MFD and AIS anomalies, be careful out there

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.

33 Responses

  1. eliboat says:

    How do you have a Lavac toilet require a rebuild? I thought all you would do is swap out the pump and move on. The other possible failure point would be the gasket. I’m curious because the Lavac is the front runner to replace my skipper head, which, while wonderful, is expensive and hard to fix when defeated.

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Awwww, Eli, the one topic in this entry I didn’t want to dwell on! But I guess I asked for it, and I understand your situation. Choosing a head is a big deal.
    I didn’t choose the Lavac — it came with — but I do like its simplicity. Mine, though, has a Jabsco electric diaphragm pump instead of the normal manual diaphragm, and Joe thinks the manual version has a little more horsepower and throughput.
    However, if you think that any head with relatively small joker valves between bowl and holding tank can’t get horribly clogged, I say: enjoy your delusion but pack tools that might help you unclog it without swapping pumps or any other dissembly.
    I also intend to take Joe’s advice to put in new joker valves every year. That’s part of what we did, and the Lavac is working aces now, but it could have been done in much more controlled and pleasant fashion.
    But I should add that your Wilcox Crittenden Skipper is same head Joe put on Furly B and he highly recommends Marine Sanitation and Supply both because “Tucker the head guru” knows all sorts of systems and because they buy, rebuild, and sell Skippers:

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I just undated the entry because I made a happy mistake. I presumed that the Garmin 8212 wouldn’t take the U.S. chart update card because it, like the 741, thought its build-in chart was just Southern Maine. That was wrong, and dumb in retrospect because the 8212 and 741 seem to be running software that’s not entirely similar.
    At any rate, the 8212 took the big chart update without an error message and now seems to be completely restored. Unfortunately, though, the 741 can’t see the 8212’s built-in charts though the two can share chart cards fine. So it looks like I only need to swap out the smaller unit, and at least the 8000 series can recover from this strange glitch should it happen to someone else.

  4. Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one with screwy stuff going on..:-) My systems aren’t anywhere as sophisticated as yours, Ben, but my Raymarine e95 MFD has now decided that it can’t hear the heading info being output by the EVO-1. The p70r autopilot control sees it fine, but the e95 sees it once (when it’s turned on) and never changes again. Needless to say, this screws up a number of things like chart presentations, radar overlays, etc.
    But Hey! At least I still have a chart display!
    All of that head fix-it material should keep Murphy at bay – I’ve had a drain snake on the wall at home for 20+ years, and it has worked quite well – I’ve never actually needed it.

  5. Quitsa says:

    Some of the glitches that turn up can be pretty dangerous. I have three Simrad NSE displays and a Simrad autopilot with an AC12 computer. I also have two OP10 remote controls and an IS40 instrument. All of this stuff shares a NMEA 2000 (SimNet) network with ethernet between the displays.
    Supposedly the OP10-IS40 combination can take the place of a regular autopilot control head such as the AP28. What mine does (without evidencing any clear pattern) is that the OP10 buttons randomly lose their ability to control the autopilot. So for example let’s say you are on autopilot and all of a sudden catch sight of a lobster pot float. You push “standby” on the OP10 to take manual control of steering — and nothing happens. The autopilot stays engaged.
    Fortunately, the NSE can also control the autopilot and hitting a button on one will disengage the autopilot. But you can lose precious seconds in the process.
    Simrad tech support had no idea whatsoever for what causes this though I had the sneaking suspicion I was not the only person to experience the problem, which as I noted is intermittent.

  6. Michael says:

    Hi Ben,
    I think you could probably write my thoughts for me.
    good luck!

  7. Rob says:

    Not to be harsh on Simrad and B&G, but I think they might be the most buggy of the major brands. In several stores, on several different units and models, I’ve had a Simrad or B&G MFD reboot randomly while i was playing with it. On another occasion at a boat show, I had a B&G rep try and show me something on a Triton display and it totally locked up on him. Twice.
    For me, reliability is first on my list, and second on my list… features come after that.

  8. FWIW, it looks like my Raymarine issue MAY have been cleared up.. it seems that by not applying a firmware update to my AIS650, it was somehow preventing my e95 MFD from receiving heading info from the EV1 (even though the A/P controller saw it fine on the same buss). Color me annoyed (I prefer problems that make sense..:-)
    The way this new-fangled system seems to work, I may have to subscribe to satellite Internet just to keep up with the weekly (hourly?) firmware updates.
    In the middle of yesterday’s test session, we blew the belt on the engine, with predicable steam cloud results. I had a spare belt (several!), coolant, and plenty of tools, but Murphy made an appearance anyway – it seems the oversize Balmar alternator won’t slide as far inboard as the original – and the new belt therefore wouldn’t go over the pulley without a lot of sweat, prying and colorful language. Isn’t there a tool for such things? (grumble)
    Beats a malfunctioning head, though..:-)

  9. JonU says:

    From what I can see most Boatshow setups are running simulated data, and that is frequently the problem with display processes. That said, it seems to me that the most recent rounds of hardware and software have been distinctly more error prone than their prior generations. I think all of the majors could stand to do a little more, and better, vetting of their product pre-release.

  10. Hendrik says:

    …………………And it turns out that the anomaly is repeatable, sort of. I’ve rebooted all the systems three times now, and while the NSS evo2 MFDs seem to display some fifty AIS targets fine, they always misidentify the David M Krause, using the name and destination of some other current target with the first letter dropped off. Right now the still tied-up D Krause is listed as the “Aple Hill” with the Destination “S Bal” while the real Maple Hill (destination “US Bal”) is underway 4 miles away. Obviously this strange glitch could lead to some ……….
    Got the same thing shortly.
    Mostly on German Boats.
    Losing the first letter of vessel or destination.
    Sometimes even showing an other name just like yours.
    Normally I have the AIT2000 as AIS source, So I was blaming that unit.
    But since a few month’s I also got an RS35, so it could be that this has taken over the AIS info.
    I will look into it.
    Thanks for sharing Ben.

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Rob, I strongly disagree that Simrad/B&G is “the most buggy of major brands”. I’ve used NSE, NSS, and NSS evo2 a lot over recent years, with lots of networked peripherals, and haven’t had major problems at all. This glitch with AIS target names may be worst, certainly the oddest, but I just heard that they’re aware of the problem and will have a fix in 6-8 weeks.
    Actually I wouldn’t call any of the major brands “most buggy”. They’ve all had them, for sure, but there is no pattern I can discern, and I’m looking 😉

  12. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    This in from Mathew Hooper, Navico’s VHF/AIS expert:
    “Hope you’ve been well, I had just picked up on one of your threads and wanted to give you a quick update, we have identified the issue that you had raised with the RS35, and it will be resolved in the next software update for the RS35 (the only disappointing thing here is that’s not scheduled immediately but within the next 6-8 weeks)
    Also the RS90 RTM2 software is also coming along nicely and due for a release in the next 2 weeks, this will add the DSC call function from MFD, some improvements in intercom handling, and general improvements to the radios UI.”
    So I guess that confirms that the AIS target name problem I’m seeing is not in NSS evo2 but rather the NMEA 2000 output of the RS35 radio.

  13. Hawkeye says:

    We also have a Gramin 741Xs… thanks for teh heads up! Had you previously copied the internal charts off to a card before trying the update? We copied ours off to be used with the Garmin Homeport. We have not yet updated to the latest firmware and it looks like we should not! If it “ain’t broke” don’t fix it.

  14. Howard says:

    I would assume that this issue affect the Lowrance Link-8 as well? I haven’t seen this issue, but I have only been using the AIS as collision avoidance.

  15. Henning says:

    While I have had annoying problems with Simrad/B&G/Navico, too, most prominently the problem with my Zeus 7 Touch not being able to control the 4G radar (now resolved) and also the GS15 GPS that on rare occasions keeps sending the same outdated data indefinitely, I want to take this opportunity for a big thank you to my AP24 + AC12 + HLD2000 Simrad/Robertson autopilot which has taken care of my family and me for about 6000nm unfailingly for days and days on end. Life would have been truly miserable if it had failed which if didn’t – never once a hiccup.
    An important step was to manually modify the gain and counter rudder numbers which I did after the first 1/3rd of the trip and I was happy with the steering behavior after that.
    I was able to pick up a spare new HLD2000 unit from a dealer in Lymington, UK, which had sat on their shelves for years, at a very nice price. I never needed it, but for the future plan to install it opposite the existing unit to be able to just connect the coupling and change the wiring if needed. As a replacement compass I have a GS25 in it’s original wrapping and I will also invest in a spare AC12 and AP24 (I found that NAV mode cannot be engaged from a NSS or maybe I just don’t know how).
    My 2 Tritons didn’t give ma a problem.
    I am happy to hear that Simrad is issuing a s/w upgrade for the RS90 radio. When I still had my RS82 radio, I was hoping for just such an upgrade that would add the position request and response features to that radio which never came so I replaced with a SH GX2000. I might go back to a RS90.

  16. Xavier Itzmann says:

    I have an AC42, a Zeus (NSE), a Zeus T (NSS), a Triton Pilot Controller (OP10), three Tritons (IS40) and a bunch of other stuff.
    I have never had the issue you mention, knock on wood. The issue I do have is that under night illumination, the backlights on the starboard buttons on the OP10 die. The starboard buttons (> and >>) still work, but they go dark completely. Navico sent me a brand new OP10 replacement, but it has the exact same issue.
    A few days ago, traveling SW on Casco Bay, I saw a boat with its triangle shown backwards on our Zeuses, I know for a fact the triangle was backwards because the other boat and us travelled in parallel for over 1/2 hr, I was able to physically see it, and I saw it progress AIS on the Zeuses, yet with a backwards triangle.
    I pointed this out to my wife, yet neglected to capture a picture or the name of the vessel (but I know it was not Panbo for I would probably accidentally rammed you running to say hello!)
    I also neglected to go downstairs and look at the tiny RS35 AIS display, to see if its little dot and dash was also backwards; now that I think about it, this might have thrown some light on whether the problem was with our NAIS-400 and Zeus combo or with the other vessel.

  17. Tom Young says:

    Ben, I’m glad you do this type of testing. I don’t keep up with what’s out there(that’s why I come here), but my coastal sailing has been improved by the new wave of simple electronic charting gizmos.
    On the basic end the tablet and phone navigation apps are simplifying things onboard our boat.
    Even though I still have an annoying problem with my Ipad2 freezing using a Garmin Glo external GPS antennae and Garmin Blue Chart app, it’s a rare problem now, and I know how to fix it. Yet after just two seasons, the Ipad has gone from my back-up CP to my main source for both navigation and trip planning.
    Used in conjunction with our trusty onboard ancient Garmin CP, the two different screens set for different scales, has opened new water to us in anchorages and safe sailing routes.
    I think adding one more totally separate power-GPS and chartware CP on my iphone(Navionics app), as the back-up, back-up, gives me full confidence in my whole simple electronic navigation system here on the coast of New England.
    It’s hard to believe but these stand alone systems will have me taking an electrical circuit or two out of our old boat. It’s a great time to be sailing.

  18. Adam says:

    After installing 6 versions of Raymarine’s Lighthouse software this year I would have to agree. There seems to be a feature race over quality mentality now. These are complex systems, particularly with all the external devices a MFD has to interface with.
    My vote would be for more thorough testing and less releases. One could argue you should just not upgrade each time, but when bug fixes are listed you kind of feel compelled to.
    Raymarine hasn’t been immune from rather critical bugs this year:
    “LightHouse II Version 10.40 application software has been recalled due to instances when using vessel offset whereby the vessel’s position can be drawn incorrectly on the chart. Installations of v10.40 should be replaced with v10.41 immediately.” – Raymarine’s website.
    And now with v 11.26 every piece of engine data sets off a separate alarm when my Crusader engine handshakes with the MFD on ignition or if the MFD is turned on after ignition. You have to manually clear every alarm. This forces you to turn all engine alarms off in the settings which makes the feature useless (sort of like the bad implementation of most AIS alarms).
    There have been a bunch of minor bugs as well like how it nags you endlessly if you don’t subscribe to Navionics freshest data. Which in Raymarine’s defense seems to have been caused by Navionics. In the latest catch 22 you have to subscribe to freshest data to remove the bug which is in a system file on the chart SD card itself.
    My 2 cents.

  19. Peter says:

    Something that always strikes me is that yachting marine electronics come without integrity checks.
    – My AIS has a microscopic indication on the screen whether it receives a GPS fix or not. Obviously, without a fix it cannot transmit. When the antenna cable got damaged for reasons completely unrelated to the AIS, it took several days until I found out that there is a problem.
    – Indications on some of my Raymarina and Simrad instruments simply go to 0 if input data is missing. If a sensor stops sending data, they go to 0 or “—” without any further notice. You might find out that some information is missing on the bus just when you need it most, if you do not monitor the proper functioning of the whole system continously.
    – 5 years ago I used a chart software that would just continue to dead reckon if GPS data went missing, no matter whether it actually received any data. At this time, I did not have a compass connected. The GPS failed on one occasion because it was by accident switched off by a crew member, the software took the STW as SOG and continued to assume the boat will continue on its last COG, including sending the track to the autopilot. Of course, no alarms or similar.
    In addition to the above, I also have some professional gear aboard.
    – My old Leica MX GPS triggers audible alarms for everything that bothers it, such as loss of GPS or DGPS, high HDOPs or missing sensor input. Alarms you do not need you can switch off permanently, but the important things will be advised to you as soon as circumstances occur. You will need to go to the device, check the message, and acknowledge it.
    – The Transas plotter also has adjustable alarms and will act toward the safe side. It will not make up positions if GPS data is missing, and it will tell you if other things go wrong. Same here, you must deal with the alarm beore it silences.
    In my opinion, missing integrity check are a safety hazard. Why don’t yacht marine electonics companies implement basic checks and alarms?

  20. DG says:

    Hi Adam, just want to find out some more details of the issues that you are seeing with regards to the engine data, would you mind forwarding more details of the installation, the specific alarms, the sequence of events etc? I believe we have a solution, but need to check we understand the issue before committing, regards, Derek
    [email protected]

  21. DG says:

    Hi Adam, Just wanted to find out more about the issues you have experienced with v11.26 and the engine alarms? Can you advise the typical sequence of events, the installation and the specific alarms triggered? Kind regards Derek

  22. Nononsense says:

    Ben, I see you also have the atrocious “GPS Heading (M)” on your Garmin screen, which is in fact COG. I have a screen picture of my MFD screen showing my boat docked in the marina heading about 170deg and my Garmin MFD indicated a “GPS Heading (M)” of 001deg…
    “GPS Speed” (SOG), “GPS Position” (position) are bad as well, although they dont add the insult of the magnetic declination to the injury of the abuse of GPS.
    Do people know if the 8000 series MFD have the same “problem” (I am sure it’s a feature to someone but not to me)?

  23. “[…] we blew the belt on the engine, with predicable steam cloud results. I had a spare belt (several!), coolant, and plenty of tools, but Murphy made an appearance anyway – it seems the oversize Balmar alternator won’t slide as far inboard as the original – and the new belt therefore wouldn’t go over the pulley without a lot of sweat, prying and colorful language.”
    Prying the belt over the pulley could damage it.
    My advice to anyone upgrading their alternator is to convert to a serpentine belt drive. Balmar (AltMount) and others sell conversion kits.

  24. Yes, I’m aware that there are risks in prying the belt over the pulley, which is why I was wondering if anyone knew of a tool to accomplish the job without damage..:-)
    I looked at replacing the single V-belt with a serpentine belt, but $300 seemed a bit steep for the kit (and still might require a tool to get a new belt on). I realize the single belt is inadequate for the high-output alternator (which the serpentine belt fixes), but I have now set the alternator smart regulator to 50% current, which should keep the belt happier. (shudda done that earlier!)
    I did find a tool that is intended to put on “stretch to fit” belts, but I’m not 100% sure it would work for my V-belt.

  25. De-rating the alternator defeats the purpose. I should refine my advice: anyone upgrading to a high-output alternator which uses a belt which also drives the coolant pump or other essential equipment should also upgrade to a serpentine belt.
    For your immediate problem, either get a longer belt (and deal with any issues getting it tight enough) or loosen or even remove more bolts holding the alternator. You may even have to tension the belt before replacing those bolts.

  26. Thanks, Norse, I appreciate the advice, though in this case I think I’ll hold off on the serpentine belt conversion, even though I agree it’s the right way to go for a high-output alternator (did I say $300? – more like $600 for the kit!). I do intend to obtain the next size belt and try it – even with a tool, just slipping the belt on is a much better way to go.
    A couple of factors: a) the belt that failed had been on since 2004, with perhaps 500 hours of operation; and b) I don’t need 120+ amps from my propulsion engine, as I have a 250 amp 12V generator that takes way less fuel.
    Yeah, that 500 hours in 10 years is part of the problem – I know the pulleys have been rusty and I didn’t clean ’em up..:-( Rest assured that will change next year when we move aboard and sail away.
    What I really don’t understand is why the OO invested in the big honking alternator and didn’t double up on the belts (serpentine belt kits weren’t around in 2001).

  27. Richard M says:

    Ben, welcome to the club! I too have been shown going “backwards” on Marine Traffic.
    My wife (watching from home) emailed to ask how I was able to reverse single-handed on the way from France to Jersey. And it isn’t just Marine Traffic: way out at sea, a small freighter called me on the VHF to ask whether I knew that my AIS was transmitting me as going backwards.
    Is the Vesper the common factor? I have their XB8000 transponder, which is attached to a small Garmin NMEA2000 network with just Garmin wind and autopilot units. No plotter connections. But my Vesper does have other problems – it doesn’t transmit on wi-fi – and that might be related. Vesper has been very helpful and have suggested the XB8000 be returned to them, which I will do at the end of the season.

  28. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Richard. I got this note from Vesper last week:
    “The issue regarding a 180 deg out heading was resolved a while ago and has been in the release code since 2.01.8192. It was a bug to do with not handling an “invalid” deviation from an N2K heading sensor correctly and then adjusting the heading sent in the AIS position report incorrectly. It would only occur in those cases where the deviation was reported as invalid, which would be in those situations where the heading sensor hasn’t been calibrated. This is also not consistent across all heading sensor manufacturers as the heading sensor we have here and used for our testing is not calibrated and does not report an invalid deviation.”
    Today I updated the XP8000 and Gizmo’s heading as seen by the Simrad RS35 I’m testing is correct. I haven’t had any trouble with the XP’s WiFi, though. In fact, I did the update via WiFi to the boat’s router and then on to the Vesper. The same connection is streaming AIS and boat data from to XP to Coastal Explorer on a PC and to apps on Android and iOS tablets…all at once! (It rained all day in Baltimore.)

  29. Anonymous says:

    Ok thanks Ben. It does seem that the Vesper is the common factor in the AIS “backwards’ fault. Although … it did just occur to me that there is another common factor – we both had faulty Lavac toilets on board. Just coincidence? No doubt Panbo will feel duty bound to investigate. We look forward to your report!

  30. greg mcintosh says:

    Simon, to keep you up to date with what has been a four year battle with Garmin,
    The supply of your product has helped me immensely and has confirmed that the 1st AIS 600 Garmin Transponder had a antenna spliter problem, this unit was replaced with a refurbished unit that displayed warning and error lamps. The 3rd unit transmitted intermittently as confirmed by calling other vessels on VHF radio. At no time would Garmin admit there was a problem with their product. In January 2014 I took legal action through Fair Trading and lodged a claim for $10,500.00 AUD. The Garmin Products fitted to my sailing boat includes a 750s chart plotter with sonar, AIS600 transceiver, Radar, VHF 200i,and GHS10i extension radio, Autopilot and remote control, and Anemometer. (all MNEA2000)
    The Autopilot was switching from AUTOPILOT ENGAGED to COMMUNICATION WITH AUTOPILOT LOST and then YOU HAVE THE HELM (a very dangerous and untenable situation).
    A complete new autopilot was installed on the 28th October 2014, It appears that the 4th AIS600 has been fully tested by Garmin’s Preferred installer and commissioned on 17th September 2014 it appears to be working as designed. I now have a 12 month warranty on both these items and hope that they work as designed. The only outstanding problem is the VHF radio and GHS10i they have an intermittent problem one radio will receive and then both receive then the other receives then both But I am sure Garmin will now look more closely at this problem. I have mentioned to Louise and will now fit the unit I have into a friends vessel to do this I need to change the MMSI number. I have asked Louise to forward instructions to enable the change of MMSI.
    Simon if in the future you need my assistance do not hesitate to ask.
    You gave me the confidence needed in product knowledge to be able to speak with confidence and authority, the lesson being don’t let the bullies stand over you, get what you paid for
    Greg McIntosh J.P.
    S.V. Zenith of Port Lincoln
    P.S All certified documents and photo evidence available

  31. Adam says:

    Just want to give a shout out to Derek at Raymarine who responded to my comment about the Crusader engine alarm issue. After working directly with Raymarine they have fixed the problem in today’s release of Lighthouse 12. (v 12.26).
    Also Navionics has finally owned up to their programming bug that caused endless nag screens on Raymarine MFD’s and kindly extended subscriptions to resolve the problem.

  32. Re-activating an older post with a followup on my Raymarine heading issue — got all my firmware up to date (as directed by Ray’s excellent forum folks) – and I still had the problem, though it was a bit more subtle, as it waited about 10 minutes or so to show up (e95 not getting the heading info from the EVO-1).
    So after another session with the helpful folks on their forum, we figured out that I had “Bridge NMEA Heading” turned ON – and it needed to be OFF. I don’t remember turning it on, though I might have way back when – but there is nothing in the manual about this being a potential problem, so I’m hoping it’s the last bug I have to find the hard way.:-)

  33. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I’m extremely sorry to report that Joe McCarty passed away last night, taken by a cancer that was only diagnosed in January. Many boat people in Maine and beyond will know that we just lost one of a kind and a very good man to boot.

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