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- Modern boat electronics today - What they have to offer -
Modern marine electronic systems are characterised by reliability, easy operation and good networkability. This means that all components are connected to each other so that you always have an overview of all the relevant data. For example, the radar unit takes data from the digital compass to ensure smooth radar overlay, and your boat's autopilot can use the data from the wind indicator to optimise its heading. In addition to NMEA2000 sensor data, radar and fishfinder data can also be transmitted to several multifunction displays or chartplotters, depending on the model. Further detailed information regarding networking via the NMEA2000 network can be found in our NMEA2000 guide and in our NMEA2000 video tutorial.
In some cases, however, it may not be necessary to have a network or a large number of devices, for example if there is not enough space on board or if certain devices should be kept independent. In this case it is possible to install space-saving marine instruments. For example, use an instrument holder to install and position round instruments.
Of course, not all electronic requirements are the same, and they vary depending on the type of boat and its use. For example, wind instruments are virtually a must for sailboats and transom transducers for fishfinders are more likely to be found on motorboats. Are you planning a longer trip? Then you really need an AIS system, a radar device and an EPIRB . If you spend a lot of time more in inshore waters, then we recommend an AIS transponder as well as an AIS emergency transmitter for you and your crew.
To avoid running aground, it is important to know what is directly in front of you when sailing in shallow waters. This is where a forward-looking echo sonar can help you. With this depth gauge you can navigate safely through the narrowest sea passages.
When adding an autopilot to your boat you should make sure that the drive is of the correct size. Avoid choosing one that is too small, as in this case the force of the drive would not be sufficient to move the rudder as necessary. However, be careful not to go for one that is too big, as this could cause your boat to react too strongly to course corrections and start to rock. You should therefore choose an autopilot drive suitable for your boat and with the right capacity.
Whether a refit or a complete overhaul of your boat, take the time to plan your navigation system. Think ahead to the future - which devices could be added later? Maybe a radar system, autopilot or an AIS system? And will they be compatible with the currently installed multifunction display?
The advantages and disadvantages of AIS
The advantage of an AIS device over an on-board radar is that the reception of AIS signals is not impeded by land tongues, buildings or islands. It is also easier for inexperienced users to identify targets than on a radar image. On inshore waterways, transceivers are set up in curves that are cut off from radio signals, which also transmit AIS signals over mountains.
Nevertheless, an AIS device cannot replace a radar unit. Because AIS data is not always reliable. On the one hand, not all ships are equipped with an AIS device or have it switched on. Smaller vehicles in particular often do not have an AIS transceiver and some military vehicles also do not transmit AIS signals. On the other hand, ship position data is based on GPS technology. Data is transmitted at regular intervals, which may result in minor deviations from the actual position of the vessel.
If you are considering installing a radar antenna, you should definitely think about the new Doppler radar technology. This technology makes it much easier to interpret radar echoes on your multi-function display, because by using different colours for incoming and outgoing radar echoes, you can quickly and easily identify potential dangerous radar targets. Please have a look at our radar guide for a detailed overview of current radar technologies.
The NMEA marine network has developed to a much simpler level with the introduction of NMEA2000 compared to NMEA0183 technology. The NMEA2000 network is much easier to install than the NMEA0183 system. While NMEA0183 networks require relatively cumbersome open cable ends that must be connected with each other using luster terminals, NMEA2000 technology has plugs that can be easily connected with each other using appropriate T-pieces and network cables and multiple distributors. You can get an overview of the new NMEA2000 system in our NMEA2000 Video Tutotial and in our NMEA2000 Guide.
Use professional board feed-throughs to run cables from the outside into the boat interior and use cable ties to prevent the cables from slipping if possible. Seal the opening with Sikaflex to prevent water from penetrating. If you have to connect cables together, we recommend soldering the wires. Because this is the most secure way to connect. We supply a suitable soldering tool for on-board use. If you want to keep the connection between two cables flexible and be able to disconnect them again if necessary, you should always use waterproof connectors in nautical environments.
It is also important to ensure the electrical system is appropriately dimensioned, as anyone who sets off with undercharged or too small batteries will quickly find themselves in front of a black screen.
The VHF radio is a safety relevant device on board. Most marine radios have a built-in DSC (Digital Selective Call) controller and are able to send a distress call with 25W transmitting power and the current GPS position to all ships in the area. Many marine radios now use a built-in GPS antenna to transmit the current position data in case of an emergency. Alternatively, GPS data can be fed in via an NMEA0183 or NMEA2000 interface. This GPS data can be supplied by an external GPS antenna or by a chart plotter. We offer a wide range of GPS antennas for different requirements and NMEA interfaces.
First of all the following is important to know: The higher the VHF marine antenna is mounted, the higher the range of the AIS system and the radio. You should therefore mount the antenna as high as possible on the mast on a sailing boat or as high as possible on the equipment rack on a motorboat. To install an AIS transponder or an AIS receiver together with your marine radio, there are two possibilities.
1. An AIS splitter allows you to use a single VHF antenna for transmitting and receiving AIS signals and for VHF maritime radio at the same time.
We recommend using an AIS transponder or receiver-only with integrated VHF splitter. This makes installation easier and modern AIS splitters suffer almost no loss. The VHF marine radio is a vital safety device on board your vessel. Transmitting and receiving VHF radio is still possible when the AIS splitter or the AIS system is switched off or disconnected from the power supply. Of course the transmission and reception of VHF radio has priority over AIS signals.
2. The alternative is to use one VHF antenna each for the AIS transponder or receiver and for the VHF radio. This solution has the advantage of redundancy, but is more difficult to install.
With the innovative Glomeasy series GLOMEX has created a range of antennas and accessories in the form of a comprehensive modular system, ideally suited as a replacement for defective antennas/components as well as for refits or new builds. Glomeasy components can be combined according to your needs and easily installed using "plug & play", without special tools or annoying cable/plug assembly.
For easy and safe navigation at sea we offer you a complete selection of modern chart plotters, radar systems, instruments, autopilots, NMEA2000 transducers, tank sensors and much more. Choosing the right products should be done with care and specifically geared to suit your boat and needs - we are here to help you with advice and support, even after your purchase. More helpful and additional information can be found in our Online guides.