Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Long Island, NY
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Re: Help choosing a new MFD and Radar needed
First let me state that I am not an expert in this stuff, but I have been researching it for years and I do have some practical experience as well.
You are looking for a new electronics 'system' which will be comprised of a number of components. The main 'brains' of the system will be the chartplotter. That will have the display with user interface, and will contain the digital charts as well as receive the data from the other components, like water depth, wind speed, AIS, etc.
All of the various components will be connected to a network, so the information could be displayed on any number of Multi Function Display (MFD). You need to understand the difference between a MFD and a chart plotter, the MFD just displays the data, it doesn't generate or manipulate the data).
All 'modern' marine electronics use NMEA 2000 networking, which is basically ethernet. There are number of benefits of NMEA 2000, including high speed, common connectors and device interoperability, and multiple 'talkers' and 'listeners'. The older networking is NMEA 0183, which is basically RS232 serial networking. This only allows for a single talker at a time, no common connectors, and is much slower.
There are two main exceptions to device interoperability. RADAR and SONAR (for the display, not just water depth) require too much data for a standard network, so each manufacturer implements RADAR and SONAR in a different way. So think about what vendor you like and make sure to get the same brand of RADAR and SONAR. I believe that all common RADAR units made today are digital, meaning lower power, instant on, and high resolution. I'm sure there are differences between the various vendors like Raymarine, Lowrance/Simard/B&G (all one company), Garmin, etc., but I don't know what they are of if they are important to you.
Raymarine and Garmin have the ipad connectivity you are looking for, so I would start with them. Simrad does too, but not Lowrance (yet).
To use your existing Raymarine gear will require that you find a chartplotter with multiple NMEA 0183 ports (one for the autopilot control head and another for the ST60 units) or you buy a device to convert NMEA 0183 data to NMEA 2000 (Maretron, Actisense and others make them).
I guess this is long enough for now. I've got to get back to work.
Deep Blue C, 2002 C&C 110
Mt. Sinai, NY
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