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Old 06-07-2012, 12:29   #1
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Marine electronics for dummies

I'm not a total newbie, but I know enough to know I don't know enough.

So can anyone recommend a "Marine electronics for dummies" website that covers all (or at least most) things eletronics for yachties.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:34   #2
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Re: Marine electronics for dummies

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Old 06-07-2012, 15:40   #3
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Re: Marine electronics for dummies

I don't know about a website but a good starting point is Nigel Calder's Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual. Chuck
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Old 06-07-2012, 16:23   #4
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Re: Marine electronics for dummies

There is a lot to know and I don't know it all and you can't spend the time to learn it all quickly and actually know it. I just finished doing an integration of Seatalk, NMEA 2000 between RayMarine and another vendor. The Pro I hired had to do a few do overs to make it work. It's not rocket science but then there are a lot of things less complicated that I wouldn't do either.

You need to clearly define what you need / want to do. You can get into complicated parts that all need to fit together even in the same standard. You have data flowing in multiple directions and sometimes it has to flow between multiple points. There ain't no "for dummies" in this area of boating. If you somehow feel really good at it let me know as I l know someone that wants to hire you for a full time job as an apprentice for three years so you can solo.

There is no web site to really learn all this stuff. Learning the basics will get you only so far.
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Old 06-07-2012, 17:19   #5
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Re: Marine electronics for dummies

Ya know I can wire a boat as right as it could be done, Ive installed radars, radios, auto pilots, and like that ! But Im a complete dummy with anyother type of fancy electronics, like chart plotters, AIS, and a bunch of other electronics!! I can use a radar properly,I can read a depth sounder/fishfinder,and have a hand held GPS I use daily! but beyound that im a complete dummyfor me it's charts and a hand held and DR, and my eyes! so if you are able to use anything else your doing better then me LOL and Ive sailed so many miles it makes me feel old to think about it !!! So you will do just fine Im sure !! Have fun
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Old 06-07-2012, 17:46   #6
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Re: Marine electronics for dummies

[QUOTE=Navicula;984993][/QUOTE

Hey! Share some of that...........
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Old 06-07-2012, 20:04   #7
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Re: Marine electronics for dummies

That's what I feared someone would say.

I really hoped you would say there is this pill I could take..........
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Old 06-07-2012, 20:10   #8
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Re: Marine electronics for dummies

Quote:
Originally Posted by mausgras View Post
That's what I feared someone would say.

I really hoped you would say there is this pill I could take..........
There are different levels of knowledge of marine electronics. Don't let it overwhelm you. Start with the basics like sizing cable and making crimps and work your way up to complex integrated systems. It's not rocket science, it just takes some time to learn it.
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Old 07-07-2012, 09:36   #9
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Re: Marine electronics for dummies

Now that most things are digital it does actually simplify the theory you need to know. The hard part is the connectors and what is used to connect between different vendors doing the same thing and how to convert from one high speed data bus to another. Tapping into a back bone means things start to connect by magic just like a computer Ethernet network.

It would have been better if vendors would just all agree to use a standard gigabit Ethernet network and be done with it. They make chips that can do it all and it would be standard and bench testing would all be done on a PC with ordinary stuff and software. But they don't do that. They adopt standards "sort of" but then make proprietary fittings you have to buy from them. This is where the rocket science comes into play as you attempt to make things inter operate that really do the same thing.

There are an assortment of "fittings" that cost about $100 each no matter what you need and you fit a few together to physically connect things to each other or share a data. There are a few converters to toss in there too at higher cost. There is far less soldering and crimping than there used to be.

It's all pretty cool as I have my little chart plotter display that also displays my engine gauges and intergrates chart plotter with my autopilot, fluxgate, and computer plus has Sirius satellite weather data. It uses two types of NMEA (0183 and 2000) and two types of SeaTalk (slow and high speed). Thee are converters to take the analog engine data into NMEA 2000 then convert to Seatalk. At this point I don't have a NMEA 0183 multiplexer but would need that to get my wind data tossed into the the mix.

This is really a pretty simple setup. I don't have digital radar or multiple repeater displays.
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Old 07-07-2012, 10:40   #10
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Re: Marine electronics for dummies

Manufacturers like Raymarine prefer that you don't buy other peoples products for their integrated systems. So their inclination to make standardized connectors or use a standardized communications language is minimal. It's not just Raymarine either.
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Old 07-07-2012, 11:02   #11
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Re: Marine electronics for dummies

I, too, do a lot of electronics installs. Here are my suggestions:
1. New electronics generally integrate with each other. Trying to integrate old electronics with new ones is often a head-basher. Therefore....
2. Once you finally get the electronics to work, you have to learn to use them effectively, and use them regularly to stay sharp. Therefore, do your homework before you buy. Many people prefer Simrad (Navico,Lowrance) because of the efforts made by the engineers to make user-friendly equipment. Many people are sucked into equipment that looks powerful and fascinating in the showroom, only to find that they can't make it perform to the rated abilities of the gear, and that they can't explain to their crew (or spouse) how to use it. That's a waste of resources and patience.
3. As with computers and cameras, next year's model will have cooler whizbangs. What do you need? Is today's model flexible enough to meet tomorrow's improvement?
4. Despite the trend to networked components, you are going to find that Raymarine network cables and Simrad cables (and Furuno, and....) are just a wee bit different from each other to hook together without expensive doo-dads. Even if they are all using their own tee-fittings, proprietary messing about makes it impossible to get a Garmin NMEA 2000 tee to screw to the wall when hooked to a Simrad tee-fitting. The little detente in the mating surfaces is a few degree out of sync, resulting in a twisted grouping of tee-fittings. It's frustrating, but true, that NMEA 2000 hasn't brought uniformity to the marketplace, exactly. Therefore, you must learn that these network cables are composed of four wires, fortunately, color-coded the same. Sometimes, cutting off the ends of cables and wiring them through terminal strips can make things much simpler. This applies to radar cables, also. Don't mess with the depthsounder cables, though.
5. Get the "technician's" hotline number from your electronics salesman. You will need it at some point to clarify, reassure, or maybe muddy the waters a bit more.
6. Buy a Brother label maker and label each end of every cable, saying what it hooks into and where it's going. You will be most happy six months from now, or maybe six minutes.
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Old 07-07-2012, 12:21   #12
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Re: Marine electronics for dummies

Geez, what a lot of hoowey. Get a compass, a pencil and a paper chart and a brain.
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Old 07-07-2012, 16:55   #13
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Re: Marine electronics for dummies

Holmek's contribution reminds me of the Dennis the Menace cartoon, where he is holding a calculator and remarks: "Who needs brains when you've got batteries?".
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Old 07-07-2012, 21:14   #14
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I would start by making the differenciation between marine "electrical" and marine "electronics" they are two entirely different animals. Marine electrical can be defined by various classification societies ABYC Loydes etc. this grouping covers proper practices for marine electrical instilations. Think everything other than the nav stuff. How to set up batteries, water pumps etc..basic shipboard wiring. Tackle this first Calders book is great. When you fully understand the marine electrical side then you can jump into marine electronics, which have probably changed in the amount of time it took me to type this. A solid knowledge of good marine electrical practices can make the difference between a crispy boat and a sound one, poor marine electronics knowledge however ghastly expensive will most likely not burn you up.
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