Command & Control
Electronic Navigation Takes AnotherGiant Step Forward
The past 14 months have seen a whirlwind of change in electronic marine navigation. Next-generation multifunction displays (MFDs) have come to market with increased processing power and networking ability, larger and easier-to-read displays, and new user interfaces that add increased convenience and safety to our passage planning and making. As single display or multiple display installations, most of them move us more positively in the direction of the “Glass Bridge,” with control units mounted remotely, increased interconnectivity, and fewer individual components mounted on the console. Here’s a look at the biggest news in electronic marine navigation to hit the waves over the last 12 to 14 months.
In October, Furuno introduced its most innovative integrated marine electronics system ever, NavNet 3D, a completely redesigned, component-based navigation suite. The brains of this building-block system are based in 8.4-inch ($3,195) or 12.1-inch ($4,495) MFD units, or in a Black Box MFD ($9,995), tucked away in a remote location and designed to drive one of four select displays. To expand system capabilities, you can also add a variety of optional Furuno components to round out your package, including the Ultra High Definition (UHD) digital radar sensor, the Furuno Digital Filter (FDF) fishfinder, a Sirius Marine Weather receiver, a GPS/WAAS receiver, an autopilot, an AIS receiver, digital instruments, and Internet protocol (IP) cameras.
Virtually everything about this new nav system is noteworthy. When you’re ready to navigate, you can choose from preloaded official NOAA charts—raster, vector, and bathymetric—for the entire U.S. coastline, including Alaska and Hawaii. And the system can display any of these chart formats in 2D or 3D anytime, on the fly, with no redraw time. Flawless chart loading and scaling make this system very unique. When you see it in operation, you’ll walk away convinced, like I was, that NavNet 3D is a game changer, a giant leap forward in electronic navigation.
NavNet 3D incorporates a powerful graphic engine and a new technology, powered by a next-generation software package from MaxSea, that Furuno calls TimeZero. This technology allows seamless chart redraw with absolutely no waiting time. The selected chart can be zoomed continuously in and out to whatever chart scale is desired, something like gaining or losing altitude in a private aircraft, but without the hesitation found in conventional chart planners as you pass from one chart scale to the next. Panning side-to-side and scrolling forward or backward around the chart in real time is equally flawless, allowing you the freedom to explore the waters ahead on your charts. A short button push instantly returns you to your own vessel’s position, while a long push on the same button toggles between a traditional 2D view and a bird-like 3D view.
PhotoFusion is the name Furuno gives to another NavNet 3D technology that allows high-resolution satellite photography to be fused with the raster or vector charts you’ve chosen. Dry land and shoal areas are displayed with satellite photos on the chart, so you can see where the shore ends and corresponding soundings begin. As the depth increases, the satellite photography becomes more transparent, indicating where the deeper water begins. The satellite photography for coastal areas of the United States is free. Simply download your navigation area of interest onto an SD card from the NavNet website (navnet.com), and upload it to your system.
When you’re ready to expand your system, Furuno offers UHD radar sensors ($2,600 to $6,500) that feature noise-free target presentations with automatic, real-time digital controls. NavNet 3D’s new dual progressive scan transmits two separate echo signals that act autonomously when the screen is split with two radar displays, allowing you to adjust each individual presentation for range, gain, sea, and rain clutter controls. Each screen is also equipped with an automatic radar plotting aid (ARPA) that is capable of tracking up to 30 targets simultaneously.
The Furuno Digital Filter, operating in conjunction with the DFF1 network sounder ($660), adds a powerful, dual-frequency digital fishfinder to the NavNet 3D system. The filter suppresses surface clutter caused by propeller action, adding exceptional shallow-water capabilities, and also optimizes gain to obtain highly defined images of fish and structure on the bottom.
The screen can be split and customized to show the information that interests you most often, including views from your engine room and from stern-facing and underwater cameras using multiple video inputs or distributed over an Ethernet network with up to four IP cameras. Cycle through multiple video inputs in a single window while viewing digital instruments monitoring engine performance, wind data, or other sensor data. Drop a real-time Sirius satellite weather overlay over the chart for up-to-date local and regional weather conditions. Add a PG500R WAAS GPS antenna ($350) for high-accuracy fixes and an FA30 Automatic Identification System (AIS) two-channel receiver to help keep track of large vessels when running in limited visibility. The options for customization seem almost limitless with NavNet 3D.
For more information, contact Furuno (360.834.9300; navnet.com; furuno.com).
Maestro is the name Faria has given to its first “marine computer system” for the cruising boat owner. It incorporates a powerful sealed Pentium 1.6GHz processor and a high-resolution touch-screen display that is daylight readable and weather resistant, and it is powered by either Maptech’s intuitive navigation software suite or Nobeltec software. The touch-screen display is available in 8.4-inch, 12.1-inch, and 15-inch versions, making it easier to install on the crowded helm console of virtually any size boat. The popular 12.1-inch Maestro ($11,500) includes a GPS antenna, depth transducer, necessary harnesses, and a USB dash socket for easy uploading of new charts from a thumb drive.
A single Maestro computer supports up to two touch screens, giving the owner the option of having identical controls at both helm and flybridge stations, or even installing two units side by side. An S-Video output lets you view all system functions on any other S-Video-enabled television on your boat.
The features of this system include standard 2D and perspective-enhancing 3D chart plotting with a full set of preloaded navigation charts, photos, and topographic maps for the entire country. Notable options on the network include radar and autopilot expandability, a high-resolution fishfinder, XM WX Satellite Weather reporting, and four-camera capability. The Maestro also provides single- or dual-engine monitoring for many marine engines.
Integral wi-fi allows easy connection to available wireless networks at many marinas. And in what seems to be an industry first, Maestro includes a PCMCIA slot that allows boat owners to use a PCMCIA broadband card for two-way Internet accessibility within provider coverage areas when wireless networks are not available. Staying in touch with friends, relatives, or co-workers couldn’t be much easier.
The Maestro’s intuitive features and touch-screen display are easy to use right out of the box, so you don’t have to spend hours studying the complex manuals to be navigation ready. Maestro makes optimal use of Maptech’s graphical user interface (GUI) to eliminate the external buttons, keys, and dials found on typical navigation systems. With just a touch of a finger, you can view and change charts, see high-resolution navigation photos, get tide charts, drop in radar overlays, control the autopilot, and much more. Creating a route means touching the displayed chart at your point of departure, touching waypoints along the way to ensure safe navigation around physical and underwater obstacles, and finally touching your destination. You can even touch and drag an existing route around an obstacle you missed. The Maestro automatically creates and corrects the route for you. Touch a chart feature under way, and you get an instant range and bearing readout.
To learn more, contact Faria (860.848.9271; faria-maestro.com).
The new 5000 Series came to market in the middle of the 2007 season, adding the convenience and simplicity of touch-screen technology to the Garmin Marine Network, a system that is ready to accept your choice of options like GPS, radar, sonar, XM WX Satellite Weather, and other data sensors for increased situational awareness.
The flagship GPSMAP 5212 ($3,500) features a worldwide satellite imagery base map to support the standard vector chart format and comes preloaded with U.S. coastal charts and detailed Explorer Charts for the Bahamas. Garmin also offers the GPSMAP 5208 ($3,000), which provides virtually all the features of the GPSMAP 5212 in a smaller display package. The 5208 has an 8.4-inch diagonal VGA color touch screen for installation in more compact instrument consoles.
All 5000 Series units are NMEA 2000 compliant. For optimum networking ability, the units have three built-in network ports, four NMEA 0183 inputs, two NMEA 0183 outputs, one NMEA 2000 port, two video inputs for onboard cameras, and one PC monitor video output.
The GPSMAP 5212 features a waterproof (IPX7 standard), super-bright, 12.1-inch diagonal XGA color touch-screen display. Navigating menus with a touch screen using “virtual buttons” that change depending on the function selected (instead of space-grabbing hard buttons) allows you to intuitively see and select the information you want while eliminating clutter. The 5000 Series’ sleek, flat-screen design is intended to be flush mounted; it can also be bracket mounted when space is at a premium.
Garmin now offers BlueChart g2 Vision technology on preprogrammed SD cards. In addition to high-resolution satellite imagery, g2 Vision features a mariner’s eye view with a true 3D map perspective above the waterline as well as a “fish eye view” for an underwater 3D bathymetric contour perspective. Interestingly,the g2 Vision data card also supports an auto guidance technology on compatible units that helps you search
all the chart attributes to suggest the best navigational course. A large database of aerial reference photos makes it easier to navigate tricky harbors and channels or locate marinas and resorts. BlueChart g2 Vision capabilities are available only when the optional card is loaded in compatible chart plotters like the 5212 and 5208.
Contact Garmin for more information (913.397.8200; garmin.com).
Northstar’s legendary ease of use and solid reputation are part and parcel of the 8000i Networked System, introduced at the 2007 Miami International Boat Show. The 8000i combines navigation and entertainment functions in an expandable system complete with chart plotter, radar, depth sounder, video and network camera monitor, DVD/CD player, music jukebox, instrument repeater, and fuel/engine management system. Designed for single or multiple display installations, the 8000i
is available in 12-inch ($6,995) and 15-inch ($10,995) touch-screen models. Each screen can display and control all data, which transfers between units with blink-of-the-eye speed. Toggling between functions, setting waypoints, building routes, panning, and selecting specific chart areas are all easily accomplished with a simple touch of the 8000i’s infrared screen. For fans of more traditional input methods, the 8000i system has a built-in keypad that operates the same software interface, and it also may be controlled using your choice of USB pointer, keypad, mouse, or trackball.
Designed as a completely self-contained entertainment system, owners can load digital music from a memory stick and store media files directly on the 8000i’s hard drive, allowing access to video and audio libraries from any display on the network. The 8000i plays DVDs and CDs, and any CD can be recorded, added to the digital jukebox, and played on your vessel’s existing amplifier and speakers. Connect your 42-inch state-of-the-art plasma display in the saloon to the 8000i black box, add an 8000i remote keypad, and transform the screen into a fully functional 8000i.
The Northstar 8000i uses the latest vector cartography from Jeppesen. C-Map MAX Pro provides recreational boaters access to a charting system similar to those used on large commercial vessels. The entire chart library is contained on the 8000i hard drive, eliminating the need for keeping track of chart cards. Boaters can access chart regions simply by contacting C-Map or authorized C-Map dealers for a license key. Regular chart updates and corrections can be performed by loading them from a CD/DVD or memory stick or downloading them from the Internet.
For more information, contact Northstar (800.628.4487; northstarnav.com).
The new G-Series Navigation System, launched by Raymarine in October, builds on the well-proven technologies of the company’s C-Series and E-Series MFDs while adding new high-speed processing and networking capabilities. The core G-Series system includes a choice of ultra-bright marine displays ($5,995 to $11,995), a powerful GPM400 processor module ($5,400), and a wired keyboard ($650). The G-Series multifunction helm solution also includes optional remote wireless keyboards, plus a comprehensive list of network sensors for digital radar, digital depth sounder/fishfinder, GPS, satellite weather, and video input. You can configure the G-Series in a multitude of combinations to precisely fit your unique navigation needs.
Raymarine’s fast 100Mbps SeaTalkhs network enables plug-and-play integration between the G-Series processor and optional sensors. Using the company’s SeaTalkng next-generation data bus enables NMEA 2000 device connectivity. It also supports data from NMEA 2000-compatible engines and trim tab systems.
Raymarine’s new GPM400 processor module is configured to make the G-Series 10 times faster than its own earlier-generation multifunction displays. Its shock-resistant hard drive is preloaded with ready-to-run Navionics Platinum cartography for all of North America, with no cumbersome unlocking codes required. The new processor and a powerful graphics accelerator give you 3D chart plotter performance and realistic aerial photo chart views at tremendous speeds.
Each G-Series display has a thin bezel design that’s as practical as it is good-looking, allowing for maximum possible screen size within a specific amount of helm space. All four high-resolution displays (the 12-inch G120, 15-inch G150, 17-inch G170, and 19-inch G190) feature wide viewing angles, bold colors, and sharp contrast to make the screen easily visible from most any position within view of the helm. With adjustable backlighting and a dedicated night mode, the displays are suitable for low-light conditions.
Nine video inputs—three VGA, two DVI, three composite, and one S-Video—allow you to connect and access cameras, PCs, and satellite TV receivers without the need for splitters or switching systems. Each display features a source button for each input, as well as a built-in picture-in-picture (PIP) function for displaying multiple video sources simultaneously. In addition, the new GVM400 video module ($750) enables networked camera monitoring and audio through the G-Series system using Raymarine’s Ethernet-based SeaTalkhs network protocol.
Raymarine’s G-Series features an intuitive keyboard that allows for complete control of all stations from one location. The only marine manufacturer with a wireless keyboard option, Raymarine gives you the ability to control multiple monitors from anywhere on the boat. With this remote ability, the navigator can access menus, change video inputs, adjust brightness, and power down displays simultaneously.
Raymarine’s Super HD Digital technology, combining advanced digital signal processing and a leading-edge radar processor, improves target detection by virtually eliminating signal noise and extracting additional information from the returned signals. Adaptive automatic settings provide unparalleled target detection capabilities across a wide range of sea conditions. For a more realistic view of targets and land masses, Raymarine’s Super HD Digital radar system offers true color radar target tracking with 256 levels of color definition. The G-Series system also supports two radar antennas simultaneously, if that level of backup is important to you.
If fishing under way is of interest, one of three next-generation high-definition digital fishfinders can be integrated into a G-Series display using the SeaTalkhs network. Using four independent, multifrequency digital sonar transceivers, the powerful new DSM400 Sounder Module ($2,795) can penetrate depths to 5,000 feet using up to 3kW of power.
To find out more, contact Raymarine (603.881.5200; raymarine.com).
Simrad’s new GB40 Glass Bridge, a member of the Navico family of marine electronics and advanced navigation systems for the recreational and commercial boating market, debuted at the 2008 Miami International Boat Show. It is designed to deliver optimal power, functionality, and robust reliability for boats in the 35- to 75-foot range.
At the heart of the GB40 is a compact yet powerful black box NavComputer, which comes preloaded with global C-Map MAX Pro cartography that gives you free access to world chart level data. Detailed regional charts for the areas you wish to cruise are easily unlocked when you’re ready to venture beyond home waters. The GB40’s dedicated processor offers a variety of sophisticated MAX Pro chart views of the environment around, above, and below your vessel, including 3D presentations of bathymetric seafloor data, land elevation data, and satellite photography that can be combined in a realistic Virtual Earth display. Other notable
features include instant 2D chart redraw, 3D aerial views, Dynamic Current Predictions, and chart-specific photos of harbors and inlets. Networked GB40 NavComputers can be specified for multiscreen operation on large bridges, adding backup capability.
The GB40’s modular design lets you create the best system for your cruising needs, starting with your choice of a 10.4-inch ($6,995), 15-inch ($9,995), or 19-inch ($10,995) flat-panel TFT high-resolution color display. Each is designed for optimum readability in direct sunlight. Displays can be surface mounted, rear flush mounted, or bracket mounted. All functions of the GB40 are controlled with the system’s compact OP30 operation control unit. The system will accept up to eight OP30 units, which can be handheld, mounted on the dash, or built into the pilot chair armrest. Up to three screens (two DVI displays and one VGA monitor) can be connected directly to each GB40 NavComputer.
The GB40 can be configured with a high-power, dual-frequency echo sounder ($795) that has automatic settings of 600-watt or 1kW output. Additionally, you can choose from a lineup of Simrad radar options ranging from lightweight 2kW radome units to powerful 25kW open array systems ($1,495 to $12,990). You can monitor vital engine data, keep track of optional cameras, or add an optional CD/DVD drive to enjoy music or watch a movie in full- or split-screen mode.
Interface the GB40 with the new Simrad AI50 Class B AIS ($1,595) to see and be seen by other AIS-equipped vessels and share important information such as vessel type, course, speed, heading, rate of turn, closest point of approach, and time to closest approach. The GB40 can be equipped with a Sirius Marine Weather receiver, providing real-time satellite weather information (in the United States and Canada only) overlaid onto a chart display for safer cruising.
Contact Navico to learn more (425.778.8821; www. simrad-yachting.com).
Though not designed to network with other MFDs, Standard Horizon’s new CP300 ($800) and its integral-antenna-equipped twin, the CP300i ($750), can be expanded to add a full range of navigation capabilities for those who have limited space for an MFD installation. The compact CP300 and CP300i boast a 7-inch, sunlight-viewable display that has a 16:9 aspect ratio and crisp resolution. Both units are equipped with a swivel bracket and flush-mount hardware.
The included (or integrated) 16-channel WAAS GPS receiver enables 10-foot position accuracy, and cartography can be supplied by C-Map MAX or NT+ cards. Charts can be viewed in 2D overhead or perspective views, and the screen can be split to show two important functions side by side. These units will store up to 3,000 waypoints and 50 routes (with a maximum of 30 waypoints each). When connected to a compatible Standard Horizon VHF, such as the Quest GX1500S ($180), these units show DSC distress and position polling functions on the chart for fast, easy reference. Dedicated “mark,” “route,” and “info” keys allow quick and simple operation. There are five user-programmable hot keys that allow swift access to a number of preprogrammed navigation displays. In addition, the CP300 and CP300i display and track AIS targets when connected to an optional AIS receiver (such as those from ACR, Simrad, and Si-Tex and other NMEA 0183-compatible units). Both are radar capable with optional Si-Tex/Koden domes ($5,880) and open array antennas ($17,520).
Connect your CP300/300i to a video source and watch your favorite DVD, play your favorite video game, or monitor your engine room in full screen or a user-selectable picture-in-picture. To find fish or wrecks and record water temperature, simply connect the optional FF520 50/200kHz black box fishfinder ($270) and transducer ($110 to $780). The CP300 and CP300i are backed by a three-year warranty against water damage.
For more information, contact Standard Horizon (714.827.7600; standardhorizon.com).
Whether you’re outfitting a new boat or upgrading an older electronics package, each of these systems offers a wide range of accessories to help make your navigation safer and more convenient. Electronics are improved, tweaked, and reinvented at a pace that makes it hard for many a boat owner to keep up, but the information provided here will at least give you a starting point for finding out what’s happened recently.
Who knows what will come next? Artificially intelligent virtual navigators to take command and control? We’ll do our best to keep you informed.