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Old 12-05-2022, 05:41   #1
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Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

Our boat has old - some non-functioning electronics on it that I would like to slowly start upgrading. I don't have a big budget for all brand new electronics so am looking at replacing the components piece by piece. The original equipment id pretty much all Autohelm (now Raymarine). The radar is Autohelm ST50 Plus. It has Autohelm St4000 tiller pilot. The Chartplotter is a Garmin GPSMap 230 (I wonder if it is even functional with the systems in place now). None of this equipment has ever been used. Owner installed all of it when he built the boat - splashed in '94 - and he never sailed the boat except 5 miles upriver every few years for haulout and bottom job.
I would like to start with replacing the chartplotter and would like to stay with Raymarine or something compatible with NMEA0183. But even this statement may be showing my ignorance of modern marine electronic systems.
Any suggestions on upgrading will be greatly appreciated.
NOTE: Depth finder works fine in shallow water to 25' - I haven't tested it in deep water yet. No other instruments power up yet. Likely they are just disconnected. It has wind speed, direction, and depth as well.
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Old 12-05-2022, 05:51   #2
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

You can build your own chartplotter at minimal cost using OpenCPN, an old Lap top, and a GPS Dongle.

Basically for under $20.00 if you already have a decent laptop.

You can use OpenCPN with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS's, etc

Or buy a Raspberry Pi 4 computer for around $90 and load it with OpenCPN, plus USB GPS Dongle etc. You'll also need some sort of monitor if you go this route (or HDTV)

I also have AIS displayed on my Laptop display or Raspberry pi display coming in thru an adapter from my SH VHF/GPS/AIS Radio.

https://opencpn.org/

https://opencpn.org/OpenCPN/info/downloadopencpn.html

https://openmarine.net/openplotter
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Old 12-05-2022, 08:00   #3
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

if old instruments actually work - get Raymarine ITC-5 and a Raymarine Axiom chartplotter. It won't integrate the radar or pilot, but it's probably the easiest way to go.

If the old instruments are not working - then it's going to be expensive no matter what. Since you said you don't have a big budget, I recommend building a small hodge-podge NMEA2000 network. For depth/hull speed/temp - you can buy a single retractable Airmar smart transducer with NMEA2000 output.

For wind - NASA Marine NMEA2000 wind system.

Chartplotter - Axiom 7

I would forgo the radar at the moment or look for a used D or HD version.
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Old 12-05-2022, 10:54   #4
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

Best implement a nmea2k ( seatalkng) as much as possible. In some cases using a converter like the ITC-5 can be as expensive as using original 2K transducers.

The only place Iíd say use 0183 is a top of the mast wind instrument. I donít like 2K drop cables or the backbone running up the mast.
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Old 12-05-2022, 12:11   #5
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

I'm using the NMEA 0183 lines out of my SH VHF/GPS/AIS Radio through an RS422 adapter to get the AIS and GPS data which ever computer I'm using as my chart plotter for that trip. (OpenCPN)

It works fine. The data rate is enough for this.

I have a few different adapters.

https://www.amazon.com/DSD-TECH-Conv...88473584&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/COMMFRONT-Ada.../dp/B08R8F4D39
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Old 12-05-2022, 15:25   #6
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

Quote:
Originally Posted by clausont View Post
Our boat has old - some non-functioning electronics on it that I would like to slowly start upgrading. I don't have a big budget for all brand new electronics so am looking at replacing the components piece by piece. The original equipment id pretty much all Autohelm (now Raymarine). The radar is Autohelm ST50 Plus. It has Autohelm St4000 tiller pilot. The Chartplotter is a Garmin GPSMap 230 (I wonder if it is even functional with the systems in place now). None of this equipment has ever been used. Owner installed all of it when he built the boat - splashed in '94 - and he never sailed the boat except 5 miles upriver every few years for haulout and bottom job.
I would like to start with replacing the chartplotter and would like to stay with Raymarine or something compatible with NMEA0183. But even this statement may be showing my ignorance of modern marine electronic systems.
Any suggestions on upgrading will be greatly appreciated.
NOTE: Depth finder works fine in shallow water to 25' - I haven't tested it in deep water yet. No other instruments power up yet. Likely they are just disconnected. It has wind speed, direction, and depth as well.
This post sure reads like one we answered not long ago.

It doesn't sound like you have done a thorough inventory and testing of what you have to determine what you truly need. So, my recommendation is to postpone any buying of electronics until you have spent some time actually using the boat, particularly beyond a 25' depth.

Just because some electronics are old doesn't mean you have to spend any of that limited budget of yours on new stuff. Take my word for it there will be plenty of things to spend money on as your ownership progresses.

To sail safely (electronically speaking) you need wind, speed, depth, heading, GPS, VHF, and charts...this stuff doesn't have to be integrated to be useful. It sounds like you have much of it already. We all would like to have the latest and greatest electronics but next year they will all be out of date anyway. If something doesn't work then consider replacing it. Otherwise, you are just appealing to new owner "gotta-have-it" urges and you haven't even used the boat much. Ownership of wizardly gear doesn't make you a good sailor, sailing does.

Good Luck.
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Old 12-05-2022, 15:37   #7
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

Your goal is to 1) keep costs down and 2) gradually upgrade in the future. I would add that you probably want a robust system that 3) works in the cockpit, 4) does not require much technical skill, and 5) have it working for this summer (?).

I would start by keeping the existing transducers and instruments, assuming that they function and have 0183 outputs. If they don't have 0183 then they can either be replaced with modern transducers or adapted (e.g. with an ITC-5). Personally I would not buy the adapter and instead use the money to buy newer N2K smart transducers. The depth/speed/temp transducers are all made by Airmar so buy their brand instead of paying more for the same thing with a different label.The upshot is that there should be a chartplotter that can do both 0183 and N2K, which allows for using older devices while adding newer technology. The idea is to have a path for eventually moving to N2K while still using the existing equipment.

To keep the cost of entry down consider buying a used Furuno MFD8 or MFD12 for a few hundred dollars; they were introduced 13 years ago but are still supported with free NOAA U.S. charts updated annually, and other charts can still be bought (in current format). These Furuno chartplotters have N2K and three 0183 interfaces so could be used now and support an N2K buildout in the future. Or buy a new chartplotter if you can find one that still has 0183 (in addition to N2K), or add a 0183 to N2K adapter. If you have the money then go with new and have that part current, but the used approach is also a good alternative (with the right chartplotter). N.B.: Many older chartplotters are no longer supported with current charts, and almost all will require new U.S. charts if possible, which is one reason I recommended that specific model - in addition to its superior quality and features.

You did not indicate where in the PNW you are, and where you intend to sail the boat. If you are planning on visiting the Puget Sound or the coast then a functioning radar is highly desirable. If you can get the existing one working then stick with it until you are ready to buy a new chartplotter (when you will want to buy a matching radar if desired). If you are up the Columbia River then radar is not an immediate concern.

If you are a computer geek and/or electronics hobbyist then using an old laptop or putting nav software on a Pi is a viable solution. If not then stick with plug-and-play, at least for the time being.

Keep in mind that the eventual goal is to have an N2K based system with a capable chartplotter/radar at its heart (assuming you plan on keeping the boat). The point of continuing to use the older equipment is just to spread the upgrade out over time. Thus spending more money to enable the use of older equipment has to be evaluated in comparison to the cost of upgrades.

Greg
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Old 12-05-2022, 16:38   #8
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

So here is the computer hobbyist (tech actually) version of a DIY chartplotter using a Raspberry Pi 4, HDTV for a monitor, and free OpenCPN Charts. (with AIS and GPS coming in from a SH 2400 VHF/GPS/AIS Radio)

Plus backup GPS Dongle on Priority 1. GPS from VHF on Priority 0 if I remember correctly

Since this was my first shot at it I spent too much at around $200.00. (but you can also watch TV on the HDTV Monitor with all those strange channels the best being PBS) Plus you can also watch movies or videos on the chartplotter monitor.

When I put my old laptop onboard this year, it will cost nothing for the chartplotter. I did buy a $12.00 USB GPS wireless Dongle for it though and have already tested it here at my apt.

https://www.amazon.com/HiLetgo-G-Mou...398641&sr=8-10

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Old 12-05-2022, 20:01   #9
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

Quote:
Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
You can build your own chartplotter at minimal cost using OpenCPN, an old Lap top, and a GPS Dongle.

Basically for under $20.00 if you already have a decent laptop.

You can use OpenCPN with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS's, etc

Or buy a Raspberry Pi 4 computer for around $90 and load it with OpenCPN, plus USB GPS Dongle etc. You'll also need some sort of monitor if you go this route (or HDTV)

I also have AIS displayed on my Laptop display or Raspberry pi display coming in thru an adapter from my SH VHF/GPS/AIS Radio.

https://opencpn.org/

https://opencpn.org/OpenCPN/info/downloadopencpn.html

https://openmarine.net/openplotter
I actually already have an old laptop with OpenCPN set up on it and an inexpensive GPD - USB dongle. I still have to test it, but it worked ten or more years ago when I was messing with it on our Ingrid 38. Great system. I only intend to upgrade the components that are necessary at the time. Thanks
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Old 12-05-2022, 20:04   #10
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

Quote:
Originally Posted by George_SD View Post
if old instruments actually work - get Raymarine ITC-5 and a Raymarine Axiom chartplotter. It won't integrate the radar or pilot, but it's probably the easiest way to go.

If the old instruments are not working - then it's going to be expensive no matter what. Since you said you don't have a big budget, I recommend building a small hodge-podge NMEA2000 network. For depth/hull speed/temp - you can buy a single retractable Airmar smart transducer with NMEA2000 output.

For wind - NASA Marine NMEA2000 wind system.

Chartplotter - Axiom 7

I would forgo the radar at the moment or look for a used D or HD version.
I saw the axiom 7 advertised yesterday. The only thing that I didn't like about it was no depth, but really, my depth find seems to be working fine so it's not an absolute necessity.
The Airmar transducer sounds like a good deal. I'll look into that. Thanks!
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Old 12-05-2022, 20:09   #11
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
Best implement a nmea2k ( seatalkng) as much as possible. In some cases using a converter like the ITC-5 can be as expensive as using original 2K transducers.

The only place Iíd say use 0183 is a top of the mast wind instrument. I donít like 2K drop cables or the backbone running up the mast.
Sounds good. That is a big part I was wondering about. I do know that the wind instrument is non-functional due to a broken sender at the top of the mast. Depending on what exactly it is, I may be able to get that part going again.
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Old 12-05-2022, 20:10   #12
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

Quote:
Originally Posted by thomm225 View Post
I'm using the NMEA 0183 lines out of my SH VHF/GPS/AIS Radio through an RS422 adapter to get the AIS and GPS data which ever computer I'm using as my chart plotter for that trip. (OpenCPN)

It works fine. The data rate is enough for this.

I have a few different adapters.

https://www.amazon.com/DSD-TECH-Conv...88473584&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/COMMFRONT-Ada.../dp/B08R8F4D39
Thanks - I'll look into this.
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Old 12-05-2022, 20:19   #13
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJH View Post
This post sure reads like one we answered not long ago.

It doesn't sound like you have done a thorough inventory and testing of what you have to determine what you truly need. So, my recommendation is to postpone any buying of electronics until you have spent some time actually using the boat, particularly beyond a 25' depth.

Just because some electronics are old doesn't mean you have to spend any of that limited budget of yours on new stuff. Take my word for it there will be plenty of things to spend money on as your ownership progresses.

To sail safely (electronically speaking) you need wind, speed, depth, heading, GPS, VHF, and charts...this stuff doesn't have to be integrated to be useful. It sounds like you have much of it already. We all would like to have the latest and greatest electronics but next year they will all be out of date anyway. If something doesn't work then consider replacing it. Otherwise, you are just appealing to new owner "gotta-have-it" urges and you haven't even used the boat much. Ownership of wizardly gear doesn't make you a good sailor, sailing does.

Good Luck.
Do you have a link to that thread? I would like to read through it also.
You are correct - I haven't inventoried everything yet. Radar and Chartplotter are non-functional at the moment, but I think power has been disconnected from them. If I can get the radar working, I will be happy with that part for now. Actually, I am not much into the latest, greatest on anything. Much more into tried and true I do believe technology has come a long way since the mid-1990's. One big question I have with the GPS - chartplotter is, "Is this technology still viable?" In other words, will this old GPS even work with today's Global Positioning Systems? If not, I will replace it for sure. My depth finder seems to work, so no need to replace that unless there is some compelling reason to upgrade. The radar? Well, the old Furuno radar on our Ingrid 38 served me well in 2008 - 2010 sailing Puget Sound and down the coast or Oregon and Washington. If it will function - no need to upgrade for now. Still has a good bulkhead mounted magnetic compass of course.
So true on so many other things to spend money on a boat! Thanks
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Old 12-05-2022, 20:39   #14
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
Your goal is to 1) keep costs down and 2) gradually upgrade in the future. I would add that you probably want a robust system that 3) works in the cockpit, 4) does not require much technical skill, and 5) have it working for this summer (?).
Correct. This summer would be nice, but probably won't be complete by this summer. Hopefully the basics will be functional by then.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
I would start by keeping the existing transducers and instruments, assuming that they function and have 0183 outputs. If they don't have 0183 then they can either be replaced with modern transducers or adapted (e.g. with an ITC-5). Personally I would not buy the adapter and instead use the money to buy newer N2K smart transducers. The depth/speed/temp transducers are all made by Airmar so buy their brand instead of paying more for the same thing with a different label.The upshot is that there should be a chartplotter that can do both 0183 and N2K, which allows for using older devices while adding newer technology. The idea is to have a path for eventually moving to N2K while still using the existing equipment.
Yes - I plan on keeping everything that is functional. So far, the only one that I know for sure works is depth. But I will be working on the others in the next couple weeks and see what really needs replaced and what can stay for now. I am thinking the GPS - Chartplotter will need to be replaced since it is older technology that may not even be compatible with modern GPS. I will be happy if I am wrong and it will actually work! Good advice on buying the newer N2K equipment.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
To keep the cost of entry down consider buying a used Furuno MFD8 or MFD12 for a few hundred dollars; they were introduced 13 years ago but are still supported with free NOAA U.S. charts updated annually, and other charts can still be bought (in current format). These Furuno chartplotters have N2K and three 0183 interfaces so could be used now and support an N2K buildout in the future. Or buy a new chartplotter if you can find one that still has 0183 (in addition to N2K), or add a 0183 to N2K adapter. If you have the money then go with new and have that part current, but the used approach is also a good alternative (with the right chartplotter). N.B.: Many older chartplotters are no longer supported with current charts, and almost all will require new U.S. charts if possible, which is one reason I recommended that specific model - in addition to its superior quality and features.
I'm all for the less expensive used equipment. Thanks for the suggestions on the Furuno units - I will look for one and see what I come up with.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
You did not indicate where in the PNW you are, and where you intend to sail the boat. If you are planning on visiting the Puget Sound or the coast then a functioning radar is highly desirable. If you can get the existing one working then stick with it until you are ready to buy a new chartplotter (when you will want to buy a matching radar if desired). If you are up the Columbia River then radar is not an immediate concern.
We are in Warrenton, OR (Astoria area). I feel that radar will be pretty much a necessity as will a good chart plotter. We will be sailing both in the river and across the bar. Spending some time up in Puget Sound again will be a goal as well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
If you are a computer geek and/or electronics hobbyist then using an old laptop or putting nav software on a Pi is a viable solution. If not then stick with plug-and-play, at least for the time being.
I do have a laptop set up with OpenCPN and a dongle that I will be using interim.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarinaPDX View Post
Keep in mind that the eventual goal is to have an N2K based system with a capable chartplotter/radar at its heart (assuming you plan on keeping the boat). The point of continuing to use the older equipment is just to spread the upgrade out over time. Thus spending more money to enable the use of older equipment has to be evaluated in comparison to the cost of upgrades.

Greg
That's exactly it Greg. I am just way behind the curve on modern electronics so need a crash course Thanks!
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Old 12-05-2022, 20:49   #15
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Re: Upgrading Old Electronics (Circa 1995)

Just for reference that I'm not new to sailing: 2008 - 40 miles off the Columbia River with my kids on our Ingrid 38.
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