Upgrading Raymarine navigation system and autopilot from 2001 originals to current 2012 My T3500 was built in 2001 and commissioned at the start of 2002. She was equipped with Raymarine instruments (ST60’s) including radar and autopilot. She did not get much use until I bought her in June 2009. The 2001 system: It all works as well as it did when new. It reports all the information I want to know when sailing. The instruments are easy to read and repeated on the chartplotter/radar at helm and navstation. The GPS position seems very accurate and the wind and heading are truly reflected. The boat speed transducer sometimes gets clogged with weed, but its easy Upgrading Raymarine navigation system and autopilot from 2001 originals to current 2012 to clean. The autopilot allows me to leave the helm for moments to attend to sails or rigging, or just for a break. It follows a course dependent on apparent wind heading, compass direction or even waypoint direction. The remote allows me to control it if I leave the helm area. The instruments give me more information than I can use like water temperature and trip logs in nautical miles. The system is reliable. However.... Three recognized Shortfalls of the 2001 system: 1. Charts and their display: the distinction between MacENC chartplotter software ($180 as of 2012) using raster NOAA full color charts (free) at the navstation computer with a 15” screen and the black & white 7” display at the helm with really awful vector charts is horrible. The only thing I miss in MacENC at the navstation is tide flow arrows that were available on the The old chart display Cap’n software ($450 as of 2012) that I used when it was available for Macs. 2. Collision Avoidance in Fog (we sail on the San Francisco Bay): a). I have radar and I have spent some time practicing with it. I find it too complex to remember how to set optimally and just way too hard to interpret, a ‘feature’ I do not need in any stressful situation. It is almost useless to me without serious monthly practice in differing weather conditions. In place of this I want my chart display to have all the Upgrading Raymarine navigation system and autopilot from 2001 originals to current 2012 information on those peculiarly-routed ships and ferries that charge through the crowded sailing waters of the Bay displayed in real time with heading, speed, size and possible collision risks assessed. b). A lesser worry is yachts, but still a real concern in fog. At the moment I have a pressurized can driving a handheld foghorn. Not dependable nor systematically used. I would like a Public Address (PA) horn that was electronically controlled to emit repetitive fog signals if we had to sail in thick fog. 3. Better course following with the Autopilot: The autopilot works well, but does not follow a set course particularly tightly, especially downwind. I would like it to be able to steer as well as I do. Choices in Upgrading: 1. For the chartplotter at the helm I need a bigger display. Either an iPad, a daylight visible LCD tied to the navstation computer or a new chartplotter. I chose the last. 1a). an iPad without large and ugly sun shades which seemed completely inappropriate in my cockpit, there was no way to read one in full sunlight. Waterproofing also seems a little funky. 1b). marine LCD: a waterproof daylight readable LCD. No mouse, so touchscreen, and I could be wearing gloves, so resistive not capacitive. These are available, but for a 12” its around $2,450 and this is without the multiplexer I would need to get all the instrument data into the navstation computer and so to the helm display. 1c). MFD: the option of a new multi-function display from Raymarine or another brand of marine chartplotter. Unlike my laptop, these do nothing else except act as a display and interactive tool for navigation. They require purchased charts (and purchased updates) as opposed to the free, Upgrading Raymarine navigation system and autopilot from 2001 originals to current 2012 constantly updatable, NOAA ones. They are not generally very upgradable, have limited connectivity and are expensive. However they are designed for the helm and are rugged, eminently readable in full sunlight and connect to all instruments, autopilot and radar. I wanted one that would communicate with my Raymarine system (original SeaTalk) and so looked only at Raymarine. I also had a good feeling about the Raymarine equipment because of the reliability of the system that had been on the boat for 10 years. 2. For sailing safely in fog: an AIS receiver is the answer to ship positions, course speeds and collision risks. I also need a better fogsignaling device. Both are available in one unit, a VHF radio with AIS receiver from Standard Horizon. The Matrix AIS+ GX2150 VHF radio is $330, but, importantly, does not need an antenna splitter for your VHF antenna. I also purchased the remote unit for the helm ($105) and a public address horn (model 220SW, $38), since this radio can transmit fog signals (and listen for responses!) through the loud hailer. Upgrading Raymarine navigation system and autopilot from 2001 originals to current 2012 3. Improving the course keeping of the autopilot: the only upgrade available, and the one that removes the difference between my unit and the latest ones available, is a course gyro that allows the course computer to know the rate of turn of the boat. Luckily my old course computer was built to accept this upgrade. I found a new one, Raymarine Smart Heading Rate Gyro Plus 2 MARPA E12101, on eBay for $315 plus $40 shipping. So now I had decided on the way to upgrade my three perceived shortfalls in navigation and course keeping. The AIS and the Autopilot upgrade choices were straightforward, the multi function display more complex: The Helm Display: Raymarine produces a somewhat confusing line of multi function displays (MFDs), including the A, C and E series. (the G series is more sophisticated). They also throw in lower case letters (‘c’ series, ‘e’ series) to really confuse you. The A series has smaller chartplotters with or without fishfinder capability. The C series are in larger formats (widescreen or classic), as are the E series, but the latter are touchscreens. One model has a built in HD digital sounder for fishermen. The current price difference in the 12.5” model between touchscreen (E125) and not (C125) is S3,400 to $1,900. I decided that I definitely did not need touchscreen. I also bought a converter from the new SeaTalkNG ($95) that is now used to communicate Upgrading Raymarine navigation system and autopilot from 2001 originals to current 2012 with my original version of SeaTalk. The C125 fitted in my NavPod helm casing that held my old chartplotter, I just needed to follow the provided template and enlarge the old cutout. New MFDs cannot read analog radar output and so it was suggested that I upgrade my analog scanner to a new RD418D 4KW Digital Radome for $1,000. Since I am not a believer in amateur use of radar but did not want to give up on a piece of equipment that worked and was installed, I decided to keep the analog radar and move its display to the nav station, shortening the cable, where it works as well as it should, rather than upgrade. Installation: One thing I did not feel comfortable with when I started was my lack of knowledge of the wiring of the SeaTalk network. I looked behind Upgrading Raymarine navigation system and autopilot from 2001 originals to current 2012 each instrument and traced wires visually. It was apparent that my system was not daisy-chained, but used a common bus by the course computer. Installing the Gyroplus ll was a simple as screwing in to the wall of the lazarette next to the course computer and connecting it to the SeaTalk bus and to the course computer. When I did this I also raised the base station for the autopilot remote (S100) to the top of the lazarette to give a larger active area for the signal. Upgrading Raymarine navigation system and autopilot from 2001 originals to current 2012 Installing the MFD C125 took more time. I re-used some of the existing cabling from the old system, which made it easier, but I did have to remove the radar cabling and run new wires down the helm frame tubing. The connection AIS/GPS for the radio was just three wires and I used the old shielded radio remote cable. Power, I used the old power cable but re-connected it to the power bus for the course computer (it was on a separate system as radar). SeaTalkNG, I put the converter into the NavPod and used the old SeaTalk cable (without the power) to connect to it. I also ran power from the same bus independently to the SeaTalkNGSeaTalk converter. This last is by no means obvious from the owner’s Upgrading Raymarine navigation system and autopilot from 2001 originals to current 2012 manual, but this converter needs to receive power through one of the two SeaTalkNG connections. Installing the VHF radio was easy except for running the cable for the remote to the helm, which of course had connectors at each end. I used the existing plug socket hole for the new socket on the back of the Navpod, and because there is now no room left on the face, attached the remote handpiece on the side. I The Standard Horizon GX2150. The old VHF was a tad smaller enlarged the existing opening in the navstation panelling for the fixed unit and used the same power supply. The AIS/GPS connection to the C125 is specifically detailed in an insert in the radio manual. For the PA horn I ran a 2-conductor wire inside the liner from the area directly over the companionway down into the navstation. This is not as simple as it sounds. The coach roof is an outer shell and an inner liner but it has a cover on it, creating an additional layer, to house the companionway sliding hatch. The sliding hatch itself is removed by taking out the screws that hold the wood lock bar onto the polycarbonate cover, at which point it is free to slide out. I mounted the horn at the aft end of the sliding hatch cover, just in front of the traveller. I drilled a hole from above for the wire Upgrading Raymarine navigation system and autopilot from 2001 originals to current 2012 here and tacked it up to the ‘ceiling’ of the cover to run it all the way to the starboard side, clear of the sliding hatch. To get this wire down into the space between liner and shell you have to drill through the liner and then the shell from below in one of the bands covered by the wood trim pieces. Make sure your hole comes out at the inside edge of the hatch cover, then you can feed the wire through into the space (using a fish tape). You have access to this space from the light fixture over the sink, the access panel for the traveller end-mounts and, if necessary, the main wooden hatch trim over the table. This latter is sealed to the hatch-light itself with sealant. If you do remove this (4 screws), mark which side is aft so you can put it back the same way. From the traveller end-mount access cutout you can get the fish tape down the aft corner of the coach roof and into the starboard lazarette. From here you’ll have to fish the wire forward to the space behind the DC circuit panel in the navstation, and so to the VHF radio in the aft panel of this locker. The VHF hook up wire on this radio is a single black clad wire that conceals a red insulated conductor and a shield. I used small Marker Cable Ties (4 inch 18LBS, 100pcs/Pack - White [ASIN: B003L13A7K] from Amamax via Amazon Marketplace: $3.76 with free shipping) to write a description of each cable in permanent marker and tie it to the visible terminations of each wire I identified, emplaced or re-assigned. Upgrading Raymarine navigation system and autopilot from 2001 originals to current 2012 Conclusion: The system improvements I installed all worked when installed except for the Raymarine SeaTalk converter which took me a while to figure out to get independent power to, but after that all the instrument information showed up on the new helm display, all the ships and ferries moving in the Bay were there from the AIS and the VHF had position coordinates. I don’t particularly like the big on-screen icon for my own boat, or the undifferentiated ones for all AIS targets, but, hey, you can’t have everything. There is a warning in the manual not to install the C125 within 11.8” of the binnacle compass. The dealer advised me to ignore that. I did and can perceive no ill effects. The cost for everything came to $2,861 plus tax and I feel I’ve got the best system I could have without the extreme stuff that I wouldn’t really care to have like thermal video cameras, photographic overlays for the coast cities and 3D bathymetric data. The standard Navionic charts are good on the MFD, almost exactly as clear as the NOAA raster charts. If anything the MFD is too complicated, but that is pretty much par for the course with electronics. There are a lot of options, but I have found no harm in just ignoring them. Initial set-up and usefulness is achieved very, very quickly. The VHF again is quite complex if you go into it in depth. Just figure out the basics and it is fine. The Gyroplus ll addition to the course computer has made a quite remarkable difference: the boat does actually keep course as well as an easy going person at the helm would in all the situations we’ve tried it so far (I’m an easy going person). ©Philip Roberts, 2012, Palo Alto, CA.