Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Arlington, VA
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The current fascination...nay, obsession with integrated electronics is driving me crazy. "Modern" sailors, like lemmings, seem to be in headlong flight towards the precipice.....the holy grail of electronics integration/overlays/"talk to one another"/etc., etc.
Maybe I'm just an old fuddy-duddy, but I just don't get it. Am I anti-electronics? Not at all. I'm an Extra Class ham, do electronics installs professionally, and have a boat loaded with electronics. I'm also an experienced navigator, having taught piloting and celestial navigation.
But NOT integrated electronics. My Furuno radar is a stand-alone, as are my fathometer, autopilot, 3 GPS units, RDFs, Lorans (sigh), ham and marine SSBs, etc., etc. The only thing I've integrated is the GPS and the VHF/DSC and the laptop computer-driven charting software.
What do I have against integration?
1. Single point-of-failure for multiple critical systems -- for me as both a systems guy and an electronics guy, that's a NO-NO;
2. Ease of use (if I want to change the range or gain on my radar, I reach for the appropriate knob and do it directly... I don't have to leaf thru a menu system);
3. Lack of unnecessary clutter and confusion. If your chartplotter is already full of charted features --- buoys, your own boat's position and track, AIS targets, etc. -- why the heck would you want to overlay a nice clean radar return on that cluttered mess???? On a small screen? What are the chances you might miss a little something which shows up on radar? And run into it?
4. Safety. Some folks integrate their chartplotter with their autopilot. I won't do it, on my boat or my client's boats. If they wanna do that, they can get someone else. Too many "sailors" out there who are prone to key in a GPS coordinate and let their autopilot drive them to it (irrespective of any obstacles in the way...buoys, rocks, shoals, peninsulas, islands, etc.). Yes, people do that these days.
5. Ease of upgrading. As was referenced above, if I wanna upgrade one unit of my electronics, I can do so without having to replace anything/everything else.
6. Avoiding the seductive lure of the screen. As Johnathan Winters used to say, "Sometimes you get to believing your own stuff". You'd be surprised how many boaters I run into who absolutely believe what they see on those little (integrated) screens -- they actually think that what they're seeing is reality!
I'm here to tell you, folks, it isn't!
OK. End of rant. Sorry.
Last edited by btrayfors; 05-04-2010 at 11:20 AM.