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Old 29-09-2008, 15:25   #1
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Which electronics brand?

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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.
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Old 29-09-2008, 15:44   #2
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Raymarine seems to have the market cornered these days for an integrated package. I have the whole Raymarine package and have two complaints. The wind instrument acts up a lot and the chartplotter takes Navionics chips which are really bad if you sail in the Bahamas. The rest - radar, autopilot, depth etc. are fine. Have had these for four years.
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Old 29-09-2008, 16:28   #3
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Pricing these days favors the integrated package bundle. It's set up to attract all the boat manufacturers. It's about the only affordable way to get the integrated daylight display panel that shows everything integrated and has the added advantage of multiple display stations.

As Rick notes Raymarine is well on the way toward global domination. I expect they will have cell phones and cable TV soon.

Things to consider. Installation is not to be discounted or ignored. I installed a TackTick wireless system for a wind instrument when I found out the cost of pulling the keel stepped mast was more than the wind instrument. Tacktick does not have a radar or chart plotter however they do have a NMEA bus integration.

I think it is less about brand names that about anything else. I don't like Raymarine autopilots. They are not as smart as Simrad autopilots. I have had both but have the Raymarine ST7000 currently.

If you don't want the integrated radar display / chart plotter then the choices open up a great deal. Our last boat had the best radar display I thought. It was a 24 mile Furuno with the LCD panel on a swing arm. You could have it over the Nav station or in the companion way. It also displayed NMEA data as well as radar. I prefer 36 mile radar mostly for tracking thunderstorms. We don't get a lot of fog but we do get thunderstorms. It's always nice to know you will be missed when it appears on the radar that you will.

I don't like chart plotters all that much. I'm more inclined to plot a course and upload the route to a GPS. You do need to plot courses as eye balling a chart plotter seems better than it works out.
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Old 29-09-2008, 17:33   #4
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If you are looking for an integrated system, then Raytheon and Furuno have the best systems for pleasure boats. If your electronic instruments do not need to integrate, then its best to pick and choose amongst all the manufacturers.
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Old 29-09-2008, 17:56   #5
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As an owner of a Raymarine C 80 I can declare that they user interface is awful.
There is lots of crap in there and a MFD seems neat, but if it goes south you lose a lot of data.
I prefer Furuno or Garmin.
My recommendation is to get an MFD and use it as a radar and perhaps add in inexpensive AIS such as the NASA.
Get a separate hand held plotter for use in the cockpit. I have one and I don’t use the nav station plotter as a plotter.
I DO have cockpit repeaters for the GPS functions so I can load a waypoint at the nav station and see the “progress” data in the cockpit. For a picture I use the hand held.
I would not integrate the autopilot with the GPS. Get a stand alone unit - take the course to waypoint data from your GPS and input it into the auto pilot.
I have an Alpha 3000 which I am very pleased with (below decks) and especially like the way it has a 360° dial /compass interface for setting courses. I do not like the push button autopilots increments of 10 and 1 degree.
The KVH sail comp is a flux gate, can export to an MFD and is a GPS repeater. Reliable.
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Old 29-09-2008, 18:40   #6
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As a certified Raymarine tech doing installations and service for years I feel qualified to say, run don't walk away from Raymarine. It is great for me since most dealers now install it on new boats and I get to make a lot of money doing service and warranty work. If you want the good dependable well built stuff go Furuno and get the new N2K system since that is what the future will be. Garmin is still a good system but they have been having their problems lately although not so bad that I would not recommend. Best autopilot on the planet built by a small outfit called WH Autopilots in Washington state. But this is just my opinion.
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Old 29-09-2008, 18:49   #7
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10 years of Raymarine products and no problems. I can't say that for the other products I have owned. All my current instruments are integrated Raymarine and I couldn't be happier. I am always very happy when I don't have problems.
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Old 29-09-2008, 18:59   #8
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Raymarine sold a generation of chartplotters to customers using C-MapNT cartridges...then they changed vendors to Navionics (for no apparent good reason as both provide good products) and now if we want to upgrade a plotter we need to throw away several thousand $$'s of charts. For that...they will never get more of my business if I have another choice.
I like the Garmin stuff a lot and their new radar integration is inexpensive and neat.
For a below deck autopilot...the Simrad I now have just blows away the Raymarine in terms of responsiveness, contro and reliability. I have heard good things about WP as well.
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Old 29-09-2008, 18:59   #9
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Originally Posted by Jentine View Post
10 years of Raymarine products and no problems. I can't say that for the other products I have owned. All my current instruments are integrated Raymarine and I couldn't be happier. I am always very happy when I don't have problems.
Jim

Someone always pops up and states how great their Raymarine equipment is and sometimes they do get it right but many times not. I speak from doing hundreds of Raymarine installations of new equipment and even hundreds more boats that I have serviced with faulty Raymarine equipment. My abilities are not limited to Raymarine and on a rare occasion I have had to work on other equipment. But good old Raymarine keeps me working pretty steady.
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Old 29-09-2008, 20:33   #10
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Thanks for your valued advice Chuck

My Radar and Chart plotter (laptop driven) are stand alone and can be monitored from the cockpit thru looking inside rear facing cockpit windows

I want to upgrade my Depth/wind/GPS/fluxgate system as the existing VDO nav units no longer have support.

I’d like to place that monitor right at the helm and need it to be weatherproof.

Chuck, commercially I have always bought big Furuno stuff, but have not looked at the smaller yacht models and it is hard to see demos in Manila.


What I am looking for is a good video sounder that can also display wind, heading and posn. …. and that would fit under the steering compass platform you can see on 2nd photo..... what would you recommend?

Thanks
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Old 29-09-2008, 21:05   #11
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Here are some possibilities

Panbo: The Marine Electronics Weblog: Planar LX, first impressions
Panbo: The Marine Electronics Weblog: NN3D & N2K, sweeeet!
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Old 29-09-2008, 22:34   #12
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I've had boats with both Raymarine (actually Raytheon era) and Furuno. Been happy with both but I'm looking very hard at Garmin for the next boat. Every year they seem to get better and this year they seem to have put it all together. I thought their touch screeen was a gimmick until I tried it. I find it much faster to work with than any other system - including the new Furuno. Just a personal opinion - and one that surprises me.

Furuno certainly has a great reputation in the commerical fishing market but I'm not always happy about how it scales down to a small screen. Always too many buttons and knobs for my simple needs.

Somehow Garmin cranks out millions of cheap car GPS units that don't need a manual while still building incredibly technical "glass cockpits" for airplanes. By the way, I'm hoping to meet the young lady who is the "Australian" voice on my car GPS. The button says her name is "Karen". Garmin wouldn't make that up, would they?

The marine network gear now ranges from 5" to 15" screen size - with and without buttons all with a simple ethernet type of cable. They also have new instruments including an interesting new wind unit.

I just get the feeling that Garmin plans to keep investing until they win in the boat market too. They've certainly got the financial strength.

I'd be interested in other's experience with the newer Garmin equipment.

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Old 30-09-2008, 00:33   #13
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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.
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Old 30-09-2008, 00:56   #14
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Originally Posted by camaraderie View Post
Raymarine sold a generation of chartplotters to customers using C-MapNT cartridges...then they changed vendors to Navionics (for no apparent good reason as both provide good products) and now if we want to upgrade a plotter we need to throw away several thousand $$'s of charts. For that...they will never get more of my business if I have another choice.
I like the Garmin stuff a lot and their new radar integration is inexpensive and neat.
For a below deck autopilot...the Simrad I now have just blows away the Raymarine in terms of responsiveness, contro and reliability. I have heard good things about WP as well.
I would agree with you about Garmin and WP, although I don't have a WP...just did a lot of reading about them.

I have the Garmin 12" 3210 plotter, and a a Garmin kW radome that overlays. I had it installed two years ago, and haven't had any problems with them. I don't know about the other brands, but I like that I can download software updates from Garmin, and install them on my system at the boat.
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Old 30-11-2008, 21:38   #15
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We have Raymarine autopilot, radar and instruments.
We are happy with the autopilot and depthsounder.
The speedometer works about 20% of the time, as the paddlewheel gets stuck after approx one week at the anchorage and we don't always feel like diving to clean it up just before leaving and access from inside the boat requires moving too much stuff. It's a real pity as this technology used to work rather well 20 years ago. It really looks like they work hard at making simple thing fail.
The wind instrument has been our biggest problem: the first 2 were destroyed by lightning: one in 2005 and the other in 2006. Each time, we had to replace both transducer and display, as you can't buy them separately and each time, it takes over an hour with someone at the top of the mast to take out the old cable and send down the new one. So our current Raymarine wind instrument is an ST60 Plus installed in Feb. 2007.... and it just stopped working after 2 days of tacking in 25 to 35kn wind. It now gives us garbage data half the time.

We are starting to look seriously at Tacktick and would appreciate any feedback on their wind instrument. Does it work fine? does it interfere with othe electronics, radios, etc.? does it hold the charge during coudy days and nights during passages? Is the transceiver rugged?
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