GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

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Jchrisman
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GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by Jchrisman » Mon Sep 14, 2015 5:54 pm

I'm brand new to this forum and have tried to find a particular topic on this subject. I'm the new owner of a 26M that needs a depth finder with GPS. At most we will use it in the San Juans but it is mostly in a slip on a mountain lake in Idaho. Any thoughts?

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yukonbob
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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by yukonbob » Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:41 am

For under 500 bucks you can get a basic chart plotter with sounder and baseline maps, detailed digital charts will be another hundred or so. A basic handheld with B&W screen will run you around 150 bucks with very basic maps, or you can go old school with a good compass and free charts printed form NOAA which you really should have on board anyways.
If you plan more extensive cruises in unknown waters a chartplotter and detailed maps will allow you to explore more than can imagine with little worry about what’s under you. While on the lake I’m sure you know it well enough to sail most if not all of it blindfolded. I’m a fan of the chartplotters for longer trips as it allows you to plot a course from A to B to C to D and so on, you can immediately see how far to your next course change, destination, tides etc. With the right CP you can network a host of other fun gadgets to it like your DSC radio, radar, AIS etc.

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taime1
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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by taime1 » Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:30 pm

I was looking into GPS/CP/DF a while back and I think I was all but settled on the Raymarine Dragonfly. It has a very good depthfinder/sonar which looks almost like radar imaging of the bottom. It works with Navionic charts so you could get varying levels of details, depending on how much you wanted to spend. There is both a 5 and 7 inch display to choose from and I'm pretty sure it's NMEA compatible to hook up to other instruments.

When we were in the Georgian Bay area, the marina we slipped at was selling a 7-inch unit, with CHRP transducer and Navionics Gold maps for $700 CAD. I came real lose to buying it, then I remembered I don't have $700 for a shiny new GPS and have a older Garmin that works just fine.

Some prefer the Garmin line and a popular model was/is the 547XS, IIRC. It's a bit pricier than Raymarine and you can also uprade it to have some of that side scan sonar magic, but that was also at additional cost.

For me, GPS is pretty much a mandatory piece of equipment. While paper charts are required (in Canada anyway), a good GPS makes travel so much more enjoyable, especially in unknown or lesser known places.

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RussMT
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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by RussMT » Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:18 pm

I've got a garmin gpsmap 400series. Came with the boat when we bought it. Love this thing. I believe newer models have larger screen. I'm a navionics beta tester and the thing won't work with the chip. Pity because I've read good things. I did buy Inland lakes chip that offers the best and only real charts for our lake.

I think if I were doing it again, I'd not buy a garmin. It has served us well and I have no complaints, however the navionics charts look really cool. Garmin seems to have blocked 3rd party charts which really hacks me off on a consumer perspective.
Also, I've heard from users of other brand who felt the buttons on the garmin were not as intuitive as theirs. It is simple for me, perhaps others are even easier.

Almost all will come with depth. Very important in my opinion. And do not drill a hole in your bottom to mount the transducer. Lots of no holes methods documented on this forum.

--Russ

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mastreb
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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by mastreb » Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:38 pm

I recommend the Garmin 4xx and 5xx units for low cost, 740 series being the largest that would fit on the helm. The problem with a lot of the low-end chart-plotters is they eliminate the ability to integrate other devices and sensors by not having an NMEA2000 port.

Whatever you buy, insist that it have an NMEA2000 port, or you won't be able to hook it up to your engine, a wind sensor, or your VHF for GPS-DSC and AIS.

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Seapup
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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by Seapup » Wed Sep 16, 2015 7:46 am

I think if I were doing it again, I'd not buy a garmin. It has served us well and I have no complaints, however the navionics charts look really cool. Garmin seems to have blocked 3rd party charts which really hacks me off on a consumer perspective.
I am with you on the 3rd party software Russ. I have the Navionics maps also, they work on all garmin plotters before 2015 as long as you don't download garmins latest "update" which is just a block of Navionics. I swapped back to an older unupdated unit after using navionics a few months and then losing it. I have always been a garmin guy, but that really soured me. The fishing forums had a lot of heated talk when it happened. I think the era of of expensive stand alone units and "map kits" is quickly closing.
I recommend the Garmin 4xx and 5xx units for low cost, 740 series being the largest that would fit on the helm. The problem with a lot of the low-end chart-plotters is they eliminate the ability to integrate other devices and sensors by not having an NMEA2000 port.

Whatever you buy, insist that it have an NMEA2000 port, or you won't be able to hook it up to your engine, a wind sensor, or your VHF for GPS-DSC and AIS.
I like the garmin 4"&5"models, but have to disagree a bit with the NNMEA 2000 requirement for many users...Unless you have a specific element you know you will network. A lot of macs still have older motors so can't integrate it and are not installing $$$ NMEA2k sensors. All Vhfs that I am aware of still put out 0183 which is a simple no cost wire connection to connect GPS-DSC-AIS vs adding a more complex and expensive network.

For relatively inexpensive entry level the new garmin 4.3" 40 series look nice. $300 retail with maps and transducer. The slim profile would fit easily on the pedestal and they finally eliminated wire connections so you just pop it off the mount. I bought a bulk lot of about 2 dozen broken garmin plotters last winter to fix & resell. The main issues were either the connections or water when people didn't connect them and let them sit out.

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RussMT
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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by RussMT » Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:07 am

Seapup wrote:I am with you on the 3rd party software Russ. I have the Navionics maps also, they work on all garmin plotters before 2015 as long as you don't download garmins latest "update" which is just a block of Navionics. I swapped back to an older unupdated unit after using navionics a few months and then losing it. I have always been a garmin guy, but that really soured me. The fishing forums had a lot of heated talk when it happened. I think the era of of expensive stand alone units and "map kits" is quickly closing.
I've got a 2008 Garmin 440sx. Hasn't been flashed to new (blocking) firmware. Tried 2 Navionics chips and both black screen the box when I select "charts" from the display. I'm done trying. Their Beta tester forum seems to have no answers and they sent me a new chip to try, no joy. Hey, it was free and now I have 2 SD cards.
I like the garmin 4"&5"models, but have to disagree a bit with the NNMEA 2000 requirement for many users...Unless you have a specific element you know you will network. A lot of macs still have older motors so can't integrate it and are not installing $$$ NMEA2k sensors. All Vhfs that I am aware of still put out 0183 which is a simple no cost wire connection to connect GPS-DSC-AIS vs adding a more complex and expensive network.
This is a good point.
Not everyone needs NMEA and will connect it to their engine and/or autopilot. It may not be worth the extra money for this feature. It's more complicated and more expensive to cable this stuff together if even possible.

However, I'm a geek and would love the ability to have my engine sensors on the pedestal where I can see realtime fuel consumption and digital RPMs, temp etc. and my GPS is too old to support that. I almost wish my GPS would die so I would be forced to buy a new, more featured one. But I've worked in IT for the past 30+ years and love tinkering with digital stuffs. Always balancing the WAF with my gadgets around the house and boat.

--Russ

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grady
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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by grady » Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:48 am

mastreb wrote: Whatever you buy, insist that it have an NMEA2000 port, or you won't be able to hook it up to your engine, a wind sensor, or your VHF for GPS-DSC and AIS.
I agree! The small cost of buying one that is NMEA compatable now is a lot less than getting a year or two down the road and realizing the next toy you want requires it and you have to replace your GPS.

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sailboatmike
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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by sailboatmike » Wed Sep 16, 2015 4:08 pm

I would of thought NEMA 0183 compliance was more important, not many devices on the market at the moment are NEMA 2000.

My new DSC radio only uses 0183 as do my now ancient ST50 instrument cluster, if you go NEMA 2000 now you may well lock yourself into having to buy absolute top of the line gear for the foreseeable future as the uptake of 2000 seems to of been very slow in the middle to lower end range of products

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kadet
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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by kadet » Wed Sep 16, 2015 5:07 pm

sailboatmike wrote:I would of thought NEMA 0183 compliance was more important, not many devices on the market at the moment are NEMA 2000.

My new DSC radio only uses 0183 as do my now ancient ST50 instrument cluster, if you go NEMA 2000 now you may well lock yourself into having to buy absolute top of the line gear for the foreseeable future as the uptake of 2000 seems to of been very slow in the middle to lower end range of products
All you do for NMEA 2000 is connect a NMEA 0183 multiplexer so you can connect your older devices into the NMEA 2000 back bone, or as in my case bring in the NMEA 0183 messages to my chartplotter that is both 0183 and 2000 compatible and it acts as the multiplexer.

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grady
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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by grady » Wed Sep 16, 2015 10:08 pm

kadet wrote:
sailboatmike wrote:I would of thought NEMA 0183 compliance was more important, not many devices on the market at the moment are NEMA 2000.

My new DSC radio only uses 0183 as do my now ancient ST50 instrument cluster, if you go NEMA 2000 now you may well lock yourself into having to buy absolute top of the line gear for the foreseeable future as the uptake of 2000 seems to of been very slow in the middle to lower end range of products
All you do for NMEA 2000 is connect a NMEA 0183 multiplexer so you can connect your older devices into the NMEA 2000 back bone, or as in my case bring in the NMEA 0183 messages to my chartplotter that is both 0183 and 2000 compatible and it acts as the multiplexer.
No! There are converters from NMEA 0183 to NMEA 2000 but NMEA 0183 is one talk one listener (Mostly) NMEA 2000 is DATA buss there is a lot of information put on the buss and any component that needs the information reads it.

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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by kadet » Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:45 am

No! There are converters from NMEA 0183 to NMEA 2000 but NMEA 0183 is one talk one listener (Mostly) NMEA 2000 is DATA buss there is a lot of information put on the buss and any component that needs the information reads it.
Sorry I don't get you point? We were talking about integrating 0183 with 2000 and that is what a multiplexer can do it can be one a multiple listener and one or more talker.

They are both buses 0183 uses ASCII and 2000 uses binary. 0183 is liner so if you use the last device in the bus it relays all messages. But you are correct 0183 is a oneway bus 2000 is two-way.

NMEA 0183 relies on the devices for completing the network NMEA 2000 relies on a backbone.

This is 0183/2000 example of my setup.

0183 bus -> Wind instrument out Plotter in 1, VHF out Plotter in 2, Plotter out 1 to Course computer Plotter out 2 to VHF I use my plotter as a multiplexer. On the 2000 bus drop cables go to Plotter, Depth Sounder, Autopilot Control Head, ETEC and Course computer.

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grady
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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by grady » Thu Sep 17, 2015 9:53 am

kadet wrote:
This is 0183/2000 example of my setup.

0183 bus -> Wind instrument out Plotter in 1, VHF out Plotter in 2, Plotter out 1 to Course computer Plotter out 2 to VHF I use my plotter as a multiplexer. On the 2000 bus drop cables go to Plotter, Depth Sounder, Autopilot Control Head, ETEC and Course computer.

What ploter do you have? Do you get wind information to your Autopilot control head and course computer?

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BOAT
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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by BOAT » Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:02 pm

Plotters are a pain in the ass. Out here in the Pacific you just figure out a heading and steer it. You could use a hand held and it would be just as good as far as I'm concerned. For the guys sailing the inland waterways I'm sure it's a very important gadget, but for out here where there is nothing to run into it's not so important.

The only time I found myself glued to the plotter was in the fog approaching the harbor - the visibility was zero so it was pretty handy because a fixed plotter will show where your boat is pointed better than a hand held. Hand helds are very cheap.

Having Mr. Plotter set a course for your AP is sort of nice but it's not entirely dynamic with the currents and other things that make the boat slip off course unless you have an expensive one with tide data and a wind mode. Still, even with that you need to correct the heading because if you just let the plotter steer the boat and there is a current you will end up making an arc to your destination - you need to set a heading that points ahead of currents and tides and stuff, (that needs to be figured manually), so a plotter is not the end of all your personal navigation chores - it's just a better way to store charts and get a good plot. I can plot my position (well, where I am NOT) to within about 3 to 6 miles but these things are good to 3 to 6 FEET! That's sort of nice if your in a waterway with reefs and rocks and scary stuff.

I think a touch screen would be nice - after so many years using iphones our intuition is to reach out and touch the screen, but it does not work on most of these Garmin units unless you get the big 7 series. I think a touch screen would be nice.

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Re: GPS and Depth Finder recommendations

Post by kadet » Thu Sep 17, 2015 3:40 pm

grady wrote:
kadet wrote:
This is 0183/2000 example of my setup.

0183 bus -> Wind instrument out Plotter in 1, VHF out Plotter in 2, Plotter out 1 to Course computer Plotter out 2 to VHF I use my plotter as a multiplexer. On the 2000 bus drop cables go to Plotter, Depth Sounder, Autopilot Control Head, ETEC and Course computer.

What ploter do you have? Do you get wind information to your Autopilot control head and course computer?
Garmin 556s and an SPX-5 Autopilot and yes all functions work the wind info from memory worked first go, the hard part was getting the track data to work that took some reworking of the 0183 side cause the SPX-5 did not support that over 2000.

This is from RayMarine's support forum
The SPX5 course computer is not NMEA2000 certified and I can't guarantee that you would be able to interface via Seatalk NG. If you are going to use a NMEA2000 device I would recommend you connect the device to a NMEA2000 to NMEA0183 converter and connect to the X5 using NMEA0183. There are 3rd party companies that produce converters, one off the top of my head is Actisense. If you were to use the iTC-5 and the analog E22078, you would also need a i70 in the system to calibrate the wind data.
The EV-100 is suppose to be 2000 certified so this may not be an issue any more but on another thread RobertB is having trouble with his Garmin and the EV-100 :x

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