Electronics Ugrades - best approach?

Jun 14, 2010
1,725
TBD Looking for my next boat CT
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 is an increasingly popular solution. I started using PC-based navigation in 2001. Then started using my iPhone/iPad with Navionics. Since the addition of the "auto-route" feature it's evolved to a point where it's my primary planning tool and the PC navigation is redundant and more expensive. I still use Rosepoint Navigation's Coastal Explorer application for more detailed planning. However, the Navionics is just another useful tool in the bag -- the chartplotter and speed/wind/depth displays at the helm are still the hub of "here and now" helming information. Even though I added wireless NMEA capability so I can now display AIS on the Navionics app, the chartplotter display shows better AIS info, and overlays radar too, for a more complete real-time infomations display to augment what we can see around us.
 
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Oct 22, 2014
16,101
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
I still use Rosepoint Navigation's Coastal Explorer application for more detailed planning.
I have been using CE since 2015. It is a robust piece of software. Runs on Windows OS. 2019 they introduced an app version for the iPad. True to Microsoft software development it was put out in the field and tested with flaws. It has been getting better but is limited by the attachment to the original windows design.

Then I was introduced to a Mac laptop. One now very functional bit of software is OpenCPN. I’ve been using it for about a year. Very impressed. There are some quirks but it is probably more me than the software. Charts are free for us as NOAA charts are used (Both raster and vector are supported). The Canadian ENC charts work fine. :)
 
Jun 12, 2020
13
Hunter 410 Boston, MA
Converters from NEMA 0183 to 2000 are expensive. If funding allows, you may wish to replace your older equipment if your getting a new chartplotter and expect everything to show up on it. I was able to directly connect an 0183 output from a Standard Horizon radio to view AIS targets on a B&G Zeus (1st generation) chartplotter.

The Vesper AIS has a 0183 gateway. XB-8000 Class B AIS Transponder with WiFi | Vesper Marine
 
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Oct 29, 2018
22
Hunter MH37 Mississauga
One more consideration for upgrades is the ability to upgrade software on all components as new versions for bug fixes and features are released. All brands allow some version of integrated system wide upgrades through the MFD, either via a memory card or direct over wifi on techie internet, however everything needs to be the same brand and also a supported model (usually released within the past 7). For example, Raymarine no longer provides software upgrades to their A, C or E-series MFD, unless there is a reported bug that can impact on safety. Anything older is no longer supported, but software last versions of software can still be downloaded. Same goes for all brands. This doesn’t mean that all your displays and instruments become obsolete, just that they stop offering the user enhancements as software and hardware keeps advancing.
My experience is the MFD is the heart of your system, so start there and upgrade around it. Your wind, speed and depth are almost certainly NMEA0183 so a gateway to N2K is required. If you need new ones of those, get N2K versions. Airmar manufactures them white labeled for all the main brands.
The AP will not integrate well for into a different brand of MFD for control through the MFD. That applies even under the same brand if the AP is an old non-current model.
Displays usually integrate well regardless of brand, just need to work through the communication protocols and conversions as may be required.
Hope this helps.
 
Jun 30, 2020
28
Hunter 356 Noank, CT
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.
Can you point to apps for the iPad such as a chart plotter that work for you? Many thanks,

Jerry
 

CarlN

.
Jan 4, 2009
577
Ketch 55 Bristol, RI
When I was outfitting a new boat ten years ago - I thought first about ease of use. The electronics had to be usable by both my wife and I without resorting to a manual. Garmin won. I'm in the process of buying another boat that comes with new Raymarine equipment. I'm going take out the chartploter and sell it on Ebay - replacing it with Garmin. I'm sure it's a good system but I know how to use Garmin and it's not worth the time at my age to learn a new system - and my wife would likely just refuse. In ease of use - Garmin still seems to be king.

So I'd go with your first plan of installing Garmin. The NMEA 0183 instruments should interface - either with a NMEA 2000 converter or perhaps directly into the Garmin 0183 inputs - although I doubt the latter. And if you like the autopilot, why not leave it as is? The only reason to connect your autopilot to a chartplotter is to do routes - which might work on a motorboat but are a stupid idea on a sailboat where every turn involves sail adjustments and winching. Not to mention constantly dodging lobster pots. Is it really that much added trouble to change course on the autopilot control when you get to a waypoint?

And if budget is a problem, leave out the $4000 radar (including installation) in favor of a good $500 AIS transponder you can install yourself that displays on the chartplotter (and a tablet by wifi). When I started sailing in Maine 40 years ago, I lusted after a radar. But now I only turn mine on a few times a year. The chartplotter keeps you from hitting the rocks and the AIS keeps you from being run down by the Rockland ferry. Those were always my two big worries. Everyone over 65ft now has AIS and a majority over 40ft. Even some lobstermen - although who ever heard of a lobsterman hitting a sailboat? - they just like to scare us with a wake or two.
 
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Jan 7, 2011
2,913
Oday 322 East Chicago, IN
I have been replacing things as needed...but trying to upgrade when they do need to be replaced...first thing up was a VHF radio. Boat had 2 when I bought it...some antique thing at the nav station and one at the helm that bit the dust. After some consideration, I upgraded to a B&G v50, that sits in the nav station, but that also includes a handheld unit at the helm. The handheld just interfaces with the main unit, so it uses the full power and antenna from the main unit. It also has AIS receiver aNd uses N2K to feed AIS info to the CP and to get Lat/Lon info from the CP for DSC. I like the set up.

I thought I needed to replace my AP, but after tearing it apart, rewiring the motor unit and cleaning the gear box, I think I can’ wait a while longer. Same with wind instrument...should replace the order Tac Tic wireless as it doesn’t talk to anything else...but I see a Ray Marine device that will interface with the wireless device, and lets you communicate via SeaTalkNg. $300 or so...may delay having to buy new.

But hey, I am a cheap bas$tard.

Greg
 
Jan 19, 2010
951
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
I did the opposite.. went from Garmin to Raymarine.. A club mate who liked what I'd done went with Raymarine. 3 years difference in the systems... it might as well be 20 ! So, don't assume that the new Garmin will be just like the old...Technology leap frogs lives us old farts in the dust...
 
Aug 7, 2015
68
Oday 34 previous, O’Day 40 current Annapolis
I’m facing a similar quandary, older boat needing new electronics... Agree the idea of systems integration is enticing, where everything fits together & works, until something goes south. Surprisingly, that was an easier choice than choosing the primary electronics. $300 later armed with Open Plotter, I’ve now got a pretty good stand alone CP/ais system on my chart table.

Now for the rest of the kit. I’m buggered to know why the below deck APs should be the most expensive single part of the system; if you can find anybody’s setup for less than $3,200 out of the box, I’d sure like to know about it. I’ll probably install myself as the quotes I’ve received seem to be at least another $3,500.

I too sailed for years w/o radar & now in my advanced age still remember passing through a narrow channel in the fog & feeling the breeze from a passing ferry that I could not see. Never again!
 
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Jan 11, 2014
7,827
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Now for the rest of the kit. I’m buggered to know why the below deck APs should be the most expensive single part of the system; if you can find anybody’s setup for less than $3,200 out of the box, I’d sure like to know about it. I’ll probably install myself as the quotes I’ve received seem to be at least another $3,500.
There are more components to the below deck AP and they need to be beefier than a wheel pilot.

At least for the B&G pilots the computer does a lot and while not necessary, the Precision multi-axial compass compensates for pitch and roll and is more accurate than a GPS heading. the cheapest part of the system is rudder indicator which is not necessary for a wheel pilot. And lets not forget the bronze rudder arm from Edson.

The improved performance of a good below decks unit is worth every penny.
 

MarcW

.
Dec 9, 2019
18
Hunter 356 Lancaster
Can you point to apps for the iPad such as a chart plotter that work for you? Many thanks,

Jerry
Navionics. I should add that it's not a complete solution that a high end chart plotter will give you. For instance, I haven't figured out if it's possible to drive the autopilot. If you have a network (NMEA 2000, 0183, seatalk) you can get data to the iPad but again it's not a complete solution. I would say if you're looking for a long distance cruising solution that will monitor/control everything, then I'd go with a panel mount chartplotter. If you just sail on weekends locally or inland waterways, then the iPad is plenty. The other things an iPad can do are pretty useful like pulling up a Dockwa reservation or looking at a user manual, playing solitaire, etc.
 
Apr 8, 2011
467
Hunter 36 Deale, MD
I have an aging mixed and integrated system of Garmin GPS, Chartplotter, HD radar, satellite weather, and AIS receive VHF radio, which are connected to my Raymarine wind, depth, speed and autopilot. Its got SeaTalkNG and NMEA 2000 systems and I've set it up to broadcase wifi data so my iPad can display the information. The system works very well together and multiple friends who were US Navy Surface Warfare Officers marvel over the integration of everything on my 12" chartplotter (radar won't stream to my iPad on this old system). In their opinion its much more usable than anything they saw in the Navy (though admittedly their experience is somewhat dated now). Now I didn't say "better", as any single part of that system is blown away by military hardware capabilities. But for an Officer of the Deck, all the information is available in one place and intuitively manageable and in their opinion quite impressive. Its also overkill for a bay boat, but the PO put it on there so I just get to enjoy it. I'm convinced integrated information is worth any risk of potential system failure taking it all down.

I do think a backup iPad to my system - and a backup iPhone - are more than sufficient should I have a catastrophic or even systemic failure. Also, there's paper charts and the compass. I will say this: I can almost guarantee that on 9 of 10 boats the iPad or iPhone chart will be more up to date than the one in the chartplotter - and I'd probably lay money on that being 10 out of 10 of any randomly picked group of boats.
 
Jan 19, 2010
951
Catalina 34 Casco Bay
I’m facing a similar quandary, older boat needing new electronics... Agree the idea of systems integration is enticing, where everything fits together & works, until something goes south. Surprisingly, that was an easier choice than choosing the primary electronics. $300 later armed with Open Plotter, I’ve now got a pretty good stand alone CP/ais system on my chart table.

Now for the rest of the kit. I’m buggered to know why the below deck APs should be the most expensive single part of the system; if you can find anybody’s setup for less than $3,200 out of the box, I’d sure like to know about it. I’ll probably install myself as the quotes I’ve received seem to be at least another $3,500.

I too sailed for years w/o radar & now in my advanced age still remember passing through a narrow channel in the fog & feeling the breeze from a passing ferry that I could not see. Never again!
Louis, by any chance are you a Brit?
 
Aug 1, 2019
51
hunter 22 Colorado
IMHO, The key to long term success is - start with the network. Install one modern network backbone (like nmea2000) or compatible network (SeaTalkng). Then you can take all the rest one-at-a-time. As you go along, either adapt your old instrument to your backbone or buy new one.

Its a lot easier to make one choice at a time. Spreads the cost too. :)

The compatibility and capability of NMEA industry standard has made life sooo much easier.
 
Jan 21, 2014
18
hunter 356 malta
So I have been through a similar process but ultimately my main influence was the ability to update the software on my kit. I upgraded my RM wheel pilot but to take the latest software updates I had to have a modern MFD. A modern MFD means digital radar. It is the ease of updating the software which had driven me down the raymarine track. No regrets the modern kit is great especially the radar which consumes so little power that I can use it!
 
Jan 9, 2020
53
J J/42 1 New Castle NH
Based on a lot of good info offered here, and my diminishing boat budget this year, I've evolved my plans for this next season. I've realized the older Raymarine E80 is actually a pretty capable unit, and while not as easy as NM2K, getting NMEA 0183 integrated is doable. So I installed a Em-Track B924 AIS transponder which gets me AIS to the E80 and helps multiplex NMEA data. For now, my next priority is dealing with my aging H1000 pilot display, so I'm looking into legacy Raymarine units that I can connect directly to my B&G T1 ram unit (recently rebuilt). Then I'll have (working) B&G wind/speed/depth instruments sending data over the fastnet (H1000) wires to a B&G universal junction, which inputs fastnet and talks NMEA 0183 to my AIS unit, which tehn multiplexes AIS and instrument data to my E80/seatalk. If I can find the right Raymarine AP brain and control display, I'll buy myself another year or two...
 
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Jan 11, 2014
7,827
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
The B&G ram is basically dumb. Current is applied in one direction and the ram extends. Reverse the current and the ram recedes.

The same process works with the RM wheel pilots, current applied in one direction it turns right, reverse the current and it turns the other way.

The big issue will be handling the current that passes through the brains. I would think any RM unit that could handle a RM Ram of a similar or larger size boat would work.