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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance > Electronics > Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives
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Thread: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
04-30-2013 03:41 PM
miatapaul
Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

Quote:
Originally Posted by slax View Post
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...
Not sure of the layout of your interior (and too lazy to use sailboatdata) If you have a dedicated nav-station I would set up the carputer, with some sort of voltage stabilization and run your choice of free nav apps. I would recommend Open CPN as it seems to be very actively developed and will run on Linux, so it is good for a low power consumption processor like a carputer. Get a USB or other GPS puck. That way you have a good navigation down below for basically the cost of a GPS puck if you don't already have one now.

Above you can get the least expensive chart plotter with the options you want. What one you want will depend on budget and planned options, like will you need radar?

This way you are really only spending money at the helm. I don't think any home brew options are going to work on deck, as you need bright sun readability and waterproof and super reliability. Below deck where it is not as bright and dry can work quite well.
04-30-2013 12:49 PM
bljones
Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

Quote:
Originally Posted by jameswilson29 View Post
I can still sail and navigate with no engine and no electricity or batteries....

...Too many convenience sailors today are lost without their gizmos.

Traditional sailors are self-reliant and do not expect someone to save them when all the conveniences fail.
I think the key phrase is "self-reliant"... and that refers to ALL aspects of yachtsmanship. Know how to sail and navigate without the conveniences and systems, but also know how the conveniences and systems work.


I know, I know, many people don't have the time or the tools or the inclination or whatever the excuse is for not knowing the systems aboard. I have a sailing acquaintance who scoffs at my paint spattered topsiders and sweat and bottom paint stained ballcap, pointing out that he is a sailor, not a yard monkey- he pays people to keep his hands clean. A handful of us were discussing this one afternoon over beers, and another sailor with topsiders and cap more stained than mine quietly asked "Any luck getting a yard monkey to come out to the middle of Erie in the middle of a blow to keep your hands clean?"
04-30-2013 09:56 AM
jameswilson29
Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

Quote:
Originally Posted by outbound View Post
Believe in our age the total dependency we have on technology makes us increasingly "at risk" to the point we don't believe our own senses.
I agree. Electronics supplement traditional navigation on my boat. I can still sail and navigate with no engine and no electricity or batteries.

Too many convenience sailors today are lost without their gizmos. This feeds into the scenario where the loss of electronics leads to helplessness, which leads to anxiety, which leads to mistakes, which leads to activation of the EPIRB for rescue.

Traditional sailors are self-reliant and do not expect someone to save them when all the conveniences fail.
04-30-2013 09:24 AM
capecodda
Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

On our first boat we had a compass, depth sounder, VHF, and paper charts. We were younger, and therefore less likely to have anything bad happen to us but that said, IMHO sailing this way teaches you not to depend on the gadgets, and serves you well when the gadgets, electrical system, etc. breaks.
You can get along surprisingly well in the fog, following depth contours, sailing mark to mark, dead reckoning, using the compass, and blowing your fog horn.

Today we sail with chart plotters, radar, VHF, AIS, SSB, cell phone, backup handheld GPS, cell phone based chart plotter, IPAD based chart plotter, Wind, knot log, depth sounder, autopilot...yea and all the stuff is integrated. Sometimes I think we could just stay at home and let the boat sail itself, but I'm not giving that stuff back. It definitely settles the stomach when you hear a fog horn, and you see the barge and tow on the radar.

On the other hand, I can see the argument for keeping it simple too. I think you could put together a pretty safe system for low bucks. I wouldn't skip the built in VHF (for safety), hand held GPS's are cheap, depth sounder for safety, magnetic compass of course, and probably the most expensive item is radar if your are going into traffic in the fog. The back of your neck is your wind instrument, the paper charts are your chart plotter, you are your autopilot as long as you don't plan extended passages with minimal crew.
04-30-2013 08:29 AM
outbound
Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

Agree with above. Was just poking a bit of fun. Still, remember running on deck because I heard the surf crashing on the rocks off the coast of Maine. Crew told me "We're fine the gps says we're not near them". Did a 180 and saved the boat. Remember I did say I have a bunch of electronics.
Still think a good approach is to view them as "aids to navigation" and try to maintain some level of skill in the traditional ways. Believe in our age the total dependency we have on technology makes us increasingly "at risk" to the point we don't believe our own senses.
04-29-2013 11:50 PM
Hudsonian
Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

A technically savvy friend who cruises away from his home port for several month per year swears by a pc running Sea Clear with connections to his auto-helm, a GPS puck, and a wi-fi hot spot. He also has a garmin 76 in a cup holder at the binnacle. His only other electronics a depth sounder and radar which he claims to rarely use because of the power demand.
04-29-2013 11:28 PM
tdw
Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

I reckon it's fair to say that for most of us these days we would be lost (literally) without GPS. Even those of us who have done a bit of celestial nav training have probably fogotten more than we originally knew.

Mark is dead right .... it's all very well to talk about the good old days but all these electronic geejaws (sp?) make sailing a damn sight safer for us than it was for my long dead great great granddaddy.
04-29-2013 08:29 PM
MarkSF
Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

Quote:
Originally Posted by outbound View Post
Although I pissed away hard earned cash on gizmos please remember for tens of thousands of years sailors got to just about anywhere they wanted to go without any of it.
Even with the gizmos. carry a lead line, a knot stick, paper charts, reduction tables and a sexton.
just saying.
Also keeps you from getting bored if you do DR all the time and good to be practiced when the stuff don't work.
SOME of them got there. An awful lot of them ended up dead, smashed on rocks or in storms. Do you know what the loss rate was in the days of the tall ships?
04-29-2013 07:01 PM
pdqaltair
Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

I hate to think how far I cruised with none. Wasn't a problem at the time and I wouldn't cancel a trip if everything failed at once. Some days I forget to turn them on.

Just sayin'.
04-29-2013 05:44 PM
outbound
Re: Minimal Electronics reqirements and alternatives

Although I pissed away hard earned cash on gizmos please remember for tens of thousands of years sailors got to just about anywhere they wanted to go without any of it.
Even with the gizmos. carry a lead line, a knot stick, paper charts, reduction tables and a sexton.
just saying.
Also keeps you from getting bored if you do DR all the time and good to be practiced when the stuff don't work.
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