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Old 22-01-2014, 18:19   #1
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Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

Ready to pull the trigger on buying new 2014 navigational electronics.

Given all the advances in Tablets and Apps, I am wondering if you still feel paying lots of $$ for name brand MFD Chart plotters like Furuno, Raytheon etc is still justified and the only solution?

If yes on MFD which brand do you consider the best value?
If NO what system works in Daylight?
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Old 22-01-2014, 18:31   #2
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On most boats the dedicated MFD is still the best option that provides daylight visibility and water resistance in the cockpit. You can go with a PC based system and a sunlight viewable waterproof monitor, but the monitors are very expensive. I would not rely on a tablet or i-pad because of the lack of water resistance. Some people go with the tablet and only use them in dry conditions and then keep a handheld portable gps for back up. I really am impressed with the new Simrad MFD products, Nss7 is a slick little MFD that is very rugged easy to view in bright light and has an intuitive menu system. My boat came with a Raymarine integrated package that is OK but not what I would choose if buying new. I supplement the raymarine suite with a PC at the nav station running opencpn.
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Old 22-01-2014, 18:35   #3
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Re: Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

Haven't seen any display yet, short of $10K commercial unit that will match a chartplotter for water resistance and sunlight viewable (wish there was a less expensive one). Standard horizon are the most economical, I believe.
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Old 22-01-2014, 21:03   #4
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Re: Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

The great thing about the new Raymarine chartplotters (a, c, e series) is that you can put one main display at either the helm or the nav station, and then use the wi-fi hotspot and connect an iPad to the system, using it as either a repeater or an entire controllable system. My plan is to mount the main chartplotter at the helm in a NavPod, and then use my iPad at the nav. station as a second system. You can wirelessly view all of the data from the main display, and even control everything from the pad as if you were at the display, and vice versa. Simrad doesn't allow this, not sure about Garmin. This is a selling feature for me regarding Raymarine as you don't need to purchase another $2000 unit for the nav. station. And on top of that, if you have multiple devices (iPhone, multiple iPads, etc.), you can hook any number of them up to the main plotter, assuming they can all run the Raymarine app.

As far as working in daylight, all of the new electronics (Raymarine, Simrad, Garmin, etc.) have displays that seem to be very bright. I will always use a bimini top above the cockpit, so I never have to worry about direct sunlight, but I would imagine it wouldn't even be a problem. If I didn't run a bimini, I would just consider possibly mounting the plotter somewhere low and out of direct sunlight. I love the way the new Beneteau boats have their electronics set up, with the chartplotter mounted on a swivel mount low and attached to the cockpit table, although most new Beneteaus have dual helms these days so it works out well.
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Old 22-01-2014, 21:26   #5
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Re: Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

Best bang for the buck and still quality is Garmin.

I think it is important to have marine electronics that were built from the ground up for boats and the marine environment. Electronics made by Apple and Samsung are fun but are still basicaly toys that do not necessarily cover all the problems that can come up in a marine environment.

I would never go to sea and want to depend on an iPad or a smart phoe as my primary navigation device.

I know tablets can now be used in the cockpits of aircraft but they are used as a supplement to what already exists and not a replacement for the MFD, engine instruments etc. I think tablets etc are best used as a supplement to rather than a replacement for ruggedized instruments designed for boats from the ground up.
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Old 22-01-2014, 21:52   #6
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Re: Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

I can't say I'd recommend an iPad as a primary form of navigation but in fact it [I]is[I] our primary form of navigation. I guess it's the part where the paper charts haven't been changed lately and our big nav system says that we're anchored almost 2 miles inland.
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Old 22-01-2014, 22:07   #7
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Re: Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

Thanks to both David’s for your comments and ideas … here in the Philippines, I am not exposed to non-commercial yachting options or qualified sales advice.

David M……For Depth/Wind/GPS Input
I have already purchased new Furuno Instruments (Wind Depth and Multi-Xls at both helm stations) plus a GP-33 for positional input so I have those dedicated marine navigational aids.

What I am looking at is whether the MFD or Inside PC solution is of better value and looking forward which will become an easier and cheaper hardware to upgrade?

Ideally what I would like is this:
Reliable Chart plotter Screen at the inside Pilothouse Nav Station for route planning
Outside I have a fixed canopy and a protected outside console to take a tablet.

I would love to have outside (as Ddabs tantalized me with…perform as a repeater that controls the master station and even better if it could be wireless to be portable and simplify wire runs).

Question… I am happy with an uncluttered Chart plotter just showing Own Ship and AIS.

So if wanting wireless control + AIS…does that mean the inside equipment needs to be a Ratheon MFD or can I accomplish the same with a PC?
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Old 22-01-2014, 22:24   #8
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Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

Here are some pro's and con's that I'm thinking of off the top of my head, although if you are on a 65 ft. boat it may not be an issue:

Running a computer will have to be done through 110V and use alot more power than running a Furuno or Raymarine MFD. I am not positive on what applications there are for the PC but I think you have alot of options. How they all tie in with AIS, Radar, etc. I'm not too sure.

I have always been a supporter of going with the same brand for everything. Since you have Furuno gauges already, you may want to look into a Furuno MFD and Radar. It might be easier to get them all to talk to each other and be less of a headache.

Also, just thinking if you want an uncluttered AIS, there are standalone AIS modules that show a screen with other vessels just using AIS, rather than imposing them onto your chartplotter screen.

Since you have a large boat and if you have the power to support a PC, it might be nice to set up a nice desktop to act as your mainframe, and then you could have an entire office system on board, capable of much more than just an MFD. Personally, I would choose a certain brand and set up my system comprised of only that manufacturer. For example, Raymarine MFD at helm, Raymarine radar, Raymarine gauges, Raymarine black box AIS, all tied into the main MFD. This could of course be accomplished with Garmin, Furuno, etc.
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Old 22-01-2014, 22:28   #9
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Re: Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sww914 View Post
I guess it's the part where the paper charts haven't been changed lately and our big nav system says that we're anchored almost 2 miles inland.
That brings back some un-fond memories of Loran & Fisher's Island.
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Old 23-01-2014, 00:28   #10
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Re: Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

Hi folks,

I have just completed a 6,000 nm jaunt across to the other side of Australia and back. I have the paper charts to go all the way around the continent, two old circa 80s Magellan GPS's, a sextant etc. to do all the traditional coastal nav things.

When I started the voyage I was still using the paper charts and transferring the waypoints into the Magellan by hand. Gradually during the voyage I started to use OpenCPN for route planning and transferring the waypoints from computer to GPS which has an NMEA 0183 connection to the autopilot. I would still have the relevant chart out on the chart table and use it for position checks.

The next stage in my transition to all electronic navigating is that I stopped using the charts altogether and just switched the computer on for position checks now and then and this was the case for the entire return voyage.

I have looked at the dedicated chart plotters and cannot see the value in them, if you get one which is fairly low cost the screen is too small and if you get a big screen the cost is too high and in any event I am one of those folks who likes to have plenty of redundancy and backup available. (My engine even has two working starter motors fitted)

I have become a big fan of OpenCPN and the more I learn of it the more enthusiastic I become. The computer thing is in a state of flux right now with new products on the market all the time. I am looking at a Sony 10.1 pad which is fairly water resistant and suspect that these things will all converge to some sort of waterproof and daylight visible in the near future.

From enjoying the ride and economy viewpoints the computer and OpenCPN route has the professional marine electronics route beat hands down (I don't think the reliability argument in favor of professional marine electronics has much validity when you can go the computer and OCPN route with about triple redundancy for the same cost)

I have now installed a USB to RS 422/485 converter into the data link between the Magellan and the autopilot with a selector switch and have managed to use OpenCPN to control the autopilot however I am still getting familiar with this system but suspect that before long it will become the default system.

Life is full of dichotomies one of which is the doer/have'r dichotomy. If you like doing, go the computer/OCPN route; it's a hell of a lot of fun and very satisfying: if you are a have'r go the multi function marine electronics route; it's nice to sit and have a coldy and admire the beauty and functionality of your fantastic piece of marine electronics.
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Old 23-01-2014, 05:12   #11
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Re: Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

What do you do about integrated RADAR
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Old 23-01-2014, 17:33   #12
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Re: Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

There are lots of 12, 24 or 48 Volt DC power supplies available for any size PC.

A couple places here:

M4-ATX, intelligent ATX automotive power supply, 6/30V - power your PC in a car.

12V Input PC ATX computer Power Supplies, 12VDC Input, car computer power supply.

I used the first one, but didn't buy it at that site.
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Old 23-01-2014, 19:21   #13
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Re: Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

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What do you do about integrated RADAR
OCPN has integrated RADAR.

Garmin scanners and the the Brodband RADAR scanners are supported.
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Old 23-01-2014, 19:32   #14
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Re: Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

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What do you do about integrated RADAR
I am not a big fan of integrated radar preferring tuning for small targets on a clean north up display. Happy to have a switched display between chart and radar

I guess a cockpit MFD is the only way I can get get control of the radar outside?
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Old 24-01-2014, 04:43   #15
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Re: Multi-Function Displays-Still Justified?

As many others have said -- I would not, personally, send a toy or home appliance out to do a life safety critical job like navigation, although I do use an IPad and PC for backup or for use in places other than helm or nav station.

There is really no need to go to such solutions these days anyway, as real marine MFD's which are rugged and waterproof and daylight visible now cost less than just a daylight visible monitor -- the 7" ones from various manufacturers are now under $1000. I don't know how they can sell them for that considering all the technology inside.

The bigger ones are also much cheaper now than in previous years.

As others have said, if on top of navigation you need to do radar, then there's nothing really to think about.

As to which one: I've used all the brands other than Furuno, and I think they're all pretty good. Although my first chart plotter was a Garmin, so I grew up, as it were, with that operating approach, I don't like the interface, personally. I spent some years with Raymarine RL series (and Pathfinder radar) and liked it very much -- I expect the new generation of Ray MFD's are also really good. I liked the interface and functionality, and the equipment was very rugged, military-like in its feel. I am now using B&G Zeus MFD's which are terrific, and which have some very useful sailing-specific functions and screens. I have one touch and one non-touch Zeus -- the touch version is considerably cheapened with a less robust plastic housing; the non-touch version is die-cast powder-coated aluminum and looks like something stolen from a jet fighter. But both of them work flawlessly.

I think these days it's probably pretty hard to go wrong, and everything is quite affordable now.
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