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Old 20-06-2021, 03:22   #1
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Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

After 20 years, I have been once again been bitten by the bug.

Just purchased an old Pearson 424 sloop without a stitch of electronics.

Back in the day, Raymarine owned the world and it was easy to select what I needed, and off I went.

Today, it seems most of the retailers do not even carry their products. Simrad, B&G and Garmin are the soup du jour.

I need a chart plotter with integrated radar. That seems easy enough. It's all greek after that.

Ideally, I would like to be able to chart my course at home on a laptop or at the nav station. What do I need to accomplish this?

Also, I saw a video on youtube that shows a boat with a screen at the nav station with what appears to be live weather radar like you see on TV. Is this from a PC or is it another wonder box?

I sincerely appreciate any assistance here. This is price gear and do not want to buy something that is overkill or does not provide what I need.

Finally, is there a brand to stay clear of or are they basically the same?

Thanks for helping an old salt out.
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Old 20-06-2021, 04:34   #2
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

Need to provide some details of where you are located. I believe live weather is available in the US from some systems.

OpenCPN is a free system that you can plan your course at home then transfer the route to a plotter on the boat via a micro sd card. I do this myself with my Raymarine plotter at the helm.

Regarding radar, suggest you stick with the same radar as your plotter, mixing and matching can be difficult. Raymarine, B&G/Simrad, Garmin and Furuno all offer decent radar and plotter systems.

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Old 20-06-2021, 05:06   #3
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

General questions, Clamcake. Do you want an integrated glass cockpit or individual instruments? What's your budget?

An integrated system means one source, everything on one screen, and higher cost. It's the rage, as it were. It may even be necessary if you have very little space for instruments or need the software to integrate information for you, as in the radar/plotter system you mention. A non-integrated system is cheaper, allows you to pick and choose components, allows you to replace units rather than the whole thing when it gets old, and leaves you with most of your information when one component goes belly up, rather than a single puff of smoke (your monitor, for example) leaving you with nothing. I prefer individual instruments, have no trouble integrating information, have a tight budget, and have lots of panel space.

So, at the integrated end choose a manufacturer (Garmin gets good reviews) and build from there. At the other end, OpenCPN on a refurbished laptop with a $20 GPS antenna does the plotter part. Wireless radar and a refurbished iPad does the radar part. Ans so on.

You choose your strategy. Good luck with it, and congratulations on the boat.
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Old 20-06-2021, 05:09   #4
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

Oh. Decide on a component list:
VHF
plotter
AIS (transmitter, not just receiver)
depth sounder
radar
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Old 20-06-2021, 05:12   #5
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

Thanks, guys!

I am in Rhode Island.

Are there "paid" alternatives to OpenCPN?

I have no issues with free/open source, but at times they can be troublesome. Have no idea if this is the case.

I visited their site and did see you can overlay something called Fax Weather to the charts. That is pretty wild!
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Old 20-06-2021, 05:36   #6
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

Coastal explorer, Rosepoint
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Old 20-06-2021, 06:15   #7
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

OpenCPN was (and continues to be) written by tech gurus on this forum. It has gradually evolved, with quirks like difficultly making an anchor watch gradually overcome. The questions posed on the forum about it today tend to regard very technical corners of the freeware. It does a very good job of integrating charts of all sorts from all sources, all for free, while commercial systems may get their blood money from selling you their charts.

We use it and have come to like it. It means that my total investment in plotter function is about $250, including a separate monitor at the helm. A child proof Lenovo laptop runs it just fine, and can be used for other functions as well.

Redundancy: Consider this in your planning. The Lenovo/OpenCPN has it's antenna. We run an obsolete Garmin GPS off eBay (location course, speed) that can be used for nav. Our Chinese AIS has nav function hidden in it. The paper chart gets updated each half hour. A lightning strike could reduce us to dead reckoning from where we were 15 minutes ago, but that's a really worst case scenario. In the general case, we're covered, and for very little money.
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Old 20-06-2021, 06:39   #8
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

Thanks, Keith!

You folks are great.

Will download and play around with it.

The "price is right".
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Old 20-06-2021, 06:43   #9
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

OpenCPN and Navionics (now owned by Garmin) are great low cost options for a chart plotter, but if you want integrated radar, AIS, weather (I know, openCPN does AIS), you will probably have to go with a more pricey integrated system. Raymarine is still very popular even if not in the shops you've seen. Raymarine and Garmin are probably the Ford and Chevy, offering good products for competitive prices, but try to appeal to sailors, power boaters, and fishermen alike. B&G is more expensive, but provides more focus on the needs of sailors. B&G's sister companies, Simrad and Lowrance, focus on power boaters and fishermen. Raymarine tried to provide sailing specific versions of its software, but never seemed to take hold.
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Old 20-06-2021, 06:53   #10
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

Hi JPB-

Now I am confused again.

I have been looking at a chart plotter/radar package on a couple of sites and it all shows up on the screen at the helm.

So....can't I use OpenCPN to plot a trip on a laptop, then download it to a SD card and I guess stick it into unit at the helm?

I don't really need the laptop to "talk" to the plotter. It would be nice, but not for a boat buck.

I can check the weather whilst I am down below to grab a sammie or a beer.
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Old 20-06-2021, 07:04   #11
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

Oh yes, OpenCPN will certainly export trips in GPX format. Whether your instruments can import depends on your instruments. You can also network OpenCPN if your instruments support it. My needs are somewhat less than yours (no radar, no AIS) but I have a wifi/NMEA 2000/NMEA 0183 adapter that allows OpenCPN to use and send navigation data to my instruments and auto pilot. I don't have a separate chart plotter.

Integrated radar is something else, but if you are getting an integrated chart plotter radar package, you are good with or without OpenCPN.
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Old 20-06-2021, 08:23   #12
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

Quote:
Originally Posted by clamcake View Post
I have been looking at a chart plotter/radar package on a couple of sites and it all shows up on the screen at the helm.
Clamcake,

today probably the part affecting the decision most is the radar. Here you can choose basically between Navico (B&G, Simrad, Lowrance), Raymarine, Garmin and Furuno. Whatever you choose here will probably define the rest of your choices, because these days the radars integrate with everything else.

Another big decision is whether you need a chart plotter at the helm. If you do, you need to get one from the big brands and hope it'll work well enough in bright sunlight. Homebrewn solutions with OpenCPN work quite well under deck at the navstation, but I have yet to see one solution working well at the helm. All those tablet solutions aren't too great in sunshine and heat. And if you go with a helm-console, it's cost you another $3k to $5k. If your cruising doesn't require you having a videogame at the helm, you can save a lot of money.

For interconnections, the radar is usually Ethernet and the rest in via NMEA-2000. You should plan to have at one unit in the system to feed the NMEA-2000 data to Wifi so that you can do all you planning on your PC or tablet. Here you need to be a bit careful that it play well with your rest Wifi on board, otherwise you end up with two networks not talking to each other.

AIS-transponder and GPS are usually one unit, but you have more leeway to choose what to get, as long as you go with NMEA-2000.
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Old 20-06-2021, 08:44   #13
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

On my last boat, I had a Raymarine plotter and radar installed. I could divide the screen up to show the chart, speed/eta, as well as radar.

This was my first experience with this gear. At the time, I was sailing out of San Diego. Anyone from that area knows that there is a ton of traffic inside and outside the harbor including the naval fleet and the subs.

It is coastal sailing there and you also have to be real careful at Point Loma as there are massive kelp beds there. Cut inside channel markers at the entrance and you are in trouble.

I only used the radar at night or when there was light fog or haze. The screen was clear during the day. Nothing like say a tablet or cellphone.

I haven't selected a brand as of yet. It will undoubtedly be based on price.

I don't need independent depth and speed instruments. I am familiar with the waters and the chart depths are enough. GPS speed is fine as well as I cruise.
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Old 20-06-2021, 09:20   #14
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

All the "big" manufacturers (Raymarine, B&G, Garmin, etc.) offer integrated chartplotter/radar solutions, just choose your favorite.
As for charting your routes at home, that depends on what navigation software you run on your laptop/tablet at home. The way it works is you do the route on the laptop/tablet and then transfer it to the chartplotter when you get to the boat.
TimeZero is the easiest for that, but the full-fledged version is expensive and requires Windows (the TimeZero app for the Mac/iPad is an alternative, but does not have all the features of the one for Windows). If your chartplotter is connected to the other instruments on the boat using WiFi (most manufacturers offer that), you just connect your laptop/tablet to that WiFi when you get to the boat and you can transfer your routes over the air.
If you instead use the Navionics app for doing the routing on the laptop/tablet, it is a bit more complicated because only the waypoints can be transferred, not the routes (at least it is that way with B&G, but likely with others as well). After you complete the routing, you download the viewpoints on a stick, then transfer them to the chartplotter, then re-generate the routes on the chartplotter.
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Old 20-06-2021, 09:24   #15
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Re: Assistance Needed With Today's Electronics

Most of these points were already made but I'll throw in my 2 cents worth.

OpenCPMN is great BUT no standard laptop or pad is visible daylight in the cockpit. I have found a few screens on the net that claim daylight visible but they're not cheap and I wonder how waterproof.

In my case, I occasionally really want a good screen and charts at the helm so went with a commercial chart plotter. So which one.

Garmin. I have one and have a love/hate relationship with the brand. Works great, very reliable, cost effective, intuitive BUT Garmin upgrades their system every so often and old products are no longer supported. You can't even get new chart chips for them. $%@#$%!!!!!!!!!!

Have not used a plotter from any other makers but they all have one. Furuno, B&G/Simrad make good stuff in general. Raymarine as well but they use a proprietary cable for their network that takes an adapter to connect to the standard cable used by most other makers, called devicenet.
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