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Old 06-04-2015, 00:41   #1
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Upgrading Electronics

So I just purchased a boat fairly recently. We've been sailing around and it has been a good time.

The GPS unit is dying so I am thinking of upgrading my electronics all together as my other instruments are about 15+ years old. I have an old Raytheon Radar that uses a CRT monitor.

All my instruments work most of the time. Although, my depth instruments sometimes acts really wonky when its deep. AKA I know its like 500+ feet and it'll say like 5 feet instead. But usually its pretty accurate. The wind indicator just needs to get cleaned up.

None of my instruments can communicate with each other, so my next question is should I look into upgrading all my electronics. I am planning to take my boat out of the water to get the bottom painted, so I'm just thinking on what I should do. Is the cost of upgrading all my electronics really going payout in the long run? I currently use my iPad for navigation using an app. So I can still navigate. Plus, I don't go very far off the coast of California, so its not like I'm going to have a lot of issues finding things.

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 06-04-2015, 03:05   #2
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Re: Upgrading Electronics

Maybe a look at the type of sailing you plan might help decide. I cruise mainly local waters so this is my priorities list.

New bulkhead compass. Still the most important nav aid on any boat.
New NASA depth finder. Old unreliable one could not be trusted and depth can help determine position when all else fails.
New auto pilot. As a single hander its a reliable extra hand.
Reliable DSC/Vhf radio is a must as are in date costal flares.
Old GPS works fine and I, v Navionics on my tablet and smart phone.
Wind speed and direction used to be my God when I started sailing but since it failed some years ago and I didn, t notice I havn, t fixed it.
A good eye on the weather at all times is important as is keeping a proper lookout.
Radar and AIS is outside my budget and experience but not necessary for most costal sailing.
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Old 06-04-2015, 08:33   #3
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Re: Upgrading Electronics

Ultimatley only you can decide if it's worth it.

I want reliable as a priority so a faulty GPS and depth sounder need to be addressed. Anything you buy today is going to have more and better capabilities.

Getting integrated electronic systems is nice but I seriously doubt you could put a number on it that would justify the cost as a casual cruiser. Of course buying a boat doesn't make sense financially either so do what you can afford and makes you happy.
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Old 06-04-2015, 08:48   #4
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Re: Upgrading Electronics

Quote:
Originally Posted by dkchen View Post
...The GPS unit is dying...
my other instruments are about 15+ years old. I have an old Raytheon Radar that uses a CRT monitor.

All my instruments work most of the time...
Sounds like you are overdue for an upgrade.
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Old 06-04-2015, 08:53   #5
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Re: Upgrading Electronics

The goal, I'm still waiting for a quote from a guy, is that I will take the boat out for bottom painting.

Get a new depth finder and speed. Then I'll try to clean up the wind indicator (though not a real high priority as it still works) and get a new GPS, Chartplotter, and Radar combination.

In the end though it depends on how much it costs. Fortunately, I do my research of where I am going so I know how deep things are.
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Old 06-04-2015, 10:09   #6
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Re: Upgrading Electronics

"Fortunately, I do my research of where I am going so I know how deep things are."

Okay, you are from Manhattan Beach, CA. You are fortunate that we have deep water off the west coast. But, you still need accurate depth information. State of tide, sand bars, silting in channels, rocks occur even in sunny California. And depth can be a very useful, even essential, part of pilotage. And wrong or unreliable depth info is worse than not at all. Don't underestimate the depth gauge.

However, if you are getting good depth readings in less than 500 ft there may not be a problem there at all. Beyond the range of your instrument you can get off echoes that are not relevant. I'd suggest you confirm the accuracy of the depth reading in shallower water with a lead line (a weight on a long string).


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Old 06-04-2015, 10:23   #7
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Re: Upgrading Electronics

That's a good idea. I might to do it in a week or so off in the marina.

I just got back from a trip to Catalina, and the depth finder was going really wonky when I was going over the channel. It was showing that I had 5 feet of water underneath my keel... Which is not true. When I got in the Isthmus cove, it was showing something more accurate, att least from my perception.
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Old 06-04-2015, 10:29   #8
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Re: Upgrading Electronics

Get a cellular Ipad Air and install INavx or Nobeltec app for about $50. Problem solved. Listen to music on the Ipad as you navigate around California. Works even offshore.


But you still need to have a working depth sounder.
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Old 06-04-2015, 10:50   #9
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Re: Upgrading Electronics

Most sailboat depth sounders are not reliable beyond 200ft. What you're seeing is typical when you are beyond its range.

If your wind instruments work, keep them. They are expensive and haven't. really changed much in 20 years. If you buy a new one, I guarantee that a bird will sit on the vane and break it off within two weeks.

How often are you going to use your radar? With AIS and a good chartplotter, my radar is rarely turned on anymore.

Which brings up AIS. I believe an AIS transponder is a critical safety item if you sail in crowded waters. A good one can be had for $600. Any recent chartplotter will display the AIS information. If you also buy an antenna splitter, you can use your masthead VHF antenna for AIS which will really help the range. The splitters used to have a lot of problems but I don't hear of people having many problems with the newer ones. I have the splitter from Vesper.

Also take a look at the quality of the coax to the antenna. Your radio and AIS will really be helped by low loss coax and good connectors. 15 year old coax should probably be replaced anyways.

I'd think about a 7" or so chartplotter mounted at the helm with a built in GPS antenna. This will get you GPS, AIS display, charts. All of the major brands have more bells and whistles than you'll ever use. I personally use Garmin because my wife finds it the easiest interface. Your radar won't interface - but a dedicated radar screen is really the best way to use radar. There's a chance that depth and wind will interface with NMEA 0183 but you don't really care that much if you can see the instruments OK at the helm.

It's great having two chartplotters aboard (we use an Ipad as the 2nd) because the person at the helm can focus on steering navigation - zoomed in on what's coming up in the next 30 minutes and the course. A 2nd person can use the Ipad for planning the day and as a double check that the helmsman hasn't overlooked the rock coming up.
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Old 06-04-2015, 11:57   #10
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Re: Upgrading Electronics

I'd take radar to AIS, any day, given only 1 choice. With radar you can see all vessels, not just the ones with working AIS. Plus you can use it to predict weather and to navigate...
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Old 06-04-2015, 12:18   #11
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Re: Upgrading Electronics

Yeah on our last trip we used the iPad as the chartplotter and GPS. It worked well. But I do have some issues about it.

The first issue is the battery. It lasts long, but I would eventually need to hook it into something to charge it. I would have preferred to just run off the boat batteries, and if I need to I could run the motor to charge the batteries.

The second issue is that the glare is pretty bad on the ipad. (I use the ipad mini) I had to really shield it. I also had to be careful about leaving it in direct sunlight as that can be an issue for electronics. More so for iPad vs something else.

The third issue is that I didn't have a mounting for the iPad. I would just go on my way, and then I would just peak at the iPad once in awhile.

The second and third issue can be solved with a mounting or case that I could purchase online.

The first one, isn't too bad considering that I am not planning to do any of course.

Referring back to CarlF that is starting to make totals sense now as I remember being able to read the depth perfectly fine when I got closer to land.

A guy gave me a rough quote for the depth finder and speed. He said that the hardware will cost around $1300 together as a package with a display or two. The labor though is unknown. It'll probably cost around $2000.00 minimum. To install everything.

I am currently thinking of just upgrading the GPS and getting a chartplotter, AIS, and radar as a package. I like to keep my helm to a minimum, so I plan to keep the main chartplotter in the boat, and then have a small screen at the helm for reference.

All of this is really contingent on the boss of the house.
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Old 06-04-2015, 16:51   #12
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Re: Upgrading Electronics

I'm in a similar situation as you - new to me boat, in my case with very little in the way of electronics. Came with old Datamarine depth, speed and wind, an autopilot and a handheld gps. Last summer I used an iPad and inavx as the chart plotter, and I was happy with that for my coastal cruising needs. The wind indicator was broken (showed direction not speed), so that's getting replaced this spring. After dreaming big all winter (AIS, wifi, new plotter and DWS), I opted to keep it fairly simple and just deal with my mast. I'm putting in a new Maretron wind indicator and a single Triton display, on a new NMEA 2000 backbone. Also replacing the thin coax for the VHS antenna with a thicker cable and installing a new LED tricolor (the old one was reduced to a monocolor!) - this only came to light once the mast was down.

That's enough upgrades for one season, and I can take it one step at a time from there. And hopefully I won't need to take the mast down for awhile.

Ward
t33/southold, ny


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Old 06-04-2015, 18:29   #13
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Re: Upgrading Electronics

My opinion: go on using the boat as is and see what you find lacking.

I like a depth sounder, when waters are muddy and shallow. It saves you some adventures sure.

Other instruments seem less important and more a question of personal preferences and social aspirations.

I am not sure electronics need to be networked either. Stand alones work as good as anything.

Cheers,
b.
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