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Old 01-03-2015, 18:12   #1
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Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

I have a catamaran sailboat with separate Raymarine depth and wind readouts, a Raymarine wheel pilot, and a Garmin 492C GPS. The GPS is on its last leg, and I would like to replace it. Am going to be retired in about a year, and planning some trips to Bahamas and other places where AIS and radar would come in handy. As I am on a sailboat, would like units that are low power consumption, so that gets me to broadband 4G radar. Unfortunately I am a Garmin man and only BB4G available is made by Simrad, B&G and Lowrance. Some reviews of the Simrad say that using for chartplotter primary use is not intuitive, and B&G seems to be very complicated with sail racing stuff.

So anyone have any experience with any of these? Simrad or B&G. I would also like to add a Vhf with Ais and have that show on the plotter. (Which was possible with my old Garmin, but not with the autopilot at the same time) Also both seem to want a heading compass, and am wondering whether than can be supplied by the wheel pilot.

Was excited about replacing this stuff, but really looking like a major headache to get it all working.
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Old 01-03-2015, 18:53   #2
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

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Originally Posted by sailjumanji View Post
I have a catamaran sailboat with separate Raymarine depth and wind readouts, a Raymarine wheel pilot, and a Garmin 492C GPS. The GPS is on its last leg, and I would like to replace it. Am going to be retired in about a year, and planning some trips to Bahamas and other places where AIS and radar would come in handy. As I am on a sailboat, would like units that are low power consumption, so that gets me to broadband 4G radar. Unfortunately I am a Garmin man and only BB4G available is made by Simrad, B&G and Lowrance. Some reviews of the Simrad say that using for chartplotter primary use is not intuitive, and B&G seems to be very complicated with sail racing stuff.

So anyone have any experience with any of these? Simrad or B&G. I would also like to add a Vhf with Ais and have that show on the plotter. (Which was possible with my old Garmin, but not with the autopilot at the same time) Also both seem to want a heading compass, and am wondering whether than can be supplied by the wheel pilot.

Was excited about replacing this stuff, but really looking like a major headache to get it all working.
The difference in practical power consumption is small. If you like Garmin, go with Garmin. I heard the new Garmin radars are very good.

If you do switch to Navico (Simrad, B&G, Lowrance), the B&G plotters are not more complicated to use than Simrad. They just have some extra and extremely useful sailing features. I use B&G Zeus plotters and 4G radar and it is great stuff; not difficult to use. But had a lot of bugs at first --- maybe all worked out now.

Either way, if you go with a new system, whether it's Navico or Garmin, you will have NMEA2000 networking, so you can hook up whatever you want -- heading sensors, pilots, whatever, to your heart's content. Just make sure the pilot controller matches the control head and you're good to go. Note that modern plotters usually incorporate pilot controls, which are very useful -- so you might want to match the pilot controller with the plotter, too.
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Old 01-03-2015, 19:10   #3
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

We have a Simrad NSS chartplotter and 3G radar, installed about three years ago. This was our first chartplotter so I have no prior experience with competing brands.

Use of the chartplotter basic features is quite simple. Choices are menu based, always allowing you return to the main menu if you get lost. Some features used infrequently (such as the offset from Greenwich time when re-setting the plotter clock display for daylight savings time), might take a trip to the manual, but otherwise it is quite intuitive.

Radar is a different issue. I have had Furuno radar in the past and as an occasional user I will be the first to admit that radar - regardless of brand - takes practice. I suspect that mariners that use the radar daily develop a proficiency that recreational users will never approach. Having said that, the newer radars are much easier (simpler) to use and the automatic functions really help.

The current NSS Evo units I suspect have upgraded features and specs compared to my unit. Regardless of whether you select Simrad or B&G, I have been quite impressed with the customer service, as I installed the equipment myself, and had several questions about incorporating my B&G sailing instruments with the Simrad devices. I would suggest sticking with one brand to simplify things. There are some minor software differences between the two brands I was told.
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Old 02-03-2015, 04:10   #4
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

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There are some minor software differences between the two brands I was told.
Simrad NSS and B&G Zeus are the exact same devices, but for a relatively few number of differences in software features. For a sailing vessel, Zeus is a no-brainer as you get some cool things like SailSteer for basically zero cost.

SailSteer is so cool you will want two plotters so you can leave one permanently on the SailSteer screen.

That's what the newer race boats around here have -- two Zeus plotters on either side of the companionway, one set on chart view, and the other on SailSteer.

SailSteer gives you a graphic display of true and apparent wind angles, with true and apparent wind speeds, boat speed, time to paypoint, distance to waypoint, heading, depth, and most usefully, in order to monitor weather helm, rudder angle. It is really the t*ts, and when off soundings I often display this at the helm instead of the chart. I wish I had room at the helm for another Zeus.
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Old 02-03-2015, 04:15   #5
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

do not change merely to get 4G broadband, in reality, there are just different tradeoffs, pick a chart plotter and get the accompanying radar.
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Old 02-03-2015, 04:20   #6
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

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do not change merely to get 4G broadband, in reality, there are just different tradeoffs, pick a chart plotter and get the accompanying radar.
I agree with this.

I have the 4G radar and I like it very much. But it is not dramatically better than normal pulse radar, nor is the power consumption dramatically less.
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:04   #7
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

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Simrad NSS and B&G Zeus are the exact same devices, but for a relatively few number of differences in software features. For a sailing vessel, Zeus is a no-brainer as you get some cool things like SailSteer for basically zero cost....

In discussions with both B&G and Simrad, I have been led to believe that while the hardware is the same, each division has their own software. Where this might become an issue is in the interfacing of various devices, where some features may not function as well or as intended if not developed by that particular division.

While this is likely not insurmountable, it would seem prudent to approach a networked system - plotter, radar, VHF, boat speed, AIS, etc. in the least complicated manner, thus one vendor. One possible exception to this might be the network cabling, where I personally think Maretron cables and connectors are higher quality than the Navico version.

One great advantage of the 3G/4G radars is the instant on feature. No warm-up required as in the older technologies. A good overview of the broadband radars can be found at Panbo.com, an excellent source for electronics information.

The new EVO plotters have some really neat features, as well as a faster processor. Visit an electronics store and play with them for a while

Good luck with your search.
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:22   #8
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

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Originally Posted by redsky49 View Post


In discussions with both B&G and Simrad, I have been led to believe that while the hardware is the same, each division has their own software. Where this might become an issue is in the interfacing of various devices, where some features may not function as well or as intended if not developed by that particular division.

While this is likely not insurmountable, it would seem prudent to approach a networked system - plotter, radar, VHF, boat speed, AIS, etc. in the least complicated manner, thus one vendor. One possible exception to this might be the network cabling, where I personally think Maretron cables and connectors are higher quality than the Navico version.

One great advantage of the 3G/4G radars is the instant on feature. No warm-up required as in the older technologies. A good overview of the broadband radars can be found at Panbo.com, an excellent source for electronics information.

The new EVO plotters have some really neat features, as well as a faster processor. Visit an electronics store and play with them for a while

Good luck with your search.
One vendor does simplify everything -- especially in case you have problems -- tech support of company can't just point the finger at the other company.

However, in any kind of extensive network it is hard to source everything from one vendor.

There are a lot of things made by Maretron and Airmar which are simply not made by anyone else. Engine monitoring equipment, tank monitoring, ultrasonic wind, the best heading sensors, etc. But neither of these companies makes pilots, plotters, or radar.

As to radar and plotter you don't have any choice -- they are not interoperable between different brands. Pilot should also be made by that same company.

But beyond that you will have little choice but to go with Airmar, Maretron, etc. for sensors and transducers (some of which might be sourced with the stencil brand of your plotter/radar maker). Actisense for gateways and bridges. Maretron for sure for the cabling and connectors.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:10   #9
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Just sailed from Miami to Kemah on a Lagoon 450 using the B&G system w/ 4G radar. I have not seen other systems, but I found the B&G radar screen very clean and easy to interpret. The SailSteer feature Dockhead mentions is great. The other crew on the boat claimed the B&G 4G radar was better and cleaner than anything they have seen or used on their boats.
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:15   #10
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Last boat I had a Garmin RADAR, it is very good.
Although I'm no techie, but NMEA 2000 doesn't seem to be the universal protocol I thought it was, seems that some different brands have trouble talking among themselves with NMEA 2000, especially Garmin?
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:33   #11
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

I just ordered the B&G Zeus2 9 inch MFD with the 4G radar. I plan to set it all up in demo situation to be sure everything is working before installing on the boat. It will take a while to remove all the old equipment anyhow.

I bought the Naivco N2K wiring hardware (maybe a mistake) because I prefer all plastic to anything "stainless" (nothing is stainless forever.) I realize it is not as robust as the Maretron especially if you mix metal and plastic fittings together. In fact Maretron makes specific plastic to metal fittings to avoid striping the threads on the plastic.

I have an old Simrad 22 AP which I doubt will work at all with the new stuff except perhaps left and right course adjustment but that would have to be NMEA 0183 anyhow. In any case I am not prepared to replace the AP just to get integration since the autopilot works so well now. If it ain't broke........
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Old 02-03-2015, 09:58   #12
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

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Originally Posted by sailjumanji View Post
.....
As I am on a sailboat, would like units that are low power consumption, so that gets me to broadband 4G radar. Unfortunately I am a Garmin man and only BB4G available is made by Simrad, B&G and Lowrance.
.....
I have a 4G RADAR and one more point I would like to add is that it lacks a timed transmit mode.

The Garmin RADARs in timed transmit mode are likely to use LESS power overall than the 4G.

Cheers,
JM.
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Old 02-03-2015, 10:02   #13
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Something I don't hear discussed much in these "Which chartplotter is best?" threads is the chart quality / coverage. Navico (includes B&G and Simrad) will work with C-MAP and Navionics. Garmin on the other hand is still using their own proprietary charts. I've found some threads (several years old) which suggested that Garmin's charts were pretty bad in the South Pacific. (Though none were stellar). Other threads suggested that Navionics was better in many /most places than Jeppeson C-MAP. The Bahamas is a bit unique in that the best charts are the Explorer charts, so you want E-charts bases on those. I think that is, or at least was Garmin, but maybe that has changed. So my advice to the OP is, find the best E-charts for your anticipated cruising grounds, and then pick the hardware that takes them. Is there as much difference between Garmin charts vs. the third party charts as there used to be? Personally, I want a CP which will take the best, or at least useful, charts for anywhere I plan to cruise.
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Old 02-03-2015, 11:43   #14
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

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Something I don't hear discussed much in these "Which chartplotter is best?" threads is the chart quality / coverage. Navico (includes B&G and Simrad) will work with C-MAP and Navionics.
Check out the Navico Insight store at https://insightstore.navico.com/site/insight_charts/22
I think now support many more charts now than just Navionics and C-MAP. The other chart suppliers seem to be niche areas not necessarily world wide charting solutions.
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Old 02-03-2015, 12:03   #15
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Re: Chartplotter with 4G Radar - B&G or Simrad

Lots of good input here. One word of caution, imagine that whatever you are considering is moving one way while your fingers are moving another, especially a touch screen. Further imagine that the screen is wet and you are wearing gloves, possibly looking at the screen on an angle, in bright sunlight while wearing sunglasses. They all look pretty good on display.
Also give due consideration to how much chart detail gets lost as you zoom out for planning purposes. Play with the interfaces and make sure you can access, intuitively, all the functions that you may want without constantly needing to refer to the manual.
I deliver many different types of boats with all different types of CPs, new and old, and they are not all created equal!
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