Bug list #1…Icom, Ray, Garmin, etc….a series?

Icom-m802

I’m hesitant about using Panbo as a bug list, but, geez, I’ve been getting bombed with bug reports. So, here goes:

  • It seems that some or all Icom 802s, almost undoubtedly the premier SSB marine radios, have a clipping problem as noted here at Lectronic Latitude, and here at Icom itself.
  • A reader reports that his Raymarine E-Series Sirius Weather system messes up some NOAA buoy reports, specifically showing oddly high wind speeds. I don’t have a link to this but have seen correspondence with Raymarine which admits that it is their problem, not Sirius’s, and promises “to address it in a future E-Series software release” (which is less aggressive that the reader would like).
  • Another reader reports another weirdo: apparently some older Garmins stop sending valid NMEA messages at 23:59:59 GMT. Pascal and others are on the case at rec.boats.electronics. I also got some graphics from a Panbot which showed how a certain BlueChart v8 Bahamas chart was out of whack, putting the routes he’d carefully collected on a Blue Chart v6 into foul waters. They are worth an entry one day to reinforce the point that more than one navigation source is always a good idea!
  • Finally, the latest version of MaxSea apparently refuses to open virtual com ports created by the Bluetooth protocol stack, according to ShipModul which makes a nifty BT equipped multiplexer (I’ve been trying). Older versions of MaxSea supposedly do not have this problem.

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

6 Responses

  1. b393capt says:

    Your right of course … But, from my point of view, being in the software industry, the number of bugs I have experienced in marine electronics is pretty low. The key problem I see is the vast majority of vendors either lacking or having a poor ability to upgrade their products. For example:
    – Ability to allow users to install upgrades themselves. “we are aware of that problem, please send the xxxx to us for upgrade”
    – Intentional decisions to not support a cycle of continuous improvement. E.g. a feature comes out, and is never improved upon, future releases have new features only.
    – Unwillingness to promise customers when fixes will be available. (“Sorry, I cannot tell you if the next release will fix this, or when that release will be, company policy”)
    – Bugs unfixable. (“I understand what your complaining about, but there is no ability for us to issue an update for this product … yes, I realize we just sold it to you yesterday, can we refund your money instead”)
    I even had one cartography vendor tell me its not financially unfeasable to provide updates more than once every two years, and when we do, to support our commitment to our channel parters, we ask you to buy a new copy of our product at list price (no discounting) and send your existing product in for a (tiny) exchange/refund. Huh? This is for one of the possibly most simple products to update a writeable PC memory card.
    b393capt

  2. GPSNavX says:

    Interesting, as a marine software developer I believe the response to the bug is far more important then the actual bug. Updating a proprietary electronics component (i.e chart plotter, radio) can be quite difficult. So our preference is to stick with open standards which offer quick downloading of updates.

  3. b393capt says:

    I originally didn’t want to single out anyone, but on second thought, I think Garmin should get some applause for being one of the exceptions to my experience. From my experience with their two handheld GPS units and PC based MapSource chartplotting software, I noticed the following:
    – Software downloads are available frequently, and the ability to perform updates is integrated into the product cleanly.
    – They continously improve existing functionality, just look at the long list of published changes in each release, the vast majority are improvements or bug fixes to the existing functions.
    – They are the only vendor, after which I pointed out a bug, could tell me when it would be resolved. Although I wasn’t happy with the answer at the time (9 weeks), I would later learn that was a great response time for this industry.
    b393capt

  4. Russ says:

    I agree that Garmin frequently updates the software in their devices. But this is a two-edged sword if your boat is not normally connected to the internet, as in blue water cruising.
    I think Garmin amost relies upon the update capability they’ve built to address problems that should be addressed before the units are originally shipped. They’re very comfortable fixing problems in the field. As a result, if you buy Garmin gear, you need to be disciplined about checking for updates and fixes.
    If you’re not able to regularly have your equpment connected to the net (Garmin’s preferred update vehicle is their WebUpdater), then Garmin products can be a problem.
    The best solution is for the manufacturer to find the bugs before they ship the product. It’s called testing and regression testing.
    I’ve got equipment from Furuno, Northstar, Raymarine, Garmin and Icom. The Northstar, Raymarine and Icom equipment has all needed to be shipped to the manufacturer for service. The Garmin’s have been fixed via Garmin’s WebUpdater. The Furuno equipment has never had a problem.

  5. b393capt says:

    I thought this would have generated more discussion.

  6. Murray Marine Limited says:

    well as a marine electronics dealer who ONLY deals in commercial grade equipment i have never had a problem with software bugs and hardware design flaws and working with the commercial grade companies (Furuno, Koden, JRC) they are usually much faster at fixing problems.
    With regards to self updating software i hate this and its my worst nightmare.
    We support a fishing fleet that must have about 40 maxsea fishing plotters in it.
    A customer can call me up and say “i have this problem whats happening” i will instantly know what version and build of maxsea he has because i installed the system and any updates.
    I only install updates after i have tested them this means as little hassle for skippers as possible.
    If people were to start patching their systems they would phone me up, i would need to ask them to give me the software version number i would then need to see if i had this software version on my pc if not patch mine to this version and try and reproduce the fault.
    Self updating for the leasure market ok just leave my commercial kit alone thank you very much!

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