Furuno FI-50 instruments, & more N2K
It’s a crappy picture, but this scene, bigger here, does give some sense of what Raymarine’s new ST70 instruments look like next to the brand new Furuno FI-50 series mentioned yesterday. The ST70’s look almost as good as the PR photography, but you can see that the screen is a little smaller than Furuno’s, which will also cost less (“about the price of ST 60s”, said the Furuno guys). The FI-50s aren’t at all graphic, but I thought the wind gauge with its “Formula 1 style” white face was very readable from a distance. There are three more FI-50 displays in that same style—close hauled wind, heading, and rudder angle. There’s also another digital display with one large data field, and the backlighting on all is automated and they draw little power as those are OLED screens. I fooled with the button controls and found the instruments easy to work, and that there are lots of data types supported.
The picture, by the way, was taken at the Airmar booth and the NMEA 2000 wind data is coming from a new Weather Station model that outputs both N2K and 0183, has improved sensors, and will ship “this winter”. And the network could have included a new series of Simrad N2K instruments that look quite interesting. There’s much to learn about all these new instruments, but there’s little doubt that Furuno has done well on the N2K cabling front. Each of the FI-50 instruments has both male and female metal Device Net style connectors on the back, so they can be either tee’d from a backbone or daisy chained. Each also includes a switchable terminator so it can be set as the end of a backbone. Finally, seen below, Furuno has come up with an N2K cable box that can act as a backbone junction and 6 tees. This will be useful to an installer with tricky wire runs, a tight budget, or a burning need to strip wire. Oh, and the two wind instruments have a third connector for a new Furuno analog wind sensor whose data goes out as standard N2K PGNs, and the FI-50 brochure suggests that that Furuno will also be offering an N2K Weather Station and Depth/Speed/Temp triducer (no doubt Airmar’s). All good news, but possibly minor compared to NavNet 3D, debuting next Wed. night. By the way, Furuno is showing a bit more 3D leg here, and I like it.