Nav/Com: What’s New in Bridge Electronics

Suppliers of marine
electronics, communication services and navigation software continue to advance
technologies that make fishing more productive and efficient while keeping the
end-user experience as easy as possible.

Furuno introduced the GP1670F
and GP1870F, part of the 5.7” and 7” Chart Plotter series, last spring. Jeff
Kauzlaric, Advertising and Communications Manager, reports that both of these
units can be used for small to mid-sized commercial vessels and have the Furuno
Fish Finder built-in. “You can rig it as a 600-W or 1-kW Fish Finder, and it
also includes a couple of our newest features, Bottom Discrimination and
Accu-Fish,” he says.

When connected to an
appropriate transducer, the Bottom Discrimination feature provides a graphical
display showing the characteristics of the seafloor as either mud, sand, gravel
or rock. This works well, especially when bottom fishing when fishermen are
looking for a particular species that lies on a certain type of bottom.

The Accu-Fish feature offers
a fish size assessment function that can tell fishermen the approximate size of
the fish below the boat. Fish symbols appear on the screen, along with the size
of the fish or the depth where it found the fish. It can detect fish size from
four inches up to about six feet long, in depths of seven feet to well over 300
feet of water. Both units also feature built-in WAAS/GPS antennas, along with
the capability to utilize the very latest C-MAP 4-D charts. For fishermen who
may have the Furuno GP1650F or GP1850F and would like to replace it, Furuno
offers an adaptor mounting bezel that allows for easy replacement.

The Easy Routing feature
automatically constructs a route between two points, taking into consideration
preset values for safe depths, safe heights, and the boats width to provide the
captain with an estimated safe route. Fishermen can either use saved waypoints
or newly created points for this feature. Easy Routing will analyze the path
between the two points and will create a route, inserting legs in the route
when necessary to get the boat away from areas which exceed the safety values
set in the menu. “Easy Routing is a great aid to navigation and should be used
in conjunction with conventional navigation practices,” says Kauzlaric. “The
captain should always analyze the route against official nautical publications
and situational awareness.”

Furuno’s DFF1-UHD TruEcho
CHIRP Network Sounder works with both NavNet 3-D and NavNet TZtouch Multi
Function Displays. TruEcho CHIRP sweeps across 90 frequencies simultaneously,
while transmitting 1,000 times more power than traditional fish finders. This
results in better bottom clarity, depth penetration, picture resolution and
target definition with the ability to view individual game fish and bait fish,
even when tightly schooled together or very near the sea floor. The DFF1-UHD
also gives the ability to utilize Furuno’s Bottom Discrimination and Accu-Fish

Kauzlaric says the
integration of navigation electronics and fish finding technology will continue
over the next several years. “There will certainly always be a need for
stand-alone, specialty electronics, but as the technology gets more advanced,
the capabilities of the units will continue to increase. So creating Multi Function
Displays that incorporate different technologies, such as CHIRP and Sonar, is
natural,” he says. “Also, more hybrid type of displays will make their way into
commercial fishing, units that incorporate both touch screens and button
controls. You will even see your fish finder screen in the palm of your hand,
while you are standing on the back deck, utilizing a WiFi connection.”

In June, Jeppesen announced
its new C-MAP MAX-N Wide cartography, compatible with Navico navigation systems
such as Lowrance Elite 7 and HDS Gen1, Gen2 and Gen2Touch, Simrad NSS, NSE*and
NSO*, and B&G Zeus Touch. The product offers up-to-date chart detail,
including depth areas and contours, spot soundings, wrecks and obstructions,
high resolution aerial photos of inlets, harbor entrances and land features,
tide and current projects, route checking, anti-grounding technology and more.
“MAX-N Wide is an evolutionary product that will continue to grow and offer
boaters even more,” said Ken Cirillo, Jeppesen senior business development
executive. “Jeppesen and Navico are continually working together to bring
additional innovative features and important data to boaters. This makes an
investment in MAX-N Wide cartography today the first step in an exciting future

SI-TEX has recently
introduced its new Koden CVS-FX1 12.1-inch Color LCD Echo Sounder which
provides a large 12.1-inch XGA color LCD display and 3-kW RMS output power. The
CVS-FX1 is able to transmit on variable frequencies from 24-kHz to 240-kHz in
01.kHz steps which helps fishermen fine-tune fish finding performance for
particular fishing situations. It also minimizes interference from nearby
sounders. Advanced features include Condition Memory, enabling users to recall
each setting by pushing the CM key.

Koden also has new digital
echosounders for 2013, the new CVS-1410B and CVS-128B Broadband Sounders. Both
have Koden’s broadband Flex-Frequency capability which gives fishermen the
option of adjusting high- and low-frequency settings. The CVS-1410B has a 10.4”
vertically-oriented TFT color LCD display and a 1-kW RMS sounder, and the
CVS-128B has a high-definition 8.5” vertical TFT color LCD display and 1-kW RMS

Both sounders also provide a
wide range of presentation modes, including High/Low Frequency, A-Scope, Bottom
Lock, Bottom Discrimination, Bottom Zoom and more. A variety of background
palettes allow optimum view ability in all light conditions. The Koden
Sona-Tone™ also tells operators when fish targets or schools of fish are
detected by using different sounds.

The ECC-GLOBE® navigation
system produced by Seattle’s Electronic Charts Company, Inc. (ECC) continues to
be a popular product for commercial fishermen, with its seamless bathymetric
maps and navigation charts. Also popular are the Automatic Identification
System (AIS) and TerrainBuilder® add-on modules.

The AIS technology
complements radar to increase safety at sea by helping identify not only which
vessels are nearby but also where other vessels have been fishing. Having their
call signs displayed on the monitor makes communication between vessels much
easier and faster.

The TerrainBuilder® enables
fishermen to build their own bottom maps which can be color-shaded by depth for
easy identification of contours. The system allows easy import and export of
data and is very user-friendly. The ECC 3-D module can be added to create 3-D
maps. When used together, TerrainBuilder® updates the 3-D map in real-time
using incoming sounder data.

“The AIS interface and the
TerrainBuilder® technology have been in use for a few years and it’s still very
reliable,” says President Jim Brantingham. He adds that Microsoft is moving
towards eliminating some of the serial input ports and replacing them with
USB-type connections since the standard marine interface (NMEA 0183) is
starting to be phased out. “It’s a technical issue all electronics companies
are working on.”

Radar Marine Electronics
located in Bellingham sells, installs, repairs and services navigation and
communications systems and is also a dealer for most marine electronics
manufacturers. Owner Dan Hisey says enhanced computer processing and the latest
software provide improved 3-D graphics to navigation, fish finding and bottom

“Digital processing of
information is the latest big thing,” he says. “However, there are still two
main ways to go with a navigation system on a vessel; an integrated marine
navigation system like the Furuno Navnet or a PC-based navigation software.
Oftentimes you’ll see both on a commercial fishing vessel. Most of these
vessels will still have redundant systems like radars, sounders and radios. All
those systems are typically redundant so if one fails, they have another to
fall back on.” Hisey reports the most popular PC-based software manufacturers
include Nobletec, Maxea by Furuno and Olex by Simrad.

Hisey says Radar Marine has
also recently seen an increase in construction of new vessels. The company
works with owners or skippers to design a full communication/navigation system
for a vessel, depending on the type of fishing they plan to do. “Most of them
will want two computers, three or four large screen monitors, dual radars,
sounders, sonar and an autopilot,” he says. “They’ll also have one form or
another of satellite/voice communication. Satellite communication has advanced
a lot in the last three to five years, so there is more competition, more
products and more options available for voice and data communication. We’re
also starting to see more commercial fishermen put satellite TV entertainment
systems on their boats.”

M-SAT is a popular satellite
communications system for use by commercial fishermen in Alaska. “It offers
them a one monthly price push-to-talk satellite system that works as if they’re
talking on a radio to any boat or base station that’s on the network,” says
Hisey. “Most of the canneries in Alaska have it at their facilities to
communicate with the fishing fleet.”

Globalstar’s distribution
manager, Rich Galasso, says this past February, the company completed its
second generation satellite constellation, giving Globalstar even more depth in
the duplex (two-way communications) market. “About 30 percent of our air time
use worldwide is on salt water,” he says.

The new SPOT Global Phone
launched at the end of May, and according to Galasso, is the least expensive
and smallest satellite phone on the market. Off-the-grid (out of land line and
cellular range) satellite service is becoming more popular and is getting more
and more sophisticated. The SPOT Global Phone has the capability to be hooked
up to a computer or laptop and send basic email or raw data at a speed of
9600bps, the fastest of any mobile device in the satellite phone industry.

“It’s not really ideal for
heavy downloads or surfing the Net but there is no problems using it for basic
communications,” says Galasso. “You could send pages and pages of basic emails
and it only takes seconds or minutes to send. You can also do text messaging as
well. Our phone can receive texts, and when you hook up to a computer or
laptop, you can send text messages as well.”

Another new product launching
this summer is the SPOT GEN3 messenger. Using the SPOT simplex (one-way)
technology, it can send small packages of simplex data one way from any device
to email, a cell phone, or to a profile page.

It allows the user to
pre-determine message on their profile. The three basic default messages
include “Okay check-in“, “Help” and “User-definable” that the user can create.
Wherever the user is in the world, they can push one of these buttons and it
will release that message to the designated recipients, and they not only
receive the sender’s message but they also receive that person’s latitude and
longitude, date and time and a Google Earth link showing exactly where they
are. Unlimited messages can be sent continually for $99 a year.

Galasso says this device
sometimes gets lumped in with the safety category like EPIRBS. “If you think of
someone buying an EPRIB, they’re buying it with the hope of never having to use
it, compared to SPOT which people use to communicate with family and friends,”
he says. “We have a feature called ‘tracking’ which allows you to put the unit
into tracking mode. For instance, every 10 minutes, it will update your
position to your personal tracking page. This feature can also interface with your
social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Spot Adventures. It’s a great
system and will save your life but the reality is by selling a communications
product that can do that, it’s really opened up a whole different element to
the customer.”

Galasso says one of
Globalstar’s biggest challenges is convincing people that satellite phones
aren’t as expensive as they might think. “Our phone sells for $499 and we have
air time plans that range from $24.95 per month for our emergency plans to our
unlimited plans for $149 per month, so we’re in line with cellular and land
line prices,” he says. “It will save your life and will keep you in touch when
you’re off the grid.”