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Electronics Ugrades - best approach?

Jan 9, 2020
35
J Boat J/42 1 New Castle NH
Hi - Coming back to this group after all the great advice helping me upgrade our 12V and Autopilot systems this past year. I'm seeking some input on best way to approach our navigation and instruments upgrade. The boat has a mix of legacy B&G Sailing instruments (wind & speed), Raytheon chartplotter (E80) and radar, and a B&G Autopilot. Ideally I'd like to keep the B&G wind and integrate the old nmea 0183 into a new NMEA 2000 network, enable this data to be displayed on a modern chartplotter. So my first thought was to go Garmin chartplotter, radar and A/P brain/control, and just ditch Raymarine and Seatalk. I think I'd need some sort of bidirectional and multiplexing capability to integrate 0183 with 2000. But I don't know enough about Raymarine and if it's more cost effective to upgrade to a R/M chartplotter and AP brain/controller, keep the radar and integrated the old B&G another way? Seems like there are so many options. The overall goal of upgrading to modern MFD/Chartplotter and network is to facilitate the impl of AIS, engine diagnostics, etc.

Thanks for any insights and advice.
Sean C - J/42 VIDA
 
Oct 22, 2014
13,057
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
You need to choose a place to start then follow the path.

You have listed the existing pieces, but no info about their age and status of working or not.

You will find it is possible to connect different systems i.e. B&G - Garmin - Raymarine... but it is not always easy nor inexpensive.

You have the Raymarine SeaTalk wiring. If in good shape that may help to reduce your costs. On the other hand if you really like the capabilities of Garmin or B&G then you will be pulling the Seatalk wiring and installing a new "Backbone" to carry your data.

I would List the current systems by model, age and function. Then I would explore the new systems for what helps me sail the way I want to sail. That will let you decide on a system. Then from your list eliminate the incompatible or duplicated parts.

There is another school of thought.

Perhaps all this integration is actually creating a risk to your cruising. If you have one system go down and then the whole system fails. Where are you? This argument is for quality individual systems that each provide a piece of your navigational data. That way if one fails you have other methods to keep on cruising until you get safely back to port.
 
Jan 9, 2020
35
J Boat J/42 1 New Castle NH
Good advice, thanks John. Basically it's two groups of electronics: 1) 20+ year old B&H H1000 sailing instruments and A/P "brain" and 2) 8-10 yr old Raymarine GPS Chartplotter and radar. I admit, I'm not exactly sure of my goal yet, and was just trying to flesh out some opinions and viable tech options considering the mix of old and new that help me find that path. I know going to all Garmin on NMEA2K will run $4-5K (chartplotter, radar, ap), and it's feasible to integrate the old B&G wind/speed using a multiplexer. I would like to have the modern GPS and mapping abilities that the latest gen technology offers. From what I've learned so far, sticking with Raymarine would still require a new network to be installed and ripping out the old seatalk. Not sure if Raymarine makes it easier to integrate with the old stuff. As for redundancy, I have handheld radio and gps, and those are sufficient. So maybe it comes down to preference of manufacturers and ultimately, price, like most everything in this sport.
 
Jan 11, 2014
6,099
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Some of the early NMEA 0183 protocols do not translate well to NMEA 2000. I had legacy B & G network AP, wind, speed and depth. B & G advised me that the Network Series would not work with modern NMEA 2000. If it won't work within the brand, then there would seem to be a good chance it won't work cross brand.

When I upgraded my electronics I took a 2 step approach. First step was to add Zeus2 and 4G radar. Two years later I added Triton2 instruments and upgraded the AP computer. The below decks drive was fine. This approach spread the cost out over the a couple of years.
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,396
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
Yes, you can convert NMEA 2000 to NMEA0183. Yes, you can convert NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 to Seatalk and/or SEatalkNG I have done every combination. It will not always translate all of the sentences.
I don't understand why you think the wind meter is the one to keep. (Wind sensors are the most likely to fail of all instruments.) That aside, if you want to be able to set your AP to track a wind angle then you need to have the same brand/system course computer.
Let's follow this further:
If you want the AP to work well with your CP, then you need the same brand/system.
If you want your CP to work well with your instruments, then you need the same brand/system.
If you have any problems interfacing them, and need tech support, then you need the same brand/system. I've been down that road with mixing systems and advise against it. (Won't hijack this thread with the details)
All of the brands of current model CPs will display AIS from any brand AIS transceiver that supports NMEA2000.
Keep in mind the AP, CP, and Radar are the most expensive components.
My best advice: Chose brand by which CP and radar you like. Factor in support and price. If you like the Garmin CP and radar, go Garmin. If you prefer B&G or any other, go with that.
 
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Oct 22, 2014
13,057
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
it comes down to preference of manufacturers and ultimately, price, like most everything in this sport.
I see the addition of Radar to your list.
I recently attended a class on Radar. The instructor made an interesting comment. Find a GUI Interface that makes sense to you. That has on the screen the info you will use. That has a menu system that allows you to get at the information you need to safely navigate the waters around you.

That made lots of sense to me Not sure how to implement it but I am in the process. It will take some time to inspect the various offerings then sit at their screen and manipulate the various options. The Instructor said he was becoming a believer in Simrad. He liked the integration of radar and AIS to learn info to improve the communication to possible conflicting targets.
 
Oct 22, 2014
13,057
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
All that said I like the thinking of John Harries (MorgansCloud.com) regarding electronics on cruising boats.
He favors "freestanding" systems and systems marketed for Commercial use. If a Commercial Fishing captain feels it is good it should be useful for a recreational boat.
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,396
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
All that said I like the thinking of John Harries (MorgansCloud.com) regarding electronics on cruising boats.
He favors "freestanding" systems and systems marketed for Commercial use. If a Commercial Fishing captain feels it is good it should be useful for a recreational boat.
This stuff is very reliable and that approach might be OK for people who have a spacious bridge and enough crew to watch all the instruments and correlate them. But the average recreational sailor benefits from integrated systems and can do more than those separate systems. The integrated system is greater than the sum of the parts.
I want to be able to set my autopilot to track a wind angle. I want radar overlay on the chart-plotter screen so I can easily see which blobs are buoys, rocks or other things. I want AIS on the chart-plotter screen, to see other boats' speed/direction and more. Separate radar, separate C-P and separate AIS, and an AP that doesn't talk with anything else renders them all less useful.
If I was fitting out a new boat I'd get this -
 
Last edited:
Jan 11, 2014
6,099
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
This stuff is very reliable and that approach might be OK for people who have a spacious bridge and enough crew to watch all the instruments and correlate them. But the average recreational sailor benefits from integrated systems and can do more than those separate systems. The integrated system is greater than the sum of the parts.
I want to be able to set my autopilot to track a wind angle. I want radar overlaid on the chart-plotter screen so I can easily see which blobs are buoys, rocks or other things. I want AIS on the chart-plotter screen, to see other boats' speed/direction and more. Separate radar, separate C-P and separate AIS, and an AP that doesn't talk with anything else renders them all less useful.
If I was fitting out a new boat I'd get this -
The Vesper Cortex is a sweet unit. Unfortunately (?) my VHF and AIS are too new to justify the purchase of a Cortex.

The one downfall of a highly integrated system is the lack of redundancy. Our VHF with AIS and GPS is not connected to the primary electronics network. Thus if the main system crashes or fails, I still have the VHF back up, along with a handheld VHF with similar functions.
 
Jan 19, 2010
648
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
Like you, I had an unmatched assortment of instruments that included DataMarine, Furuno, Garmin and Raymarine. Researched the crap out the main operatives ( Furuno, Garmin, Simrad, Raymarine) I finally settled on Raymarine. Hybrid touch screen MFD with Digital color radar was my preference.....
 
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leo310

.
Dec 15, 2006
298
Catalina Catlina 310 Campbell River BC
Have you talked to your marine hardware stores to see what they could do for a complete package? B&G, Garmin and Raymarine all have the same instruments and doing NEMA2k is easy not like NEMA 0183. You just have to pick what is best for your requirements. Remember some instruments can be wireless and what type of charts you like ie C-Map
.
 
Oct 22, 2014
13,057
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
Separate radar, separate C-P and separate AIS, and an AP that doesn't talk with anything else renders them all less useful.
LARRY, you are correct. The concept of integration is powerful. All your systems in one place. Electronic control of your boat. Push button interface and the boat responds to you touch. Very seductive.

For the greatest percentage of boat owners who cruise in known waters, under benign conditions, in close proximity to rescue resources such systems are wonderful.

At the same time which of the systems on a boat might be critical to your survival. In waters where help might be 72 hours away. Waters where the weather may turn from benign to frightening, or worse grey oblivion. The survival of you, your crew depends on your boat and your skills to find safe harbor. When your integrated MFD shorts out, an independent radar may be worth its weight in gold. The independent radio separate from the MFD May still work to make emergency calls. Engine critical gauges that are analog and not dependent on the digital signals piped through fried wiring.

Just because the systems are separate does not mean in this day and age that you cannot have the sensor signals repeated to your MFD, while it is working.

Systems can be positioned to be useful to both a helm person and crew. Teaching crew to operate these systems is important to safe boat operations.

Such ideas are presented here to share alternative thoughts. Each owner must evaluate their own exposure and reach a solution that works best for them and their boat.
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,396
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
LARRY, you are correct. The concept of integration is powerful. All your systems in one place. Electronic control of your boat. Push button interface and the boat responds to you touch. Very seductive.

For the greatest percentage of boat owners who cruise in known waters, under benign conditions, in close proximity to rescue resources such systems are wonderful.

At the same time which of the systems on a boat might be critical to your survival. In waters where help might be 72 hours away. Waters where the weather may turn from benign to frightening, or worse grey oblivion. The survival of you, your crew depends on your boat and your skills to find safe harbor. When your integrated MFD shorts out, an independent radar may be worth its weight in gold. The independent radio separate from the MFD May still work to make emergency calls. Engine critical gauges that are analog and not dependent on the digital signals piped through fried wiring.

Just because the systems are separate does not mean in this day and age that you cannot have the sensor signals repeated to your MFD, while it is working.

Systems can be positioned to be useful to both a helm person and crew. Teaching crew to operate these systems is important to safe boat operations.

Such ideas are presented here to share alternative thoughts. Each owner must evaluate their own exposure and reach a solution that works best for them and their boat.
I don’t wish to argue, but wish to make the counterpoint that the most likely failure scenarios are:
A) low voltage due to faulty charging systems and/or weak/inadequate batteries
B) lightning strike
Either of those are likely to affect all the powered electrical systems, and components won’t add fault tolerance. Not only that, separate components would likely use more aggregate power, and exacerbate scenario A unless you shut some of them down.
 
Jan 9, 2020
35
J Boat J/42 1 New Castle NH
Exactly the type of advice and feedback I was hoping for and will really help me move this project along, so many thanks! I think integration is a priority for me along with intuitiveness and usability of functions. I've gotten so use to Garmin over the years, it's just tough to deal with older raymarine. So maybe I'll try out the new Raymarine MFD's in a store/online. I can live with wind and autopilot on an older system until I can phase those into a modern platform. I wonder if a 10yr old Raymarine radar (seatalk?) will work on a newer Raymarine MFD (Seatalk nG?)?
 
Jun 14, 2010
1,396
Quorning Dragonfly 1200 home
wonder if a 10yr old Raymarine radar (seatalk?) will work on a newer Raymarine MFD (Seatalk nG?)?
Probably not, unless the new MFD is backward compatible. Those old analog cables are huge and new digital radar cables are much thinner, different interface. The new digital radars are so much better it’s worth the upgrade if your budget allows.
 
Nov 8, 2007
1,330
Hunter 27_75-84 Sandusky Harbor Marina, Ohio
Interesting conversation. We gave cruised over 7,000 nm On the Great Lakes, and 15 weeks of charters in the US, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and British Virgins. A depth gauge, handheld graphic GPS, radio, tiller pilot, and iPhone are really all we have needed. The one exception was radar for the thick fog in New England, where there was lots of traffic.

I‘ve chartered for weeks on boats with integrated systems, and used them. Nice, but honestly, I wouldn’t pay for one on our boat. Just my take.
 

MarcW

.
Dec 9, 2019
8
Hunter 356 Lancaster
I know this probably isn’t popular to the purists but after trying to mess around with slightly older nav tech I just use my iPad. We keep a spare down below and use a weather proof case for it at the pedestal. We also have iPhones which work as backup. We also have the usual Raymarine wind, speed, depth and autopilot stuff.
 
Jan 11, 2014
6,099
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
I know this probably isn’t popular to the purists but after trying to mess around with slightly older nav tech I just use my iPad. We keep a spare down below and use a weather proof case for it at the pedestal. We also have iPhones which work as backup. We also have the usual Raymarine wind, speed, depth and autopilot stuff.
This really depends on the kind of sailing you do and the area in which you sail. For 30 or so years I sailed with minimal navigation equipment, Speed, depth, compass and handheld GPS. Before that it was a compass and a boombox. LORAN C was a big deal. On Eastern Lake Ontario the waters are wide open and deep, no real need for fancy electronics.

Since adding a CP a few years ago, I do appreciate having the chart easily visible from the helm, far better than trying to look down a paper chart or chart book to see where you are the obstacles ahead.
 

MarcW

.
Dec 9, 2019
8
Hunter 356 Lancaster
This really depends on the kind of sailing you do and the area in which you sail. For 30 or so years I sailed with minimal navigation equipment, Speed, depth, compass and handheld GPS. Before that it was a compass and a boombox. LORAN C was a big deal. On Eastern Lake Ontario the waters are wide open and deep, no real need for fancy electronics.

Since adding a CP a few years ago, I do appreciate having the chart easily visible from the helm, far better than trying to look down a paper chart or chart book to see where you are the obstacles ahead.
I agree it all depends on the sailing. Around the Chesapeake rivers I find simplicity is best. Cruising around the world would have me upgrading.
 
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