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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 06-28-2008
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Lowrance

I'm trying to decide between the Lowrance 5200c, or 5300c which is the same unit but with internal or remote antennas. Looking at the specs on this unit, it appears to have all the features of the Garmin 4XX/5XX series (they're offering a free chart card) and then some, like the ability to interface radar. My wife's company has an awards program where they award points for achiving company goals and these are the chartplotter units offered, so the price is right.

What is the concensus on internal antenna units for helm mounting? I would think it would be fine even with a bimini up.

Also, this unit is capable of using Navionics charts. I think I may go with the Platinum but will check out what comes with the unit before deciding. Does anyone have any experience with these charts for the Chesapeake or anywhere else?

I still plan to run Seaclear on a laptop at the nav station, and I have an old aviation handheld that will at least give lat/log, so I'll have plenty of redundancy.
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Old 06-28-2008
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i like remote antennas. I remember on a boat where remote antenna was installed in cockpit coaming, we lost GPS fix when I had my arm near it (not even directly above, but nearby to the side). GPS is pretty darn sensitive to obstructions, and the closer they are - the worse it gets.
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camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough camaraderie is a jewel in the rough
midlife...I have ha ZERO problems with an internal antenna mounted under a complete Bimini/Cockpit enclosure.
As to Navionics...it gets expensive when you need a lot of charts with them, but the USA charts are quite good. If you primarily sail in one area, I would have no worries. If you intend to wander a bit, you might want to get something with all the US charts built in as it will save a lot of $$ in the long run.
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I'd second what Cam has said. I've been using an older Garmin 192C with an integrated antenna, and haven't had a problem with it in the cabin or the companionway—it is mounted on a swing arm. Installation is much simpler and in some ways the antenna is far more protected if it is attached to the GPS unit directly.

You don't have to worry about the captain's cousin coming in and saying, "UMM.....I accidentally kicked the little mushroom thingie overboard... I hope it wasn't important!" just as you're making an approach to a harbor channel in Maine fog.
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The more clear of obstructions your antenna, the more satellites your receiver will "see." The more satellites your receiver sees, the better the resolution on your position. So my advice is: If you can conveniently use an external antenna, do so.

Jim
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
You don't have to worry about the captain's cousin coming in and saying, "UMM.....I accidentally kicked the little mushroom thingie overboard... I hope it wasn't important!" just as you're making an approach to a harbor channel in Maine fog.
To kick our little mushroom thingie overboard somebody'd just about have to kick the entire stern rail over with it .

Jim
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BTW, the newer GPS chipsets seem to have much better sensitivity. I've compared my older GPSMap 276 and 76 units against the SIRF Star III chipset-equipped Streetpilot C550 I gave my father for his birthday, and they got the crap kicked out of them in terms of sensitivity and ability to deal with obstructions and blocked sky and how quickly it re-acquires the satellites.

Granted, this wasn't a scientific test, just having the three units sitting on the dash of my truck and seeing how the did....and changing the position to test to see if that made a difference... it didn't as far as I could tell.
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Old 06-29-2008
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Thanks for the good input and advice on the cost of charts. I'm still a little conflicted about the remote/integrated antenna issue. While I tend to think the internal unit would work fine, it seems Lowrance's method of networking components would make mounting the remote antenna somewhat less hassle than some other systems so its less intimidating. I guess I'll make the decsion when I click the select button.

As far as charts, Lowrance is offering a free basic chart chip that covers the US, providing paper chart like detail, so while I expect my sailing will be confined to exploring the bay for the foreseeable future, I will have some level of charting for the entire US if I were to make a coastal trip (or course I'd get paper also).

The Navionics Platinum provides lots of extra features (sattelite overlay, marina photos, Coast Pilot info, 3D views, customizeable depth contour shading, etc) for a much smaller area, and while they are cool to look at, I'm not sure I need them. However, since the GPS is not impacting a bank account, we may check them out, "because we can". ;-)
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Hello,

The internal antenna will work fine when the unit is mounted outside at the helm. You only need the internal antenna if the unit will be mounted inside.

Regarding charts, the basemap that is built in is not good, but the lowrance charts are very good. The price is right, so try that before you buy anything else.

Lastly, the Lowrance unit uses nmea2000, so connecting other nmea instruments and displays is a piece of cake.

Good luck,
Barry
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Old 06-29-2008
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Is the free basic chart chip the NauticPath one? If so, they are quite decent. A couple of years ago, my wife and I were cutting across one of the Mystic, CT anchorages in our MacGregor and as I looked down at chartplotter, I noticed a small rock symbol. I commented to my wife - "this says there is a rock here somewhere.......", right as the skeg grazed the submerged rock! We learned to trust the charts (and to stop taking shortcuts in Mystic anchorages!). I still use the same chip in my Lowrance handheld GPS.

By the way, we had one of the Lowrance 5in chartplotter/sonar combo's with the internal antenna and never had any problems under the bimini.
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