BUYER'S GUIDE - Marine Electronics Part 1

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In Part One of our Marine Electronics Buyer’s Guide, KEVIN GREEN reports on the latest screens and systems now available to all boaters. He says your dollar is going further and you’re getting a lot more functionality for it

BUYER'S GUIDE - Marine Electronics Part 1
BUYER’S GUIDE — Marine Electronics Part 1

Of course it’s arguable if we use anywhere near the amount of functions that come with the latest multifunction devices (MFDs). Despite being a technologist, my own rule is that the gear has to be useful, not just a new gimmick to take on the ocean.

Outputting navigation and other information has never been clearer nor brighter thanks to the new very high resolution screens. These give wonderful 4D charting imagery including pilotage photography and the latest is real-time camera outputs, with most of the major marine brands offering infrared and even heat-sensing units (ideal for MOB emergencies). Sportsfishers may want underwater imagery to be overlaid, so you’re looking at split-screen multifunction displays (MFDs) using the new CHIRP sonar.

In consumer electronics ultrabook laptops are the next big thing and ideal for the navigation table, because unlike the iPad (which they’re nearly as thin as) they come with full-sized keyboards. All the big manufacturers are bringing them out and they cost round the $1000 mark but prices are sliding down already as the competition heats up.



The ubiquitous iPad is now in its third version. Despite looking like its predecessor but slightly heavier, the attraction for boaters is a screen resolution double the old version and bigger than anything else aboard; while pricing matches the old model as well. A fantastic screen for showing the new charting from the Garmin Bluecharts app arriving soon and Jeppesen’s C-Map (Plan2Nav).

RRP $539
For more info, phone 133 622 or see


Take your fragile Apple iPad3 safely to sea in a waterproof and shockproof case, which also provides full touch functionality. The IP67 rating means it can be submerged in 1m of water for 30 minutes. AMI Sales also supply mounting accessories.

RRP $159
For more info, phone AMI Sales on (02) 9816 7100 or visit


The latest case from Digital Marine suits older and newer iPads. Designed and manufactured from tough polyamide material, it meets IP65 specification, is installed quickly and uniquely allows charging in the case. Options include adjustable rail mounting and chart table brackets. Weatherproof iPhone cases are also available.

RRP $249
For more information, phone Digital Marine on 0424 177 869 or log on


Ultrabooks are the latest generation of laptops and to earn the tag have to confirm to agreed power, size and weight standards. The upcoming ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook exceeds these standards by claiming the title of lightest 14in model, at a mere 1.8kg. ThinkPads feature high build specs, toughened cases and good aftersales support. The X1 looks to be a useful addition on the yacht chart table with 1600 x 900 pixel resolution and 300nit brightness plus backlit keyboard for low-light working.

RRP to be announced.
For further information, phone Lenovo Sales on 1300 557 073 or visit


The Aqua 200 Series is a solid state, low-power consumption PC server (drawing only 1amp at 12V-DC). It has an Intel N2800 dual core processor and an integrated Intel HD graphics chip supporting resolutions of up to 1920 x 1080 pixels. RAM is 4GB and a 64GB solid state drive. For connectivity there are four USB ports plus a VGA and HDMI video output for two monitors, so you could have a chart table and cockpit display. The operating system is Windows 7 64bit and there are dual NMEA 0183 inputs to connect to your boat’s GPS, instrument or AIS systems. Options include NMEA 2000 interfaces, Bluetooth and high-power Wi-Fi.

RRP $1099 (+GST)
For more info, phone CH Smith Marine on (03) 9417 1077 or visit;


Garmin’s new Glo GPS is the first wireless GPS receiver to take signals from both the USA’s GPS and Russia’s GLONASS satellite networks. Available in two versions — for land and aviation — it gives mobile devices a GPS signal. Glo wirelessly connects to Apple and Android devices via Bluetooth. It offers a 12-hour battery life and a position update rate of up to 10 times per second. This is 10 times faster than the internal GPS receivers of most mobile devices, claims Garmin.

RRP $US129
For more information, click on


Raymarine are launching two new compact MFDs in October, the a65 and the a67 which is primarily aimed at anglers. Both models include a 50-channel internal GPS and Navionics Silver cartography on microSD, while the a67 has inbuilt ClearPulse digital sonar.

The 5.7in display has a touchscreen which can be embedded but also has a mounting bracket. As with the previous models the Lighthouse software allows easy setup screens for popular functions and the units are NMEA 2000 compliant.

RRP to be announced.
For more information, phone Raymarine on (02) 9479 4800 or see


This infrared camera is a PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) model with a range of 120m and has an image stabiliser so useful for marine use — and rated to IP67 waterproofing. Clear vision is assured thanks to a wiper system plus defogging heater and the unit is housed in a strong alloy case.

RRP $2500
For more info, phone AMI Sales on (02) 9816 7100 or log on


Nexus Marine has added a digital compass transducer to its NX product line. The NX Compass Instrument enables viewing information from the NX Compass Transducer and for the first time in the NX’s history, output NMEA to peripheral devices. Output info includes Heading, Speed, VMG, True Wind and Course. The NX Compass Pack consists of sea-data, wind and compass displays, WSI box, wireless wind transducer, triducer and NX solid state compass.

RRP $2199 (+GST) NX Compass Pack.
For more information, phone +64 (0) 2 7568 8830 or click on


The Nexus RaceBOX puts tactical race software in the hands of the recreational yachtsman, replacing fragile onboard PCs with a compact and rugged computer. Key information such as polars can be inputted via an SD card or USB connection. The RaceBox uses NMEA 0183 protocol.

RRP $599
For further information, phone +64 (0) 2 7568 8830 or go to


Navico continues to develop radar with the release of the Simrad 4G model, claiming a 50 per cent increase in range over the 3G model, and giving a 36nm horizon for these FMCW powered units (rather than traditional magnetrons).

RRP $2250
For more information, see


Shakespeare’s 0.9m VHF Galaxy 5445 antenna combines wind direction monitoring with a stainless steel VHF whip that is lightweight and offers low wind drag. Specially designed to be mounted on yacht masts, where space is at a premium. The 3dB whip measures 0.9m.

RRP to be announced.
For more information, phone Coursemaster on (02) 9417 7097 or see


Furuno has launched what it describes as the first multi-touch screen technology in the new TZtouch 9in and 14in multifunction displays. Furuno’s part ownership in chartbuilder MaxSea means these units have been built to get the best out of the software. The hybrid units also come with a large control knob. Other charting supported includes Navionics, C-MAP and rasta, a useful option for traditionalists.

Another interesting product is Furuno’s new sounder (FCV 627), with externally mounted bottom discrimination 600W transducer.

RRP $6900 (9in), $8000 (14in).
For more information, click on


The NavPilot series works with power and sailboats. The NavPilot 700 operates in a series of modes for easy deployment. Advanced Auto Mode — has NavMode automatic ground-tracking control to steer the vessel — track control system is referenced on precision cross-track error when integrated with GPS navigator; and Wind Mode allowing control of the yacht while compensating for the effects of wind and tide. FishHunter Mode performs square, zigzag, circle, orbit, spiral or figure-eight manoeuvres around the specified target at a user-selected distance. This feature can also be used for Man Overboard (MOB).

RRP $5860
For more information, phone (07) 3245 3633, or go to;


Furuno is releasing a new range of colour fishfinders this winter in the FCV-627 (5.7in) and FCV-587 (8.4in) models along with the GP-1670/F (5.7in) and GP-1870/F (7in) plotters. The entry-level 627 can operate with a through-hull transducer and run off a 12V battery. Screens are non-fogging LCD and include the new Bottom Discrimination Sounder graphic display. The GP series plotters use C-MAP 4D cartography, including detailed satellite images, and are NMEA 2000 compliant.

RRP $1419 (FCV-627).
For more information, phone (02) 9939 1055 or visit;


Navico are releasing the NAIS-400 AIS transponder and NSPL-400 antenna splitter. A Class-B AIS transponder the NAIS-400 has an integrated 50-channel GPS receiver and is waterproof to IPX7. Data shown on MFD screens include MMSI (Maritime Mobile Service Identifier) Number, vessel name, call sign and type. The units are compliant to NMEA 0183 and 2000, and have a USB connection. The NAIS-400 antenna is multipurpose, suitable for VHF/AIS/FM radio.

RRP to be announced.
For more information, visit


GME has brought out a new line of Automatic Identification Systems (AIS), consisting of a Class B transceiver, receiver and antenna splitter.

These Class B units allow recreational boats equipped with AIS to automatically share and update their position, speed, course and other information such as vessel identity with similarly equipped craft. The AIST120 Transceiver has an internal GPS patch antenna but can connect to an external GPS antenna. The AIS message receiver-only model, AISR120, is a lower budget (RRP $229) unit that hooks up to PCs and MFDs.

RRP $649 (AIST120).
For more information, phone (02) 9939 1055 or log on;


Comar supply several AIS dual-channel systems. The AIS-3R receives both Class A and B information with USB outputs, while the Comar NMEA-2-WI-FI accepts instrument data and AIS information then transmits it via Wi-Fi to the iPad.

RRP $349 (NMEA-2-WIFI).
For more information, phone Digital Marine on 0424 177 869 or see

CHIRP technology is increasingly used in sonar and radar.
Technically described as Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave or FMCW, CHIRP gives boaters a more powerful and defined image of their environment because it uses multiple frequencies to sweep the water for targets. Unlike the single-frequency pings from traditional sounders, CHIRP uses multiple-frequency pings (ranging from say 45 to 65kHz and 175 to 210kHz). In radar Simrad was the first to introduce CHIRP, which excels at close-range target identification. In sonar most of the major manufacturers are bringing out CHIRP transducers.

Apple’s dominance in the tablet market continues, mainly because everyone is making ancillary equipment for it; Bluetooth keyboards, weatherproof shells, GPS and of course many new apps. The opposition, which are the Android camp — such as Samsung, Toshiba, Lenovo, Motorola, Asus, Panasonic and others with similar tablets — continue to offer slightly cheaper alternatives. But ultrabooks are the new category rapidly growing because these thin laptops are like tablets but with useful keyboards and conform to agreed power and weight standards.

From Trade-a-Boat Issue 430, Aug-Sept 2012. Photos: Kevin Green; Apple; Coursemaster; Digital Yacht; Furuno; Garmin; GME; JN Taylor; Lenovo; Navico; Nexus New Zealand; Raymarine.


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