Revolutionary New Electronics Are Big News From MiamiBy Lenny Rudow
Published: June/July 2011
Our electronics editor likes what he sees at the show where most new electronics are introduced.
It's rare that a new nav system that focuses solely on sailors is introduced, but that's just what's happening this year with B&G's new MFD displays, the Zeus Z8 and Z12. The system benefits from the controls and software found in other Navico systems — look at the keypad, and you'll notice an eerily similar appearance to Simrad's NSE.
The big leg up for sailors is the addition of sailing-specific nav functions, especially the inclusion of GRIB weather-file display and animation, and WindPlot histograms that analyze wind patterns. This allows you to depict laylines while considering future wind patterns as well as current ones, to predict the fastest course along your route. All of the other perks you expect in a full-blown nav system are plug-and-play simple to add, such as radar, AIS, broadband sounding, Sirius satellite radio and weather, SonicHub entertainment, and B&G's H3000 instruments. $3,695–$4,995 | www.bandg.com
Garmin GSD 26
Garmin's newest black-box fishfinder (which interfaces with chart plotters in the Garmin Marine Network including GPSMAP 4,000 to 7,000 units) is the first offering of their new Spread Spectrum Technology (SST). It can ping through a spectrum of frequencies in an instant (an ability commonly called "chirp" technology), allowing the unit to improve target discrimination drastically while also boosting maximum depth readings to an amazing 10,000 feet. Power output is 250 watts for SST, or you can choose specific frequencies and boost output clear up to three kilowatts. Note, however, that the size of the transducer you'll need to enjoy this performance (it's nearly two feet long and weighs more than 45 pounds) limits SST to relatively large boats only. $1,999.00 | www.garmin.com.
This key-FOB controlled device prevents thieves from starting your boat, no matter how hard they try. Once armed, it allows low-current draws so items such as your bilge pumps and stereo memory still get juice, but when it detects a current spike — which engaging the engine's starter produces — it blocks the current and instead of starting the engine, sounds an alarm. $384.
When it comes to safety gear, you want to stay in the loop. The latest entry into the world of SAR is Ocean Signal. Don't worry about their inexperience, because Ocean Signal isn't actually a "new" company. They're a UK manufacturer, which is just now introducing their gear to the U.S. market. Offerings include the E100 and E100G, an EPIRB and GPS-equipped EPIRB with 96-hour-plus non-hazardous batteries and an LED strobe; the S100 SART, outfitted with the same type of long-life, non-hazardous battery; and the V100 VHF radio, with a protective tab that prevents battery discharge and accidental activation during storage. Prices TBD | oceansignal.com.
Simrad BSM-2 Broadband Sounder
The BSM-2 is compatible with Simrad's NSE and NSO systems, and is a black-box depth-sounder brain that "chirps" through the depths with multiple kHz frequencies at the same time. As a result, targets are cleaner and more distinct (Simrad says definition is increased five-fold) and depth range is extended down to the 10,000-foot range. It also requires the use of those whopping-big Airmar transducers, and choosing specific frequencies is not an option. $2,495 | www.simrad-yachting.com.
Standard Horizon CPN 700i/1010i
In this day and age, we demand WiFi everywhere we go — including on our boats. That's why Standard Horizon came out with the networkable, waterproof CPN 700i (with a seven-inch screen) and the CPN 1010i (with a 10.2-inch screen), a pair of touch-screen chart plotters that feature built-in Wifi, and more. Both units have sunlight-viewable bonded screens, backup toggle controls for times when it's too rough to use the touch screen, video input, and a built-in GPS antenna. They can "talk" to other electronics via Bluetooth, and the CPN plotters also offer both USB and Ethernet connectivity. Now you can stream music and surf the net, right from the helm. $1,500 for the 700i; $2,300 for the 1010i | www.standardhorizon.com.
RAPC Systems Mariner
Wouldn't it be nice if your boat had one big brain, instead of lots of little ones scattered all over the place? If that big brain was rugged, water-resistant, and had fail-safe backup systems? If it replaced so many pieces and parts that despite an initially high cost, it actually saved you money? Keep on dreaming — or check out RAPC Systems' Mariner onboard computer system.
The Mariner's features are thoroughly impressive: a 3-GHz dual CPU, 4-MB RAM, 1-TB SATA hard drive, and all of it is backed up by a built-in UPS (uninterrupted power supply) battery that reduces or eliminates the problems caused by boat-to-shore power transfers, power failures, and similar glitches — and we all know how "glitchy" electricity can be on a boat. It also keeps your boat's systems running in the event of a temporary but complete power failure. DC input can range from nine to 40 volts, and the unit's components are built to military specs so the Mariner is also corrosion, vibration, moisture, and dust resistant. In the less-potential-for-failure department, note that the system is also fan-free, designed to shed heat without any added mechanical ventilation. Do we find all of this surprising? Nah — RAPC builds similarly rugged and mobile Windows-based PCs for the Homeland Security and defense industries, so making computers that can live in the harsh marine environment comes naturally to them.
The system can support chart plotting, radar, AIS, systems monitoring, weather monitoring, and entertainment systems, and it can interface with all NMEA 2000 peripherals. The software isn't included; RAPC recommends Maretron N2K, which is designed for the NMEA2000 network. Added bonus: The Mariner is amazingly small, at a mere one foot long and six inches across, and is also available in a rack system. $18,000 | www.rapcsystemsinc.com.
Simrad NSS Sport
Simrad is going touch screen, with their new NSS Sport series. Available in three sizes (the 6.4-inch NSS7, the 8-inch NSS8, and the 12-inch NSS12), these units offer a wide range of control interfaces: the touch screen, a keypad, and a rotary control. More control is better, especially since using touch screens can be a little iffy when the seas kick up and it becomes hard to put your pointer exactly where you want on the LCD screen.
The NSS7 and 8 have a built-in fishfinder, all units have built-in GPS functionality, and all can have their capabilities expanded with modules including broadband radar, StructureScan side-finders, SonicHub entertainment systems, and Sirius satellite weather radio. $1,895 (NSS7); $2,845 (NSS8), and $3,995 (NSS12) | www.simrad-yachting.com.
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