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Old 02-23-2020, 11:15 AM   #1
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Been out of it (boating) for a little bit, but getting back in this summer. Trying to

To the mods: I know there is a dedicated forum for electronics, but I am getting zero response there.... seems all the cool kids are on this forum, so if you don't mind.....

Been out of it (boating ) for a little bit, but getting back in this summer. Trying to wade my way through the morass of navigational tool offerings, and as I suspected things have changed. (They change faster in the electronics biz than anywhere else.)

Seems like Garmin has continued it's growth path and has absorbed Navionics... but Raymarine is not dead yet, neither is Simrad..... There's a few others still around.

So the question is:

Since I have a clean slate I can start anywhere. I am looking for mobile navigating, iPhone/Pad, and I will be buying fixed plotter(s). I would like N2K compatibility across all of it including, if that exists, the handhelds. IOW I want to navigate and monitor systems on plotters/phone/pad..... I want to buy ONE flavor of charts and use them on all of it and I want to synch my data (routes etc) across all of it. I know, it's good to want things.

I THINK Garmin/Navionics is the ticket but after reading most of their website I have a headache and it appears Navionics charts and Garmin plotters are NOT compatible....

So soliciting some experience here.....

(Oh, and yes before that starts.... I always bring paper or at least raster on a separate device)
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Old 02-23-2020, 01:19 PM   #2
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I too woke from a 15-year boating coma about 2 years ago and had the same question. At the suggestion of a West Marine sales associate (really!), I queried TheHullTruth.com, a forum of mostly smaller boat fishermen types. Those guys will spend serious money on electronics. There is some cool stuff out there, especially transducers.

I didn't want to spend a ton of money, but not looking to cheap-out either. I had one criteria that was pretty important to me: I wanted a knob for input versus only a touchscreen. In my experience, touch screen is difficult when boat is underway - a knob allows me to rest my palm to steady my hand.

That left me with Furuno or Simrad. Simrad also runs Navionics so fine with my smartphone too. Furuno is of course fine, but more than I wanted to spend and frankly, I had some recent so-so experience on a friend's boat with Furuno updating firmware and integration with some of his other instruments . So I opted for Simrad. They seem to work well.

BTW - since the only help I got from West Marine was the recommendation for TheHullTruth, I pinged one of their advertisers ans technical sponsors BOE Marine out of Maryland. Smaller company who was great to deal with. The CSR (Nick) was very knowledgeable and assisted with some install questions I had. He was even responsive on a Sunday. Very satisfied with my experience with them.
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Old 02-23-2020, 04:27 PM   #3
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I had one criteria that was pretty important to me: I wanted a knob for input versus only a touchscreen....

That left me with Furuno or Simrad.
A couple of notes on the knob:

1) Don't count out other brands yet. For example the Raymarine Axiom Pro has touch screen and a knob/buttons. Use either or both (and you can lock out the touch screen if desired).

2) I went with a Raymarine touch-only Axiom (that's the "non pro") because the addition of the knobs made it too wide for my space (or I'd have to go one size smaller screen to make it work). However, there is a way around that, which is that the end section of the Pro that has the knobs is available separately for just this purpose. It can be used in portrait or landscape orientation. I did not buy one (yet) because I'm going to see how the touch only goes. It's easy enough to add later.

It might have another benefit: My plotter is easy to reach; but if it wasn't one could mount the separate knob section in the arm of a chair or on a side shelf or etc. vs the "baked in" knobs always being on the plotter.

Not saying to go with Raymarine, but just that it's not only Simrad or Furuno who have knobs. (I can't speak to Garmin.)
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Old 02-23-2020, 05:01 PM   #4
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A couple of notes on the knob:

1) Don't count out other brands yet. For example the Raymarine Axiom Pro has touch screen and a knob/buttons. Use either or both (and you can lock out the touch screen if desired).

2) I went with a Raymarine touch-only Axiom (that's the "non pro") because the addition of the knobs made it too wide for my space (or I'd have to go one size smaller screen to make it work). However, there is a way around that, which is that the end section of the Pro that has the knobs is available separately for just this purpose. It can be used in portrait or landscape orientation. I did not buy one (yet) because I'm going to see how the touch only goes. It's easy enough to add later.

It might have another benefit: My plotter is easy to reach; but if it wasn't one could mount the separate knob section in the arm of a chair or on a side shelf or etc. vs the "baked in" knobs always being on the plotter.

Not saying to go with Raymarine, but just that it's not only Simrad or Furuno who have knobs. (I can't speak to Garmin.)
How is Raymarine doing? When I was looking, I got the impression they ran proprietary systems that didn't integrate well, but I confess, I didn't look too closely. I assume you're happy with your system?

OP should definitely consider all brands on the market.
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Old 02-23-2020, 05:35 PM   #5
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We have had Raymarine in our last 4 boats and have been very satisfied with them. Their support has been outstanding. I wish I had the Axiom Pro system on our boat but alas we bought too soon...
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Old 02-23-2020, 06:14 PM   #6
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We have had Raymarine in our last 4 boats and have been very satisfied with them. Their support has been outstanding. I wish I had the Axiom Pro system on our boat but alas we bought too soon...
What do you like about Raymarine? I didn't look at them too closely when I was making a decision, but I got the impression they were a bit proprietary and don't integrate well with N2K, but had improved recently. But I confess, I really didn't look that closely. Would be interested to now why you chose them so many times. That's a helluva an endorsement.
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Old 02-23-2020, 06:18 PM   #7
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I don't know enough to know how they are really doing. I have found their documentation and tech forum to be useful. But until later this season I have only used the Axioms in the store. I was coming from an older Garmin (2010c) which came with the boat. I liked that Garmin, and at the time felt the Raymarine (C120 era) was hard to use (during a few weeks on someone else's boat). But the Garmin had to go because I wanted to add radar and autopilot and the Garmin chart cards for that unit were no longer easily available. So one way or another, I was going to start fresh.

The Axiom seems more intuitive than the older Raymarines (to me), or I would have stayed away. But it's so hard to choose based on a short trial, because (at least for me) I can't just suddenly conjure up all the things I might do. I thought the Simrad was nice too, and can't exactly remember why I didn't choose it. I didn't try Furuno, and I wasn't fond of the Garmin autopilot choices (can't remember exact details, but I think my boat fell between small/cheap unit and way too huge/expensive unit in their line).

If you cruise in one area, one type of charts may be better thought of (if you have a general area). I went with both Navionics and LNC (Raymarine's versions - cheap so why not try).

A last note (ha, as if I'm more than a beginner with the new stuff) is that I only became aware - as I was shopping this time around - of how networked these new plotters can be and how easily they can share data. I ended up going with two MFD units side by side as I had a wider but shorter space (not wide enough for two Pros, plus they are $$). But they can share charts, radar, depth sounders, the auxilliary knob unit, etc. so you don't need to buy everything for both. (At least I don't think the older units could do this much sharing? But then again I didn't previously have radar, autopilot, or more than one MFD) Just the good old Garmin 2010c and 160 Blue "fishfinder.")

I'm slightly less nervous having two (semi-redudancy as I don't have the space for true stand-alone type redundancy) and it will be nice to have display options.

I went all Raymarine for plotter/radar/autopilot. I'm setting up a NMEA 2000 bus for them to communicate (vs the 0183 I had before). I'll know more in a year or two
****
Edited to add:
In regards to not integrating on NMEA 2000, I had that impression too. But it's not completely true as I understand it. Basically, Raymarine uses their own wires and ends (called SeatalkNG), but it's still really NMEA 2000 (device net). If one wanted to, they could adapt each Raymarine unit via an adapter piece and then build a "neutral" NMEA backbone. (Actually the Axioms do have a non-Raymarine Devicenet port anyway.)

I found that there were various factors. First of all, each Raymarine component came with one or more SeatalkNG cables and connectors, so I automatically had quite a bit of what I needed. Also, the STng cable ends are quite tidy and small as compared to some others, so that was a plus for my hole-drilling and wire running. The spurs and drops are color coded, which is a minor plus.

OTOH, the hub pieces are slightly less advantageous. For example, you can't connect T's to T's directly, but need a cable between them. There is a 5-way hub, but I had to mount it on a piece of angle as it was 90º out for my space.

But I wouldn't choose based solely on that, because you can adapt back and forth (although like you, it was something I had a concern about going in).
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Old 02-23-2020, 07:41 PM   #8
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I find PC navigation more intuitive and easier to use since we have been using Windows for decades and the user interface is similar on various apps and programs.
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Old 02-23-2020, 07:52 PM   #9
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I find PC navigation more intuitive and easier to use since we have been using Windows for decades and the user interface is similar on various apps and programs.
I too prefer PC nav (I still like coastal explorer). But for a system of record underway, I want something the entire crew can use and understand. Otherwise, I get awakened in the middle of the night (a 6.5 kt boat on the Pacific coast means overnight/multi-day trips). Installed MFD type nav systems are front and center and running 24/7 so everyone gets comfortable with them quickly. And I'm more likely to get some sleep in my off watch.
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Old 02-23-2020, 08:04 PM   #10
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I should add that I do not have space for a black box install. Running a PC means, well, running a PC on the dashboard.
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Old 02-23-2020, 08:05 PM   #11
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I find PC navigation more intuitive and easier to use since we have been using Windows for decades and the user interface is similar on various apps and programs.
Fair enough. It probably is more "independent" of the slightly annoying brand loyalty too. I did use Nobeltec on a PC many years ago. On my current boat I don't have a good situation for a computer nav setup or I would definitely have considered it (not that the OP is interested in my boat, but just saying I didn't rule out PC nav because I don't think it's good).

On the multiple crew (maybe new crew) front: I can see crew picking up easily on a modern chartplotter. It's somewhat iPad-like which many people are used to. Also, I haven't played with this yet, but I think you can make different "identities" sort of like on a computer, or a car where you can set different seat/mirror profiles. So maybe you'd have something simplified for those crew night watches. Or a specific profile at any rate.
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Old 02-23-2020, 08:19 PM   #12
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A 10.1 inch Samsung Tab A pad with OpenCPN will do everything you need it to as a chartplotter in US waters for less than $150.
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:07 PM   #13
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This may be a throw back to my delivery days when I hauled a PC and early version of a Puck GPS aboard, but I believe when cruising, a boat needs a single source of truth - a system of record. I just don't think detached devices such as tablets, PCs, and phones are suitable for that. Yes, great sources of data. Yes, it's possible to navigate with them. But I just don't believe it's an adequate core system that is suitable for all who may be standing watch. For day trips or trips in familiar waters or well marked waters such as the ICW, great. But for cruising, well, there is just too much concentration of knowledge in the one person who has the iPad for my tastes.

For boats that are venturing any distance, I still like an installed nav system with MFD and radar. But to each their own.
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:12 PM   #14
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We purchased our 11 year old boat last year knowing we would need to upgrade all of the limited electronics and add several components (radar, autopilot, AIS) that it didn't have to the upper and lower helms. I had recent experience with Simrad that was not good so didn't want to do that again so I was defaulting to Garmin.

The boat had Raymarine so I also looked into them and eventually went that way for everything except a Simrad VHF radio that networked in just fine. I have been very pleased with the Raymarine equipment including both Axiom and Axiom Pro MFD's. They are much more intuitive than anything I've used in the past. The Quantum radar is excellent. I like how it highlights (in red) when traffic is coming behind me even when I can't see aft. The autopilot is also great and has a wireless remote. I was also able to integrate all engine data from our Volvo D6-370 engines and our fuel tanks into the network for display on the Axioms.

As a bonus, using the Raymarine Control App on my iPad I can duplicate the screen of either the upper or lower helm to add another fully functional control screen so it allows me to have two screens at each helm even though there is only one MFD at each.
I've become a big Raymarine fan!
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Old 02-23-2020, 09:29 PM   #15
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We purchased our 11 year old boat last year knowing we would need to upgrade all of the limited electronics and add several components (radar, autopilot, AIS) that it didn't have to the upper and lower helms. I had recent experience with Simrad that was not good so didn't want to do that again so I was defaulting to Garmin.

The boat had Raymarine so I also looked into them and eventually went that way for everything except a Simrad VHF radio that networked in just fine. I have been very pleased with the Raymarine equipment including both Axiom and Axiom Pro MFD's. They are much more intuitive than anything I've used in the past. The Quantum radar is excellent. I like how it highlights (in red) when traffic is coming behind me even when I can't see aft. The autopilot is also great and has a wireless remote. I was also able to integrate all engine data from our Volvo D6-370 engines and our fuel tanks into the network for display on the Axioms.

As a bonus, using the Raymarine Control App on my iPad I can duplicate the screen of either the upper or lower helm to add another fully functional control screen so it allows me to have two screens at each helm even though there is only one MFD at each.
I've become a big Raymarine fan!
What did gib find more intuitive about Raymarine? I presses the Simrad system into service when my old Furuno radar took a crap about a week before leaving San Francisco for Ensenada. 500 nms south. There were some features I struggled with - never did figure out how to offset radar rings/range in a way I'd become accustomed with Furuno NavNet 2 systems. So my experience was good, but not without fault.

This is the second comment that Raymarine is more intuitive. Thoughts?

BTW - my cruising "use case" is 3-10 days underway between stops. PC, tablet, phone is fine for killing time while off watch or checking Active Captain. In my opinion, does not displace a ships system. Fine for backup if needed. But not a system of record. When I come up to the console, I want to be able to tell instantly if somethings changed. I can mirror that on my phone, but if something changed, it's because someone did something.

I may be old fashioned. But that's how I roll.
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Old 02-23-2020, 10:27 PM   #16
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I'm similar. I do have (and use) an iPad with a different set of charts to my primary ones (Garmin Bluechart Mobile currently). And I still keep paper in some form. I considered the Furuno "tablet" radar to go with the iPad and just not doing an MFD. But in the end I decided I wanted a central MFD unit sitting on its trunnion, hard-wired, and able to work with a plugged in radar, transducers, etc. It's nice to have so many options now.

PS: Oscar, I hope this isn't a hijack but it seems like you and Weebles are on a similar path at the moment.
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Old 02-23-2020, 11:07 PM   #17
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Thank you all for your input, this is exactly the kind of discussion I was hoping for.

Just downloaded a $15 Navionics app with subscription and bought an $80 Maptech chart book. That'll get me started on phone and an ipad with paper backup.

For later I agree with the hardwired system versus the "oops, don't drop that" setup. I'll be looking for some limited networking to depth (don't fish, all I care about it not hitting the bottom) AIS (I am a firm believer in it, had a receive only setup 10 years ago saved my bacon a few times) and radar, so need screen(s) anyways. Not a whole lot of data from an old mechanical diesel although an EGT sensor and ability to display wouldn't hurt. Maybe a few cameras to keep an eye on the engine rooms.

I'm sure there will be more as I discover it, then again there's something to be said for keeping it simple, and being an old fart I can be quite comfortable with analog stuff for most of it.
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Old 02-24-2020, 12:11 AM   #18
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With Garmin if you go with the smaller screens, there are buttons but the larger screens are touch. However you can purchase a remote that is in essence their version of buttons for their touch screens. I just bought the Garmin 8616 and I think I am going to wait before I purchase the remote. Some one suggestion I purchase one of the cheap pencil like devices you can use on touch screens, they are something like $10 or less. I will see if I really need the buttons rather than just think I really need the buttons.
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Old 02-24-2020, 06:21 AM   #19
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For GPS purchase a hand held , It will get you anywhere with ease and for about $ 150 it is a great back up or dink set.

After using it you can decide how complex you wish to go.
A new hobby!

The Furuno , one step back gear is fantastically reliable .
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Old 02-24-2020, 06:51 AM   #20
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I purchase one of the cheap pencil like devices you can use on touch screens, they are something like $10 or less.
Two of the hotel chains I stay in have them in the rooms..... I have quite the supply.
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