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Old 17-02-2008, 12:07   #1
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Chartplotter & Software -- Choices, choices, choices

Here I am at the Miami Show, looking around a room filled with bells, whistles and dollar signs. I came with the intent to get rid of some of my dollars in exchange for some of those bells & whistles, but have become really confused. So, dear sailing friends, help me out some, if you would.

Current system: Raymarine instruments (tridata, ST60's), Raymarine autopilot (a 6001+), an RC530+ plotter (uses C-Map NT+ chips) and a Raymarine RL70C+ radar. We have a couple of problems with the plotter and radar, but the major one is that with our over 50 eyes, we simply can't see them very well! Also, in the intervening years there has been considerable progress both in hardware and software, so we're looking at making some upgrades.

So, I'm seeking your advice and wisdom about the current systems available and what you like and don't like about them.

Our intent: We would like a dedicated chartplotter for the helm station. The use for this would primarily be for the day to day sailing functions. Particularly position and marker data for leaving/entering harbors, etc. We also want to use a PC nav system, primarily for planning, but also as inside-the-cabin nav station and for redundancy. It would be very nice if the two could communicate with each other without having to do a dance of burning and trading chips back and forth. It would also be nice to get radar overlay and weather (a la XM or Sirius as long as we're in the footprint).

So far, I've been most attracted to the C-Map Max cartography, both for the "look and feel" and that it seems to be a pretty economical system. Also, using Navsim's SailCruiser PC software, one could use the same cartography at the PC.

However, many of the other systems certainly also seem attractive. Raymarine (I believe, correct me if I'm wrong) would be easier to integrate with my current instruments and autopilot, though I am leary of the stories I hear about their reliability. Personally, I also find their software to be rather clunky and inelegant.

Furuno is offering a pretty good deal right now on their VX2 system, but the Navnet 3D looks way slick! However, I'm always suspicious of version 1 of anything, plus it simply isn't out yet and the prices of the 3D are pretty high. The VX2, though, has a lot of functionality, the prices are OK, but the largest screen for the C-Map system is 10". That is on the less attractive side of things.

Northstar and SI-TEX seem nice. They have quite clear, large screens and the prices are decent. However, they were unsure about whether the Raymarine ST60 instruments would play nicely with them.

So, what advice, feedback and guidance can you offer? What experience have you had with the systems -- integration difficulties, software wierdnesses, etc.

Thank you.

Intentional Drifter

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Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.--Ben Franklin

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Old 17-02-2008, 12:55   #2
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I highly recommend the Furuno system and are you sure you need a 21" screen at the helm station. Seems 10" is not a bad size unless you like to watch movies while underway at the helm. Initial reports form all of the testers are very good on the Furuno 3D but there systems are well known for reliability and user friendliness. Look around at the commercial fleets and see what they use. The Navnet system is just a variation of the N2K and is the next step in electronics progression. Have a look here for some of the nitty gritty Panbo: The Marine Electronics Weblog: NavNet 3D, moving toward the nitty gritty
and decide for your self.
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Old 17-02-2008, 18:50   #3
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My Garmin 5208 chartplotter/radar with touchscreen controls should show up any day now. It has all the stuff you want and the nav information on the screen is really big!

Steve B. (with 60'ish eyes)
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Old 17-02-2008, 23:39   #4
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The newest systems such as the Furuno Navnet 3D allows you to use a standard VGA computer monitor. This means you are not stuck with their proprietary screen with their font size. There are of course "waterproof" VGA screens available.

I just checked the Panbo website....nice website!

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