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Old 20-03-2015, 10:45   #16
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

Hi Neutron,

Dealing with a large array of new electronic gadgets can certainly be daunting.

I agree with the recommendation to RT*F, Read The (expletive deleted) Manual. However, at least for the way I learn, if I'm starting with little to no base knowledge on the subject at hand, a cold reading of the manual may not give me a lot of understanding. What I have done in similar situations is a bit of back and forth, usually starting with some hands on tinkering with the gadget just to see what's on the screen and get a very rough feel for it. This generally generates some very rudimentary understanding of what screens and menus I will see and what some of the buttons do. It will certainly show me which buttons I cannot figure out.

Go from there to the manual to figure out some of the answers then go back to the gadgets and try them out, which for me stamps that information more firmly into my memory.

At this point you may have enough to then go back and do the cover to cover manual reading.

Regarding the iPad. I have one and use it for a number of things but since the display is virtually unreadable in direct light I find it pretty much worthless for use on deck or in the cockpit. The display of a modern navigation display should be able to give you all the information available from your system. That's what that little router box thingy does. Almost all instruments that have the capability to send out their data (NMEA is the common standard for that) will be able to show the information on the screens in the cockpit or at the nav station.

If you are still having trouble figuring this out get some local boat bum that's been doing it for a while and talk him into coming over to 'splain it to you.

If I recall you are from Atlanta. So where is your boat? If you're anywhere near me (north Florida) and I'm in the neighborhood I'll be happy to come by and help you mess with the dials and buttons.
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Old 20-03-2015, 12:53   #17
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

In my experience, manuals are the absolutely worst way to learn about electronics in general. They are intimidating unless you know what they are trying to tell you in the first place. In fact, they are often intimidating to use to figure out how to do a specific thing if you are already very experienced.

Start high level overviews about marine electronics. Then get in to specific devices and programs. Then integration. Start with the VHF - learn what it is, how it works, etiquette, procedure. Get to know how it is wired especially circuit breakers, fuses. I say this because people forget how important this can be at critical times. Get friends to kick start you. Don't expect to master any of this in even a year. You will learn something and then go to something else and then find you forgot everything you had "learned" before later when you go back to it. Do the most important first and don't worry about learning the radar right away.

And learn about the "trust" factor and limitations of equipment and software. It isn't perfect. It has layers and layers of complications with lots of gotchas if you get ahead of yourself. It can get you in trouble. The electronics are great tools when you know how and when to use them.

It will take a while. Go baby steps at a time. Go to multiple sources until you start picking up the lingo and buzz words. Don't try to go all in right at first. Unless you are a genius it won't work. And practice what you learn. Then go back and look up more stuff. And don't assume the gear you have has been set up right. The settings are critical for radar, chartplotters, integration. You need to understand those as you go forward.

It's a lot. But you'll either pick it up or take a hammer to it. It's not like driving a car with a GPS. There's more to it. Getting lost is the least of the trouble you could get in to so treat it with respect and know how much you don't know. From your question that is a lot. Nothing wrong with that. That's where I was at first and it took a long time before I got a lot of it and still don't know a lot. But I know what I need for the most part - for my own gear.
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Old 20-03-2015, 13:23   #18
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

We honestly contemplated taking all of the electronics off of the boat and selling them, and then re-buying things as we discover what would make certain things easier.

"It'd be nice if there was a way to bring up a screen that has the weather and wind predictions on it.. Oh that exists? Let's save up and buy one."

That way we'd know exactly what it all does and only have exactly what we think we need.

I believe the electronics are all between 5 to 7 years old.

Thanks for all the info guys!
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Old 20-03-2015, 14:15   #19
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

"We honestly contemplated taking all of the electronics off of the boat and selling them, and then re-buying things as"
Could be an expensive mistake. You get little for used electronics UNLESS they're still fairly useable, in which case, why spend good money buying the same thing all over again? And all the time removing them.


Better to read the manuals, look at YouTube, see what you've got and what it does and if necessary, take some lessons in navigation and learn how to use what's there. Don't just vandalize your boat by ripping things out because you don't know what they are.


iPads can be problematic. As mentioned, they (and pretty much all tablets and phones) aren't readable in full sunlight. They don't like salt spray and anything at the helm needs to be waterproof. Buy a case if you want to use them aboard. And trying to network anything to Apple gizmos may be problematic. Apparently Apple requires a $1 special Bluetooth chip and a $4 license fee for every device, to ensure the device is using "secure" Bluetooth data protocols, or else you need to use WiFi devices, and you'll find that putting everything on the boat into WiFi is not at all common or necessarily simple yet. Possible, yes, but not to be done hastily.


There are reasons that most sailors still use mostly the same old conventional gear you probably have on the boat. Before you break all the rules and toss out all the old stuff, learn what and why it is there for. Odds are you'll save a great deal of time and money that way.
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Old 20-03-2015, 19:49   #20
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

IMHO the ONLY essential piece of electronic equipment is a DEPTH SOUNDER, we have sailed several thousand miles with just that ..... sure the tablet is nice but the DS is the number 1

:-0
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryon View Post
Since you're new to it all, maybe it would be better to learn without all the bells and whistles. Use a chart, and a magnetic compass, and a tuft of yarn on the shrouds, and just sail.
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Old 20-03-2015, 20:14   #21
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neutronbomb View Post
Where do we start? What do we do?
Try learning how to sail first. Everything else is just stuff.
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Old 21-03-2015, 04:54   #22
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neutronbomb View Post
We honestly contemplated taking all of the electronics off of the boat and selling them, and then re-buying things as we discover what would make certain things easier.

"It'd be nice if there was a way to bring up a screen that has the weather and wind predictions on it.. Oh that exists? Let's save up and buy one."

That way we'd know exactly what it all does and only have exactly what we think we need.

I believe the electronics are all between 5 to 7 years old.

You can sorta do that, without the drama of throwing existing stuff overboard.

Just go sailing.

When it occurs to you it might be useful to know how deep the water is, turn on and learn to use your depth sounder.

When you decide it might be useful to know more detail about where you are, turn on the GPS and learn to use it. (Sound like that might also mean turning on your chart plotter.)

When you wonder about things like water depth over there somewhere, learn more about your plotter.

When you wonder if there's a way to know how many boats are around you at night or in the fog, turn on the radar and learn about it.

When you want to know who that commercial tanker is on the horizon, learn about your AIS.

And so forth...

Five to seven years old means it could be very decent stuff, maybe just not the latest and greatest (which might have been introduced yesterday and is obsolete today, anyway). If it all works, if it's all well-connected (networked, etc.), it could be a very good system indeed.

But that doesn't mean you have to worry about it all at once. Get to it when you need to.

Enjoy sailing in the meantime.

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Old 21-03-2015, 07:24   #23
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ryon View Post
Since you're new to it all, maybe it would be better to learn without all the bells and whistles. Use a chart, and a magnetic compass, and a tuft of yarn on the shrouds, and just sail.

What he said.

When I first got a boat with a bunch of electronics (much less than what you have described) I threw a towel over them for a few hours. The only way to learn to sail is to get your head out of the cockpit!

Turn everything off but the VHF (16) and the depth sounder until you are comfortable sailing her. In fact, unless I'm going somewhere unfamiliar, that is what I still do; I don't even turn all the junk on. It only detracts from the joy of being on the water and I don't need it.
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