Garmin GWS 10, hands on #2


I’m pleased to report that wind speed and direction data from Garmin’s GWS 10 NMEA 2000 wind wand shows up fine on all the N2K instrument displays and MFDs in the lab.  (There is a small problem with the GWS’s air temp and pressure data, which Garmin will probably fix quickly.)  The only oddity is a substantial response lag on the Raymarine ST70 (but I understand that a major software update of that unit is coming soon). Using the GMI 10 or a Garmin MFD like the 5212 you can correct the vane’s offset (if the masthead install wasn’t perfect) or dial in speed and direction dampening factors if you don’t like the “auto” modes (I do, so far). Aside from the ST70, all displays responded instantly to such calibrations.
    While it’s nice that sensor/display mixing is possible, Garmin deserves applause for the wind screens it created for the GMI 10. The Garmin coders might consider “borrowing” that rectangular gauge design from Raymarine — which makes maximum use of the screen — but Raymarine, and Maretron, ought to “borrow” a lot from Garmin…

Below is the first menu you get to if you’re using the GMI 10’s close-hauled wind screen. Here you can easily switch back and forth from Apparent to True, set the Speed Source for the flavor of “True” wind you want, and scale the close-hauled gauge to your desires (20-40 degrees is the tightest scale available, and it shows slight course/wind changes very well).  You can also set up and scale the automatic downwind gauge that can show up when you point your boat that way. When I first mentioned that feature I wrongly thought that it was part of the standard 360 degree wind display, but it is nonetheless a brilliant idea.
   If you simply set a GMI 10 to be a Wind display, you’ll get all the screens seen on that last link plus a nicely designed Ground Wind dial (which is what most everyone but sailors thinks of as true wind), and another data screen set up to show air temp and barometric pressure, all of which can be customized to one degree or another from a context aware first menu. And it gets better. When I first tried the GMI 10, you couldn’t use any of the fancy Surface, Water, or Fuel screens if you wanted to set up your own custom set of screen pages. That problem is gone.  Besides adding the Wind screen set, Garmin’s new GMI software lets you use any fancy screen in a custom page set, and choose them in a neat way I hadn’t even imagined. This is valuable to power boaters too (who may not have read this far ;-), and will hence be detailed in another entry.


PS (3/11): Garmin sent some GMI screen shots. The set below pretty much represents what you get if you just choose Wind as the Instrument Type, but any can be used in a custom page set along with snazzy speed, depth, fuel, etc. screens.


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.

9 Responses

  1. norse says:

    Garmin sure is shy about showing screenshots of the GMI 10. I think all of the displays shown above are too much like a traditional analog wind display. I would like to see something like the heading display on the GHC 10, with a close-up of the appropriate section of a big dial instead of trying to fit the whole dial into a small window.
    For screenshots, see the Garmin website or the Panbo article Dec. 7, 2008 “Garmin AP, P47 worthy; how about you?”. BTW, I’m still waiting for a manual or something from Garmin to explain the bottom half of that screenshot. Or see the Panbo article Sep 12, 2008 “Garmin GWS 10, N2K weather whirly”. BTW, the fuel gauge screenshot shown there has a rather unique set of tick-marks — they divide the tank into 12ths.
    On the downwind screen for the GMI 10, why do they have a gap between 160 port and 160 starboard? See Panbo Nov 5, 2008 “Garmin at FLIBS, 640 & GWS 10”.
    The screenshot on the cover of the GMI 10 “quick start manual” shows my least-favorite display. They put the digital readout right on top of the most important point on the analog readout.
    The GMI 10 is a very nice looking display. Since the screens are really just software, it should be easy for Garmin to provide an upgrade to make them even better.

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Excellent detective work, Norse! I checked out the GMI 10 downwind screen further and agree that it’s flawed. You can set the maximum wind angle from 110 to 170 and the minimum from 100 to 160, and the needle does move through whatever blank area you’ve left around 180, but the max ought to be 180. Sailboats can go dead downwind, say wing and wing in light air, always a challenge.
    But, as you note, this is easily fixed in software, and it’s obvious from this latest release that the GMI team at Garmin is working hard and smart. But Garmin has a huge product portfolio and it seems like the folks who put screen shots on the web and write the manuals are way behind the software coders.
    One very important guy who’s used the latest GMI 10, and gotten the N2K religion, is West Marine’s Chuck Hawley. Check out the videos:

  3. robert says:

    I must say, after seeing this Garmin unit (and their other products) at the boat show, they definitely have the corner on nice looking intuitive GUIs. Very pleasing to the eye.

  4. MattB says:

    Ben, Did the air temp and barometer data from the GWS 10 show up on the Furuno FI-50 series?
    I have FI-50 series instruments and would like to use a GWS 10 on the network because it offers air temp and baro plus wind data. Any hesitations to using the GWS 10 as my masthead device with the FI series and a HDS-7M chart plotter?
    The only foreseeable problem is not being able to update the GWS software because I don’t have a Garmin chart plotter.

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Neato; that Garmin link above is to a new $80 SD-card-to-NMEA-2000 update gadget I did not know about. That means guys like Matt can keep GMI 10 displays, GWS 10 wind sensors, etc. up to date without having a Garmin MFD in the system. Which is especially good as Garmin is in the nice habit of continuously improving (and debugging) their equipment.
    Matt, I can’t recall if I saw Garmin generated barometric pressure and air temp on the FI-50 instruments, but I think so. I’ve returned the GWS 10 so I can’t check, but I’d guess that if there was a problem (involving the two Environment PGNs that can deliver the info), it’s fixed.

  6. MattB says:

    Thanks Ben and Anonymous. Ben keep up the good work. This is a fantastic blog you have.

  7. Chris says:

    Hi, I’m the Anonymous. Something go wrong and there wasn’t my name in post. I’m writing from Poland and I’m happy that I could help you.
    Talking about devices, I personally using GMI 10, PB200,GpsMap720S.
    The latest update of GMI (3.4) improve the work of device.

  8. Jim McGee says:

    I was a little concerned when I mounted the GWS-10 as the cups and vane are snap on parts.
    Sure enough the wind vane went missing on mine this season. A quick search shows the vane is available from multiple sources for $20-$30. But that doesn’t include the cost of either dropping the mast or having someone go aloft to replace it.
    And it’s a common problem. A quick Google will show a lot of people who’s vane either disappeared or became part of a bird nest. Some folks are on their fourth and fifth replacement.
    I’m wondering if the sender lends itself to being drilled for a set screw. All in all the design leaves a lot to be desired for a unit intended to be mounted on top of a mast.

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