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Old 01-12-2008, 04:16   #16
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MFDs are the rage and are trying to exploit the power of computing to get more information to the sailor.

This is both a good and bad development.

First, when you use an MFD you put all your eggs in one basket. This is a risk and furth makes it more complicated to use because they have to cram commands into layers of menus. Raymarine does a horrible job of this, but perhaps they are not the only one. This is inevitable when you have only so many buttons to press to get at the information. Cell phones are experience a similar explosion of information/function and faced with cramming more commands onto the same buttons or adding more "keys" and now we have the touch screen models as another solution. (same in marine electronics). Perhaps a wiser approach is to have stand alone instruments with their own interface which can port data to an MFD. This offers redundancy. However this seems to be an expensive approach, takes up lots of precious real estate and requires some sort of workable data language.

Second, there is a diminishing return on the increase in data to the point that sailors are messing about with their instruments and not sailing, keeping watch and using traditional navigation skills on the water.

While it's hard to stop technological progress, a lot of all the new bells and whistles is really unnecessary. My own experience with feature phones proved to me - that in the end I use the cell phone to make and receive calls when I don't have access to a land line, or a PC/ internet. I don't need to access all the information "on the go" that many seem to feel is so important, because I am not "on the go" very much. So after trying a ful featured phone and realizing that I wasn't using all these features, I went back to basics. I think there is an analogy in here with respect to marine navigation technology.

A few years back our stand alone Vigil Radar when south and it seems like MFD was the way to go. So I bought a Raymarine C80 to use as a radar. I already owned a Horizon CP170 plotter which used different chart cards so I was SOL if I wanted to use the charts with the C80. When I discovered that the C80 could plot on charts, I went and added their antenna and bought their charts . The price was creeping up. The overlay feature was handy as were the advances in radar like MARPA. However, I found the C80 interface a complicated disaster and am always re learning it and going back to the manual to find "things" now may 4 or 5 years since I got it.

A few years ago I bought a PDA which allowed me to manage countacts and carry it with me wherever. I found this a sensible approach and more user friendly than a cell phone contact list. I got a Garmin IQue which, of course, is a GPS anc an be loaded with the street maps supplied, and with their BlueCharts for marine use. Again a new chart format. I gave the thing a shot at street navigation and found it useful to find my way to and from unfamiliar locations. Two years ago I sprang for the BlueCharts and tried it on board. It's not a full featured GPS navigator with routes and so forth. But for me it works well as a reference in the cockpit, which is where I sail from 99% of the time ( and not from behind the helm as I use an autopilot). Now the raymarine is an expensive radar where I may program a waypoint to so see the data on a cockpit repeater. I rarely sit in front of it and "use it" as a "plotter". The old Horizon is rarely turned on, but it's a below decks back up. I am using the small Garmin as an assist to confirm what my eye are telling me. If I want to steer to some "point" I can use its heading line to show me if I am on coarse and it will of course show the coarse made good not the course steered which is all that matters.

I added an AIS interface to the C80. It's an interesting collision avoidance feature, but it doesn't work with all vessels and so it's not as helpful as it could be and could give one a false sense of "security". Right now it's a "fun gimmick", but it cost less than a meal or two at a fine restaurant.

The real work horse in my navigation suite are the B&G Hornet Cruise pack and Hecta Depth sounder which have been working dutifully for going on 23 years and. I have nothing but praise for the AWI which has been atop the mast in the weather, winter, summer, spring and fall for all but 3 or 4 winters when I took the stick down.

I need to mention the KVH flixgate compass which is a handy device and allows me to see compass (and GPS data) from any place in the cockpit. My only mechanical compass is in the binnacle and best read from above and behind, a position I am rarely in as I don't drive from the helm.

So I have experienced instrument creep. It's all complex, on a NMEA 0183 network (except the old B&G) and hardly used. Who needs hundred of waypoint and scores of routes when you sail anyway? We sail in mostly famiilar waters and I know them as local knowledge. The current information on these things is not accurate. I am now wary of all the new gadgets and advances because they offer diminishing return for the expense and they do little in making my sailing safer and or more enjoyable.

Rant over.
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Old 01-12-2008, 04:34   #17
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Cruisers-

I recently purchased a boat and am looking for recommendations on a new electronics package. I've looked at several systems, read the manufacturers spec's, and gotten feedback from several others but this is a big investment in my safety and security and I'd like all the input I can get. Which brand of system do YOU prefer? Which is more durable? I will need radar, chartplotter, auto pilot, and instrumentation.

Any advice is appreciated-especially if it's been aquired first-hand.
I am doing the same thing. Right now I like Furuno, Maetron and Garmin for most of the more general gear; Lowrance and Garmin for displays.
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Old 01-12-2008, 05:01   #18
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if you are going to mount any electronics outside of your boat,check the waterproof rating of your equipment.

I have a Navman 5500 chartplotter,it comes with a bracket for mounting outside on the binacle,it allows you to turn the navman to suit your angle of viewing.

mine got a little bit wet,light to medium rain and the navman stopped working,the plugs at the rear of the unit are not fantastic,if there is a bit of wind behind the rain (f4-5) the plugs cant take it and the resulting moisture causes the pins to short out.
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Old 01-12-2008, 06:12   #19
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I have Simrad Auto Pilot and love it.
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Old 01-12-2008, 14:04   #20
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Overwhelmed

Wow! I recently purchased a boat with a full Raymarine system already installed. It also has a Garmin chartplotter that is weather radio enabled. I hope to learn how to use the systems but with all of the suggestions and comments above, I'm a bit overwhelmed. Maybe I should concentrate on which lockers to use to store the rum??

But, thanks to the contributers and I hope that there are more comments, it seems useful.

Bill
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Old 01-12-2008, 14:27   #21
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Simrad AP20 autopilot, Simrad AP21 remote, Simrad CE32 plotter sounder, Simrad DE 32, repeater, Simrad Ra772ua Radar, all bought off Ebay for a fraction of new price, all working impeccably, just completed a three year cruise around The Tasman Sea including, Tasmania, South Island NZ, Vanuatu, New Cal and absolutely no problems.
All owner installed
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Old 05-12-2008, 03:19   #22
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Raymarine ?

Hello, this is my first post on this forum.

I'm planning the electronic equipment of my 42' cat under construction (Erik Lerouge's design, composite sandwich built).

So far, I have selected Raymarine for three main reasons:
> Reasonable price (in Europe), compared to Furuno (top equipment but pricey)
> Extensive rage of products: ST 70 instruments, MFD E series, integration with new CPX autopilot, wireless MOB system (a requirement), joystick (no wheel station), ...
> NMEA 2000 compatibility

Equipment survey from ARC are also quite positive.

What do you think ? Have you any experience with new ST 70 instruments and CPX pilot ?

Patrice
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Old 05-12-2008, 05:51   #23
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Navman/ Northstar, which ever it is called in your neighborhood. About to be all Northstar soon. I have a complete package of equipment both inside and outside. I have had only one issue with bad LCD dispays in the Wind display. The problem was found to be a bad batch of displays and have been upgraded. Both my units were out of warranty and yet the supplier said no problem, we will sort it. Now that speaks volumes for customer support.
I was wondering when someone would mention Navman (as they were)/Northstar (as they are now). Horrible horrible horrible things. Of course I have no large scale data to back that up, just a 100% failure rate on every piece of navman stuff I have owned. And the GPS of theirs I had had to be the most stupid interface operating system known to mankind. I only bought the rubbish cause it was sort of local (being made/owned by our sheep loving friends in unzud). On the other hand every bit of garmin I have owned (limited to handheld GPS stuff) has been fantastic. The Raymarine stuff I have had has also been fine.

I am glad you had a good outcome, but I will never buy another item of theirs ever again.
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Old 06-12-2008, 15:32   #24
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I know that this was covered in a thread awhile back, but I'm planning on puchasing a Furuno NavNet 3D MFD for the cockpit, with integrated Furuno radar, weather, autopilot, etc. I'd be interested incomments from someone who has used them.
Other question is the autopilot: Furuno electronics, but whose hydraulics integrates well with them?
Finally, I already have a very lightly used set of Raymarine ST60 instruments. Will these interface with the Furuno stuff?
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Old 07-12-2008, 06:03   #25
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My beefs with Raymarine are two fold:

Their telephone customer tech support stinks. I was given wrong information about something they should have understood perfectly.

Their user interface it byzantine, not user friendly.

I do not like fixed zoom scales. I like to draw a "marquee" and select exactly the area (extents) I want to see.

I would like a bread crumb option for fixes, not that stupid polygon line which I presume connects the fixes. I am perfectly capable to "connecting the dots" and the lines clutter the display.

I don't like how they have to "zoom" to cursor or zoom to ships position (GPS fix). As far as I am concerned all they need is do is ZOOM to cursor ALL the time and a button to press to center the display (and the cursor) to ship's position.

I would prefer PIP then the side by side equal displays they offer. If they had that, I'd like a button to reverse the scales in the main and PIP. This applies to the larger format plotters.

Their alarm features I can't figure out and they are annoying... especially the waypoint arrival one. Which sounds and means my wife says what is that noise... which means I have to go below and shut it off. Yet another reason to not use waypoints. Is there a way to shut off the arrival alarm?

The AIS is not automated at all and it seems you have to constantly be turning the settings on to get data from a target.

I would like to see the marks actually "flash" on the charts with their characteristcs. Imagine that - they'd have to actually program something on the charts. And their RANGE indicated by a circle when you cursor over them. Some lighthouse may do this. You would have to set you height above water for this to be effective for buoys.

It's been 10 years and we are not making much progress on this, are we?
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Old 07-12-2008, 07:05   #26
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When we bought our boat a year ago, it had a Raymarine Pathfinder series plotter & radar, ST60 instruments and ST6000 autopilot. Both my wife and I found the plotter inadequate (too darn small for our 50+ eyes -- doesn't matter what is being shown, if you can't actually see it!). So, we went shopping at the Miami boat show. Bottom line: I found serious faults with all of them! The most serious problems, speaking generally, were (1) lousy software design, (2) proprietary networking, (3) inadequate graphics processing hardware.

Having written some software myself over the years, I can appreciate the difficulty involved and the challenge to software engineers. There are typically conflicting values involved: One wants to have an easily understood, intuitive system that gives 90% of the users 90% of the information/decision-making features they want without having to go searching for a manual. However, one also wants to have a rich feature set that gives those 10% of users the flexibility and complexity to customize the software and have it the way they want it. That is a major challenge. In my opinion, none of the manufacturers met it. (Now, if Apple ever got interested in such a small market, I'd love to see what they would come up with. Mac OSX is a great model for such a system.)

Proprietary networking is the bane of the marine electronics world. I believe it has only one purpose and that is to maximize profit by forcing the consumer to buy the company's product, only. I don't see where things like SeaTalk do anything but enhance Raymarine's bottom line.

Inadequate graphics hardware is also common. A friend has a very nice, one year old Garmin. Beautiful screen with lots of eye candy, but the refresh rate is painfully slow!

I mention these traits not to try and point you to a particular direction in terms of brands, but to hopefully give you some additional criteria to evaluate your decision making. It may be that you will decide to put with some networking hassle in order to get a more intuitive software system, or that you will spend more time learning a clumsy OS in order to get a fast refresh rate. You have to decide for yourself what's most important.

For myself, I ended up staying with Raymarine. While I think their plotter software has some significant drawbacks (their PC software is better, but still not great), I didn't want to spend the significant amount of time and money to re-network the boat. The refresh rate on the E120 is acceptable. Overall, it seemed the best trade-off, for me, in terms of money required vs hassle involved.

Your decisions may be completely different, though.

ID
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Old 07-12-2008, 10:48   #27
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Proprietary networking is the bane of the marine electronics world. I believe it has only one purpose and that is to maximize profit by forcing the consumer to buy the company's product, only. I don't see where things like SeaTalk do anything but enhance Raymarine's bottom line.
In my opinion this is the single biggest weakness of the Raymarine product line. Even among their own current products there are several incompatible variants of SeaTalk that it is obvious that they have no clear marketing strategy or network architecture.
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Old 07-12-2008, 11:58   #28
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Hello, this is my first post on this forum.
Glad you're here.

Quote:
So far, I have selected Raymarine for three main reasons:
Extensive rage of products: ST 70 instruments, MFD E series, integration with new CPX autopilot, wireless MOB system (a requirement), joystick (no wheel station), ...

What do you think ?
My concern about a joystick only system is this: what happens if it fails, due to say a lightning strike or a short, at an inconvenient time? You can operate mechanical or hydraulic steering under all conditions. If it fails, you often can make an emergency repair sea. On the other hand, once the electronics go, that's it.

You might consider a wireless remote to an autopilot as a substitute. If you need the space in the cockpit, a removable wheel should help with that. But when you are sailing, have them both available.
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Old 07-12-2008, 12:57   #29
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Thanks for the comments

I have been too quick in my description. I do have 2 tillers and the joystick is meant to be placed next to the engines control and used for manoeuvring. I don't know of an another choice for a joystick.

Regards

Patrice
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Old 07-12-2008, 19:48   #30
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Originally Posted by bastonjock View Post
if you are going to mount any electronics outside of your boat,check the waterproof rating of your equipment.

I have a Navman 5500 chartplotter,it comes with a bracket for mounting outside on the binacle,it allows you to turn the navman to suit your angle of viewing.

mine got a little bit wet,light to medium rain and the navman stopped working,the plugs at the rear of the unit are not fantastic,if there is a bit of wind behind the rain (f4-5) the plugs cant take it and the resulting moisture causes the pins to short out.

**********Has anyone experienced moisture problems in the display heads of Navman instruments?
I have 3 series 3100 instruments. When the moisture fogs the display it also makes the displays unreadable. I mean the actual segments do not display.***************
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