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Old 02-21-2015, 06:19 AM   #21
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I love my little Garman entry level 740. It got us from Tampa to Key West to Annapolis.
No sonar, but we did bump once though.

I just got a letter from ActiveCaptain. Furuno is introducing software for their units that will layer ActiveCapt data on their plotters. That could be a tipping point for me if I were on the fence.
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Old 02-21-2015, 06:58 AM   #22
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No Mast, just out of curiosity, what models furuno chart plotter and radar do you currently have, and what model Simrad auto pilot?
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Old 02-21-2015, 08:04 AM   #23
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To the OP:

1. Are you installing a computer based plotting system? Neither Garmin or Furuno chart plotters are user friendly in comparison to Trident, Rose Point or a few others out there.

2. Do you have a NMEA 2000 backbone installed?

3. What data do you want on what screen? This would include data from AIS, sounder, weather, cameras, Radar, plotter etc.

4. Will you eventually replace your AP, with whose?

If not done already the recent threads by TwistedTree may prove helpful.
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Old 02-21-2015, 08:17 AM   #24
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Metal or plastic, Furuno or Raymarine, marine or laptop.....

All it takes is one poorly engineered or produced solder joint and you are staring at an expensive box with the navigation capability of a cinder block.

Seems like all the big boys...and remember Garmin is the new kid on the block in some ways....have a line go bad or be not user friendly, etc.

Recently the giant Simrad seems to have fallen from favor for a variety of reasons.

I agree that for interior pilothouses, glass cockpits time has come. The number one issue is laying out the available data in such a way you can receive it so that on the dark and foggy you aren't overwhelmed yet get enough you won't ignore a serious navigation or onboard systems issue.

On the other hand, I have had my full of flying on instruments and only have enough instruments to let me continue for a bit in fog or dark safely. I am a fair weather cruiser so my suit costs less than most Glass screens, yet I feel safe enough to travel 3000 miles a year. My boat isn't n attack sub...so the inexpensive basics are plenty.

Most boat owners can't use the simple stuff to their extent and just like the look or capabilities of the system but can't boat enough to really learn and practice with the gear...heck most commercial guys don't.

It would be nice to crystal ball into the future to see who is at least headed in the right direction...but all we can do is set up systems that allow flexibility to expand and change out components that allow the best flexibility.

I was still in the marine electronics business when networking was starting to mature...even then I mostly recommended something from each of the manufacturers had strong points for each of the different components. Though not in to my elbows anymore, I think I still would build custom setups rather than mega packages based on reviews, not marketing.
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Old 02-21-2015, 09:20 AM   #25
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There are so many factors at play in the decision to re-up the electronics in a trawler. There's just no way a single sentence can describe all the issues and it's really unfair to say that one manufacturer's product line is XYZ compared to another (more reliable, more rugged, more anything).

I went through this entire exercise a couple of years ago and I help others go through it about every week. I think the best helm is a combination of off-the-shelf MFD chartplotter products and generic computer products (Windows, iPads, etc). That combination, I believe, gives the best in redundancy and capability for every environment you'll face in a trawler.

Never compromise ease-of-use. It's not good enough if you're the only one on the boat capable of operating the electronics systems. There was just an incident on the Chesapeake 18 months ago where the skipper was incapacitated and his wife was unable to disengage the autopilot. It took a very dangerous situation and added additional layers of complication that could have cost both people their lives.

The way I started my exploration was to come up with a set of tasks that I felt were important (adjusting a route while underway, turning on and off radar, verifying GPS operation, etc). I wrote those tasks down and handed them to my wife. She has never read a manual and isn't the type who will start doing it now but she understood the need to be able to use the systems. We went to the Annapolis Boat Show where all 4 major vendors had booths. She ran through that list, unassisted, on each of the major chartplotter/instrument systems. We narrowed the list down to 2 vendors from her hit/miss findings. But in discussing it all, she said that she just liked one set of products more than the other. That's what kicked off the purchase.

Every one of these vendors have great products. Some have better service than others although that's changing because you can't get away with crummy customer service today.

One experience thing that I learned too after having a trawler that draws 6 feet with our ICW-twice-a-year travels:

Side scan sonar might be of value - I don't really know. But what I know works exceptionally well is having two transducers as far apart as possible with the numeric display of depth showing simultaneously from each side. After 12 years of using this setup (changing it out for better transducers as part of our recent upgrade), I know that this provides incredible value when looking for the actual channel location. Seeing a difference of 0.3 feet between the sensors is enough to give real information. Veering off to the side of a channel immediately shows where the deeper water is and the couple of times I've grounded to a stop in the middle of the channel, it has given me the information to know which way to wiggle off (which worked both times unassisted). Having multiple depth transducers might produce some special installation issues/displays because although NMEA2K supports multiple transducers, some MFD/instrument displays don't expect it and show only one.
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Old 02-21-2015, 09:30 AM   #26
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I have Garmin everything, including the auto pilot. I works great. They all talk to each other and I have zero issues.
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Old 02-21-2015, 09:51 AM   #27
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Twisted tree:
Currently installed:
chart plotter is a Simrad DS 54
Autopilot controller Simrad AP 25
I don't recall the radar model installed. But it is a Furuno original to the boat.

4712: I was unaware of the shortcoming in the garmin coverage area. That could be a strike against Garmin. Need to look at that closer.

Jeffrey: Yes our draw is equivalent to yours and we have a depth transducer on each side. I agree that it is useful in the ICW. Our idea with the side scan is to have more info instead of a pinpoint depth at one spot on either side under the boat. Your idea on how to put the admiral in front of the systems is a great one! and one I'll duplicate in the future as we continue to look at this.

psneeld: We use a laptop running nobletec as a backup, ok we use it more of a primary actually, but I have cold feet about making the main systems PC based. Probably I don't know enough about doing so, and am concerned when i have an issue two vendors are going to point their fingers at microsoft, and they.... Or that some automatic update will create a problem when I turn it all on.
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Old 02-21-2015, 10:05 AM   #28
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I think Jeff is on the right track here. Focus on what you want to be able to do, make a clear list, then look at products and techniques to accomplish what you want. Then, from the brands that meet your needs, go check out their reputation, customer service, and look for customer feedback. If I've learned anything about marine electronics, it's that there is too much too them to fully evaluate before purchase. You won't know what you really have until it's too late. So talking to others who have gone before you is critical.

I would recommend against just buying into a brand. Doing so is a hollow decision. I bought based on brand on my Grand Banks (Furuno) and ended up disappointed with the NN3D products.

On my nordy I bought based on an pretty extensive evaluation and ended up with Simrad. Owner feedback suggested poor customer support. That ended up being true many times over. And I discovered loads of problems with the Simrad products and ultimately removed them all. That's an example of "you don't know what you have until it's too late".

Now the third time I'm again picking based on product comparisons and features, but also with an ever accumulating knowledge base which helps a lot. I'm ending up back with Furuno, but because of specific product capabilities, not because of Brand. And also because of demonstrated excellent customer support. Will there be new unforeseen problems? Yes, I'm sure there will be. I just hope they aren't as fatal as the Simrad issues were.
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Old 02-21-2015, 10:25 AM   #29
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psneeld: We use a laptop running nobletec as a backup, ok we use it more of a primary actually, but I have cold feet about making the main systems PC based. Probably I don't know enough about doing so, and am concerned when i have an issue two vendors are going to point their fingers at microsoft, and they.... Or that some automatic update will create a problem when I turn it all on.
I'm usually at the head of the line when there is PC/Windows bashing to be done. But a few years ago I started using Coastal Explorer as my primary navigation tool. It was one of the most liberating moves I made. I think it's superior in every way to any of the chart plotters. Plus, it relegates the chart plotter to being a display for your sounder and radar. Or, if your sounder and radar are already separate, it relegates the chart plotter to the junk heap.

In my current refit, I've taken that last step and my boat does not have any chart plotter or MFD or black box equivalent. I got no use for it. It is again liberating because I have now focused on picking the best fishfinder for my needs, regardless of brand and regardless of proprietary integration with other products. Note that things still link together over N2K and 0183 to share data, but none of it is proprietary. And I have been able to pick radar products that are the best fit for my needs, again regardless of brand or proprietary integration.

As for reliability, Coastal Explorer running on Windows 7 under VMWare Fusion on a Mac Mini has by far been the most trouble free piece of gear in my electronics suite on both the Grand Banks and the Nordhavn. The key, I believe, is to get it working and then lock it down. I think this is most important on the windows OS front. I have all forms of auto update, firewalls, virus protection, etc turned off. Coastal Explorer updates only when I tell it to. And the Mac updates only when I tell it to. The other key is to not run much of anything else on that computer. Dedicate it to navigation and Coastal Explorer or which ever program you pick. The only other thing I have on that machine are a few service utilities for N2K, and they only get run when specifically needed. There is no email, no web browsing and no other Microsoft virusware. It can take the better part of a day to strip a Windows installation of all the pre-installed crap, but it's well worth it. This setup gets powered up when I get on the boat, and then runs non-stop for 1-6 months without ever skipping a beat.
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Old 02-21-2015, 10:31 AM   #30
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I have Garmin everything, including the auto pilot. I works great. They all talk to each other and I have zero issues.
Do you have a computer based plotting system?
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Old 02-21-2015, 10:52 AM   #31
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We use a laptop running nobletec as a backup, ok we use it more of a primary actually
Our Nobeltec is now into its ninth year and running on XP. Support is gone and a nine year old Dell is, well, nine years old. As mentioned by Peter, we have dedicated the Dell to only chart plotting so it appears bug and trouble free, but ------- I've never had a computer run this long.

We are leaning towards Rose Point but Trident remains in the picture. What are your thoughts on Nobeltec replacement?
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Old 02-21-2015, 11:39 AM   #32
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I had a furuno radar that started to resist keyboard inputs. Sent it to them and they upgraded the software and replaces keyboard for $500 on a 8 YO unit.


I then added a Garman plotter because I liked the touch screen and remote control and it came preloaded with all US charts. An older B&G auto pilot and a new fish finder were connected to the Garman for parallel display. I like radar and GPS to be separate so I don't mess up one while adjusting the other. It all worked well.


Shallow water is always a problem for depth sounders, especially if it is stirred up by other boats. I used a two frequency fish finder so I could see a scanned plot of depth. If the digital output was lost I still had some dots indicating depth.
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Old 02-21-2015, 05:43 PM   #33
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My trawler came with new Garmin plotters, radar, and Simrad AP20 pilot. Was planning on replacing all the Garmin equipment with Furuno. My local dealer who sold me my double Navnet system 13 years ago that I'm still using on my charter boat, wanted me to consider the Simrad system. Looked long and hard at both Furuno and Simrad last winter. Drove the boat up from FL to MD in April. Didn't see anything from the 2 other guys that made me want to take my Garmin gear out. This coming from a diehard Furuno guy.

For upgrades to my electronics:

Changing the GPS receiver to the new faster sampling unit (> 1 per second) $150.
Switching to a 6' open array 6KW radar antenna.
Adding a heading sensor (Airman) $600 for ARPA radar display
Adding 3 GMI 20 displays 2 pilot house 1 master stateroom.
Adding the wind sensor
May switch to the Garmin ais unit although the current one displays nicely on the plotter

Didn't like Garmin pilot and will likely switch to Comnav when the Simrad quits.
Will stay with the Icom radio also.

The Garmin equipment interfaces nicely, very easy to install, and just seem to have a lot more options than the others. Really like the small GMI 20 displays that allow you to select most important item with a touch of a button. Want depth either as digital number or graphic display when creeping into shallow water, no problem. Want an anchor drag alarm that will display on the master stateroom display also, no problem hit the button on the pilothouse display when anchoring. Want a display in the master stateroom that scrolls from anchor drag alarm, depth, and plotter swing display, wind speed and direction while anchored, this will do it and only requires nmea 2000 network cable. All the inputs and the GMI 20 displays on this nmea 2000 network draw next to no power so having a display in the master stateroom that will display the important stuff without getting out of bed just got really easy.

I'm sure Furuno and Simrad have some features that I missed, but no manufacturer has everything. Still plan to run a stand alone laptop with navigation software and independent gps input for redundancy and if necessary, charts for areas not available on Garmin software.

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Old 02-21-2015, 06:27 PM   #34
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The Garmin equipment interfaces nicely, very easy to install, and just seem to have a lot more options than the others. Really like the small GMI 20 displays that allow you to select most important item with a touch of a button. Want depth either as digital number or graphic display when creeping into shallow water, no problem. Want an anchor drag alarm that will display on the master stateroom display also, no problem hit the button on the pilothouse display when anchoring. Want a display in the master stateroom that scrolls from anchor drag alarm, depth, and plotter swing display, wind speed and direction while anchored, this will do it and only requires nmea 2000 network cable. All the inputs and the GMI 20 displays on this nmea 2000 network draw next to no power so having a display in the master stateroom that will display the important stuff without getting out of bed just got really easy.



I'm sure Furuno and Simrad have some features that I missed, but no manufacturer has everything. Still plan to run a stand alone laptop with navigation software and independent gps input for redundancy and if necessary, charts for areas not available on Garmin software.



Ted

Maretron makes a similar display, and it's great. It's got to be one of the must rich in features displays I've come upon because you could display almost anything on them. (Assuming it's connected into the bus) We didn't put displays but we did hook the TZTBB up to repeat its video output to all three TV's on the boat and even added a second controller so I can control all the Furuno functions from the comfort of my bed while off watch or at anchor.

Also have you looked at Maretron's WSO-100 I think it may be about the same price as the Garmin system but has a few more features like dew point, humidity, temperature, and it also uses ultrasonic sensors for sensing wind so there's no moving parts to break.
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Old 02-23-2015, 09:19 PM   #35
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If your going to have two MFD at the helm is it a bad idea to buy two brands so that when an issue comes up your not duplicating the problem?
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Old 02-23-2015, 09:48 PM   #36
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If your going to have two MFD at the helm is it a bad idea to buy two brands so that when an issue comes up your not duplicating the problem?

Thatsthe way it usually works.
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Old 02-24-2015, 12:11 AM   #37
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Autopilots

Didn't like Garmin pilot and will likely switch to Comnav when the Simrad quits.


Interesting. I have a new Garmin autopilot and an old Comnav in my boat. There is no comparison. The Garmin keeps the XTE down to amazingly small numbers (think ten feet!). The Comnav is still there just for a backup and the rudder angle indicator. The Garmin has the marvelous feature that lets you take control by grabbing the wheel. I really like it!
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Old 02-24-2015, 12:17 AM   #38
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@Ted My AP-20 was keeping my XTE under 4 yards. That was in 6-8's on the stern quarter It's a good pilot IMO, wouldn't ditch it just yet.
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Old 02-24-2015, 07:05 AM   #39
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Geeeezs, some of you guys have more electronics than an airliner.
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Old 02-24-2015, 02:03 PM   #40
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@Ted My AP-20 was keeping my XTE under 4 yards. That was in 6-8's on the stern quarter It's a good pilot IMO, wouldn't ditch it just yet.
Wasn't planning on changing until the AP20 died.

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