Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: San Jose, CA
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 17
Re: Best Electronics Package?
Support: Lets just say that the manuals are generally lousy and the available free resources not much better.
I bought my sailing instruments from a level 3 dealer in SF Bay, and paid him list prices, for which I received great pre & post install support. I also bought an MFD from him at market price (75% of list) as it was not integral to the system and didn't require his knowledge of setup and calibration. (I've sailed for 50 yrs and 2 engineering degrees FWIW). I did my own installation, and he helped trouble shoot via email/phone/text before coming aboard and helping assess the system, and then coming out and doing the sea trial and calibration.
The manuals were usually written by somebody who might have known what they are doing, but who doesn't necessarily provide full answers and context, and often times are translated as well.
The B&G support guys are in Merrimack, NH, and have good product knowledge, and are willing to tell you what they don't know and to escalate questions and do the testing. Lets just say I had lots of rather specific questions, and they were generally patient, and where there was a reference showed me where to find the answers as well as providing them. Had I bought the stuff on the internet from a discount supplier, that's all I would have had.
There are (always) some bugs and necessary work arounds, and one piece (the pilot controller) has warranty failed, which on a system this complex is not terribly surprising, and acceptable. The factory sent a spare Radome when we had issues on signal propagation, which turned out to be the ethernet switch the level 3 guy provided, no questions asked or hassles. Panbo.com has an active forum on marine electronics and there are other online resources. They fix issues pretty quickly though, don't seem to be soliciting feature requests.
Charting code is a personal preference, there are Navionics, Jeppesen--> Navico Cmap and vendor proprietary formats.
some let you crowd source the depth data.
Suggestions: put together your budget for the next few years and figure that the fundamental pieces will be durable enough for the sensors to last decades. The processors and displays are probably a 5 yr replacement cycle and the wiring should go longer. I'm expecting to upgrade my new radar when the Doppler comes out, either as a software/module swap, or if needed a replacement of the interface module where the electronics live, hopefully not the rotating scanner, though that's not that much if I need to do so.