Marine electronics and navigation specialist, Errol Cain has supervised the installation of marine electronic systems into thousands of Riviera luxury cruisers in his 27 years experience. In this issue, Errol talks about the new electronics products recently released to the boating public.
Having just returned from the Miami International Boat Show in Florida, I am astounded at the new Marine Navigation products on show for the first time. It was only a short three months ago at METS in Amsterdam that many new products were released. The research and development departments at the big four, Furuno, Garmin, Raymarine and Simrad have been working overtime.
The plan was for a complete roundup in this e-news, however with so much new technology on display, I have decided it would be best to split between two issues.
Lets start with Multi function Displays (MFD’S) which incorporates the main functions of navigation like Charting, Sounder, Radar, AIS, Engine Data, Digital switching, Multimedia and Video to name a few.
Multi Function Displays
Furuno, Garmin and Raymarine all released new products in the MFD sector. Garmin (8000 series) and Raymarine (GS series), both showed a new “Glass Bridge”, dual touch range of MFDs while Furuno (TZT-BB) and Garmin (8000-BB) showed the soon to be released “Black Box” range of MFDs.
“BB or Black Box” units are basicly the same as an MFD without the LCD / LED display. This allows for many different screen sizes to be chosen
Furuno launched the TZTouch 8″ and 14″ MFD all glass bridge displays in February 2012, which I attended and have previously written about. Now, 12 months later comes the Furuno TZT-BB (Black Box version) which will be available in 15″ 17″, 19″, 21″ and 24″ screen sizes. Furuno uses Hatterland displays with the Black Box series of MFDs. Some of the smart features of Furuno TZT are as follows;
Garmin’s new 8000 series, available in 8″, 12″ and 15″ screen size and the 8000-BB series, available in 15″, 17″ and 19″ screen size are a completely new line. A few of the outstanding features are as follows;
Raymarine’s new GS series, available in 9.5″, 12″ and 15″ screen size is a step up in the style stakes for MFDs. With edge to edge glass, the displays are the sharpest looking I have seen. The new GS series are similar to the popular e-series with some smart new features like;
Multi Function Displays (MFDs), have become so integrated in modern marine electronics, it is no longer possible to choose stand alone equipment like Chart, Radar, Sounder, as you would have only a few short years ago. The list of features in today’s MFDs are almost endless.
Depth Sounders or Fishfinders as many folks refer to them, have changed almost as much as MFDs in the past 24 months. Up until the time when Navico (quickly followed by Garmin and Raymarine) released the first Chirp (Clear Pulse, previously written about) Black Box sounder about 18 months ago, sounder technology was limited to analogue signal processing. Now most manufactures have Chirp technology available within their range of products. Analogue sounders are still widely used however Chirp is rapidly taking over. Currently, today’s sonar systems are divided into either the traditional tone pulse systems or the newer Chirp or Spread Frequency systems.
The traditional tone pulse systems operate at a specific frequency, such as 50 kHz or 200kHz. They use rather short duration transmit pulses and have several drawbacks. For instance, targets such as fish or submerged objects that are close together are seldom going to show as separate targets on the sonar screen but rather as large clumps. Also, targets close to the bottom are very hard to detect.
And a great deal of energy is required to transmit into deeper water.
CHIRP does not fire just one specific frequency but modulates the pulse so that there is a sweep of frequencies within a long duration transmitted pulse. This results in a much more defined underwater image and uses less power.
CHIRP also utilises two separate bands at the same time producing a great deal of energy which is transmitted into the water and is up to 1000 times more than a traditional tone pulse sonar.
Greater energy sustained into a sonar pulse equates to a higher amount of energy in the return sonar echo.
CHIRP technology has the ability for individual target separation and far greater ability for deeper penetration with less energy used.
Furuno announced at the Miami International Boat Show that they to will launch a Chirp sounder module within the next six months which will complete the big four offering this break-through sounder technology..
Black Box sounders plug into an MFD via a network connection and are controlled by the MFD.
Taking this new Chirp sounder technology one step further, Raymarine presented their version to the world, Draqonfly.
Dragonfly is an entry level 5.7″ Chart Plotter/Sounder combo for under $ 1000 with Navionics gold charts. The picture quality and resolution of Dragonfly is representative of a much more expensive sounder.
Dragonfly is the perfect Chart/Sounder combo for any tender with industry leading features like;
Stay tuned for Part Two, which will cover self setup and self learning Autopilots, next generation GPS antennas, added features to existing products and a multi function watch which can steer your boat.