Another GPS glitch, some Northstars & ? affected

Northstar 952xd

There’s been a slight change in the GPS satellite system and it’s messing up some older Northstar sets—i.e. certain 941, 951, 952, 961, and 962 Navigators, depending on their software version. Northstar has a tech bulletin online, along with a more detailed PDF.

They’ve already got a downloadable software fix for the 941/51/52 series, which has be installed via a PC connection, and a 961/62 fix on a $20 CD will soon be available for use with a CD installer. Some users may want to ship units in for a factory install ($65) or get their own installer on it. But at least he won’t be going through this bother an installer wrote me about shortly before the tech bulletin came out (thanks, David!):

…one of our customers had a problem with his Northstar 941. The system would start and run ok but each morning we would find that it had lost its satellite signal. If we shut the 941 down then restarted it, the system would work normally again until the next night. We sent the display for bench repair but still had the problem. We then installed a new antenna and still had the problem. At this point we found out that Northstar has a problem with the older units.

The real question: are there other manufacturer’s GPS units out there that may go goofy when the newly “healthy” PRN 32 satellite comes over the horizon? Plus, does your GPS warn you sufficiently when and if it ever does lose position? (An empty coffee can is generally all you need as a test instrument!) Questions like these—as well as last summer’s WAAS wackiness, and odd bugs like Garmin’s midnight GMT problem (now fixed)—suggest the value of having two or three different brand GPS sensors on your NMEA 2000 network, not to mention eLoran backup

PS: Yipe: other gear with PRN32 problems include two Class A AIS transponders. Also, Alan Spicer is hearing about the Northstar problem from the megayachts.

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

3 Responses

  1. Thanks for the mention, Ben. Yah I got my first email about this from megayacht, and I thought it was worth passing on to the yachting community. The guy also had sent me a Word Doc from Northstar, so I turned it into a PDF doc and made it available on the web.

    Alan Spicer

  2. Russ says:

    Nice to know this since I’ve got a 952. Thanks for the heads up!

  3. Eliboat says:

    Yes, Thanks for that bulletin Ben. I have noticed something very similar to this occurring on an older (5 years or so) Simrad chartplotter. I wonder if they have a fix for this as well, or if it’s completely unrelated.

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