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Old 02-15-2022, 07:59 AM   #1
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Electronics: improvement versus bling

Several of the recent electronics-focused threads -- especially commentary about fast obsolescence and periodic upgrades -- led me to assess what "improvements" over time have seemed most useful to me.

And this might also speak to why I can't get enthused about running right down to the chandlers every three minutes to buy the latest and greatest...

So important steps forward, to me, have been:
- GPS
- the change from LORAN and other older nav aids to dedicated plotters
- auto pilots
- MFDs (and associated networking, screen splitting, etc.) versus dedicated plotters
- color versus grayscale or monochrome (charting, RADAR, depth)
- Instant re-draw
- user-chosen raster and vector charting (recognizing that U.S. NOAA raster charting is changing now...)
- periodic chart updates
- user-chosen separate RADAR displays or overlays onto charts

I also appreciate a few "nice to have" capabilities:
- tides and currents displayed on the chart
- depth shading

Then there are what I'd call bling and glitz, rarely useful for me, not what I'd use to select nav equipment -- and not capabilities that I've used often even though I've had some of these:
- 3D displays
- Overhead photography
- auto routing
- I hardly ever even use waypoints or pre-planned routes

I haven't decided my thoughts about WiFi. Sounds like maybe a way to avoid fishing cables throughout the boat, from sensor to display. If reliable? Sounds like a way to upload/download points, tracks, and routes... although I haven't found using an SD card to be much of an obstacle. (Our new-to-us Garmin 7612xsv, at least one generator old, has WiFi. Haven't seen any value in that; had to upload software and chart updates from an SD card anyway.) Displaying something on external devices? Ho hum.

Anyway... I have difficulty postulating additional "improvements" that would seriously ring my chimes. Failure of imagination, I guess. Hence my preference to buy/install a nifty electronics suite once... and then just getting on with using it over our lifetime with the boat. (Repairs or failure replacements allowed.)

Just thoughts...

-Chris
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Old 02-15-2022, 08:18 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
Hence my preference to buy/install a nifty electronics suite once... and then just getting on with using it over our lifetime with the boat. (Repairs or failure replacements allowed.)

Just thoughts...

-Chris
Couldn't agree with you more! Did the same thing in 2015. Then Garmin stopped offering map updates. Instead of spending big $ to upgrade all the electronics, <$2K got me a new PC system and software. Other than buying some charts for Canada, this should see me through owning this boat.

Ted
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Old 02-15-2022, 08:24 AM   #3
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I'm of the same attitude as well. I want to buy the system and keep it until either some kind of failure, or a useful enough new feature drives an upgrade (some number of years down the road). If it's still doing what I need, I've got no problem with using something for 10+ years without an upgrade.
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Old 02-15-2022, 08:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
Several of the recent electronics-focused threads -- especially commentary about fast obsolescence and periodic upgrades -- led me to assess what "improvements" over time have seemed most useful to me.

And this might also speak to why I can't get enthused about running right down to the chandlers every three minutes to buy the latest and greatest...

So important steps forward, to me, have been:
- GPS
- the change from LORAN and other older nav aids to dedicated plotters
- auto pilots
- MFDs (and associated networking, screen splitting, etc.) versus dedicated plotters
- color versus grayscale or monochrome (charting, RADAR, depth)
- Instant re-draw
- user-chosen raster and vector charting (recognizing that U.S. NOAA raster charting is changing now...)
- periodic chart updates
- user-chosen separate RADAR displays or overlays onto charts

I also appreciate a few "nice to have" capabilities:
- tides and currents displayed on the chart
- depth shading

Then there are what I'd call bling and glitz, rarely useful for me, not what I'd use to select nav equipment -- and not capabilities that I've used often even though I've had some of these:
- 3D displays
- Overhead photography
- auto routing
- I hardly ever even use waypoints or pre-planned routes

I haven't decided my thoughts about WiFi. Sounds like maybe a way to avoid fishing cables throughout the boat, from sensor to display. If reliable? Sounds like a way to upload/download points, tracks, and routes... although I haven't found using an SD card to be much of an obstacle. (Our new-to-us Garmin 7612xsv, at least one generator old, has WiFi. Haven't seen any value in that; had to upload software and chart updates from an SD card anyway.) Displaying something on external devices? Ho hum.

Anyway... I have difficulty postulating additional "improvements" that would seriously ring my chimes. Failure of imagination, I guess. Hence my preference to buy/install a nifty electronics suite once... and then just getting on with using it over our lifetime with the boat. (Repairs or failure replacements allowed.)

Just thoughts...

-Chris
When you look at the current offerings in MFD's, compare them to the first generation of color Chart Plotters and then compare them with functionality of a tablet running navigation software, it is pretty evident to me that tablet based navigation is the future for the recreational market.

The shortcomings and limitations right now are related to bringing in local data from the boat (depth, radar, AIS, sonar). There are already some solutions available but I think the most turn key solutions rely on an MFD. I hope and believe we will eventually see a user friendly alternative to serve as a hub or for each device to communicate wirelessly (wifi or bluetooth) directly to the tablet. For example, rather than having a sounder module either built into your MFD or linked to your MFD, have the module communicate directly with a tablet or PC.
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Old 02-15-2022, 08:46 AM   #5
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I'm with Ted, Had enough of the fleecing of the garmin etc. I installed 2 displays 12v monitors from amazon $120 each 2 mini computers $200 each. Jelly keyboards etc 30 Each.
I installed open CPN on them gives me up to date charts at the click of the mouse, weather chart downloads and overlays etc. the monitors also operate as TV, Radio, Media, HDMI, Camera monitors etc. really multifunctional. also using a mini computer I have all computer function as well. All for around $350 a unit

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I also used a 12v Tyler lcd monitor.
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Old 02-15-2022, 08:52 AM   #6
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Couple of photos of the Tyler monitors / mini computers

Tyler Monitors
Mini computers. etc
Attached Thumbnails
20190914_060204.jpg   20190914_060213.jpg   20190915_081942.jpg  
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Old 02-15-2022, 09:20 AM   #7
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I'm the type that adopts a platform and uses it until I'm forced to change. I'd still be using a Palm Pilot for a cellular device if possible.

Marine electronics, in my opinion, are nearly mature technologies. The advances just aren't significant enough for me to change. And I prefer buttons to touchscreen, or a combination of buttons and touch (my favorite). So I have no interest in going all touch with the interface.

My other observation is that on boats with weather-protected helm stations as most on this forum have, MFD's do not need the same ruggedness as those installed on center console fishing boats. So we're not nearly as tethered to dedicated marine electronics with their waterproof cases.
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Old 02-15-2022, 09:30 AM   #8
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These are all good points. I had the helm space so I splurged with mfdís but maybe on my next build Iíll go with larger computer screens and separate processors. There is something nice though in everything being contained in one unit, but thatís not really true w it h our systems anyway. Perhaps in one more generation of networking standards the software will natter more than the hardware.
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Old 02-15-2022, 09:32 AM   #9
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As for useful vs glitz, I think AIS definitely goes on the Useful list. Same with the DSC distress function in VHFs. DSC calling, on the other hand, I think is a giant belly flop.
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Old 02-15-2022, 09:54 AM   #10
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As for useful vs glitz, I think AIS definitely goes on the Useful list. Same with the DSC distress function in VHFs. DSC calling, on the other hand, I think is a giant belly flop.
I agree on the DSC. I don't know any recreational fisherman that use it.
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Old 02-15-2022, 10:05 AM   #11
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Hi,

I agree with most of the OP's points tho I find AIS and Autorouting to be features I use on a daily basis. Funny story: I asked the Rosepoint folks about autorouting and they told me they don't provide it and would never. They felt it was dangerous and stated 'they are all about safety'. Dangerous asks I? Yes, what if I put you on an autoroute and did the same for others? You could hit each other! So autorouting implies that one should not look out the window, says I? I left somewhat dumbfounded... haha

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Old 02-15-2022, 10:08 AM   #12
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A Magellan 5000 was my first piece of electronic navigation equipment. I didn’t up grade until Raymarine offered the RL70 which gave me radar and rudimentary chart plotting. I skipped the up grades for color. I didn’t upgrade again until radar overlay and AIS became available. I am still using Raymarine E140w system. I am thinking about upgrading mainly for faster processors. I have noticed my old equipment is having challenges with heat and processing speed. However, I want a WIFI system so I can add equipment with out running wire everywhere.
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Old 02-15-2022, 10:10 AM   #13
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Makes me wonder why someone doesn't offer a touchscreen PC for flush mounting directed to compete with MFDs? Seems there is a business to be had there and not particularly hard to do. We build touchscreens into our products and it's not brain surgery. I may have missed it but I haven't seen such a product on the market. I'm thinking a 10-12" panel mount PC with WiFi and a NEMA 2000 interface for $1,200 or so, seems like it would sell well.
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Old 02-15-2022, 10:22 AM   #14
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Makes me wonder why someone doesn't offer a touchscreen PC for flush mounting directed to compete with MFDs? Seems there is a business to be had there and not particularly hard to do. We build touchscreens into our products and it's not brain surgery. I may have missed it but I haven't seen such a product on the market. I'm thinking a 10-12" panel mount PC with WiFi and a NEMA 2000 interface for $1,200 or so, seems like it would sell well.
It's pretty easy to find touch screen monitors, you just need to get creative about flush screen mounting. There are some outdoor flush mount monitors with the higher NITs levels made by smaller more specialized companies, but they are pricey.

Ted
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Old 02-15-2022, 10:23 AM   #15
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Auto-routing will probably always be a highly personal preference. It does not appeal to me, I simply enjoy planning out my own route, it is one of the most enjoyable aspects of running my own boat. That said, I really appreciate google maps routing me for traffic and going to unfamiliar locations on the road, if my water based navigation was so complex or such a constant chore, I would either appreciate the auto-routing feature or perhaps wouldn't enjoy running my own boat at all.

When I was boat shopping last year, I reached out to the current owner of my father's old boat which was back on the market to make an offer. He had made some upgrades to the boat including significant electronics upgrades which really didn't appeal to me, or not at the cost he incurred. He felt auto-routing was a must have and it was fully integrated into the (pre-existing) auto-pilot as well. In my experience, I need to be paying close attention at each course change anyway and to reach down and adjust the course is no hassle at all. We just didn't have the same value to that feature, I'm afraid that I insulted him with my offer. Then again, his boat is still for sale and I'm pleased with the boat I ended up with.
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Old 02-15-2022, 10:29 AM   #16
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AIS especially in high traffic areas such as Norfolk, VA or New York city or commercial shipping waterways such as Chesapeake Bay, Hudson river or the Great Lakes, are an absolute game changer. Pretty simple and reasonably priced to add to most systems with a NEMA 2000 network.

Ted
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Old 02-15-2022, 10:34 AM   #17
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I agree on AIS. Here in the PNW we have a lot of blind corners with commercial traffic traveling at 20+ kts. It’s really nice to know what is around the corner before you start to cut across VTS zone.
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Old 02-15-2022, 10:37 AM   #18
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Makes me wonder why someone doesn't offer a touchscreen PC for flush mounting directed to compete with MFDs? .
My 2022 SUV's Nav system uses my smart phone plugged into the vehicle's Nav screen. There are several nav apps that you download to your phone that work well. (Free) Makes me wonder if the same approach would work with the Navionics package. It doesn't have to be a full fledged computer as the Navionics app has one hell of a lot of bells & whistles that could be quite useful if viewed on a bigger screen. Of course the iPhone has GPS so the system could be used offshore as well! I currently use my phone on my Duffy for any nav data that I might want but a much larger screen would be quite helpful & I don't mean an iPad!
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Old 02-15-2022, 10:40 AM   #19
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Although my electronics are quite extensive, I can only think of one piece of equipment that qualifies as bling -- a radio direction finder. I bought it with the expectation that it would help with fishing. Oftentimes, on the offshore banks, particularly while fishing is slow, a guy will come on the radio and announce that he had found fish, giving his position with an invitation to join him. More often than not, those turn out to be hoax calls. With RDF and radar, I expected to be able to confirm that at least the radio call was coming from a boat at the reported position. In practice, I never bother to chase "radio fish".
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Old 02-15-2022, 11:13 AM   #20
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When you look at the current offerings in MFD's, compare them to the first generation of color Chart Plotters and then compare them with functionality of a tablet running navigation software, it is pretty evident to me that tablet based navigation is the future for the recreational market.
I like having tablets as backup, but can't say it's clear to me that's "the future." Too many things not solved yet (direct sunlight visibility, heat, etc.), too fragile (in case some dufus like me drops the thing), and too dependent on wireless technologies for sensor connections. Perhaps solvable, but I dunno that the recreational marine market is big enough to drive those solutions quickly.

But maybe. Like I said, just not obvious to me.


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As for useful vs glitz, I think AIS definitely goes on the Useful list. Same with the DSC distress function in VHFs. DSC calling, on the other hand, I think is a giant belly flop.
Ah. Forgot those, thanks. I agree, AIS is nifty, DSC distress calling is nifty.

I find no value in DSC calling. (Don't know anybody I'd want to call that way. Not sure I know anyone local who knows how to use it, anyway.)


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In practice, I never bother to chase "radio fish".
We have those around here, too. Haven't ever found a useful recipe for 'em.


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