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Old 19-03-2015, 14:41   #1
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What's an electronic?! So lost!

So we've been working on getting our boat in ship shape.
We bought her back in September and she came equipped with some electronics, some of which we kind of know how to use and some we do not.
Things we have:
Radar unit that looks like a UFO on top of the arch.
gps antenna on top of the arch.
Small Garmin chart plotter at the helm.
Larger Garmin chart plotter at the Nav station.
AIS unit at the Nav station.
Some kind of router that they all plug into and feed out somewhere.

We are totally new when it comes to sailing, when you throw in electronics talk, we are lost lost lost.

What we'd like to do is have an iPad at the Nav station and an iPad at the helm and somehow all of the information we need ends up showing up on them. Flashing, beeping, and warning is of whatever.

Where do we start? What do we do?



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Old 19-03-2015, 15:23   #2
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

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 19-03-2015, 15:36   #3
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

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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.
That's a damn good suggestion. Don't even turn any of that stuff on and just go out day sailing and first learn how to sail without reliance on any electronics nor the distractions of learning about them at the same time. Later, break out the manuals for all the components and start learning those separately. But do learn how to use the VHF radio in case you need help....

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Old 19-03-2015, 15:36   #4
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

We have started learning without the bells and whistles. That's why we don't know how to use them or what they do.
Now we want to start integrating some of the things we have into a system we can use.
Charts and a compass are great, but we'd also like to use things like active captain so we can see what lies ahead when it comes to not chart information.
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Old 19-03-2015, 16:37   #5
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

If you've got the basic navigation down without any of the bells and whistles, I'd say the next step is to learn how the components you have talk to each other and what data they share, and what you can see where. After that you can start to add more to it like the iPads, but to do that you'll first need to know what kind of networking is in place (NMEA 0183, NMEA 2000, Simnet, SeaTalk).


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Old 19-03-2015, 17:03   #6
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

reading the instruction manuals would be a good place to start
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Old 19-03-2015, 17:19   #7
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neutronbomb View Post
We have started learning without the bells and whistles. That's why we don't know how to use them or what they do.
Now we want to start integrating some of the things we have into a system we can use.
Charts and a compass are great, but we'd also like to use things like active captain so we can see what lies ahead when it comes to not chart information.
Hi, and congratulations on your new boat.

You mention Active Captain. Where do you sail now? I ask because AC is very good for information and social networking on the water. My experience, in 35 years of sailing, being an early subscriber to AC and participating in many boating forums, is that it is of primary use for cruisers and appears to be most popular on East Coast of the US. I look at it here in Northern California, and there is literally nothing. I have contributed to a few anchoring spots, but there's not much posted by anyone. What the reason for this is escapes me, although I have a few ideas - not necessary for this topic.

My initial read of your OP is that you might be getting ahead of yourselves. You have equipment. If you don't have manuals, almost everything made has manuals online.

If you want to learn about iPad navigation, use Google and read for weeks. You are most likely NOT going to get much reply here, since many skippers have already said their piece about this subject and the equipment (not pro & con but more about specific equipment), and don't want to retype what's been said. Have you looked in both the electronics portion AND the navigation sections of this forum?

There are tons of discussions about the right equipment to buy, what models have built-in GPS, the difference between cell phone tower GPS and real GPS and all the rest. Panbo: The Marine Electronics Hub also is a good resource.

Your boat, your choice.

Good luck, fair winds.
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Old 19-03-2015, 17:47   #8
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

Why don't you list the makes and models of what you have.. do you know when they were installed?
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Old 19-03-2015, 18:47   #9
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

Ahoy Neutronbomb,

The West Marine Advisor is a good place to start learning.

West Advisor Articles | West Marine

Google Garmin and the other common electronic brand and start reading. YouTube has lots of info.

Most of the new units have WiFi or Bluetooth to connect with iPad, iPhone and other tablets and smartphones.
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Old 20-03-2015, 09:04   #10
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neutronbomb View Post
So we've been working on getting our boat in ship shape.
We bought her back in September and she came equipped with some electronics, some of which we kind of know how to use and some we do not.
Things we have:
Radar unit that looks like a UFO on top of the arch.
gps antenna on top of the arch.
Small Garmin chart plotter at the helm.
Larger Garmin chart plotter at the Nav station.
AIS unit at the Nav station.
Some kind of router that they all plug into and feed out somewhere.

We are totally new when it comes to sailing, when you throw in electronics talk, we are lost lost lost.

What we'd like to do is have an iPad at the Nav station and an iPad at the helm and somehow all of the information we need ends up showing up on them. Flashing, beeping, and warning is of whatever.

Where do we start? What do we do?



Sent from my iPhone using Cruisers Sailing Forum
I can relate, but from a slightly different perspective that might help. I am an electrical engineer who has been on the water for more than 45 years. So I know what it all does. But recently bought a very well equipped boat too, and am slowly learning some of it myself. Smart Battery chargers, AIS and GPS multiplexers...

The comment about just going sailing is a good one, because then you will know why you want all that stuff. In college I made extra $$ doing deliveries up and down the coast of CA using depth sounders and RDF's and dead reckoning on a chart. As these things slowly evolved, each one seemed like a godsend. So many of us learned them more organically.

I suggest a sort of accelerated organic approach. Pick one thing, say the chartplotter at the helm. If you have any knowledge of navigation at all, the uses for that will seem readily apparent. Explore the functions on the device in a controlled environment (at the dock). Once familiar, then try it out in a known navigation situation. See how it aligns with your understanding of the situation...

Then grow from there. Once you play with a few of these devices you will start to see how they might want to talk together (hence the "router"). Some of those (I am guessing it is a multiplexer) have wifi output which can be used by iPads with nav SW. I recently installed one of those on a friend's boat so we can all use our iPads as nav stations in our bunks on an upcoming TransPac.

Start playing, in a controlled way. Soon you will understand more and more of it. Never expect to understand it all. AND never put yourself in a situation where you are 100% relying on it all.

Have fun with it!
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Old 20-03-2015, 10:07   #11
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neutronbomb View Post
So we've been working on getting our boat in ship shape.
We bought her back in September and she came equipped with some electronics, some of which we kind of know how to use and some we do not.
Things we have:
Radar unit that looks like a UFO on top of the arch.
gps antenna on top of the arch.
Small Garmin chart plotter at the helm.
Larger Garmin chart plotter at the Nav station.
AIS unit at the Nav station.
Some kind of router that they all plug into and feed out somewhere.

We are totally new when it comes to sailing, when you throw in electronics talk, we are lost lost lost.

What we'd like to do is have an iPad at the Nav station and an iPad at the helm and somehow all of the information we need ends up showing up on them. Flashing, beeping, and warning is of whatever.

Where do we start? What do we do?



Sent from my iPhone using Cruisers Sailing Forum

I have just this minute stopped wondering how Steve Jobs became a billionaire.

What is needed here is the IBoat. It will be white and have one knob and a touchscreen.




OK, seriously now -- I would suggest the classic approach. Gather all the manuals together, and sit down this Sunday at home with a big pot of coffee and -- read them. All of them, from cover to cover.

Then, take the manuals back to the boat, and try to operate all the gear according to the instructions.

Whatever is unclear after that, post about it here, and many people will help you.

Good luck.
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Old 20-03-2015, 10:10   #12
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neutronbomb View Post
Things we have:
Radar unit that looks like a UFO on top of the arch.
gps antenna on top of the arch.
Small Garmin chart plotter at the helm.
Larger Garmin chart plotter at the Nav station.
AIS unit at the Nav station.
Some kind of router that they all plug into and feed out somewhere.

We are totally new when it comes to sailing, when you throw in electronics talk, we are lost lost lost.

What we'd like to do is have an iPad at the Nav station and an iPad at the helm and somehow all of the information we need ends up showing up on them. Flashing, beeping, and warning is of whatever.

Where do we start? What do we do?
Well, the short version is that you have sensors:
- radar: what's around you
- GPS: where are you

(and derivative info: what's your speed, direction of movement (course), etc.)
- AIS: who else is around you

And you have displayers:
- plotters: where is your GPS-sensed location (and derivatives) on a chart
- plotters: where are those other AIS-transmitting boat s,on that chart
- plotters: where is all that stuff the radar sees, on that chart

And ideally you have a way to get the sensor info into the displayers:
- network router
- although some may be simply hard-wired together (plugged in to each other)

More than that, depends on which exact units, whether all are completely networked, etc. Other comments about manuals very on target.

FWIW, you should have (probably do) at least one more set of useful sensors on board:
- depth
- maybe speed
- maybe water temp
- maybe wind speed/direction

If so, they can be (might be) connected to that network, too.

Comments about just turning on your tablet with GPS input (often built-in) and a decent nav app -- just go sailing, gradually learn all that other stuff -- applies.

Although I'd temper that last with a good beginner's understanding about water depth relative to where you are.

-Chris
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Old 20-03-2015, 10:24   #13
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

Thanks Ranger42C!

Great, concise, understandable summary of how all the pieces fit together.

Thanks for sharing
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Old 20-03-2015, 10:30   #14
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

NeutronBomb, all the above remarks are excellent information. If you were in Key West I would come over to your boat and see if I could assist you. Did any manuals come with the boat for the electronics? What make of electronics is it. Most of the modern ones you turn them on and it's obvious how they work especially the sonar. The chart plotter you should see your self moving on the screen as a curser the numbers on the chart are the known depths. So you need to know the depth of your boat in the water. For example my sail boat has a 5'4" draft to it so I try to stay in 10' of water so I don't hit the bottom. I have a clearance of 4'8" if there is a two foot wave I have 2'8" before I hit the bottom. Experiment with them, you can't hurt them by pushing their buttons. The radar can be learned how to tune it right at your slip. Try it in the day and also try it at night. Hopefully someone will be moving in the area and you can then relate that to your equipment. Feel free to call me maybe I can answer some of your questions over the phone 239-776-6442. Again located in Key West, Florida. Good luck. Don't be shy about asking for help I'm sure any boater out there will love to talk to you about their experiences with electronics.
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Old 20-03-2015, 10:30   #15
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Re: What's an electronic?! So lost!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stu Jackson View Post
Hi, and congratulations on your new boat.

You mention Active Captain. Where do you sail now? I ask because AC is very good for information and social networking on the water. My experience, in 35 years of sailing, being an early subscriber to AC and participating in many boating forums, is that it is of primary use for cruisers and appears to be most popular on East Coast of the US. I look at it here in Northern California, and there is literally nothing. I have contributed to a few anchoring spots, but there's not much posted by anyone. What the reason for this is escapes me, although I have a few ideas - not necessary for this topic.

My initial read of your OP is that you might be getting ahead of yourselves. You have equipment. If you don't have manuals, almost everything made has manuals online.

If you want to learn about iPad navigation, use Google and read for weeks. You are most likely NOT going to get much reply here, since many skippers have already said their piece about this subject and the equipment (not pro & con but more about specific equipment), and don't want to retype what's been said. Have you looked in both the electronics portion AND the navigation sections of this forum?

There are tons of discussions about the right equipment to buy, what models have built-in GPS, the difference between cell phone tower GPS and real GPS and all the rest. Panbo: The Marine Electronics Hub also is a good resource.

Your boat, your choice.

Good luck, fair winds.
I see Active Captain entries all over the San Francisco Bay.
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