Join Date: Jul 2000
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I don't think any of the name-brand gear on the market is "bad" but make sure to check that everything you are looking for can be interfaced. Raytheon/Raymarine is nice--but you may have to buy an extra "NMEA interface box" to tie in a GPS or autopilot. And even with NMEA, there are different standards, so make sure all the toys will speak to each other.
When it comes to installation time, buy a tube of silicon grease (aka "high temperature brake grease" at 1/10th the price) and use a dab in every connection, it ensures moisture cannot get in. Ever. And personally, I like to add a spike-protection device (like a 15volt rated varistor or zener diode) on the lines at every device, because your starter and alternator will routinely throw spikes into the power lines, and sometimes that makes instruments die for no obvious reason. The protection devices are cheap, typically 25c-50c each. (The alternative is to make sure all the toys are OFF before starting or stopping the engine.)