and maybe Zeus2 is new generation. Some retailers are packing Zeus Touch and 4G radar. I don't see anyone doing same for Zeus2. Anybody seeing such?


    There are three generations of the Zeus -- the Zeus "Z", rebranded Simrad NSE; Zeus "T" -- first gen touch, rebranded Simrad NSS; Zeus "T2" -- latest touch, rebranded Evo2. They are not the same. I love my first gen Zeus Z which is the old premium version of the Simrad plotter, with buttons and no touchscreen, heavy die-cast alu case, four Ethernet ports, etc., etc. It is lovely. But lacks ability to do GoFree and other useful functions of the later models. For that, I have the T at my helm. Get the T2, of course.


  • My chartplotter will be located in an open saloon. We usually remove it and lock it up below. Are the connections to Zeus units such that it can be done easily, and not damage things?

    Just like any other plotter. You're going to bracket, not recess mount it?

  • As we are heading to Bahamas, I would like to use Explorer Charts. From what I have read, NavNet or Nav2 are explorer based and will work on B&G systems. I may have my product wrong. Can someone confirm? Been there done that?

    On the B&G site you can get a list of compatible charts.

  • Is the 4G radar always on standby? I know power draw is low (3 watts), but if you are daysailing it seems funny that it would have to be on standby. Maybe I don't understand what standby is. Anyone?
The 4G radar has a standby function, but since the radar is instant on, I have no idea what it could be used for. I just leave mine on all the time. If it's off and you need it, it goes on instantly. On mangetron pulse radards, standby is useful because it keeps the magnetron warm. Otherwise it takes a couple of minutes to warm up.
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Old 05-03-2015, 05:45   #23
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Quote:
Originally Posted by poiu View Post
I am also in the market for a new radar and the B&G is on the shortlist. I was put B&G off by the bad experience reported in this forum posting:
Simrad/Navico MARPA problem

I would hope the problem will be solved and it seems Dockhead's system is working well, so maybe a glitch specific to Tanglewood, maybe not?

The front runner for new radar is Furuno. One really good feature with the Furuno radars is they do ARPA. Pretty much every other radar system does only MARPA. The attraction of this is if it works properly ARPA will automatically pick up the small boat that doesn't have AIS and alert you if there is a conflict. With MARPA you have to manually set up the target tracking.

Another attractive feature of certain Furuno models is you can use it and the charts with MaxSea if you pay the extra for the MaxSea Explorer software. Their charts are good for the Bahamas and include the Explorer info (not to be confused with MaxSea Explorer by the way).

I don't think power use is really an issue. The B&G really only saves power if you have it on standby. The way I use radar, it is either on or it isn't. If it is off, it doesn't take that long to start up. I don't see much advantage of having standby.
Hey Poiu:

I don't think that the power is going to be a factor for you. If you were saving power by keeping the radar off most of the time, 4G would be an advantage because it's instant on. But on a boat your size, I'm sure you just leave it on all the time, like I do. The difference is maximum 18 watts compared to normal radar -- not a factor on my boat.

Concerning MARPA and ARPA, I doubt that the difference will mean anything to you. The difference is in the number of targets tracked, and automatic target acquisition. Unless you're planning an open array radar, I don't think that the automatic target acquisition is any use at all. The standard procedure on yachts is to rely on radar guard zones to detect targets, not ARPA. Guard zones work very well on modern radars, superbly on the 4G which has high resolution and thus better target discrimination. Unless you are prepared to fit a 48" Furuno open array, which is even better -- and on a boat your size, I might think about that.

However, anecdotally, the Furuno ARPA system simply functions better than the Navico one does. To be sure of that, you will have to try both system in real life and see. If you're in the Solent before the end of April, stop by and I'll take you out and let you try my system for comparison, if you want.

I have not had Tanglewood's problem, but MARPA does not work all that well on my system. I'm not sure that it works all that well on any yacht system, but to know that for sure you will need to have practical trials. Quality of MARPA or ARPA function is highly dependent on quality of heading data. A satellite compass can make a revolutionary change in this; one of these is on my wish list.
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Old 05-03-2015, 11:58   #24
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Hey Poiu:

I don't think that the power is going to be a factor for you. If you were saving power by keeping the radar off most of the time, 4G would be an advantage because it's instant on. But on a boat your size, I'm sure you just leave it on all the time, like I do. The difference is maximum 18 watts compared to normal radar -- not a factor on my boat.

Concerning MARPA and ARPA, I doubt that the difference will mean anything to you. The difference is in the number of targets tracked, and automatic target acquisition. Unless you're planning an open array radar, I don't think that the automatic target acquisition is any use at all. The standard procedure on yachts is to rely on radar guard zones to detect targets, not ARPA. Guard zones work very well on modern radars, superbly on the 4G which has high resolution and thus better target discrimination. Unless you are prepared to fit a 48" Furuno open array, which is even better -- and on a boat your size, I might think about that.

However, anecdotally, the Furuno ARPA system simply functions better than the Navico one does. To be sure of that, you will have to try both system in real life and see. If you're in the Solent before the end of April, stop by and I'll take you out and let you try my system for comparison, if you want.

I have not had Tanglewood's problem, but MARPA does not work all that well on my system. I'm not sure that it works all that well on any yacht system, but to know that for sure you will need to have practical trials. Quality of MARPA or ARPA function is highly dependent on quality of heading data. A satellite compass can make a revolutionary change in this; one of these is on my wish list.
I think a 48" open array would be an excellent radar. It is hard to install though without a major mod/support structure. Wherever I would put it now the array will bash or interfere with something. I suspect given my requirement for radar on relatively short ranges that I won't benefit fully from such a system (resolution at distance and outright range) and a 24" dome will be enough. Thanks for your kind offer to try your system.

I have never used ARPA, but if I understand it right the system will tell you if there is a radar detected target that matches your CPA or TCPA limit. It will then ignore all the other targets that you otherwise would get alerted to which enter your alarm zone. It should result in a huge reduction in alerts because a guard zone in a MARPA system has to be set large enough to catch every possible target early, but most targets don't come near enough to be a concern. Essentially it should work just like the AIS system's CPA/TCPA alarms and AIS alarms work really well.
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Old 05-03-2015, 12:36   #25
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

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I have never used ARPA, but if I understand it right the system will tell you if there is a radar detected target that matches your CPA or TCPA limit. It will then ignore all the other targets that you otherwise would get alerted to which enter your alarm zone. It should result in a huge reduction in alerts because a guard zone in a MARPA system has to be set large enough to catch every possible target early, but most targets don't come near enough to be a concern. Essentially it should work just like the AIS system's CPA/TCPA alarms and AIS alarms work really well.
I find guard zones to work beautifully offshore. I set two of them -- one circular one at close range -- a mile maybe -- and one sector-shaped one which is pointed ahead and further away -- three or four miles. The 4G radar has such good discrimination that false alarms are very rare.

When you're offshore, you will damned sure want to know if anything at all is out there a mile or less away, no matter what it is, what direction it's going, ahead, or behind you. And the longer range sectored one, which you set to be less sensitive, should pick up anything early, which could be collision risk.

And plus you set an AIS alarm.

That pretty much covers it. I can't imagine what an ARPA alarm would add -- any large vessel will be picked up 10 miles or more out on AIS. You don't want to find out about a radar contact only in case it seems to the computer, based on not entirely reliable radar bearings -- you want to know about its existence, period, and then you can put MARPA on the case figuring out whether its a collision risk or not. Or just put the EBL on it and see what it's doing the old fashioned way -- that's what I do for a quick evaluation of a radar target -- definitely what I do first.

Offshore, you rarely encounter things on radar which you don't get first on AIS, so MARPA/ARPA is a very secondary system which is far less important than AIS. I guess I track one target on MARPA for every 30 I track on AIS. The main thing is that it should work well on the rare occasions when you need it -- and if the Furuno system inherently works better than the Navico one --fewer dropped targets, more reliable calculations -- then that is a strong reason to prefer it. I, personally, would not care much about the ARPA-only functions, but YMMV.
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Old 05-03-2015, 12:47   #26
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I find guard zones to work beautifully offshore. I set two of them -- one circular one at close range -- a mile maybe -- and one sector-shaped one which is pointed ahead and further away -- three or four miles. The 4G radar has such good discrimination that false alarms are very rare.

When you're offshore, you will damned sure want to know if anything at all is out there a mile or less away, no matter what it is, what direction it's going, ahead, or behind you. And the longer range sectored one, which you set to be less sensitive, should pick up anything early, which could be collision risk.
.........
How do you set different sensitivity on each guard zone ?

Thanks,
JM.
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Old 05-03-2015, 12:50   #27
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

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How do you set different sensitivity on each guard zone ?

Thanks,
JM.
Run two instances of the radar using the dual range feature. You can set up up to four guard zones that way.
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Old 05-03-2015, 22:57   #28
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Boy, all I really want is just a chartplotter that is easy to use for GPS functions, foremost. Secondary is radar overlay, then AIS. Flush mount the GPS - no way, it would have to be in the companionway. What we have is dual steering stations and one has the instruments on a nacelle directly in front of the port wheel. I also don't want to get buried into buying multiple boxes to get all data onto a single screen, when speed, wind, depth and autopilot controls are all on separate displays all right under where the GPS is located. Or certainly that is the current system. I don't see a major advantage to have those things clutter up the GPS screen.

Sailsteer looks cool, but if I have to buy separate boxes to get rudder angle, wind angle, boat speed all into the thing, and the chance that at least one of these is not going to work, well, it doesn't sound so wonderful. And I still haven't heard a compelling reason for Sailsteer if you are not beating toward and identified mark or waypoint. I am perfectly ok with a chart showing the extension line from the boat. I know tack angles well enough that I don't need the other info. And how is it really getting tide arrow anyway? Sooooo, does that kick me into Simrad for the display to avoid B&G and the Sailsteer that I won't use so probably shouldn't pay the premium to get?

For GPS with radar chart overlay, is the only added expense - other than the plotter and the GPS - the heading compass? And I guess the external GPS antenna, since my unit will be under a fiberglass hard top. And with that system, why not just a combination VHF and AIS unit that feeds the chartplotter. If the focus is just this, and still 4G, which unit is the best?

Dumb question - is ARPA or MARPA whatever and additional piece of equipment, or is it a subset of the AIS?
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Old 06-03-2015, 04:31   #29
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailjumanji View Post
Really hate it when working for a living gets in the way of planning modifications on the boat. Am back now. REALLY appreciate all of the input. Have been reading up on some reference material as well, and am leaning toward a B&G system with 4G radar. Some questions though:

  • Dockhead, you said Sailsteer is really cool. I wonder what the application will be on a cruising boat. I raced trimarans for many years and we used SailComps to pick headers and lifts and react accordingly. However that was a nimble Corsair 28R and not a 33 ft cruising cat that - although sails well for what it is - doesn't pay to play windshifts. How is Sailsteer going to benefit me?
  • Several people have written there is little power consumption difference between regular and broadband radar. The B&G 4G specs say 20 watts typical operating, vs GMR 18 at 34 watts typical operating. That is about twice the power consumption for the standard radar. Am I missing something.
  • Concern about how much of my current system I can keep, and integrate with a Zeus chartplotter. I have ST60 wind and an ST60 boat speed and depth. Also a Raymarine S1 wheel pilot. It is not important to me for the wheel pilot to be integrated because I have the control head right at the wheel. Does the Sailsteer or other require wind or paddle wheel speed from the other instruments? Can that be fed without expensive boxes, etc?
  • Looks like a heading sensor is required. Can that come from the S1 wheel pilot? Anybody done this? I cannot see changing out a wheel pilot I like and works well.
  • I have read some nightmare posts from people who bought this Zeus and 3G or 4G system and has real problems getting things to work, plus really felt the technical support was horrible. One said he was happy he got it at West Marine with their satisfaction guarantee, because he eventually just returned it all. That was almost two years ago. Any better now? I have had decent experience with Raymarine support, and I read some pretty bad complaints about them too.
  • Internal GPS. Is this really going to work if the unit is under a fiberglass hard top? Right at the edge, and near windows, but still?
  • Would like to have AIS tracking at least. I am not in love with my VHF radio, so am free to change it out with an integrated AIS unit. Is there some disadvantage to this? Got a good recommendation?
I am sure I will think of more. But last time I typed this much, the damn Windows 8 hot key kicked in and jumped me to something else, and killed the post before submitting. Not pushing my luck again.
In response to the bold red section above, Dockhead wrote that he thinks you need a new dedicated heading sensor, but the Raymarine S1 autopilot does in fact provide heading output and I think it is enhanced by the internal gyro of the AP. I AM USING this output to feed a Lowrance HDS7 C-P and it works very well to satisfy the chart plotter's requirements to support radar overlay.

The NMEA 0183 output of the AP is converted to NMEA 2000 (Simnet) using a Simrad converter, and that's how I get the data into the C-P. As I recall that converter was only around $100. (All the current Navico brands use Simnet).

So bottom line, I think you should try it before you go out and spend another boat buck on a dedicated gyro-stabilized heading sensor.
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Old 06-03-2015, 06:09   #30
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Quote:
Originally Posted by SailFastTri View Post
In response to the bold red section above, Dockhead wrote that he thinks you need a new dedicated heading sensor, but the Raymarine S1 autopilot does in fact provide heading output and I think it is enhanced by the internal gyro of the AP. I AM USING this output to feed a Lowrance HDS7 C-P and it works very well to satisfy the chart plotter's requirements to support radar overlay.

The NMEA 0183 output of the AP is converted to NMEA 2000 (Simnet) using a Simrad converter, and that's how I get the data into the C-P. As I recall that converter was only around $100. (All the current Navico brands use Simnet).

So bottom line, I think you should try it before you go out and spend another boat buck on a dedicated gyro-stabilized heading sensor.
I agree. Probably not worth buying a new heading sensor just for radar overlay, if your pilot can't use the output.

MARPA calculates CPA, TCPA, course and speed of radar targets. It gives similar information to what AIS gives, but using a different technique. It doesn't work without accurate heading data (unlike AIS), and even at its best is not nearly as effective as AIS. You only need it for targets not broadcasting AIS, so in practice you rarely need it.
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