Panbo

Raymarine A-Series, hands on #1

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 25, 2009
Raymarine_A57D_b_cPanbo.jpg

Try as I might, my photograph (click it for bigger) still fails to truly illustrate how sharp and color rich this sample of Raymarine's new A-Series actually is. I haven't yet subjected it to bright sunlight, which may mute the goodness considerably (hey, we've got two feet of snow on the ground here, people, and the snow banks chest high!). But I did bench test it for a couple of hours yesterday, which included feeding it large quantities of NMEA 2000 data (via an STng-to-standard-N2K patch cable). The A57d did well. The well developed C- and E-Series feature/interface set seems to be all here --- V4 update included (and radar excluded) --- if in miniature. Notice, for instance, the COG, Heading, Tide, and Wind arrows around the boat icon. I wouldn't normally use them all at once, but I've always found these graphics useful, given accurate sensors (and wondered why other manufacturers didn't steal them)...

I did miss the C and E's "Data" button and rotary knob, but not badly. The A57d seemed quite responsive to commands, and even ran a Navionics Platinum+ card well, as seen below (click for full resolution). I'm not sure how many people who buy a small plotter with decent charts built-in will then step up to premium cartography, but there is a case to be made. The 3D image is complex --- I was pushing it hard, cruising over Camden like an osprey (and turning back, thus seeing my own 3D boat icon tucked in by Mt. Battie) --- but note how nicely the Depth Plane (set at 16') defines the safe water. Nice feature.
   I was hoping that the A-Series would include long-promised improvements in Raymarine's NMEA 2000 interface, specifically the ability to see what devices are available and choose preferred sources, plus fixes for the bugs discussed in the comments here. Not yet! But there are few small plotters that accept any N2K data messages, and the new A's can show a lot. Check out all the senors behind the top photo: engine tach, tilt, alternator, and fuel flow are coming from a Lowrance N2K test module that simulates a Suzuki outboard underway; the fuel tank level and remaining gallons from a Maretron TL100; GPS position, COG, and SOG, plus STW (Speed through Water) and heading are all coming from NEMA Talker (which is getting rewritten, I was pleased to learn) via a Simrad AT10 converter (real N2K sensors work fine too), and the wind data from a Garmin GWS10 (being driven by a fan). Why isn't the Garmin's baro pressure and air temp info showing up? Well, I've seen this before; for some reason, NMEA 2000 has two different "Environmental" PGNs that can contain this information. The Garmin outputs one and the Raymarine is looking for the other. I'm sure it will get fixed eventually, but did note that the Airmar PB200, also now in the lab, populates both PGNs and thus shows up fine on the Raymarine gear (and everywhere else). Good to be back in the lab.

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Comments

I've also tested in my shop the A-serie 70 with Garmin GWS10 and I wondered why it didn't work (pressure and temp). I've my response. I have asked for an update but it's not yet avalaible.
I tested a Lowrance EP60R too but without no success. I'm glad to learn that a simulating module exist, i've looked for it during weeks, NAVICO France said me it not existed. We can expect that Lowrance Suzuki interface worked with Raymarine série A so. Good news.
Good point concerning NMEA2k informations menu, by sensor it's better.

Posted by: Benoit at February 26, 2009 4:56 AM | Reply

Ben,

It probably doesn't matter much for you power boaters, but as a sailor I'd appreciate knowing how much power the stuff that you test draws. (OK, I know that's a personal pet subject but I can't be the only one!)

It used to be that the only power you'd use for more than a few hours a day on a sailboat was the tricolor light during the night, but now with fridges, autopilots etc. we don't need a range of displays all eating Watts left and right. It soon adds up. Just look at the discussions on Ray C-Wide and Furuno FI-50's.

Something like: so many (m)A at so many V, on with minimal backlighting (or even off), on with max backlighting, on with backlighting usable in the lab.

Posted by: Kees at February 26, 2009 5:15 AM | Reply

Here with an Airmar DST and the Garmin GWS10, it consume 0.9A with full light, 0.7A with no light, at 14.2VDC.

Posted by: Benoit at February 26, 2009 5:50 AM | Reply

Ben, i don't know where contact you directly. Can you give me a picture or part number of the "Lowrance N2K test module that simulates a Suzuki outboard" ? I want this things for french press and Lowrance in France don't know it. Thks in advance.

Posted by: Benoit at February 26, 2009 8:24 AM | Reply

Benoit, the Lowrance engine is simulator is not a product, just an in-house testing tool they were kind enough to let me use. It looks like their EP style sensor modules, only without any connections except N2K.

Posted by: Ben at February 26, 2009 11:21 PM | Reply

Do these new A-series units retain the feature of older models which permits the user to store screen captures to a user memory card?

If they do do they also write a companion meta-data file for each image?

Posted by: Jim Hebert at February 28, 2009 9:43 AM | Reply

Jim, The A-Series does have a screen capture feature, and it's right on the main menu (since there is no "Data" button). It works fine for capturing regular navigation screens but can not capture screens with other menus or dialog boxes present because you have to get to the main menu to activate it. As seen above, it also doesn't capture the soft key labels. And there no meta-data files for the images.

Posted by: Ben at March 1, 2009 10:14 AM | Reply

Hello,

I own a Suzuki DF70A and I just ordered a Raymarine A57D.
My intentions are to couple the DF70A to my A57D.
I did some research, but with no result.
Can sombody of you subject matter experts help me out with following questions:

1. What components (cables, interface, ... ) do I need and where can I order them?
2. Does anyone have any schematics or instructions?

At Raymarine they refer to the engine manufacturer for info. But on no site of Suzuki it's possible to post technical questions.
I can't ask for advice from a suzuki dealer becouse I bought the A57D via the Internet.
I hope someone can help me out.
Thanks in advance.

Chris
Belgium

Posted by: Chris at June 4, 2010 2:06 AM | Reply

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