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We are looking for ideas for new build electronics suite. Application is a 50 foot catamaran intended for long range cruising. 2-3 mfd, radar, ais, instruments... We’ve always had Ray Marine, just spent a week with B&G.... We liked the B&G suite, but nothing special enough there for us to make a decision one way or another. Looking for reliable, maintainable, good chart data. Leaning to Ray as there is comfort in our existing knowledge of systems and software. Have always used Navionics data.
Before we commit, anyone have any thoughts around what manufacture / chart data trains to board?
Thanks for any ideas!
Raymarine, Garmin, Navico, and Furuno all make excellent equipment now days, and I doubt you would be upset with any of those choices. The new Raymarine LH3 software is nothing like the older systems you might be familiar with, it was totally updated and the interface changed for the new Axiom line. Most find it much easier to use and intuitive. I think your brand choice should come down to what interface do you like, and what features are most important to you. Are you going to have a large N2K system trying to monitor everything on boat with MFD? Ray(Axiom) might not be best for that, at least yet. The PGN support isn't there yet, but its my understanding they are working on it. Do you want a solid state radar, all have them, some are better than others. If chart data is important, keep in mind you can only use Garmin bluecharts in their units, even though they own Navionics, this might limit your decision. Do you want a Flir camera? Personally I would rather have Flir than radar at night. They can be integrated into most systems with varying degrees of complication, but Navico can only control certain cameras on their network, and they don't do IP video. Have to use IP to analog converter on some cameras, just fixed one today from another "dealer" hahaha.... If you have a flir on a raymarine network they have extra features, such as tracking of radar and ais targets.
I could go on and on, sounder options. Forward scanning sonar, big plus if exploring, not so much on heavy traveled routes. Do you want AIS to be same brand? Ray has nice new SOTDMA transponder, much better tech, sure others will follow soon. There are excellent options from other less known brands.
Display grib files, play netfilx, ipad app control, control Czone switching.......
I will say I highly recommend Raymarine autopilots over Garmin or Simrad, they just work. If you go with Garmin and use their "smartpump" by god make sure it never sees a drop of water, put it in a box with a dehumidifier.
The most important thing isnt brand, but making sure it is properly installed, and has good clean power without surges and dips, this makes things last longer, and keeping the saltwater out helps too....
I'm sure I caused you to have more questions then i've answered for you, let me know if you have any specific questions and I will try to answer them for you if I can.
Great analysis William. I think we will stick with Raymarine. We know the buttonology.
About the only issues that had me looking at other options was that Raymarine has a fixed 15 degree wind shift alarm when sailing in wind mode. Constant alarms drive me crazy.
They say ability to configure alarm tolerance is on the suggested upgrade list.
Hi Jeff, I agree that William gave you lots of good advice, but I think that if choose Raymarine, you should get the latest Axiom generation with LightHouse 3 interface and, as he noted, it will not be familiar. But then again I think it's a lot easier to use than LH2 and prior interfaces.
I do disagree strongly with William about the relative value of radar and thermal cameras. I've used both extensive and think that thermal is a great addition if you can afford it, but that a modern radar is nearly essential. I especially like solid-state radars, and better still with Doppler target motion indication. Furuno, per usual, does it the best but the Quantum (which I've used a lot) is a good radar for its price and I suspect that the Quantum 2 Doppler is worth the extra cost.
Ben is correct about needing a radar, Flir isn't a replacement for them. I guess I should clarify. For how I use my runabout I would buy flir over radar. I know my boating area like the back of my hand down to marker numbers and light patterns. I'm never more than 1nm from land inside ICW and bays. I just think it would be more useful in my situation of not needing radar for nav or monitoring storms. The right Flir camera can be programmed to scan back and forth. Mute point anyway, I can't afford one.
On a cruising boat going into unknown areas radar is a must for safety and navigation.
I've installed two of the Quantum2 radars. Very nice. First time I turned the doppler on it instantly showed a red target. I thought something was wrong, until I looked down the canal and here comes a boat about 300 yards away. It does work. Haven't gotten to test one at any range more than 2nm, but inside that range they were excellent.
Thanks for the radar thoughts. I last radar I bought was Raymarine HD digital. Seems like there has been tremendous improvement in just the last couple of years, I love the idea of Doppler. I suppose it does a much better job of determining target course and speed.
FLIR is probably a budget buster for now. But it sure sounds cool. The sea is so (relatively) temperature uniform that I guess targets would really stand out. Can you tune FLIR for day time use too? Is anyone doing FLIR optical target recognition on a MFD?
Yes, thermal works fine in daytime. Usually sees right through glare on the water because that's light not heat. However, it does not see well through fog, especially the thick saturated type, because H2O blocks thermal waves.
Jeff, a nuance you should know about Axiom MFDs is that some of the sailing and other features in LightHouse 2 have not yet been added to LH3, check "What features are on the horizon" FAQ here:
I believe the core and most important issue in selecting modern marine electronics is your comfort with the system. The capabilities of all the current systems is very high. Honestly, it's probably in excess of what even an advanced cruiser will use. However, if you find the user interface difficult or confusing you will use the tools you have less and that's a problem. Is it difficult to get a list of AIS targets around you? Do you find the way those targets are displayed on the chart clear? If you don't, you may well overlook important information.
Along those lines, many find Garmin's MFDs the most straightforward to use. I have a strong technical background and don't always find Garmin the most intuitive for my way of thinking but have many boating friends who do. As Ben said, I think LH3 is starting to come into its own and presents a highly competitive solution with a few features still making their way to the new platform. Navico has products from B&G and Simrad that fit your needs very well and have very strong capabilities. Furuno offers excellent products with a really nice user interface and likely the best radars in the consumer marine electronics space.
I will second William's experience with Raymarine's autopilots. I replaced the existing autopilot on my boat with an EV-200 and have been impressed for several years now with the fact it just works. Installation and commissioning were very simple and I've found the Evolution sensor core to be reliable and nearly maintenance free.
You're buying electronics at a time when all the manufacturers are making excellent products. I would encourage you to also think about companion applications and use cases. Will you use a tablet at the helm? For exacmple, currently Raymarine, Simrad and B&G have the best integration with Navionics for route sharing and the like. Garmin has a strong companion with their ActiveCaptain app.
Thanks for all the thoughtful input guys.
Ben. Hope all is well. I am upgrading to the Quantum radar dome. Your thoughts on the Quantum last year dome and the new Quantum Doppler2. Is there a big difference for the price. About $300.00 more. I am running a new Axiom proS 12. Thanks a bunch.
Hi Brig, After a lot of use, I'm still impressed with the original Quantum, especially given its cost and lightness. Ray has also significantly improved Axiom radar processing and display with LH3 updates. I've only been with Quantum2 for a short demo, but I would not hesitate to spend $300 more for it. The Doppler features seemed to work pretty well in the introductory model and I trust that Ray will keep wringing more performance out of it as time goes by.
Thank you for your note and info. This is good info to think about.