New Navigation System Looking Good and Charger Bug Fixed

Helm Instruments On

Helm Instruments On

This weekend, I finally was able to spend some time trying out our new navigation system. Our new system is an NMEA 2000 (N2K) network backbone, which is a “new” marine standard which started coming into use during the last 10 years whose goal is to make more boat systems work together and have a consistent means to communicate. This means we can have N2K compliant devices from multiple vendors and easily add them to the network. And we can tap into the data off other software (more on this later). Our new system is based mostly on Navico instruments and displays (both B&G and Simrad – Navico is the parent company to B&G, Simrad and Lowrance). But, we have devices from Maretron, ICOM, and Airmar on the network as well. Attached here is a picture of our main displays at the helm. I think the new displays look really nice!

B&G Zeus Touch 12

Zeus Touch 12

Zeus Touch 12

The main display is the B&G Zeus Touch 12 chartplotter. As with most modern boat navigation systems, this is the main control for not only the charts, but also for the network interfaces for much of the system. The sonar system (fish finder), radar, and autopilot interfaces are all controllable from this system. The interesting thing is that this is a touch-screen enabled interface. So, you can click on objects on the chart to get information, you can scroll pages, and select options mostly with the touch screen. Very nice! There are some really nice default displays for showing data, and I’m just starting to explore the features for customization. In this shot you can see the radar display, and the chart with radar overlay (the only problem is I had radar in “head up”, and we were facing south, so radar is upside down from chart overlay). You can also see the boats appearing from our AIS receiver/transponder. The slideshow further down in this post shows some other variations and the night mode on the screens (which you can view full screen for better viewing).

B&G Triton Displays

B&G Triton 41

B&G Triton 41

This is one of the B&G Triton 41 displays. Each of the displays (we have 3) has a number of different choices of data that can be displayed. Wind, navigation data, sonar, autopilot, steering, engine data, and more. So, combined with the chart plotter, you can have a lot of information quickly accessible and able to stay available according to need. I particularly like the wind data which dynamically shows both apparent and true wind in a nice graphical fashion (we are stationary in the boatyard, so apparent and true are the same).

Here’s a slideshow showing these and other views of the system which you can watch at full screen for a better look:


View full-sized slideshow

Other Systems

There is a lot of instrument data hidden behind these 4 screens. The radar is the new Simrad 4G broadband radar. It is a digital instead of analog radar which uses digital signal processing on the data. It turns on way faster, uses less energy, and has amazing close-proximity resolution. We replaced our old-school wind anemometer and vane with a new Maretron ultrasonic wind instrument that also is a weather station (barometric pressure, air temperature, and relative humidity. Our new GPS not only updates at 10Hz (double our previous system), but also can lock onto more GPS satellites and Russian and European GPS systems as well. We have a remote control for the autopilot at our navigation station inside as well. We also have a broadband fishfinder, but we can’t test it until we get back in the water. I opted to not get the new Simrad sidescan sonar system despite some pretty nice looking visuals, we’ll wait for a future version – it’s kinda new still.

But, there’s more!

One of the big reasons we went with Navico is that they have begun selling an innovative (by marine standards) way of allowing other devices to link in to their systems’ data. They call it “GoFree” and it has just started capturing a lot of attention in the marine industry. First, you buy their 12/24 Volt WIFI access point (this is a good thing). It lets you use their own mobile apps to provide interfaces to their chartplotter. Very cool in the case of the Zeus Touch in particular. But, the fun only begins there. It also provides access through their chartplotter to a wealth of the N2K data. I will talk more, and show some cool pictures, about this in the next post.

Solved Problem with Victron Inverter/Charger

During the last week, I had been concentrating on solving the bizarre issue with our new Victron inverter/charger. I spent days trying to isolate what was causing the problem thinking it was possibly something external (new wiring/instruments we had installed). Turns out I fixed it by turning off a seeming unrelated new option in the settings (which wasn’t in the manual). That feature wasn’t supposed to cause this issue. Still working out with Victron why this firmware has such a bug and whether they have a fix. They didn’t believe me when I described the bug, but it is there. Apparently Victron has a reputation for not replacing units under warranty if they can possibly help it. Even if you are on a time crunch and they wasted a month of your time trying to diagnose a new unit! Would love to send them a bill for my time.

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One Response to New Navigation System Looking Good and Charger Bug Fixed

  1. Volker says:

    Similar to what we experienced after our house was hit:

    Once recovered from a lightning strike, Santa Claus arrives earlier and technology suddenly makes a leap forward…

    Have fun and take care
    Volker

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