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Old 02-10-2015, 14:33   #16
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

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Originally Posted by Saltyhog View Post
...I'm curious how well the Furuno auto pilot works on a cruising sailboat.
We have about 20,000 offshore miles on our Furuno AP with an L&S hydraulic drive. I think the Furunos are well built and very reliable gear -- knock on teak -- as is the L&S. They are both very well supported by the manufactures/distributors.
I don' t think the AP algorthims are as sophisticated as some of the other brands or as tuned to sailboats. The big thing I like about the Furuno is that it doesn' t do anything stupid. The 3 previous Raymarine APs I had all did stupid things in tough conditions.
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Old 02-10-2015, 15:49   #17
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

Paul, would you define stupid?
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Old 02-10-2015, 17:38   #18
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

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Paul, would you define stupid?
In general US politics.
But in the AP context, my Raymarine units would offer up an alarm when the boat would get pushed too far off course due to be hit by large waves. The alarm makes sense. Then it would give up driving the boat till you addressed the alarm, allowing the boat to wildly swing to weather. The Furuno gives off a similar alarm. But it then continues to do its best to drive the boat while waiting for you to clear the alarm.
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Old 02-10-2015, 18:56   #19
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

I have a B&G Radar, Zeus touch and the Gofree, so far it has all worked no issues, but it isn't nearly as user friendly or as easy to operate or install as my old Garmin was.
So far my Gofree has always worked, but I've only had this all of maybe six months and I'm not full time yet.
Knowing what I know now, I'd be hard pressed to recommend my B&G system


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Old 02-10-2015, 19:33   #20
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

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Ok Tanglewood, what brand did you go with? Thanks
As SaltyHog said, I ended up with mostly Furuno. But a key part of the new systems is that it does not include any MFD or BlackBox chart plotter. Those devices create most of the one-vendor lock-in that quickly becomes a problem when one device turns out to be a dud. In my case with my previous Simrad gear, there were problems everywhere, but the one that I simply couldn't live with was the essentially useless MARP function in their radars (both 4G and 10KW pulse radar). To change out the radar, I had to dump pretty much everything. In hind sight, it was fortunate that I had to dump it all, but my new goal was to not have such lock-in going forward. Instead, I picked best-of breed component devices, and integrated them using standard interfaces. So I have two radars, both of which show their ARPA targets on my Coastal Explorer charting system. If I want to upgrade or change out a radar unit, it has no ripple effect to other systems. I've run several thousand miles on this setup now and really like it a lot.

As for brands, I generally discourage people from getting too gaga over any brand. This stuff changes fast enough that I really think each offering needs to be looked at with a fresh eye. For example, I think Furuno radars are superb, but I really don't like their chart plotters. A number of years ago people swore to me that I should get a Fununo chart plotter, so I built a NavNet3D system. It was very problematic, and what I ultimately realized is that all the love I heard for Furuno chart plotters were coming from VX2 users, and Furuno had made a fundamental change by partnering with MaxSea to create the NN3D plotters. To me, it was a huge step in the wrong direction and has left me uninterested in Furuno plotters.

I've had great success with Simrad pilots in the past, but had a lot of integration problems the second time around with no resolution from Simrad, so I tried a Furuno pilot. The furuno pilot could also be built as two completely redundant systems which is something I wanted, but I realize that doesn't matter to many people. It actually works very well. But Simrad does a much better job of integrating Follow up levers into the system - sort of, because that's where a bunch of the integration bugs were....

Anyway, I think the message is look closely at what you need and care about, then seek out products that fit that need. Then do a lot of research to see how successful other customers are with those products, and how well the company supports them. All products will have some level of issues, so the company's support is hugely important. I'd give Simrad support an "F" based on my experience, and I'd give Furuno an "A". That's a big sway factor for me.

OK, with all that preamble out of the way, I ended up with two Furuno radars, an 1835 4KW dome, and a FAR2117 12kw open array. The pilot is a Furuno NavPilot 700, and the fish finder is a Furuno FCV627. Sat compass is a HemishereGPS V102, rate compass is Maretron, secondary GPS is a Furuno. Charting is with Coastal Explorer, and AIS is a ComNav class A. Everything is integrated with a combination of NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183. It's a lot of Furuno gear, but not all of it. Things were picked based on being the best fit for it's intended use. I'm very, very happy with the results.
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Old 02-10-2015, 19:45   #21
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

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From his website, it seems he went with Furuno. He is however, on a motor yacht, and so some of his priorities could be slightly different than for a sailboat. I'm curious how well the Furuno auto pilot works on a cruising sailboat. I also wonder what the real life power draw differences are between Furuno and B&G/Simrad. The posted current draw numbers clearly favor Navico (B&G / Simrad), but I'm unsure how much of that difference may be because of overly optimistic specs from Navico, or overly conservative specs from Furuno. By reputation and from their website, Furuno strikes me as overall really well engineered equipment. I'm inclined to go that way, except that if the power draw is significantly more than Navico, I have to take that in consideration. It makes a big difference on a small yacht with limited power generation capability.
Which products are you wondering about? I'd guess the radar since Simrad touts the "low power" feature of the 4G radars. The difference in steady power draw is actually very small. I might not recall the numbers exactly, but I think the 4G steady draw is 21W and my 4KW dome, including a 12" LCD display is between 25W and 30W depending on the screen brightness. So the difference is 5-10W, but to be fair you really need to include the MFD display power when you look at the 4G since you have to run both. My Mac Mini that runs CE draws 15W. So for 45W I have charting and radar. I think that compares pretty favorably to a 4G radar plus MFD, in fact it might be better. And when at anchor in tight quarters or unsettled conditions, I sometimes leave the 4KW running all night with the display turned down low. It runs like that drawing only 25W.
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Old 06-10-2015, 16:29   #22
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

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I just returned from a solo round trip LA-Kauai-LA (about 5500 miles) with all new B&G electronics that I installed prior to leaving. This was my first ever off-shore venture and my first overnight single hand. I still consider myself a novice with a lot to learn so these observations are from that perspective.

Even prior to leaving I had to disconnect the B&G radio from the 'Backbone' (the network) because it caused a loss of all windvane data whenever I turned the macerator pump on. I installed the latest updated version on the 'Zeus 2' afterward and it's possible that it took care of this problem but I left the VHF AIS radio on its own just to be safe.

I installed the 'Go Free' and purchased a mini iPad just for that purpose. It worked great until about 2 days out and than just quit. I couldn't reboot or reconnect the 'GoFree' to the Zeus to see on my iPad what the MFD is showing. I tried switching the two lines (radar and Zeus) that go into it, I tried different power sources, a different angle of the antenna, nothing worked. Its location behind the refrigerator meant I had to pull the refrigerator out of the wall to make the changes. After giving up on it I called it a new name every time I took something out of the fridge, 'Go Free Yourself' or just 'go f yourself'.
I gave the brand new mini iPad to my girlfriend when she came to visit with me on Kauai so overall this was about $600 down the drain.
I improvised and with my 'Delorme Explorer' on deck, I could see on my iPhone in bed, what my speed, location and course were.

The B&G autopilot was a winner and my best friend on this trip. Even with a 15 yr old hydraulic pump, lines and rams, (the only parts I didn't change), it performed almost flawlessly. During the days and until going to bed, I set it to steer to compass because I noticed it was an easier task for it and conserved energy. Being awake, I could monitor the wind direction and make changes manually. Setting it to steer to wind before going to bed was a bit frustrating because it never stayed where I'd set it. I understood it had to 'search and establish' parameters and so it went up and down as much as 10 degrees from the number I set before settling on a wind angle. I thought it should come back to the angle I 'requested' but it never did.
On the way back when I was 'close hauled' most of the way, I had to baby sit it for 15-20 minutes every night and hated that jib flapping in 25 knot winds being almost in irons while the autopilot was doing its 'thing'.

The 4G radar was okay, the Guard Zones were easy to set up but sensitivity levels were not very clear. The manuals were probably not written for novices so I'm sure I should take some of the blame for not utilizing everything. I had targets inside my 'guard zones' and alarms coming off at much closer ranges and I'm sure it's all due to sensitivity levels.

The manuals tell you that when you put the system on 'stand by' it continues to work in the background but there should be a big warning that tells you your alarms will not sound when in 'stand by' mode. Not your guard zones alarms and not your autopilot alarms. If you are going to sleep, make sure the system is out of 'stand by'....

Also, prior to leaving about 2 months ago, I sent for the $100 rebate on the 'Zeus 2' from B&G and to date have not received a thing.

While I'm not sure I'd opt for a different system if I were to do it all over again, I'd definitely take more time to evaluate and learn all there is to know about what other manufacturers have to offer.
Cat, congratulations on your voyage! Quite an accomplishment!

I am retiring in a few months and hope to eventually do the same, though originating from San Francisco.

You might be interested in this thread I started recently. Similar dissatisfaction.

Are there any B&G/Simrad/Navico owners without troubles?

Fair winds,

Bill
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