Chartplotter and depth finder questions

Discussion in 'Electronics Q&A' started by JMG, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. JMG

    JMG New Member

    24
    Dec 28, 2018
    2006 Sea Ray 185 Sport
    4.3l Mercruiser
    Newbie here, any help is appreciated. Have purchased my first boat, a 2006 185 sport. The included depthfinder is gimpy and needs to either be repaired or replaced, but I really could use a combination navigation aid and depthfinder, something to plot and track my route and showing local charts as well as current depth. I know there are smartphone apps that can do the former, but an all in one unit would be helpful. What am I looking for, a chartplotter with gps? Not needing a fishfinder in particular although from what I've seen one of those might do the job. Any suggestions? (Sorry if this material has already been covered elsewhere, a point in that direction would also be helpful.)
     
  2. bobeast

    bobeast Dance the Tide SILVER Sponsor

    798
    Oct 22, 2017
    Isleton, CA
    2002 310DA
    350 MPI w/V-drives
    You're looking for an MFD (Multi-Function-Display). Most newer ones have built-in GPS (chart-plotting), but not all of them include sonar. A good all-around unit would be the Garmin 86xx xsv (note the xsv is the one with sonar) 86xx without the xsv is only Chart Plotter. The xx indicates the screen size.

    Plenty of options from other manufacturers as well. All depends on your budget and desired features.

    Typically the MFDs that have sonar are sold without the transducer so you'll need to source that as well. Transducers come in several different mounting options as well as capabilities which will largely depend on what your MFD calls for as well as your intended usage.

    Whatever you buy, pull out your crystal ball, and buy for what you're going to need down the road. For this, an MFD with a NMEA 2000 network should be considered mandatory.
     
    WV 320 Dancer likes this.
  3. JMG

    JMG New Member

    24
    Dec 28, 2018
    2006 Sea Ray 185 Sport
    4.3l Mercruiser
    Thanks! While the models you listed were, from what I saw, beyond my needs (and budget) I did see the Garmin 44Cv on the site, which seems to fit what I'm looking for. I appreciate the information.
     
    WV 320 Dancer likes this.
  4. bobeast

    bobeast Dance the Tide SILVER Sponsor

    798
    Oct 22, 2017
    Isleton, CA
    2002 310DA
    350 MPI w/V-drives
    Assuming your eyesight is better than mine, that's a fine choice. It does have the older NMEA 0183 network so at least it is somewhat expandable. Should your future needs grow beyond its capability, it won't be nearly as painful as replacing a full size MFD.
     
    WV 320 Dancer likes this.
  5. yobub

    yobub Active Member PLATINUM Sponsor GOLD Sponsor

    198
    Jul 29, 2016
    Chicago
    1998 400 Sundancer
    Cat 3116's
    Congrats on the new boat. A small runabout is one of life's true joys!

    The comment above about a MFD and ability to network to other components is very applicable to a boat that may ultimately want to add radar, multiple displays, integrate to auto pilot, integrate video cameras, etc. On an 18' runabout, if you aren't going to add any of those things and you just want to know your depth and have an idea of where you are on a map, a basic chartplotter/fishfinder combo will be just fine for your needs. It will be important to understand whether the mapping that comes with the unit is detailed enough for your needs in your geography. Buying additional maps can get (relatively) expensive quickly, so buy a unit that has the mapping you need.

    I spent last week on a 52' sailboat in the Bahamas, and while the boat had a very nice, fancy Raymarine full electronics package, the Captain primarily relied on a small handheld Garmin GPSmap 78 ($160), because he said the mapping for that area was more accurate on the Garmin than on the Raymarine gear that probably cost $10,000. He's been sailing that water for 20 years.

    If you are going to want to integrate other components or might have more sophisticated needs in the future, a MFD gives you the ability to expand, but you start at ~$600 instead of ~$200, and get more expensive very quickly.
     
  6. WV 320 Dancer

    WV 320 Dancer Active Member SILVER Sponsor

    593
    Oct 28, 2018
    2003 Sea Ray Sundancer 320
    Twin 350 MAG - V Drive
    GPS Maps for your area. (You did not list where you live) May or may not be easy to access. That is the issue I have living in such a remote area. Maps for most big lakes or coastal areas are pretty easy.
     
  7. Fly'n Family

    Fly'n Family Active Member

    668
    Sep 19, 2013
    TX / CO
    2002 Cruisers Yachts 3870
    2003 Boston Whaler Sport 130 w/40 hp Merc
    Twin 425hp Crusaders
    Determine the space you plan on utilizing, and let that drive the MFD unit you get. I imagine your space limited - as we all are - so find the biggest one for your available space.

    Determine the functions you'll want now, but also consider any potential future functions you may want down the road. Make sure the MFD you purchase incorporates both present and future potential functions.

    Get a decent transducer, that will also provide the functions you want - and make sure it's a proper match to the MFD unit. An example would be if you wanted to display water temp on your MFD, make sure the transducer has that capability.

    There's a lot of great equipment out there, just research your needs and get the best set-up your pocketbook allows to accomplish those needs. Have fun, electronics these days are a blast in their capabilities.
     
  8. JMG

    JMG New Member

    24
    Dec 28, 2018
    2006 Sea Ray 185 Sport
    4.3l Mercruiser
    I am preparing to install the above mentioned chartplotter, and the instructions state to attach the power leads to the terminals on the battery. Earlier I installed an additional battery along with a switch, 1/2/both/off. I'm thinking I need to install the positive lead to the common terminal on the switch and the negative to one of the ground posts on a battery, as they are linked. That way the unit will be powered regardless of which battery is active. Does this sound like the correct approach?
     
  9. bobeast

    bobeast Dance the Tide SILVER Sponsor

    798
    Oct 22, 2017
    Isleton, CA
    2002 310DA
    350 MPI w/V-drives
    Seems like that would work. I highly recommend you put a switch inline between the CP and the battery connection. You may want to turn it off without turning off your entire battery switch.
     

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