Rupert Holmes is reviewing some of the latest marine electronics models to hit the market in 2021.
Every year the technologies available to yachtsmen are improving and expanding.
And in 2021, new innovative marine electronics are already emerging - from radically new ideas to improvements to well-known technologies.
A new model of marine electronics?
A possible taste of the future that could revolutionize our long-term relationship with marine electronics is offered by the Finnish company Next Four.
Historically, we are used to new yachts being equipped with equipment from one of the major brands of marine electronics - Raymarine, Navico (including B&G), Garmin and so on.
However, Next Four's Q Experience series is designed to form a single, integrated system that shipbuilders can customize to offer exactly what they think works best for each of their models.
This customization can include specific screen layouts and datasets, as well as the boat manufacturer's own brand. In this respect, the concept is more like an automobile than a maritime one.
With the exception of high-end systems such as the Harman / Kardon or Bowers & Wilkins audio systems offered by BMW as options, we are no longer used to seeing third-party equipment in our vehicles on a regular basis.
The Q Experience system consists of three key elements - Q Panel touchscreens with 10 ", 16" and ultra-wide screens, a remote control, a digital switching system and a mobile app.
There is also an integrated ship security monitoring system and an anti-theft function that connects to 4G networks, as well as remote control of the heater.
Thus, it offers the possibility of a rational and integrated approach, encompassing both navigation and the operation of each element of the boat's systems.
Traditionalists might argue that the lack of conventional 4-inch instrument displays is a disadvantage. However, they are becoming more and more anachronistic - if I were to equip a yacht from scratch today, be it a new build or a refit, I would most likely prefer the flexibility of the small MFDs for displaying gauge data.
This was originally accepted by powerboat builders, but of course it is only a matter of time before we see this proposal on new sailing yachts. CEO Niklas Oman says pricing is "quite competitive" compared to the company's larger competitors.
He also notes that the system was designed to simplify the installation process, thereby reducing labor costs for both shipbuilders and retrofit customers.
Large format display
A + T Instruments, based in Leamington, is gradually moving into the electronics market for large cruising yachts and racing boats.
Several years ago, the company's growth was driven by the development of new products that would interface with legacy B&G systems, allowing owners to upgrade their electronics or replace defective parts instead of replacing an expensive unit with a new one.
Since then, A + T has expanded its range to include powerful processors and proprietary displays.
The BFD (Large Format Display) is a first-class device that embraces the current trend towards ultra-large full color displays for instrument data.
The 12-inch screen has the same format as traditional 40/40 displays, so existing mast brackets can be used, but the numbers are 50% larger.
It can be installed in both landscape and portrait orientations, can be viewed from any angle with polarized glasses, and will operate in temperatures up to 70 ° C.
Network connectivity options include Ethernet as well as B&G Fastnet and N2K for legacy systems.
The display should be the toughest and brightest available. Testing consisted of 12 months of continuous operation in a water tank.
Price: £ 5310.
Large capacity power supply
Pocket lithium-ion power adapters for charging mobile phones and even laptops are common and can sometimes be extremely useful, but most are of limited capacity.
On the contrary, this larger product takes the concept to the maximum by offering a very large battery capacity, plus multiple AC, DC and USB outputs, and easy solar recharge capability.
The rechargeable battery is rated at 1010 Wh. In comparison, the current generation MacBook Pro has 58W or 100W batteries. There are two 240V AC outlets with a maximum output of 1kW (2kW surge), as well as multiple USB and 12V outlets.
Charging is provided from a 240 VAC or 12 VDC power source. The device also includes an MPPT solar charge regulator, so it can be connected directly to the boat's solar panel.
The IP65 waterproof housing also has room for an additional 80W solar panel.
For yachts sailing long distances, this promises stability in a 12.5kg box.
In the event of a power outage to the ship, this unit will be sufficient to maintain the base level of the main LED lighting, navigation and communications equipment, including satellite phones, operating for extended periods of time.
Price: $ 999
Alternative to a generator set
Off-grid company WhisperPower has released a battery-powered alternative to the conventional 240V alternator.
OctoPower 3 combines a 5 kWh lithium-ion battery with a built-in 3000W inverter, 90-265V battery charger and 50-1000W solar charge controller.
It is aimed at those who do not want to use shore power during night stops, but can recharge the device at their home dock.
Price: £ 8,480.
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