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Old 10-23-2007
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TackTick Instruments

About six weeks ago, the Raymarine ST60 wind instrument on my boat went out on me. The problem seems to be in the seven-pin connector at the base of the mast.... and every time I've cleaned it...using a fine wire or fiberglass brush, it works for about a day, and then it craps out again.

When I originally bought my boat, I was planning on getting TackTick instruments for it, but the manufacturer didn't have a reliable vendor for TackTick at the time, so I ended up with the Raymarine ST60s. So, I figured, this was a good time to be ordering the TackTick gear that I had originally wanted.

So, three weeks ago, I ordered the TackTick 104 kit, which includes the Wind, Speed, Depth, and Temperature transducers as well an analog wind display and a dual line digital display. The two hull transducers are wired to the Hull transmitter, which sends the information to the displays wirelessly.

The 104 kit also comes with an NMEA interface transmitter. This allows the TackTick instruments to display GPS and autopilot data, as well as send depth, temperature, wind angle, wind speed, and other data back to the autopilot.

Two weekends ago, I decided to install the new TackTick gear. The installation was pretty simple. I removed the ST60 displays, and bolted a board over the holes. I'll be patching the holes this winter. I then mounted the instrument mounting clips to the board and put the displays in basically the same place the ST60s had been.

I sent my chief boat drudge up the mast with a cordless drill and had him remove the ST60 wind transducer and install the TackTick one. Nice to have a boat drudge.

Since the boat was in the water, I decided to try and cheat. Airmar makes a majority of all the depth and speed transducers used in the recreational marine industry. They made the ones in the TackTick kit, and the ones in the ST60 kit as well. They might be different, but I didn't think so.

My main reason for thinking they were the same was the wires for both the ST60 depth and speed transducers were the same color and number as the TackTick ones. Since both sets of transducers were made by Airmar, I was guessing that the wiring scheme was Airmar's, not TackTicks or Raymarine's.

Given the fact that the transducers should be electronically very similar, if not identical—and probably used the same wiring setup and the wiring appeared identical—it seemed a good bet that the Raymarine transducers would work with the TackTick hull transmitter.

So I connected my ST60 transducers to the TackTick hull transmitter. Voila... I'm a genius... the depth, temperature and speed functions all worked perfectly. I could delay installing the new transducers until after I haul the boat for the season... or never change them if I'm feeling really lazy.

Now, I was back in business. Took the boat drudge and another henchman out sailing to test the instruments. Well, the TackTick instruments are excellent. The displays are far more versatile than the ST60 gear they replaced.

For instance, the analog wind display can be switched from a standard wind display to a close-hauled wind display, where the range coverage drops from 360˚ to about 120˚. This really allows you to see the differences in boat performance on both tacks.

The dual display unit also has a lot more data available on it. It can display GPS information, like latitude or longitude, even though I don't have a TackTick GPS unit. IIRC, the ST60 can only do that if you have Raymarine GPS gear. The dual line display can also display the battery voltage at the hull transmitter. This allows me to quickly check the battery charge level.

Adding additional displays, like having a set for the nav station, is really simple. All I have to do is buy the units, and then put them within a foot of the existing instruments and turn the system on and tell it to find the new displays. No wires necessary.

Another bonus is that the NMEA and Hull transmitters also seem to have an internal battery. This allows them to operate, even if the house battery switch is shut off. The Hull Transmitter appears to be able to power the two transducers for an extended period of time as well.

The batteries in the two transmitters charge off the house bank when the house bank is switched on. The displays and wind transducer have small solar cells that charge their internal batteries. According to the literature, the instruments should operate for 300 hours without exposure to sunlight. The displays also have a provision for hardwiring to a 12VDC power source.

Overall, I think the TackTick instruments are good choice, especially if you're looking to replace your existing instruments. You don't have to worry about external wiring connections, and the majority of instrument problems appear to be wiring related from what I have seen. Two other benefits are the reduced electrical loads on the boat and the reduction in weight aloft. You can also reduce the number and size of the holes in your cabintop with the TackTick instruments. Finally, adding additional displays is really simple for once.

TackTick also offers a mast position sensor, a compass and a GPS receiver. I might get the compass, but don't see a need for the mast position sensor or GPS sensor.
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Telstar 28
New England

You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

—Cpt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity (edited)

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