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Old 11-10-2014, 09:13 PM   #1
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New to electronics and navigation...

Greetings, I have a 49 foot custom trawler and the GPS just died...she also has an older model furuno radar and a separate older sounder. All are installed on the main station in the helm, no separate stations.

I will mainly be in the GOM with trips further afield as my experience and confidence increases. Now to my question - would I be better off with a laptop based nav system with a separate fish finder/depth sounder deal or better off with a dedicated all in one unit ? Any recommendations regarding brands/models that you have found successful ? Is radar worth the added money until I am heading on longer voyages ?

Lastly, is there any websites, books etc that cover all the basics of nav electronics etc ? Thankyou all agin,

Craig
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Old 11-10-2014, 09:18 PM   #2
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If you want a good all in one unit Garmin's are great. If you want an all in one unit that can network into a pc and you'll get all the data the MFD has (Through Maxsea) I would look at Furuno's NN3D series and TZ Series.
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Old 11-10-2014, 09:32 PM   #3
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We just went through researching for a complete new system and settled on Garmin. I would definitely get radar if you can, even for coastal cruising. There have been times that we used it even on Galveston Bay when we got caught in unexpected bad visibility.

Where do you keep your boat? I'm guessing not New Braunfels.
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Old 11-11-2014, 06:31 AM   #4
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You are best off with a set of PAPER charts , perhaps with a used lap top,, easily updated current set of charts.

To know your position at trawler speeds a hand held GPS unit will do fine .

Your boat wont look like a 747 cockpit , but you will know where you are any time you care to look.

A more costly GPS would be required to feed a complex autopilot .
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Old 11-11-2014, 06:53 AM   #5
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I can imagine PC laptop based systems are good, because of the extra functions and so on, but they are not mounted permanently, and when it comes to being able to just step on board, switch on the blinkenlights, and get your position immediately and reliably with no fuss and bother or need to mount the laptop in some safe position, you will bless a dedicated, permanently mounted glass bridge, as they now tend to call them. That is especially so when you get into some really rough stuff. All the newer dedicated systems have route planning and most of the other features the lap-top PC based systems allow for, and with many you can do route planning on a lap-top at home, then download that later to the dedicated unit on the boat anyway. I suspect many really don't use the very advanced features available anyway.
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Old 11-11-2014, 07:49 AM   #6
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Drake,
What model Garmin unit did you install. I am going thru the analysis now and am focused on 7212. Have considered 6212 0r 1040 models (the latter features a smaller screen).
Bill
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Old 11-11-2014, 08:10 AM   #7
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What model Garmin unit did you install. I am going thru the analysis now and am focused on 7212. Have considered 6212 0r 1040 models (the latter features a smaller screen).
You might want to hold off on the 7212. The new 7612 is supposed to be available next quarter and adds quite a few features including built in WiFi. Unfortunately, the price is $500 higher.
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Old 11-11-2014, 08:18 AM   #8
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PC and all in one chartplotters each have advantages. The PC has advantages which you may consider important. PC does not mean a laptop. You have an enclosed helm so a desk unit pc or a net top can be acquired in the US for $275-$300 US, and if the sunlight is not a factor in your wheel house a good size monitor can be acquired for another $200 US. There are a number of software programs available and in some countries the charts are free.

Another benefit of a PC based unit is that it can be repaired / replaced almost anywhere at an inexpensive price. You can also have your normal laptop serve as a backup if the system goes down.
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Old 11-11-2014, 08:19 AM   #9
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Try a laptop with OpenCPN. It's free as are the charts for the US. You can attach a "hockey puck" GPS receiver and there are a bunch of PlugIns. It may be worth playing around with it till you make up your mind and for just the cost of the laptop and receiver, it's hard to beat the price.

http://opencpn.org/ocpn/
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Old 11-11-2014, 03:51 PM   #10
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Drake,
What model Garmin unit did you install. I am going thru the analysis now and am focused on 7212. Have considered 6212 0r 1040 models (the latter features a smaller screen).
Bill
I put in the 7212. I thought about the 6212, thinking that I might prefer the traditional buttons. I'm kind of old school (probably comes from being old). But, after a lot of back and forth, the guys at West Marine convinced me to go with the touchscreen. I wanted to get the 15" display, but thankfully I didn't have room. Saved me some $$$.

I also thought about getting the 5212. The only difference I can see between it and the 7212 is that the latter can interface with audio. I don't plan to do that just now, but since there was little price difference, I figured why not.
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Old 11-11-2014, 05:01 PM   #11
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Thanks Drake. Actually, the price difference between the 7212 and expected 7600 units is now closer to $1000.
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Old 11-11-2014, 05:26 PM   #12
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Let's assume budget is an issue. Does the old radar work? What model number is it? Furuno radars are good sets, and last a long time, and most are still supported and serviced by Furuno. If it works fine, stick with it, in my opinion, perhaps have a Furuno tech look at it. Ditto the sounder, if it works fine (make and model?). If those two pieces of kit are in good working order, then PC or Mac based plotter system is definitely worth looking at for reasons already mentioned. Especially if you are doing fairly light weight cruising in confined waters (such as the GICW, where a chart plotter is not essential.. the sounder and a good pair of binoculars and a chart book arguably are more important.

When I got into more "serious" cruising, I liked having a purpose built plotter system (networked with sounder and radar, two stations), with a PC (in my case Mac) system as a planning tool and back up system. Also had an independent redundant sounder. And paper charts always open at the helm for the big picture and log notes. Long way of saying you can start cheap and build your way up. Good to learn non-electronic navigation first and keep in practice.
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Old 11-11-2014, 08:29 PM   #13
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Lots of boaters like PC based electronic navigation. It's cheaper and more flexible.
However a dedicated GPS plotter always works, doesn't require computer knowledge to get the various components of a PC system working and is not susceptible to virus's or hacking. Plotters are compact self contained units and are generally preferred on planning hull boats where helm space is at a premium and a bouncing boat doing 30 kts makes a PC based system impracticable. My opinion of course
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Old 11-11-2014, 09:15 PM   #14
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Paper charts still have a place

I suspect many boaters have paper charts aboard, but rarely refer to them relying on electronic navigation entirely. I was in that category until we cruised the ICW. The several ICW trouble spots well documented on the Salty Southeast Cruisers Net were difficult to locate on an electronic chart. Using paper flip charts and making notes on them made cruising the ICW much easier.
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Old 11-11-2014, 09:43 PM   #15
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Let's assume budget is an issue. Does the old radar work? What model number is it? Furuno radars are good sets, and last a long time, and most are still supported and serviced by Furuno. If it works fine, stick with it, in my opinion, perhaps have a Furuno tech look at it. Ditto the sounder, if it works fine (make and model?). If those two pieces of kit are in good working order, then PC or Mac based plotter system is definitely worth looking at for reasons already mentioned. Especially if you are doing fairly light weight cruising in confined waters (such as the GICW, where a chart plotter is not essential.. the sounder and a good pair of binoculars and a chart book arguably are more important.

When I got into more "serious" cruising, I liked having a purpose built plotter system (networked with sounder and radar, two stations), with a PC (in my case Mac) system as a planning tool and back up system. Also had an independent redundant sounder. And paper charts always open at the helm for the big picture and log notes. Long way of saying you can start cheap and build your way up. Good to learn non-electronic navigation first and keep in practice.
Thankyou everyone ! The Furuno is down on the boat currently so I am not too sure of the model but its large LOL...it works to my knowledge however I am going to need some playing to get to know how to work it. The GPS died last trip which is what prompted this enquiry in the first place...the sounder works however I would like to update to one of the 'bottom photo' types as this one is kinda outdated...
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Old 11-11-2014, 11:50 PM   #16
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I'm perhaps the least "electronics savvy" person on this forum and am completely ignorant in tech talk. Electronics to me are just a necessary evil to some extent. I get by fine with a plain VHF radio, depth sounder and seldom used compass. They are all cheap, old and plenty functional. Have also got a free version of Navionics on my iPhone and iPad to augment the paper charts. My set up ain't sexy but gets me where I'm going.

The point is you can purchase an expensive fully integrated stand alone navigation suite tomorrow and within a few months to a year it'll be outdated too. In my case it'd be outdated before I learned how to use it. I'm a big advocate of spending your money any way that makes you happy, if $40K+/- worth of electronics makes you happy it'll be money well spent. If tech toys aren't your thing buy what you need to get you where you wish to go and hang the rest of it.
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Old 11-12-2014, 02:11 AM   #17
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I'm perhaps the least "electronics savvy" person on this forum and am completely ignorant in tech talk. Electronics to me are just a necessary evil to some extent. I get by fine with a plain VHF radio, depth sounder and seldom used compass. They are all cheap, old and plenty functional. Have also got a free version of Navionics on my iPhone and iPad to augment the paper charts. My set up ain't sexy but gets me where I'm going.

The point is you can purchase an expensive fully integrated stand alone navigation suite tomorrow and within a few months to a year it'll be outdated too. In my case it'd be outdated before I learned how to use it. I'm a big advocate of spending your money any way that makes you happy, if $40K+/- worth of electronics makes you happy it'll be money well spent. If tech toys aren't your thing buy what you need to get you where you wish to go and hang the rest of it.
Concur.

Heck half the fun is "exploring". That's how one gets "local knowledge ".

I use a PC with a puck with some ten year old bootleg electronic charts. Close enough.

I do keep updated* paper charts at the helm.

*no faking. Really.

Note: I really think CPseudonym and I should get together and drink ale sometime.
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Old 11-12-2014, 02:16 AM   #18
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The point is you can purchase an expensive fully integrated stand alone navigation suite tomorrow and within a few months to a year it'll be outdated too. In my case it'd be outdated before I learned how to use it. I'm a big advocate of spending your money any way that makes you happy, if $40K+/- worth of electronics makes you happy it'll be money well spent. If tech toys aren't your thing buy what you need to get you where you wish to go and hang the rest of it.
Very well said.

You should also try Garmin's Blue Chart on your iPad. They have a free version that works fine at a basic level, and a paid version that has lots of info on marinas, anchorages, etc. I think it will interface with ActiveCaptain, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet.
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Old 11-12-2014, 05:24 AM   #19
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I have the Garmin 4000 series on the upper my plan is to move it to the lower put the 7600 series on the upper and replace my old Raytheon radar with Garmin and integrate upper and lower

and as fast as electronics change so may my plan
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Old 11-12-2014, 07:18 AM   #20
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I'm perhaps the least "electronics savvy" person on this forum and am completely ignorant in tech talk. Electronics to me are just a necessary evil to some extent. I get by fine with a plain VHF radio, depth sounder and seldom used compass. They are all cheap, old and plenty functional. Have also got a free version of Navionics on my iPhone and iPad to augment the paper charts. My set up ain't sexy but gets me where I'm going.

The point is you can purchase an expensive fully integrated stand alone navigation suite tomorrow and within a few months to a year it'll be outdated too. In my case it'd be outdated before I learned how to use it. I'm a big advocate of spending your money any way that makes you happy, if $40K+/- worth of electronics makes you happy it'll be money well spent. If tech toys aren't your thing buy what you need to get you where you wish to go and hang the rest of it.
Well put!
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