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Old 01-10-2015, 16:02   #1
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Novice Observations on B&G.

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.
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Old 01-10-2015, 18:05   #2
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

Did you upgrade the radio software? This should fix some problems.
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Old 01-10-2015, 18:10   #3
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

That sounds typical of Simrad, B&G, Lowrence, Navico (all the same things/company). Looks great on the surface, but only sorta, kinda works, or doesn't work. I pulled all mine out after 6 months and returned it. Replaced with different manufacturers and now everything works, exactly as it's supposed to, every time I turn it on.
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Old 01-10-2015, 21:27   #4
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

Thanks for the detailed write-up, "cat ballou", good read.

I assume the "stand-by" mode for the 4G radar is it's "low power" mode. Don't know about others, but if it cannot maintain guard-zone alarms in its low-power mode it would be a total deal breaker for me.
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Old 02-10-2015, 07:50   #5
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tanglewood View Post
That sounds typical of Simrad, B&G, Lowrence, Navico (all the same things/company). Looks great on the surface, but only sorta, kinda works, or doesn't work. I pulled all mine out after 6 months and returned it. Replaced with different manufacturers and now everything works, exactly as it's supposed to, every time I turn it on.
So what brand did you go with after you dumped the B&G AP?
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Old 02-10-2015, 07:55   #6
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

Ah, yes - always used to think that B & G stood for Broken Guages.......Tony
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Old 02-10-2015, 08:31   #7
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

We have the Simrad AP, which is exactly the same as the B&G and have no problems at all with it - it is really quite brilliant.

We have 3 Triton displays also without problems, and also brilliant.

The B&G/Simrad vhf has been a notorious problem.

Doesn't "standby" mean "not on" (it does on our Furuno)? If so, I don't understand how one would expect it to operate guard zones or alarms when in standby.

Mark
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Old 02-10-2015, 08:35   #8
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
So what brand did you go with after you dumped the B&G AP?
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.
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Old 02-10-2015, 09:44   #9
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

Hi Cat,

I also decided to go with B&G when retrofitting our [new to us] sailboat last year.

Overall I've been happy with the Zeus T8 MDF (running Navionics) and 4G radar. I also really like what the GoFree brings to the table- when it works...

I'm now on my 3rd GoFree. The first one just up and died as you described. The replacement lost the ability to transmit WiFi signals after 2 weeks of use. The 3rd unit (which they sent without requiring me to return the malfunctioning unit...) is on the boat awaiting install. [I'm not currently on the boat...]

It remains to be seen if the 3rd time is the charm...

I also have the V50 VHF. I haven't experienced the N2K network issues you describe, but until I applied the recent firmware upgrade, it annoyingly served up the Wx forecast 20-50 times/day... At least I got my exercise rebooting the radio each time... [Which reminds me, we still need to send in the remote wireless mike for upgrade by the factory...]

I'm glad to hear you have had no issues with the AP as I intend to do the same: replace the brain but keep the [old] hydraulics.

Thanks for your detailed account.

Cheers!

Bill
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Old 02-10-2015, 09:48   #10
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

Talking about intruments not working , my Simrad tack , and my wind speed and wind angle heads stopped working after 4000 miles , checked cable , masthead unit , done by people who know , no luck , contacted Simrad , answer get new heads , they cost me AU&1700.00 each , I don;t think it's the heads , because they tell me , no input , but I can't find why , anyone out there who might have a suggestion what could be the problem ?
Cheers Duchie
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Old 02-10-2015, 10:27   #11
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tanglewood View Post
That sounds typical of Simrad, B&G, Lowrence, Navico (all the same things/company). Looks great on the surface, but only sorta, kinda works, or doesn't work. I pulled all mine out after 6 months and returned it. Replaced with different manufacturers and now everything works, exactly as it's supposed to, every time I turn it on.
Ok Tanglewood, what brand did you go with? Thanks
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Old 02-10-2015, 11:48   #12
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

I also went with an all B&G install, radar, Zeus2 MFD, VH50, GoFree (and all the other ancillary stuff you only find out when you start installing). I already a Simrad AP installed and I have not tied the two systems together with 0183 yet. Nor do I plan to until GoFree settles down. It and the N2K & ethernet networks require resetting several times per day and it usually happens just when you need everything to work perfectly. (Thankfully I have several iPads that have other Nav data and can serve as backups..)

I have done many large computer network installs in my day but this one surely takes the cake. Furuno is better equipment IMHO but their radar really requires a "professional" install.

B&G looks good on paper and even on the outside but their products need more testing before bringing this stuff to the market.

Would I trust my life and boat to B&G? No way!!!!
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Old 02-10-2015, 12:12   #13
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty007 View Post
Did you upgrade the radio software? This should fix some problems.
Yeah, they released a software update a couple of weeks ago that apparently fixes all the issues

Not before time, I may add.
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Old 02-10-2015, 13:21   #14
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

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Originally Posted by colemj View Post
.. .
Doesn't "standby" mean "not on" (it does on our Furuno)? If so, I don't understand how one would expect it to operate guard zones or alarms when in standby.

Mark
Standby exactly means "not on" and the radar doesn't function in this mode. Pulse radars have magnetrons which need heat, and standby keeps them warm but without transmitting so they start up faster. The CW radars don't have magnetrons and are nearly instant on, and don't need this.

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Old 02-10-2015, 14:09   #15
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Re: Novice Observations on B&G.

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Originally Posted by northwestsailor View Post
Furuno is better equipment IMHO but their radar really requires a "professional" install.
Uh oh, nobody told me that - and I can't see why one would come to that conclusion.

Here is the installation for a Furuno radar: 1) bolt down the radome and connect the power wire and ethernet cable. 2) run those cables back to the display. 3) turn it on and press "optimize" on the display (or something similar - I don't remember the exact word).

You do have to point it in the right direction when you bolt it up, but I think this is the same with all of them.

Is it really easier to set up other brands?

Mark
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