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Old 31-10-2012, 18:28   #1
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The hard way to get a new chartplotter

Gotta vent about new chartplotter purchase. Back in April, on my birthday, my wife suggested that I buy myself a chartplotter (I'd been mulling it over for a long time, I think she wanted me to shut up , so i went ahead and bought a Standard Horizon CP190i. So now its November, my season is over in a couple of weeks, and I still haven't managed to use it. Here's the story:

Despite my enthusiasm to buy it, work / family / other boat projects got in the way, so I didn't take it out of the box until August. Of course, it was just my luck that it didn't work (backlight didn't work, randomly hung, bluescreened).

After checking everything i could, i called Standard Horizon for help. The gentleman that i talked to told me that my power was bad. I respectfully told him that i carefully checked, and the voltage at the terminals was well within range. He gave me a lecture on how the volts could be getting into the device but not the amps. When i tried to dsicuss ohms law and the fact that if the voltage was good on his device's terminals while operating that the problem was with his device, he lost his temper with me, and told me that I was resisting him and would have to send the device back to them and it would take months. Wow! This guy was not only technically challenged but also had a temper / control issues - why would a company hire them for 'customer service'???

I asked to speak to someone else, and at first he refused. Then he calmed down enough to put me through to 'Tony', who was exceedingly polite, actually asked some good questions (which i coulldn't answer because i couldn't read the screen without backlight) and carefully took my number and email, and said he'd call back, which he never did. Not sure what his game was.

So i contacted the retailer (binnacle.ca, Halifax NS) who said there was no way they could replace (explained SH distributor is a stickler for fine print), but would send it back for repairs. That was late august, it's November tomorrow, my season is over soon, still no chartplotter. And by the way, in my half dozen or more contacts with the retailer, they NEVER called me back once, i had to call every time.

Good news though. Today i called them again, and a nice gentleman spoke to me. He said, yeah, SH is terribly slow on warranty work, took my name again, and lo and behold, he actually called me back!!! He excitedly told me that he managed to contact SH and they said they were shipping it out soon. btw, he sounded like he expected a warm thanks (which i actually did do, may as well be polite even in these situations, but i do scratch my head about his expectation).

So I have have a little hope now, as i sit and wait in the hope that I'll soon receive a chartplotter that actually works. Oh boy - just in time for winter!

Anyway, lesson learned - don't impulse-buy anything like electronics, unless you can test within the return period. And keep your expectations low with respect to service. Can't say as I feel too warm and fuzzy about SH right now, but, hey, it seems just about any company can treat you like this these days.

btw, there was really no point in this post other than venting. Sorry if I sound cynical, but i probably am at this point
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Old 31-10-2012, 19:08   #2
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Re: The hard way to get a new chartplotter

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Originally Posted by DougM View Post
Anyway, lesson learned - don't impulse-buy anything like electronics, unless you can test within the return period. And keep your expectations low with respect to service. Can't say as I feel too warm and fuzzy about SH right now, but, hey, it seems just about any company can treat you like this these days.

btw, there was really no point in this post other than venting. Sorry if I sound cynical, but i probably am at this point
I disagree. Your lesson learned is valuable for the rest of us. Far too often we purchase a component and then don't get around to installing it for months and months. Never a good idea.

Thank you for sharing.
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Old 31-10-2012, 19:16   #3
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Good rant. I hope you get it back working.

I work in electronics and like toys so I can sympathize with both sides in this story. Many people think that if their volt meter says 12V all the time then there is no problem with power. But that isn't always the case. When a chart plotter turns on there is a surge in current. If the voltage drops low for a few milliseconds then the internal supply shuts down. At that point the voltage comes back up and the volt meter never moves because it all happens too fast. I've seen this a lot and it can be maddening for both people on the tech support call. You need a scope to see the problem.

Next time this happens move the unit to a battery (even your car battery) and connect it directly with only the wires that came with the unit. If it still doesn't work then you have done all you can. Again I hope it comes back working but if not give this idea a try.

Dan
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Old 31-10-2012, 20:07   #4
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Re: The hard way to get a new chartplotter

I know it's kind of late for this now... if you have an Ipad 2, 3 or 4 with GPS, just add a $48 app called INavx and you now have a great touchscreen chartplotter with all the North American charts included along with a way to access the internet through Wifi hotspots. If you're worried about it getting wet, just place it in a 10 cent freezer storage bag. If you want to also add weather forecasting, simply purchase the Pocketgrib app for $5.

All the expensive electronics that came with our boat excluding the radar, SSB and VHF, can now be replaced for under $700 with an Ipad, which does a whole lot more than a chartplotter.
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Old 31-10-2012, 21:32   #5
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Re: The hard way to get a new chartplotter

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Good rant. I hope you get it back working.

I work in electronics and like toys so I can sympathize with both sides in this story. Many people think that if their volt meter says 12V all the time then there is no problem with power. But that isn't always the case. When a chart plotter turns on there is a surge in current. If the voltage drops low for a few milliseconds then the internal supply shuts down. At that point the voltage comes back up and the volt meter never moves because it all happens too fast. I've seen this a lot and it can be maddening for both people on the tech support call. You need a scope to see the problem.

Next time this happens move the unit to a battery (even your car battery) and connect it directly with only the wires that came with the unit. If it still doesn't work then you have done all you can. Again I hope it comes back working but if not give this idea a try.

Dan
When my autopilot didn't work consistently Raymarine insisted it was a power issue. The type of failure did not seem to be a low power reset type failure, but I went ahead and alligator clipped a pair of wires directly to the battery. It still didn't work consistently. Fortunately a friend had the same autopilot and I borrowed his for a week and never had a problem on the regular installed wires. I took the don't argue, prove them definitively wrong approach. When they received it they said yeah this is broken, DUH!
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Old 01-11-2012, 08:23   #6
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Re: The hard way to get a new chartplotter

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All the expensive electronics that came with our boat excluding the radar, SSB and VHF, can now be replaced for under $700 with an Ipad, which does a whole lot more than a chartplotter.
And excluding the knotmeter, wind instruments, depthsounder, AIS, and autopilot. And for some, the IR cameras, engine monitors and other functions. All of which are available on most chartplotters.

The iPad does a whole lot LESS than a chartplotter. I can't think of a single function it does related to navigation that is not done by a chartplotter. I can think of many functions of a chartplotter that are not available on an iPad application - starting with integration.

I am a big proponent of iPads and think they are very useful and a great thing to have on a boat. I just don't understand your above reasoning or statements.

Mark
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Old 01-11-2012, 08:29   #7
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Re: The hard way to get a new chartplotter

The charts available for the Ipad have a lot less "layers" than the ones used on a chartplotter. This means the zoom function is jumpy and the "steps" between the charts is high.

I still prefer my plotter

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Old 01-11-2012, 09:02   #8
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Re: The hard way to get a new chartplotter

Previous quote:
"And excluding the knotmeter, wind instruments, depthsounder, AIS, and autopilot. And for some, the IR cameras, engine monitors and other functions. All of which are available on most chartplotters.

The iPad does a whole lot LESS than a chartplotter. I can't think of a single function it does related to navigation that is not done by a chartplotter."


Your chartplotter only monitors these functions.... it doesn't do them. Of course I have wind and depth instruments, but yes the Ipad does have a knot meter, knot log etc. and all the functions of a very expensive chartplotter using the INavx app. If in doubt, check it out. While your at it, check out the PocketGrib app, let's see your present chartplotter do weather forecasting. I'm not telling people to get rid of an existing chartplotter, or arguing about which is best... just offering the ipad as an alternative. We have both onboard, a very expensive Furuno chartplotter which now only gets used as a radar along with the Ipad and a laptop with Nobeltec installed which take care of all GPS and chartplotting. Three times redundancy for safety. The Ipad and laptop will also work for hours under their own battery power in case of a power failure with the main battery bank and electrical system. Not so with a single chartplotter.

To each their own.
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Old 01-11-2012, 09:32   #9
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Re: The hard way to get a new chartplotter

Not all marine electronics manufacturers have lousy service. I have had good experiences with Garmin and excellent experiences with Furuno. From what I have read in this forum over the years, Raymarine seems to be a mixed bag of experiences.

It's a good lesson learned to at least bench test all electronics before the retailers return period has expired. Of course never buy from a retailer with a no return policy.
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Old 01-11-2012, 09:44   #10
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Re: The hard way to get a new chartplotter

West Marine has an extended warranty, that is basically, no questions asked. I recommend it to anyone purchasing electronics. A friend bought an autopilot, which failed enroute to Panama from San Diego. The warranty covered the equipment, which was hand carried by a technician, and installed, at no charge. Gotta love it.
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Old 01-11-2012, 09:49   #11
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Re: The hard way to get a new chartplotter

Yes, I looked at iNavx and it does repeat instrument data.

IF you have a NMEA Wifi multiplexer and 0183-2000 converter if N2K. The application itself is not enough. The multiplexer and converter cost ~$500 or more, depending on functionality. So let's see: $700 for a gps iPad, $500 for converters, $50 for a waterproof case (a freezer storage bag does not make it equivalent to a chartplotter) and $50 for an app comes close to the cost of a chartplotter with less navigational functionality and lower quality charts.

And if your instruments are not N2K, it requires a chartplotter or computer to provide those data to the multiplexer for certain things like wind and depth, depending on which instruments you have installed.

And no integration with autopilots, etc.

Many of the chartplotters sold today do weather forecasting and grib overlays.

As I said, I agree that iPads are great devices to have on board. I don't agree that they currently take the place of chartplotters, or functionality over or equal to chartplotters.

I do hope that changes in the future, but I suspect the direction will be that chartplotters become more like iPads, but better - like the Furuno touch.

BTW, we mostly use computer-based navigation with a wireless weather resistant monitor at the helm and not a chartplotter. Like you, our chartplotter is mostly used for radar (and was the main reason for its purchase). Also like you, we have many redundant avenues for electronic navigation - multiple computers, multiple GPS (gps is built into so many things that I just realized we have 7 of them on board and 5 of them have the ability to output to computers and plotters), chartplotter, etc.

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Old 01-11-2012, 19:23   #12
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Re: The hard way to get a new chartplotter

David M, I think that's the lesson that I take away from this - check the return policy, and check the darn thing before it runs out.

With respect to the comments regarding power being a problem, it was not the problem here. This was just a dead product in the box. I was bound and determined to make this work, power issues were easy to rule out, and I can assure you I worked those angles hard before I submitted myself to 'customer service'.

David M, I also appreciate your comment about not all manufacturers having poor service. The root of it is probably that I bought a relatively cheap device, and I guess one shouldn't expect service with a low price tag. It's too bad you can't really tell much about a manufacturer's customer service until you deal with them. Companies can cut costs and compete harder in the marketplace by not servicing customers, but it takes a long time for a reputation to develop such that they pay a penalty. And converserly, it takes a long time for great companies to be recognized and gain an edge by offering great service. Anyway, I need to buy a few more electronic items, SH has dropped to the bottom of my list, and any warm and fuzzy feeling i had for the retailer has certainly worn off.

Will let you know if i happen to get a working chartplotter some day
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Old 02-11-2012, 08:12   #13
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Re: The hard way to get a new chartplotter

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When i tried to dsicuss ohms law and the fact that if the voltage was good on his device's terminals while operating that the problem was with his device, he lost his temper with me, and told me that I was resisting him and would have to send the device back to them and it would take months.
Accidental pun or sly dig?

I have been happy with my SH radio gear, but your story will make me cautious about buying one of their plotters.
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Old 03-11-2012, 12:00   #14
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Re: The hard way to get a new chartplotter

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Accidental pun or sly dig?
Ha ha - i missed the humour in that the first time through, probably taking the whole thing too seriously. Every now and then i have to remind myself that i sail for fun. When things break down, i have to remember that I actually like fixing things, and when the wind blows from where i'm going, that part of the reason for sailing is to slow down. (Still wish i had a chart plotter though )
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Old 03-11-2012, 13:28   #15
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Re: The hard way to get a new chartplotter

Doug,
I have the older model SH plotter (CP180) and have found it to be a good piece of equipment. I have dealt with the SH customer service folks to get help connecting to my autopilot and had a good experience. It's too bad you had a sour start with your plotter but hopefully you will get to enjoy it next season!
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