Furuno FI-50 instruments, finally here

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.

16 Responses

  1. Russ says:

    I’ve had the FI50’s installed for about six weeks on my boat and I can confirm both the low power consumption and the excellent visibility. They do have some issues with polarized sun glasses when viewed off angle, as do most LED displays. I would also like to see a lot more versatility in the Digital display. However, they have calibrated the input from a generic Airmar DST2000 without any problem.

  2. Ben;
    Have you verified if the masthead wind unit is 100% NMEA compatible? I think you were questioning this at some point.
    We have a Garmin GMI-10 instrument installed, and I don’t feel want to install another instrument to get wind spped and direction.

  3. caribelectronics says:

    Furuno make solid, reliable kit. I only wish that it looked better. I think displays like this would be more at home on a gas station pump. This kind of 7 segment display is a throwback. It’s especially poor in the smaller type, look at WSPD where the letter ‘D’ looks like an ‘O’ with two wings.
    Garmin, Raymarine and Maretron can give us clear normal looking figures and text, why not Furuno.
    How about soft keys, instead of printing additional functions on a 90’s style bezel.
    Furuno, get some new designers and give us solid, reliable, good looking kit.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Furuno give us very low power consumption displays check the rating of the maretron, raycrap ones etc.

  5. Olsonist says:

    I’m going to be buying between 5 and 8 FI50 displays for my boat. Out of the box, the FI50 is the cat’s meow as far as I’m concerned.
    But … I have a few feature requests. Does anyone have a contact for the Furuno technical marketing rep?

  6. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Olsonist: Cat’s meow ? Why not the Raymarine ST70 or Garmin GMI 10 ?
    What type of boat ?

  7. Olsonist says:

    Express 37 sailboat for racing.
    The daylight visibility on the Garmin isn’t very good; it’s not a transflective display. Really I want less information which is extremely readable, and the FI504 is simple, flexible and readable. I think the ST70 and the GMI10 want to be MFDs.
    So for this application, it’s the cat’s meow. Also, it’s way better than Ockam or BandG or NKE or Nexus.

  8. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Olsonist: Ah … a real performance racing boat and a beauty too. No doubt your going to put a few displays on the mast, and these Furuno’s are perrrrfect.
    Check out this race analysis software link below. As your designing your new system you might want to consider finding a handy way to capture the GPS, wind, and other data so you can run it thru this analysis software. They even mention the earlier version of the Airmar weather station (you asked me questions about) among the tested configuations they have for their product.
    I bought a copy of this software under a promotion where they created an image of my sailboat for the software to use with the on the water play back feature. I look forward to using it this spring when I splash my boat.

  9. Olsonist says:

    Yeah, I’m all over the Weathergage folks, and I already have the Maretron USB100 Gateway to get the data into a laptop.
    The Express is getting a thorough refit, new deck, new winches, …. The new electronics is completely NMEA 2000 and and the transducers are completely ultrasonic. Most of the finishing touches I learned here from you, Ben and the other Panbots.
    I look forward to using it this spring when I splash my boat.
    Tell me about it. Hopefully I’ll make the Vallejo race in May.

  10. Russ says:

    I’ve had 7 of the FI-50’s installed on my boat since last spring. You are correct that the 504’s are simple and don’t consume much power. I’ve found the off angle viewing to be somewhat problematic, particularly with polaroid sunglasses. At night I found the off angle viewing to be more restricted, and the dimmest setting to be too bright on ocean passages.
    The 501 is particularly bad at night with a fairly large outline around the digital display that obscures the needle in the down wind running angles. You’ll never use it to see if you’re by-the-lee at night.
    I suggest getting one and checking the readability during the day at the angles you expect to view them, and then also at night. You may want to adjust he contrast levels and see if it helps the night viewing.
    I had some very early units which had bugs in the firmware, but were later updated and solved the problems. My firmware is now at A0113 and B0101.
    Good luck in the Vallejo race!

  11. Ian says:

    Great comments. This is the feedback that really helps when choosing equipment such as this (read: expensive and permanent). So my question is what would you choose instead of the FI-50 gear? I hate brightness at night, and the other shortcomings you mention seem annoying as well. I do like the old-school look though.

  12. Ted Arisaka says:

    Looks like Furuno is updating their “old school” look with an RD33 Remote Display multi purpose display, at least in Japan. It can connect via “N2K” (aka CAN bus ha). LEN is 6 though, I guess that is to be expected.
    Web link http://www.furuno.co.jp/en/product/marine/details/s-rd_33.html

  13. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Good find! Looks like there’s a matching GP33 GPS unit as well:

  14. Recovering Racer says:

    There’s a little RD33 info on the Furunousa website, including an operators manual. http://www.furunousa.com/ProductDocuments/RD33%20Operator's%20Manual%20A%20%201-2010.pdf. To me, the most interesting part is the 9.5 Input/Output section, where the “CAN” to 0183 translation is discussed. On the surface, it looks more through than either the Simrad or Actisense bridge units. I wish they’d publish the transmit frequencies; it dosen’t look as though they could transmit all the NMEA 0183 sentences at one per second. They must slow some transmissions down like the Simrad AT-10 does.

  15. Ted Arisaka says:

    Ben / RR:
    Thanks for the additional links. Here are a few images on a UK online store, where it states Jul / Aug 2010 availability.
    Best Regards,

  16. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, gents! These new products interested me so much, I just finished a long entry about them:

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