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Old 03-02-2019, 03:14 PM   #1
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Replacement Electronics & Nav Package - Considerations?

We have a 2004 Mainship 430 Aft Cabin trawler with the original electronics currently installed. All of the electronics (VHF, auto pilot, radar, GPS etc) all work, but itís time to start shopping for replacements. I have the Raymarine C80 setup.

I know nothing about the quality of the various brands. I have been reading that itís best to stay with one brand of electronics, although with the new networking protocols most may be interchangeable.

Is there a hierarchy of brands when it comes to quality or durability? Are some brands better than others when it comes to ipad or cell phone apps, or software updates?

Where do I start?

Thanks,
Jim
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Old 03-02-2019, 03:22 PM   #2
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It mostly depends on personal preference. I like Raymarine. They have given me excellent customer service. Also they make just about everything that you could want including FLIR cameras. However others may love different brands.
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Old 03-02-2019, 03:25 PM   #3
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I forgot to say that I would stay with one brand. If you buy multiple brands and try to interface them and have any problems the vendors will always say it is the other equipment causing the problem. With only one vendor, it is their problem...
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Old 03-02-2019, 04:00 PM   #4
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I forgot to say that I would stay with one brand. If you buy multiple brands and try to interface them and have any problems the vendors will always say it is the other equipment causing the problem. With only one vendor, it is their problem...
A good point. We have Simrad and Furuno and a couple of pieces didn’t/don’t like to play nice together. Customer support was good with both companies but in the end there was some finger pointing. We still have both but trying to integrate isn’t for the faint of heart.
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Old 03-02-2019, 07:14 PM   #5
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We have Garmin chartplotters, Simrad AP, and Furuno radar.

The Garmin and the Simrad work well together, the Furuno not.

If the Furuno ever craps out (which will probably not happen during my ownership as it seems to be bulletproof) I will go Garmin there too.

The only other consideration I have is the large multi function screens in the PH and on the FB. I have Green Marines. I think I may replace those with Gamins in the next year or two, mainly to get the full resolution sent across, which is an issue right now.
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Old 03-02-2019, 07:38 PM   #6
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Let me add one thing, just because a chart plotter is able to display more than just chart data doesn't mean you should expect that to be useful. As in, make use of regular gauges and displays and don't expect your chart plotter to show engine data.

I support the idea that your chart plotter and radar gear should be from the same vendor. Likewise any fishfinder/sonar gear.

But everything else has a lot of compatibility these days. GPS, depth/speed/temp, compass, etc, those are all pretty compatible, but they're all pretty close in price, so it'd be reasonable to stick with the same vendor.
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Old 03-02-2019, 07:48 PM   #7
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Let me add one thing, just because a chart plotter is able to display more than just chart data doesn't mean you should expect that to be useful.
Generally I would agree, but the exception is the AIS - critical in my mind that it displays quickly and accurately on the plotter, as well as the plotter being user friendly with one button/click giving current crossing point information.
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Old 03-02-2019, 08:12 PM   #8
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Generally I would agree, but the exception is the AIS - critical in my mind that it displays quickly and accurately on the plotter, as well as the plotter being user friendly with one button/click giving current crossing point information.
I didn't think it wasn't obvious that AIS would of course be displayed on the chart plotter. Thanks for adding that point.

I know there's a variety of ways to get AIS data (lots of VHF radios are starting to include it) but this would likewise be something probably best paired with the same brand.

I was speaking more about engine, tank or other data. Some stuff deserves being kept visible at all times. Not buried in some other page on the plotter. You want to be able to keep tabs on engine temps and pressures, not have them off-screen in some other page.
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Old 03-02-2019, 08:15 PM   #9
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Let me also suggest that you plan for a total re-fit of all kinds of sensors.

Not that you have to do it all right away. Rather if you have a 'big picture' plan laid out you can avoid creating dead-ends that make later growth problematic.

That and if you have to pull something apart, think hard about at least pulling whatever other sensor or support wires would be useful in the future, if just to avoid having to pull all that same stuff apart again.

I had to re-route a fair bit of the N2K network on my boat due to a previous owner/contractor doing only 'just enough' to get stuff connected. Along the way discovering incredibly lame stuff like the whole bus being powered off TINY little wires left over from some other long-gone equipment. Instead of just using the 12v bus that WAS RIGHT NEXT TO IT.

Look at a schematic? Why would ANYONE ever bother to do that!? smdh sometimes...
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Old 03-02-2019, 08:16 PM   #10
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You probably can't go wrong with the big three..... Garmin, Raymarine and Simrad. Furuno has dominated the radar market in the past and still probably fine.

Yes, I could argue to stay with on manufacturer... for the most part. But especially the parts that talk to each other. Autopilot is probably most critical, then radar and depth. Other products like AIS, hailers, VHFs, probably doesn't matter much.

With your C80 package..... would suspect the VHFs don't interface and if they work there's no downside to keeping them, regardless of who you go with. The chart plotter and radar.... throw them away.... they are garbage. I've had them in a few boats and the first thing that goes.

As for the Autopilot....don't know, but the early 2000s Ray autopilots that I operated on a few large Sundancers worked pretty good, but not with the capabilities of today.

A call to a really sharp Ray dealer would be in order

On my most recent install, I went with Simrad for a few reasons..... They were out selling Garmin at the time but heard that from a few salesmen so..... They have touch AND knobs, which is really handy, and Ray and Garmin did not. Simrad also had a feature that enlarged the characters 150% which made them easy to read. And I've got 20/20 uncorrected and found the Garmin hard to read.

Overall, I'm a Garmin guy and have had their products in boats, cars and planes and their support is superior to the others. Simrad support leaves a bit to be desired.... some techs are great and some are as smart as a rock.

Overall my Simrad products have worked pretty well. I still have an issue with the forward sonar.

Now, on my second boat, a 280 Sundance, I have Garmin, but no AP or radar. The Garmin works fine, but the only way I can tell depths when underway and bouncing around a bit is by color... just can't read it.
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Old 03-02-2019, 08:24 PM   #11
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Yeah, I don't miss the radar I had on an E-80. I think I had GPS tied into the VHF for being able to send a DSC distress position, but never had the occasion to use it (thankfully).

I like having hard buttons available as an option, and I think most touchscreen systems now have some degree of support for a button/keypad panel of some sort. For a while I think a few did not, and forced touchscreen only. That's a non-starter for me.

I hate trying to pinch/zoom, poke at a touchscreen when conditions are bumpy. Give me hard press +/- zoom and panning buttons and a scrolling wheel of some sort. Especially if it's an outdoor helm station. Touchscreens get nasty in salt water bad weather conditions.
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Old 03-02-2019, 08:59 PM   #12
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I appreciate your comments and recommendations. While I was at the CT boat show I spent some time with the Garmin rep who tried to convince me Garmin was the way to go.

Are there any opinions as to the reliability of the manufacturers products - is there a consensus on the pecking order of the manufacturers? If and when I move on this, my current thinking is to use the same manufacturer. I'm looking for some of the comments already outlined: touch screen vs button/knob, interoperability with other systems, etc.

Any particular issues with bluetooth or WIFI compatibility, apps for wireless devices, route planning, open radar vs dome? I do plan to replace all sensors.

Thanks,

Jim
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Old 03-02-2019, 09:28 PM   #13
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I like Raymarine. They have given me excellent customer service. Also they make just about everything that you could want including FLIR cameras.
Over the years I've cobbled together other brands of electronics which didn't play well together. Since Flir acquired Raymarine some years ago I decided to stick with them. I presently have a suite of Ray Marine products that I love. Radar, 2 plotters, AIS, chirp down vision sonar & Auto pilot. My VHF radios (2) are Standard Horizon and Ray Marine. Along with the above is a Maretron system presently reporting all fuel related data and SOC information. 2 cameras, one in the ER and a backing camera round out the electronics on board.

Again, as others have stated, stick with one brand (they're all pretty damn good) and you will not be sorry.
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Old 03-02-2019, 10:13 PM   #14
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I bought my first MFD with the hybrid controls, both knobs and touch screen. The second one is only touch screen. I thought that I would use the knobs more than I actually do so when I was adding the second MFD, I went with touch screen only.
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Old 03-03-2019, 06:33 AM   #15
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Just to keep things interesting, I'll throw out some different views.


First, it's really interesting to me how commonly people talk about the "big three", omitting the largest, Furuno. They would be my first choice, not someone I would forget to add to the list.



Re single vendor, there are two lock-in points with marine electronics. The first is between the radar scanner and the display, and the second is between a fish finder and display. If you use a Multi-function Display (MFD), which is most common on TF-size boats, that in turn locks together the MFD vendor with the radar and fish finder vendor. Alternately, you can get self-contained radars and fish finders with their own displays, or that display on a standard monitor. Bigger boats and commercial boats typically follow the later strategy.


Beyond radar and fish finders, you are not locked into one vendor, though vendors try to encourage you to stick with them. Raymarine still uses proprietary plugs for N2K, for example, where all the other vendors use N2K standard plugs and wires. And most of the vendors let you pop-up a virtual auto pilot control panel on the MFD if you use their auto pilot. That doesn't prevent you from still operating with a dedicated control panel, and one from any vendor. You just give up the pop up screen, not any actual functionality.


Devices that pretty uniformly work across vendors are:


- Autopilots
- Depth sounders
- GPS receivers

- Heading Sensors
- Weather instruments
- Water temp
- Speed through water sensors
- AIS
- VHFs


And if you have dedicated radar and or fish finders, there are a number of things that typically work across vendors. They are:


- Radar target tracking on your chart plotter. Targets tracked on the radar can be plotted on you chart plotter so you can follow them there, as well as on the radar screen.


- AIS targets on Radar. You can feed AIS data to a radar and it will plot the targets including speed and direction, provide CPA, TCPA, etc.


- Locations on a fish finder can be marked and plotted on your chart plotter. So if you see something noteworthy, you can mark it on your chart.


There are some distinct advantages to NOT going single vendor that you should at least be aware of. They are:


- You can pick best of breed for each device. No vendor is the best at everything, so if you go single vendor you will be making compromises in one or more areas. With individual components, integrated with standard interfaces (the way big boats do it), you can pick the best for each device. Furuno radar, Simrad auto pilot, and Coastal Explorer charting, for example.


- When something breaks, or is found to be poorly performing and needs to be replaced, there is much less of a ripple effect through the rest of your equipment. If you find your vendor's radar sucks, as I did, you then discover that replacing it means ripping out everything and replacing it all. It can be very time consuming, and very expensive.


There are also down sides to individual components:


- They typically take up more console space because you have more screens. But increasingly people are typing to fit as much screen space as possible, so above a certain point it really doesn't make any different. But it can be an issue on smaller boats.


- It does take more thought and experience to put it all together. I think most installers push single vendor because it's quick and easy for them to throw everything together and make it work.


Our whole experience is in our blog, starting around here Adventures of Tanglewood: Electronics summary At the bottom of each article is a "next" and "previous" button to move through the articles.



We first built an integrated, single vendor system, failed miserably, then built from individual components picking best of each, and integrating with only standard, non-proprietary interfaces. We then traveled nearly 20,000 miles that way, and are doing essentially the same thing on the next boat.
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Old 03-03-2019, 06:45 AM   #16
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Thoughts:

Plan it all at once; implement as you can.

One manufacturer, except maybe for radios. (OTOH, in the current thread about radio replacements, the Furuno TZT2 initiating DSC calls seamlessly only with the Furuno 4800 radio makes a counterpoint to that. And then there can be other reason to mix and match vendors... but it takes more knowledge, more work to go that route.)

Professional installers (retailers) usually have a clue.

Do a market survey of installers in your area. Once you have three solid recommendations for installers, approach each with bare-bones concept, discuss how each would recommend you flesh that out. (Lie down before you hear price, but you're probably expecting that anyway.)

Be prepared to understand differences between NMEA0183 and NMEA2000 -- and impacts on networking -- if any selected instruments have only one or the other. (Edit: probably less of an issue these days...)

I like fixed redundancy in VHF radios and depth sounders. Then it's easy enough to add redundancy in location/charting instruments by augmenting with laptop, tablets, etc.

I can't even reliably touch the right area on a tablet or smartphone when we're moving... and bouncing makes it worse... so hard buttons are a must, for me. Touch may be useful sometimes for some folks... perhaps especially while docked.

I have all Furuno, except for ICOM radios. Furuno stuff has been almost bulletproof, so far, since my install in early 2009. OTOH, the screen on the original DGPS (probably installed by PO in 2002) is going south (probably got my money's worth), and the two ICOM radios installed in early 2009 probably took a bit of a lightning hit (can't really blame ICOM for that).

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Old 03-03-2019, 07:04 AM   #17
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A thing to remember is vendor implementations have not been static. That is, they've changed and evolved over time. And in some cases there have been some evolutionary dead-ends. Sometimes brought about by mergers or collapses of various involved parties.

So unless you're looking at a feature that's KNOWN to be working TODAY, it would be somewhat foolish to make any bets on what MIGHT happen with it in the future. There's no crystal ball that will tell us what is or isn't guaranteed to get fully implemented, let alone survive.

As for installers... throwing it together and making it 'work' often means they got all the lights to blink without errors. Not any actual in-depth assessment of what the user of the gear actually wants or needs. As a user, with no installer experience or training/exposure to the new gear it's pretty difficult to figure out if the installer knows enough to get you to where you want to be. But as an installer it's tough to be profitable trying to convince the limited number of customers out there of how much it's REALLY going to cost to make the user's wishes come true.

Lots of frustration out there when expectations clash with reality. It's a mix of vendor marketing lies, installer failures, and a LOT of it is unrealistic user expectations.

Never assume anything will work, or that some disparate set of features will somehow automagically come together. Verify that they're known to work ahead of time. This is time consuming.

That's my point about planning a total refit at the start. Because if you map out the big picture you give an integrator/installer a much clearer picture of where you want things to go. This helps avoid re-implementation costs due to known incompatibilities or installation techniques.

As in, discovering your NMEA bus should have used different cabling to handle the larger load of a dozen or so sensors added later. That's a problem if the length of cable between X-and-Y was hugely labor intensive to install... and how has to be replaced. There's ways around this with adding bridges and such, but that adds cost and complexity that could have been solved during planning and the initial install at a much lower cost.
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Old 03-03-2019, 07:15 AM   #18
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I've had great success taking the approach of "what sucks about your current situation".

Not "what would be amazing if we did this, or that".

Define what it is you DON'T like. What you want to GO AWAY. Get those unwanted items identified and made a fixed part of any plans. Defining the problems and insisting they be kept out of the solution being planned can often be more important that anything else.
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Old 03-03-2019, 08:19 AM   #19
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I've had great success taking the approach of "what sucks about your current situation".

Not "what would be amazing if we did this, or that".

Define what it is you DON'T like. What you want to GO AWAY. Get those unwanted items identified and made a fixed part of any plans. Defining the problems and insisting they be kept out of the solution being planned can often be more important that anything else.

Excellent advice. Spend a lot of time defining what you want, and group it in some way to separate what's essential for safe navigation, from the conveniences and toys. Being able to fly your drone from your MFD would be one of those toy things, for example, and low on the list when it comes to picking a system.


As yourself what are the elements that have to be first-rate with no compromises?


- Radar? Depends on your cruising and location. Some people only want one to locate birds for fishing. Other people have it on all the time, every time. Some people don't see any need at all.


- Diversity of chart sources? Very much depends on where you plan to cruise. If you are only in the US then all are about the same and excellent, based off the NOAA charts. But don't go to Mexico with c-map. Or the Bahamas with Navionics (unless they have added the Explorer charts).


- Quality of fish finder? I don't know, do you care about fishing? I couldn't care less, but I am interested in the makeup of the bottom for anchoring.


- Auto pilot? Do you want one at all? Are you happy with just Auto mode? If so, any auto pilot will do. Do you want Nav mode? Still an easy integration across brands, but a bit of work.


- What about touch screens. That's been discussed here. They are really cool at a trade show, but god help you when the boat and you are flopping around and you are trying to poke your finder on a target to acquire it....


- If you want really good auto pilot tracking and really good radar target tracking, consider a satellite compass. They care available for under $1000 which is pretty much what a good GPS and magnetic heading sensor that it replaces will cost you. And you have no magnetic interference problems, true headings, and excellent position and heading precision.


- What about AIS? I wouldn't build a new system without it, and that means a tranceiver, not just a receiver.


- How long do you want to keep the system? Some of the vendors churn products very quickly, and have a bazillion different models. And the churners also tend to discontinue support as soon as the last unit of a particular model comes off warranty. The result is a typical product lifespan of maybe 5 years. Furuno is different in that they have fewer models, sell them for longer, and support them for even longer. A typical product will be sold for 5-10 years, sometimes even longer. And then supported for another 5-10 years, if not longer. The tradeoff is how long you will have to wait before your nav system will fly your drone, or other such tricks.
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Old 03-03-2019, 08:52 AM   #20
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+1 on Furuno long-term support. I didn't even buy my set of four MFD12's but they've been very helpful in answering a lot of my questions. Supposedly they'll also still fix them but as yet I've needed no hardware repairs. And, truth be told, if/when they die I'm likely to just replace them with something new anyway. I don't have a favorite I'd consider, but any pieces I'm putting in place in the meanwhile are ones that are considered reasonably compatible with other vendors.

Whose satellite compass is under a grand? I've not seen any that cheap.
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