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Old 04-28-2013
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Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

Hello,

I am in the process of refitting, well mostly building up the electronics on my recently aquired 33' Vanguard (bantik). Currently only have a vhf radio, a few local charts, depth finder, and a questionable knot meter. Which works fine for the local area, being tax time I have some resources to add some equipment and put it all into a centralized nav station. Which leads to my first questions.

What do you consider for a minimal nav/comms electronics setup? and What do you consider for an ideal one?

The next one gets a bit more complicated, I have several pieces of gear from other projects (eg: a carputer: embedded fanless dual atom mb/ssd drive/dc power/passive cooled case/etc, several gps capable phones: tested to run the set of data needed for the mapping/gps/etc systems) also solar charge controllers (used in landbased applications) and other custom gear. This leads into my next question I suppose..

I like DIY, so was wondering the communities inclination to using this old gear in place of buying something fancier that could tie easily into the fairly espensive closed source sw from garmin/etc if I buy one of there units in leue of using some home brewed solution...
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Old 04-28-2013
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Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

You have raised a very interesting issue.

With all the portable, battery-driven, handheld, electronic devices, it would certainly be possible to have nothing more than an electric start for the inboard, a depth sounder, and perhaps running lights and an automatic bilge pump.

A good handheld GPS unit can be perfectly sufficient for navigation. I have both a hard-wired VHF radio and a portable VHF radio (the hard-wired radio has greater range). I prefer to use battery lights in the cabin rather than cabin lights in most instances. Underway, I use a red headlight and flashlights. My anchor light is a portable battery light.

(I also light the idea of minimizing the through-hulls, which promotes a safer vessel, too.)
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Old 04-28-2013
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Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

You have asked the "Big Three" questions we have all asked at some time:
1. What is the best set-up?
2. What is the minimum set-up?
3. Okay, ignore questions 1 and 2, I'm really broke- what is the cheapest way to go and can I use stuff on hand?


1. A full SeaTalk instrument suite linked to VHF and SSB and autohelm and radar feeding to an 11" MFD display at helm tied to Standard Horizon plotter, an Ipad for logging, and a 47" OLED flat screen on the bulkhead

2. Minimal Nav/comms- radio, compass, charts, plotting gear, cassette tape tied to the shrouds for wind, sounding lead.

3. I'm no electronics guru. But, I don't see what you can't reconfigure the gear you already have to do a lot of what you want to do, and if it doesn't work, what have you lost?
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Old 04-28-2013
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Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

I think the minimal (and perhaps ideal!) setup for navigation equipment is:

Chartplotter GPS with fishfinder option mounted where you can see it (you can get one for under 500 bucks)
Cheap GPS that runs on batteries (for a back up. About 100 bucks)
Fishfinder (for redundancy and under 100 bucks)
Fixed VHF radio (starting at under 100 bucks)
Handheld VHF (for use in the cockpit and redundancy. About 100 bucks)

Total cost: under 900 bucks

Nice options for cruising:

SSB or sat phone (My boat came with an SSB radio, but if I were to equip a boat today I'd buy a sat phone instead and carry a cell phone and buy chips along the way)
AIS (I'll add one later)

What I chose to leave off (a personal choice many will disagree with):

Knotmeter (I get speed from the GPS and estimate speed through the water)
Wind station (I just use a windex and reef as I feel the need without knowing the wind speed)
Radar (Had one and sold it. I don't cruise in a foggy area and AIS would be enough to sail in busy ports)

I also like the idea of not interfacing everything so if one part fails it doesn't bring down the rest.
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Old 04-28-2013
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Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

In general I think there is a lot to be said for good hard-wired electronics. When things are rough you don't want to drop your handeld stuff or worry about batteries.

I recommend this:
1) Hard wired VHF with built in GPS. The built in GPS can transmit your location in an emergency. This costs about $50 or $100 extra but avoids networking and is a great safety feature. I really wish I had this.
Amazon.com: FIXED MOUNT VHF WITH GPS (BLK): GPS & Navigation Amazon.com: FIXED MOUNT VHF WITH GPS (BLK): GPS & Navigation



2) Mounted GPS ($500) or a handeld (~250) with 12V from boat.

Personally I'm hoping to build a permanent mounting place for my handeld GPS in the cockpit where it can run off 12V from the boat.

3) Nav App for your phone (or tablet), at $20 it's a no-brainer and is honestly the best GPS experience. Get a waterproof case for your phone.

4) Have a backup handheld radio.

If you really want to keep things simple handheld VHF/GPS combos are coming down in price. You could consider your phone your primary nav/communication and this as your backup.

5) Depth finder, mounted compass with light
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Old 04-29-2013
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Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

Quote:
Originally Posted by copacabana View Post
I think the minimal (and perhaps ideal!) setup for navigation equipment is:

Chartplotter GPS with fishfinder option mounted where you can see it (you can get one for under 500 bucks)
Cheap GPS that runs on batteries (for a back up. About 100 bucks)
Fishfinder (for redundancy and under 100 bucks)
Fixed VHF radio (starting at under 100 bucks)
Handheld VHF (for use in the cockpit and redundancy. About 100 bucks)
I've been sailing for 2 years with 2 depthfinders. I didn't realise it was so important to have a fishfinder while sailing that I should have a backup as well as a main fishfinder... good grief, I shudder when I think of the risk I've been taking, not having a working fishfinder....
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Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

Mark, the fishfinder is a depthfinder. I bought fishfinders because they are cheap and in addition to the depth they give you extra data like bottom type (mud, sand, rock etc.), alarms, battery voltage and so on. I also like fishfinders because I prefer to mount the transducer inside the boat without adding any holes to the hull. A regular depthsounder does the same job.
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Old 04-29-2013
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Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

..........................new......craigslist
fixed VHF.............$100......$25
small chart plotter $250......$125
small fish finder.....$250......$50
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Old 04-29-2013
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Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

We bought a boat 3 years ago with very poor electronics. If they worked, you couldn't read the display anyway!! So, we have been going though much the same questioning.

In our first full season (last year), I had to have a depth sounder, so installed a fish finder that I bought on sale. It is great and better than a regular depthsounder as it also gives my info on the bottom AND I get to watch fishies passing by underneath us!

We also splurged on a hand held radio to complement the main radio. I like having it in the cockpit with me and saves me going below as we are approaching a marina or to take calls. Not a must have but a nice to have.

I have used a handheld Garmin GPS but find it very limited and frustrating to use as I am always putting my glasses on and taking them off to see the little screen. The GPS gives us our speed as well, so don't need a knotmeter. Given our plans this year to go to the Thousand Islands this season, a chartplotter was definately on the list. After all kinds of research, I have gone the Ipad route. Loaded it with navigation aps, Garmin Charts ($50), an anchor alarm ($4), weather aps, Active Captain ($10 I think) and a holder to attach it the binacle. Not only will it do all the navigation I want, but I can listent to music, take pictures or video, do emails (or not), watch a movie etc. etc.

I figure I have all I need right now for the type of sailing that I do.
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Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

Slax, You don't say much about how you'll use the boat and whether or not you'll have crew.

One thing I didn't see on your list, is an Auto-pilot. Perhaps because you were asking about Nav. equipment. I use my auto-pilot and my depth sounder probably more that I actually use my chartplotter in my home waters. I know where home is. It's only when I'm away from home waters that the plotter earns its keep.

The first time I ever crossed the Golden Gate it was a July evening, it was so fog bound you could barely see the car in front of you. So, I'm guessing Radar might come in pretty handy there. I defer to the left coaster's here to comment on the merits of that.
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