Selecting Instrumentation for Navigation
These categories of products are mainly standard size (approx 4” square) displays used for displaying environmental or boat related data. These individual boxes typically communicate between each other via a low data rate serial link such as NMEA0183, NMEA2000 or a proprietary (single manufacturer) method including wireless. However, the wireless does of course require power either via solar or wired.
What Data Do You Need to See on a Permanent Display?
When selecting dedicated displays that are designed to display specific data, it’s important to think about how you intend using your boat. The advantages of having such displays are that the data can be easily read, as the text tends to be large, and it’s available all the time. You must consider if the different data needs to be read in multiple places, such as dual- or multi-station or if repeated data will suffice and control centralized to a master unit.
The most common data instruments to be installed are depth and speed, sometimes in a combined unit, and a wind instrument for sailboats. All systems have units that can be set to suit your requirements, for example MPH or knots for speed, and feet, meters, or fathoms for depth.
The key elements about the selection of instruments are-
- The size of the displayed text—you’ll want easy access to the data, so the bigger the better
- Color vs monochrome display
- Display quality—look for good contrast and a wide viewing angle
- Wired or wireless
Check these out on the dock, at boat shows and at your dealer. Once again keeping the system simple and sticking to one manufacturer is recommended to ensure you get the most out of your selected system.
Building an Instrumentation System
Up until this point we have only considered the display aspects of instrumentation. Systems include both the display and the transducer. Transducers are required for every piece of data you wish to display. For instance you can have a flexible graphical display capable of displaying speed, depth and position provided it has the appropriate transducers fitted in the system. We recommend that you use displays and transducers from the same manufacturer. In some cases you don’t have a choice.