1st year: Instrumentation and Electronics

Electronics panel
Electronics panel

These are my comments after the first year on Instrumentation and Electronics
= good; = good, but… ; = not satisfactory; = not sure yet;

Digital Yacht AIT2000 AIS The Digital Yacht Class B AIS Transponder with Digital Yacht combined AIS/GPS antenna seems to work OK. When off the Isle of Wight I found Seatern on the local AIS web site with details of how large (or small) she is and how fast she was going. However the first unit didn’t work and, in use, the antenna fell apart. The faults got fixed but not rapidly, and not at no cost to me. The transponder unit is not designed for panel mounting. Another time I might look at different makes.
Echomax Radar Transponder The Echomax X-band radar transponder blinks a light to show it is being swept by a radar beam. To test whether it then gives an amplified response is difficult and I haven’t tried it. I just assume it works.
Navigation Lights: The NASA “Supernova” masthead LED unit provides a sailing tricolour, an anchor light, and a combined masthead steaming and stern light (when under power). Force 4 Evoled LED lights provide Port and Starboard side lights when under power. I have Baseline Marine LED Steaming and Stern lights for when under power with the mast lowered. They work and draw little power [Comment on Nav Lights].
NASA Wind and Met The combination of a NASA Meteoman Meteorological Display with NMEA masthead unit and NASA Clipper wind repeaters is excellent. It gives me a digital barograph and wind speed record, in cabin display of wind velocity and outside and inside temperature, and a Clock display which I use while sailing. Although used to sailing using shroud tell-tales, on Seatern I rely on the wind readouts situated to port and starboard of the companionway. When I broke the masthead unit, replacement parts were cheap and quick to arrive. I now have an additional close-haul repeater on the hatch top which is useful when sailing with somebody. [Comment on wind/met instruments]
NASA Target Log The paddle wheel sensor for the NASA target log was situated in the starboard cockpit sump next to the outboard well. I think this was a bad position because the log never gave a believable reading. The through hull fitting is now used by the ballast pump and the Hatch-Top readout has been replaced by a Close-Haul repeater. [Comment on the hatch-top instruments]
NASA Target Digital Compass I found it hard to find a suitable position for the sensor unit – it is positioned under the hatch in the forward buoyancy unit. I have not calibrated the compass unit (although I tried once). It is very useful in showing a relative bearing to steer but for an absolute bearing I would use either my Plastimo Iris 50 sighting compass or my binoculars. [Comment on the hatch-top instruments]
NASA GPS repeater This is only useful when navigating to a way-point in which case it shows the direction to steer. Good for doing that, but I could easily manage without it. [Comment on the hatch-top instruments]
Garmin Echomap 50S My chart plotter and echosounder is a Garmin Echomap 50S with the transducer fitted under the sink unit. I was worried that the echo sounder would be too close to the centreboard but it actually works very well – I’ve not even seen it being affected by bubbles in the wakes of passing speed boats and ships. I’m glad I’ve got the chart plotter, and being able to mount it in different locations in the cockpit is very useful. However I’m not a fan of Garmin. The unit failed to update it’s charts and the Garmin help line did not solve the problem. The HomePort software (for using the chart data on a computer) is OK but could be so much better.
NMEA 0183 Multiplexer I can’t decide whether the Actisense NDC-4 data multiplexer was worth installing or not. The NMEA instruments from different manufacturers tend to use different NMEA “sentences” presumably to make you buy everything from them! The multiplexer does sanitise the NMEA connections but the various instruments seem to be capable of operating without it.
Marine VHF radio See my comments on the Standard Horizon GX2100 VHF. Since I eventually bought a AIS transponder I didn’t need the radio’s AIS abilities and could have bought the cheaper version. When I’ve done a “radio check” its been “loud and clear” and the menu system is easy to navigate. The remote microphone is well worth having.