Into the question is also that of the autopilot … more on this later. But firstly, decision of brand for chartplotter.
For the chartplotter, we have Furuno TZT14 (version 1, touchscreen plus wheel, located at the nav station). This is integrated Furuno with FAX50 (AIS) and DRS4 (digital radar). We can also do weather download and display of weather data onto the TZT display, but rarely do so; but do regularly use the tidal and current information. In any event, this stayed with the with the original AMEL Furuno fitout for the radar, but upgraded to digital sensors and N2K interoperability. The system works extremely well. HOWEVER, the original TZT14 has a design/manufacturing fault, in that the display, when in tropical conditions for extended periods of time, starts to degrade with ‘bubbles’ appearing at the corners and edge of the display. This was, apparently, a known fault with the original displays. When I first saw this problem (in Martinique), I couriered the TZT14 unit back to the US (at my own expense), the display was replaced (under ‘warrantee’, even though the unit was more than 3 years old at that time), and returned to me by courier at Furuno’s expense, to be back on board and installed within 7 business days after removal. So, 11/10 to Furuno USA for after-market customer service. But this does give me cause to wonder if I will soon see the same problem with the replacement display – which would be due to occur about now. So, I am always interested to understand what might be my next step, if the need for a new chartplotter display should present itself.
One feature of Furuno is that the display of the TZT chartplotter can be mirrored in read-only or control mode to a tablet or phone, which is nice (we use iDevices on board); meaning that that the display itself can fail, but in a contingency situation you can still control the TZT as a ‘black box’. In normal use, you can have a mirrored display at the helm using an iPad, avoiding the expense of a duplicated wired TZT unit. And Furuno / TZT is expanding the functionality of the paired APPs (now known as “TZ iBoat”), which is even better! HOWEVER, the data from the Furuno radar can only be used and seen on Furuno equipment, or via the paired APP. SO, you need to rely on the chartplotter, or the paired phone/tablet. In contrast, the data from some NAVICO radars (i.e. SimRad, or B&G) can be ‘ported’ directly to other chartplotter software, such as OpenCPN. So, if you might ever wish to see the radar data directly in OpenCPN, for example, then you will likely never be able to do this with a FURUNO radar.
Regarding the autopilot. This is an integration issue. I upgraded the autopilot, keeping to the original AMEL equipment fitout – so still Raymarine, but upgraded to EV400. And we have been absolutely happy with that. The Raymarine A/P can (like for the original) take the course (route) outputs from the TZT Chartplotter, and operate in “TRACK” mode. This is very useful when motoring in nil-wind conditions, and when following a defined track across the island-atolls of French Polynesia, where we use tracks derived from satellite pictures in order to avoid isolated reefs and bommies. We drive the autopilot, the autopilot drives the boat, and we can maintain better situational awareness and lookout. Wind and current effects mean that using heading mode is not as reliable in such situations. It is also good for following an earlier track, such as when one has to leave the anchorage in early morning, late afternoon, or at night, such as when weather conditions change unexpectedly and make the anchorage untenable.
We also have a B&G Vulcan 7” MFD at the Nav station. This replaces the functionality of the B&G N2K Hydra2000 display (which is now retired, although still installed). Expanded functionality of the V7 over the Hydra, because it is graphic (not text/based), also showing laylines, along with wind-, speed, and depth- plots, and as well as can provide basic chartplotter functionality should the Furuno TZT fail in service. HOWEVER, the course outputs from the B&G Vulcan cannot be seen or understood by the Raymarine Autopilot. So, we cannot use a route from the V7 as the basis for TRACK mode on the Raymarine autopilot. I am not sure if this would the case with other B&G chart-plotters, but it is something to keep in mind when investigating the interoperability of various brands.
If I were approaching the decision about an autopilot upgrade again, I think I would have changed over to B&G for the autopilot as well, which would mean that I could use the Vulcan MFD as an alternate A/P control head (Heading & Wind modes), situated downstairs at the nav station, whilst also enjoying the redundant functionality of routing from the V7 to the autopilot. If I had done so, then if/when it comes time to replace/upgrade the Furuno TZT Chartplotter, the decision would almost certainly be to go all B&G. (Some NAVICO radars can also be connected by WiFi, not cable. I am still unconvinced about this – but this is a separate discussion.)
As an aside, we also upgraded to three B&G Triton2 displays at the helm, and find these MFDs to be perfectly suited to the task, whether on-anchor, manoeuvring in-harbour, coastal, or offshore – we configure the displays for each different environment, or depending on what else is going on.
Hope this helps,
From: <main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io> on behalf of Joan Blaas <joan.blaas@...>
Dear fellow Amel owners,