Chartplotter recommendations?

GPS, Sonor, Radar, Fish Finder, etc. Discuss electronics installation and upgrades.
WillieC
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Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:24 pm

Sunsetrider,

We are using SF Lite. Nothing fancy and not rated all that well looking at the google quickly, but free. It meets the allotment in our budget for apps. Zero.

Sprig1
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Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:46 pm

Sunsetrider seaiq can do ais if you hook it in with your phone. Costs $25.00. I bought a vhf radio Link8 it also as ais on it.

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DesertAlbin736
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Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:16 am

I went ahead & ordered the 741xs chartplotter and GW2200 VHF/AIS. Found some substantial bargains online, $215 off MSRP on the Garmin, $15 less than West Marine's sale price, plus free shipping & no sales tax. For the VHF I snagged $95.67 off MSRP, with $4.95 shipping and no sales tax. Arizona sales tax rate is 8.1%, so even at these reduced prices I saved another $80 in sales tax with a grand total shipping cost of $4.95. Even if WM matched those prices and no shipping I still would have had to pay sales tax since WM has brick & mortar stores in AZ and thus has to collect sales tax whether I drive to the store or order online. The decision not to wait was because Garmin has a $40 mail in rebate offer going on that expires on 12/31.

I get the appeal of going these cheaper routes. If all we ever did was putt around the lake I wouldn't bother. We've done our navigation so far with a GPSmap 76cx with a screen the size of a business card along with good old paper charts, and we have the free Vessel Finder AIS and Polaris Navigation apps on the smart phone & 9" tablet. Our 9" Samsung Android tablet has wifi, and our phones can be set up as secure personal wifi hotspots.....as long as we are in cell range...but they're not weatherproof.

One thing I'm going to investigate further is setting up an NMEA 2000 network to use the engine data display feature on the 741xs, if I can find compatible Yanmar senders, so I can have engine temp and oil pressure readouts on the chartplotter screen. Right now we just have tach and idiot lights on the Yanmar panel. Would be nice not to have to drill more holes to install extra VDO gauges.

Here's the official Garmin demo video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AccY19HcREM

Here's a video on the VHF. Not the best lighting, but pretty good synopis of operation. Sunsetrider, this guy is homeported in Iroquois, ON a ways upriver on the St. Lawrence from your location. Makes a good point about "seeing" around blind corners & having collision aviodance alarms.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kX5usXHAqg
Last edited by DesertAlbin736 on Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:34 pm, edited 2 times in total.
La Dolce Vita
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Sunsetrider
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Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:50 am

Some really major improvements Steve - congrats! I do not want to replace my current model SH VHF, but the Garmin 741xs is intriguing. I wonder about two things: (1) Would not the chirp technology be a great assist in anchoring? and (2) do you need to install a new through-hull transducer to take advantage of the chirp?
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WillieC
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Tue Nov 21, 2017 11:26 am

Christmas is coming to La Dolce Vida! The WillieC is still too young to notice. Hush!

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DesertAlbin736
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Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:23 pm

I wonder about two things: (1) Would not the chirp technology be a great assist in anchoring? and (2) do you need to install a new through-hull transducer to take advantage of the chirp?
1)I'm not sure how helpful the CHIRP enhancements would be for anchoring. Supposed to give better detailed image of bottom topography.

2)Yes, you would need to upgrade the transducer, another $250US+ cost to take advantage of the CHIRP enhancements, but it's supposed to be compatible with most existing conventional single frequency legacy transducers without those enhancements. Specs say 50/77/200 kHz, CHIRP (low, medium, high), ClearVü frequencies are supported. I for one would rather not go through the cost and hassle of replacing my existing through hull transducer if I can help it, since spotting minnows in the water is not on my top priority list. Not least of the hassles of replacing the transducer is that I'd have to remove all my batteries to get to the transducer, since now that my batteries are located in the starboard bench seat locker, the transducer is under that. Not to mention that the cable is routed under the holding tank.

The catch is you'd need to adapt the old transducer to an 8 pin female plug, while the old transducer is 6 pin. Garmin makes an adapter " junction box/pigtail" for that. They run in the $55 to $70 range depending on vendor. Obviously because you have to cut and splice the transducer cable this would void any warranty on the transducer, but it's likely to be long out of warranty anyway. There are other plug-to-plug adapters, but they go 8 pin male to 6 pin female to adapt older sounder units to newer transducers, and in this case going from older transducer to newer sounder you need 6 pin male to 8 pin female.

It looks like this:
8 pin adapter.jpg

Here's how it works.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvGnoRQZXtU

The depth sounder I have now is a Garmin FishFinder 240, vintage 2001. I'm going to head over to the boat today and dig out the documentation & look at the cables. The 240 has a weird single power/data plug input, combining transducer input and power source into one plug. My existing unit is depth only, no speed or sea temperature sensors.
G240 manual.jpg
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La Dolce Vita
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Yanmar 3GM30F
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Sunsetrider
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Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:00 pm

Ya, no way am I eager to fool around with a fresh thru-hull. I was wondering whether there might be a "hang it off the bottom of the transom" sort of transducer that would give full chirping. I do not fish generally speaking either, but I can see setting anchor, then pulling forward to scan the bottom to see how it is set - and to learn the nature of the bottom as well. The more it can be out to use, the easier to justify the purchase!

I'll try to check out the specs of my Humminbird when I go down this weekend to pull out the engine doghouse for the insulation project. I have both depth and water temp.
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DesertAlbin736
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Tue Nov 21, 2017 7:42 pm

Well, that was frustrating. Went over to the boat to take a look at the Fishfinder cable & look at the documentation passed along from previous owners. All I could find was the owner manual for the Fishfinder 240 and a tattered copy of generic installation instructions for the Airmar through hull transducer. No purchase receipts, and no way to tell what model the transducer is, since the part number tag is either missing from the sounder end of the cable or down in the bilge at the transducer.

Also there isn't enough slack in the transducer cable where it plugs into the FIshfinder data/power wiring harness to splice in the adapter box close enough to the chartplotter for the 8 pin pigtail to reach. So looks like I'll have to pull the batteries and the floorboard under them to get to the transducer to see if there's enough slack laying in the bilge to pull some through. If there is I can install the 6 pin to 8 pin adapter. Otherwise, since I'll need to gain access to the transducer anyway I can consider replacing it with a new compatible 8 pin transducer that would fit in the same hole. The adapter will run $60 to $70, or between $225 to $300 for a new transducer, depending on choice between CHRIP or non-CHIRP transducer. If I replaced the transducer I could sell the old fishfinder complete with matching 6 pin transducer & recoup $50 or $60 bucks or so. At least with a new transducer that would add water temperature readouts, which the current transducer does not provide. And no need for the adapter box. One good thing is the weather is still nice, the boat sits on the trailer 2 miles from the house & I can go over and work on it anytime.

Got all winter to mess with it.
La Dolce Vita
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Residence: Peoria, AZ
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Desertboater
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Wed Nov 22, 2017 11:57 pm

Garmin makes an AIS receiver that integrates with the 741xs via NMEA 2000. Looks like cost would be about $400 for the receiver plus the cables and fittings for the NMEA 2000 network. If we take Steve's offer to try out Puget Sound, AIS would probably be very nice to have.

We use the Garmin Blue Chart app on an iPad connected to the 741xs via it's internal WiFi with good results. When we let friends who have little to no experience with river navigation drive the boat, I keep an eye on whether they are staying within the channel via the iPad. Also use it for route planning. Garmin has indicated that Blue Chart and Garmin Helm apps are being replaced by the new Active Captain app from Garmin.
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RobS
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Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:02 am

Interesting that the Blue Chart and Garmin Helm apps are being replaced by the new Active Captain app from Garmin. I always have Garmin Helm up and running, I hope this is not a step in the wrong direction..

As to AIS, why spend that money on a receiver when you can by a N2K VHF that is an AIS receiver. I have an Icom VHF with built-in AIS rcvr on my N2K network and it displays on my Garmin 7612xsv. Here's some screenshots. Is there something more as to features the stand alone rcvr would offer?
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Jay Knoll
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Fri Nov 24, 2017 10:34 am

Here is a copy of an email I received from Garmin in October, that may explain the situation a bit further, I've downloaded the new app but haven't gotten to the boat to do any pairing

--- The New Meaning of ActiveCaptain ---

At the Ft Lauderdale International Boat Show yesterday, Garmin made a series of announcements. They announced the new STRIKER Plus series of fishfinders, the new ECHOMAP series of chartplotters, and, get ready, the new ActiveCaptain app for Android and iOS.

Starting today, ActiveCaptain has a new meaning. It is now the app interface to Garmin products and technologies. One of those technologies is the ActiveCaptain Community, the marinas, anchorages, hazards, and local knowledge, reviews, and comments that you know well. The community aspects also include your electronic boat card as part of the ActiveCaptain website.

The new app is free for both Android and iOS. It has ActiveCaptain Community support to synchronize the marker data offline to your mobile devices. The free apps include a baseline map for the entire world.

These new apps have unique features especially if you have Garmin chartplotters onboard. In particular, they support:

OneChart - charts on your chartplotter or purchased through the app are available on all of your devices. There is no need to purchase different sets of charts for different devices. They all use one set of charts that you buy once. If you have a Garmin chartplotter, once it is registered with the app, the chartplotter charts are available on the mobile devices without buying anything.

Smart Notifications - you can now keep up to date with calls and text messages received on your phone while at your Garmin chartplotter. The app makes all the connectivity happen.

Planning - routes and waypoints move between the app and chartplotters.

Mobile Quickdraw Community - easily upload and download the latest community-made QuickdrawTM Contours chart and map content. These are crowd-sourced charts made by sharing depth sounder readings with the community.

Sync User Data - marked waypoints and routes automatically synchronize between the app and chartplotter.

Over-the-Air Software Updates - once the app is paired with a Garmin chartplotter, notifications and update details combine with seamless delivery to update your chartplotter's firmware.

View and Control - you can view and control your chartplotter from your smartphone or tablet from anywhere on the boat. It connects over WiFi and gives full helm control on the mobile device.

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RobS
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Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:18 am

Jay thanks for posting that, much appreciated! I downloaded the app. My boat is hauled for the season but my Garmin MFD is in my office and I have an xtra power cord and a 12v power supply so I can play with this at my desk. Looks like there will be a lot to keep us busy....
Rob S.
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"TOY-RIFIC" 2000 28TE, 6LP, Hull 408

Luck is the residue of good design.

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DesertAlbin736
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Fri Nov 24, 2017 2:02 pm

I'm glad this thread has attracted so much interest. As for AIS, I have a Standard Horizon GX2200 Matrix VHF with built in AIS on order. Both it and the Garmin 741xs are due to arrive next week. I got an email from West Marine advertising a Black Friday special including the 741xs on sale for $649.99 between now and 11/27. That's less than I paid online for mine with free shipping and no sales tax, but West Marine has stores here in state, so the AZ 8.1% sales tax WM would have to charge would still make the bottom line cost more than what I paid .

Speaking of AIS and VHF radios, this question was posted pretty far down the list in West Marine's Q&A for the 741xs:
Q: Is this compatible with NMEA 2000 interface for use with DSC/AIS VHF radio?

A: Yes, it supports NMEA 2000 and the necessary messages for DSC/AIS. Many VHF radios with built-in AIS receivers are NMEA 0183 only, and the GPSMAP 741xs is also compatible with NMEA 0183 as well as NMEA 2000.
Here's a quote from the Standard Horizon GX2200 VHF owner manual concerning NMEA output:
The GX2200 uses NMEA0183 protocol to share coordinates,
DSC and AIS information to and from a GPS chartplotter. The GX2200 transfers AIS information to a GPS chart plotter or PC at 38400 baud (sometimes called HS). GPS and DSC information is transferred between a chart plotter with multiple ports (minimum 2) at 4800 baud setting,
(default setting).

To connect to a GPS chartplotter with has one NMEA port, the GX2200 may be set up to received GPS coordinates, send DSC and AIS signals at 38400 baud.
Now what exactly is meant by "messages" and whether or not the AIS display of positions of other vessels will overlay on the chart or as a separate display on the 741xs, that I don't know. Obviously the 741xs does not need external input of GPS coordinates, since it has its own built in GPS, nor does the VHF need an external GPS source for the same reason. Actually, with the VHF and chartplotter mounted side by side on the dash, I see no reason to link the two. I'm more interested in figuring a way to find the correct Yanmar sensors to display engine coolant temperature and oil pressure on the chartplotter screen. But having both plus my old handheld GPS that can run on AA batteries gives triple redundancy on knowing position. Another item on the upgrade list is a new handheld VHF with DSC capability that also floats. I have a 15 year old Standard Horizon handheld that is waterproof but doesn't float and no DSC. Its rechargeable NiCad battery died long ago, so I have to feed it AA batteries, 8 at a time.

As far as Active Captain, I'll have to talk to one of our sailing club members who is very versed with and enamored of Active Captain.
La Dolce Vita
1971 Albin 25 #736
Yanmar 3GM30F
Gig Harbor Boatworks Nisqually 8 dinghy
Residence: Peoria, AZ
Homeport: Lake Pleasant, AZ & beyond

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DesertAlbin736
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Fri Nov 24, 2017 4:24 pm

Regarding Desertboater's comment ...
If we take Steve's offer to try out Puget Sound, AIS would probably be very nice to have.
...the BC Albineers have a rendezvous in Ladysmith on Vancouver Island scheduled for July 13-14, 2018, FYI. Three others they have tentatively planned for next year are May 4-6 at Port Browning on S. Pender Island, June 1st - 3rd at Telagraph Harbour on Thetis Isand, and September 14th -16th at Genoa Bay, which is on Vancouver Island opposite Salt Spring Island.

The one at Ladysmith is the only one we're likely to be able to visit if any, since we won't be up there until mid June and will be either home or on our way home before mid September.
La Dolce Vita
1971 Albin 25 #736
Yanmar 3GM30F
Gig Harbor Boatworks Nisqually 8 dinghy
Residence: Peoria, AZ
Homeport: Lake Pleasant, AZ & beyond

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Sunsetrider
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Fri Nov 24, 2017 6:01 pm

If I don't have a chartplotter and see no point in getting one (the ipad works great), does that mean I cannot really get benefit from AC? Everything I try to do with the app makes me try to link to a chartplotter, or else I hit a wall.
1976 Albin 25 Hull 2529

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