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Old 22-06-2018, 08:41   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Le Bono, Brittany, France
Boat: Northshore, Southerly 110, 10.30m
Posts: 56
Feedback of Garmin Echo Map Plus 72CV (afer 2months use at sea)

Dear friends sailor,


having recently installed a Garmin chart plotter Echo Plus 72cv on my boat, I wanted to share with you my good and less good experience.


1) my need
========
I sail a 35 Blue Ecan footer (Southerly 110) which has a plotter and a PC at the chart table but had no space for a plotter at the wheel. I do all my routing an d navigation on the PC via OpenCPN (with charts from o-chart.org).

Having tried tablet (OpenCPN and Navionics) and been left very disapointed by their very low lisibility in full sun and their poor resistance to the sun heat (2 hours at max, often less than 1h), I came back with the need to have a plotter at the helm to help me, when navigating (often single handed) in rocky Brittany where our tides can reach 14m with tilde streams anywhere from 5 to 9kn and rocks spead out like salt on chips.


I wanted the new plotter to have its own GPS (backup) and to be able to receive my AIS data from my iCom (NMEA183).


I wanted to be able to use it with wet gloves what rules out touch screens.


2) my Selection
===========
I stopped my selection on the Garmin Echo Map Plus 72cv. My motives were:
- dedicated programmable function buttons on top of the touch screen

- small (7") but readable
- NMEA 183
- Wifi
- Internal 10Hz GPS.
- less than €1000 with complete European charts and reinforced (local made) fitting.


3) The good sides
==============
Readable at all time even in heavy sun.
Chart with good details.
Zoom in/out with dedicated buttons

The default plastique fitting is easy to replace by a strong stainless steel if needed (my case).


Provides all needed extra feature (sometime poorly), including tides and currents as well as AIS (if receiver is connected).


4) the bad (unacceptable) sides
=============


a) crashes on receiving GSV NMEA message

--------------------------------------------------------------
The Echo Plus (latest software June 2018) crashes when receiving a GSV NMEA message (satellite status) via its NMEA 183 input (not tested with NMEA 2000 but likley the same). As that message is sent by the iCom AIS (MA-500TR), if you do not have a multiplexer that allows message filtering (such as a Miniplex 3), you are stuffed (can always try to resell your new toy :-( The unit crashes within 10s of receiving the GSV message and reboot (to crash again). It makes it UNUSABLE.
I had no response from Garmin on that topic in more than 2 months.


b) shared negative for power and NMEA interface

------------------------------------------------------
The Garmin does not provide a real NMEA 183 in RS422 has it should but rather a RS232 in 3 V. That cheat is so common (in particular with VHF) that many devices can deal with it (e.g. my mux miniplex3) but i can be more problematic, in particular for Aluminum boats, the negative is shared between power and NMEA interface and there is no way around.


c) dedicated programmable function keys are useless
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The SW allows to associate a function key which is what Garmin calls a page. But it will fail silently to associate a function key with what Garmin calls a sub page.

I am a computer scientist by trade and there is no way as a user to guess what is page and what is sub page.
BUT, some key features are sub pages and CANNOT be configured as a short. This poor programming has been confirmed by Garmin technical support. It includes at least :


- tide and current

- AIS target list
- direct return to navigation mode (from menu or planning)

The 2 first are sub pages and the software fails silently to call them even if it accepts the key configuration.
The 3rd one will fails to exit planning mode, so you can come back to the navigationpage, but you may not see your boat. To get out of that mode you need to use the touch screen with 3 presses out of which one is hidden (and does not works with wet gloves).




5) Weak points (most to least annoying)
============================


a) tides and currents.

----------------------------
- Cannot be programmed as a short cut
- does not offer the nearest station by default
- cannot center chart on a listed item (to know where it is)

- current diamond have no names on th echart and the letter used to name them in the list are far from easy to be found on the chart (requires at least 5 touch press) and you still can get it very wrong.


b) boat is always in the centre of the screen
------------------------------------------------------------

You cannot select the boat to be 2/3 or 3/4 off the screen to better view here you are going to sail. Garmin technical support advises to use the 3D bird view. Must have never been at sea to say such stupid thing.


c) AIS
--------
There is no de-cluttering of AIS target and in busy area, the entire device become unreadable and so useless.
CPA/CTA are far than obvious to find and requires at least 5 touch screen actions to get access.
There is no graphic representation of the CPA what is key to guess if you are about to pass aft or stern of the reaching vessel.

The icon used for potential collision risk is confusing as it reuse a chart standard icon.
There is no option to limit the collision risk display by minimum user defined CTA/CPA

Collision is showing in alarm even if collision point is on the ground.
AIS target trace is programmable but stops to work some time after boot. So you cannot rely on it.


d) backlighting
--------------------
The back-light has an Auto mode, that set it to 100% even during the night. You cannot set the back light from the navigation page, you need to go back to any menu page, press the on/off and then do your setting.
The night mode is not great but that is the same with all LCD display that I have been given to see.


e) wifi
---------
The wifi is only designed to use your mobile data via Garmin application. If you have an on board wifi with a 4G router, you cannot use it at all. If you check the list of privileges required by the Garmin application and have half of a brain, you will not install it.

You cannot use the wifi to receive AIS data, software or chart update would those be available (my case). You still need to wire a cable for NMEA.


6) Conclusions

===========
There are not that many product with NMEA 183 interfaces any more. SO it you need it, it still a workable solution but you will need a NMEA Mux to remove the GSV message and so, why not to buy a mux with NMEA 2000 output (e.g. Miniplex).
Note original Raymarine Seatalk bus cannot pass NMEA data, so that is not a solution (you need seatalk2 which is a type of NMEA 2000).


In short, at the end, I could get it to work but I would not advise that product to anyone and I would stick to solution made by people who go at sea such as Raymarine, B&G, Furino, ... and leave Garmin for the use in my car.


Dominig
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