Furuno FI-50 instruments, finally here
As of yesterday, Furuno’s FI-50 (aka FI50) instrument family is officially available in the U.S. and Canada, and thoroughly documented at FurunoUSA. I’m a bit chagrined as I thought they’d be out much sooner, in fact chose them for a Pittman Innovation award that was partially predicated on them being out sooner. Oh well, ship dates slip…and I understand that part of the delay was perfecting FI-50 compatibility with Simrad’s somewhat quirky AT10 NMEA 0183/2000 converter. Which is good for anyone wanting to, say, use FI-50s with 0183 wind and depth data already available on their vessel (and especially good, Furuno-wise, for NavNet 1 and 2 owners who want to add the instruments). Plus the premises of my award choice have withstood actually testing some FI-50s for a while…
For instance, the FI-50’s power efficient (“less than 0.1 amps” 12v) and auto-backlit OLED screens are exceptionally readable in most all light conditions. And the use of standard NMEA 2000 connectors with SimNet- and SeaTalkNG-style daisy chaining possible—first seen last Oct., below, and discussed here—seems to work nicely (even if NMEA doesn’t like it). Later I learned about Furuno’s unusual approach to N2K sensor calibration and like that too. But amongst all the N2K instruments I’ve tried, and tried to differentiate in PMY, the FI50s are in a graphic sense old school. You won’t find bottom or wind speed graphs, or helpful text and icons to guide you through set ups. If you’re considering them, it’s good idea (always a good idea) to download the manuals from FurunoUSA and see what you’re getting in to, especially at $595 per FI50 gauge. Also note in the FI-50 brochure that the multi-line Digital does not understand all the PGN data messages that the single-line Multi does, and neither can do fuel management calculations, yet.
By the way, rumor has it that Furuno is working on its own 0183–2000 converter, with standard connectors I’m sure, and maybe also a color/N2K update to the versatile RD30 data display. It took Furuno longer than many to get on the NMEA 2000 bus, but, boy, did they.