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Replacing Analog with Glass

Discussion in 'Electronics' started by MBevins, Sep 11, 2013.

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  1. MBevins

    MBevins Senior Member

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    Has anyone replaced their analog gauges with some form of digital display? The newer diesels seem to come with them from the factory so I have to assume they must be reliable. That would be my first concern about moving away from my nice safe analog gauges is what if the new stuff failed.
    I came across a company out of Oregon that sells replacement systems, they put everything on a 12" display. All the sending units feed into a converter box.
    I don't have a clue what the cost is yet.
    5 years ago you would never get me to even think about this but I believe that the industry has come a long way in terms of reliability.
    If I did this I'd be doing it to 6-71's and they don't get any more basic than those guys.
    So should I wait another 5 years?
  2. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    Don't do it. The new engines, the gauges are done through the factory computer and are powered by it and DC voltage. Any kind of add on system I've seen uses a typical home PC off of 120 volts, and it doesn't stand up to the abuse and wet locations. Every system I've seen of these that are not on an enclosed bridge and larger boat, never last. Analog is simple and works, KISS.
  3. MBevins

    MBevins Senior Member

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    I would agree with that, anything running through a generic PC is doomed to failure. The equipment (hardware) should be proprietary in nature and be designed and built specifically for the purpose.
  4. dainisk

    dainisk Member

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    I agree with the other comments - don't do it. If you repower, then these days you don't have much choice. I repowered in 2008 and the Volvo motors came with gauges that looked like analogue, but were actually digitally driven by their engine computer. Volvo also had a NMEA2000 adaptor, which meant I could get engine data displayed on my multifunction displays. That worked out well and to date I have had no significant issues with it. However, if you have a perfectly working analogue gauge system, why introduce more risk by adding an electronics box or two. It's just more stuff to chase down when (note, I said not 'if') something doesn't work.
  5. Garry Hartshorn

    Garry Hartshorn Senior Member

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    Be very careful about the company you choose. If its the same company I am trying to deal with at the moment there system is great when it works but in a year or two when you have a failure they are not very helpful.

    On the other hand I have installed and maintained Maretron systems on found it to be robust and quite simple to install.
  6. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I found the opposite with Maretron. They were helpful, but the system they installed had a PC mounted underneath the FB helm on a 54' Bertram with a 3 sided enclosure. The computer power supply went bad. Then the RF mouse would sometimes get a signal sometimes not. Then the system would do all kinds of weird stuff like screen size changed and this changed and the screens never stayed totally the same. Again, would probably be great in an enclosed pilot house. The system was 3 years old.
  7. Garry Hartshorn

    Garry Hartshorn Senior Member

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    Sounds more like a computer problem. Maretron have a display unit DSM250 which runs off the NEMA2000 system voltage, never had a failure with one and on one boat I had a spare that I could plug in anywhere on the system which was handy when working on systems that were spread out over multiple compartments. Personally I am not in favor of systems that must use a computer.
  8. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    I agree it was most likely a computer issue. The location they mounted it in wasn't good either, under the helm, but there isn't anywhere else you could mount it easily. Also it was a pain in the butt to try to run the boat and then you had to boot up the computer, get the program open, get into the proper menu, then if you wanted to get to another screen to get the handheld mouse and try to get it on the right little button on the screen while the boat was moving was another mission. So was seeing the screen when the sun was really bright. Analog gauges work as soon as you turn the key on, they're the most reliable, and you can scan them very quickly, especially if you mark where the needles should be. All of this "high tech" stuff I've seen added to yachts just creates more things that break, same with the remote control yacht controllers.....when you can get a corded one installed manufactured by the manufacturer of the controls for 1/2 price and it works......you just plug it in, and is made by the same billion $ company that made the controls.....like ZF.
  9. MBevins

    MBevins Senior Member

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    The one that I saw appeared to have it's own controller behind its dedicated screen. Which eliminates all the issues J mentioned. That is a complete nightmare. The one I saw was made by Chetco Digital out of Oregon. I must admit I haven't dug that far into it though.
  10. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    The problem with this idea, is that if your 1 Chetco digital system goes down, you lose ALL of your gauges to both motors at the same time. What are the chances 5 or 10 years down the road that they will still be in business, will still manufacture the same system or parts for it, and that you can get a tech to fix it when it breaks and you're travelling.....What would it cost to fix it.......Unless I was installing new motors and using Cat's or Man's or whoevers digital displays that makes the engines you're installing. I would stick with analog. I haven't even seen digital stand alone engine gauges last that long and work correctly. Such as the floscan RPM displays etc etc......I have seen analog gauges go 15-20 years on an open FB and work.
  11. MBevins

    MBevins Senior Member

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    I don't disagree with you. It was just a fleeting thought as I sat there looking at the helm trying to figure out how to create room for another display without having to hang it in the air on a bracket. Now if only they made split analog gauges for everything. Hmmmm
  12. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    They do. Searay has used them for years. They make 1 analog gauge that has 4 gauges in it. oil pressure, temp, voltage, etc.
  13. MBevins

    MBevins Senior Member

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    Then they are probably Faria gauges. I'll have a look.
  14. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    They are made by Faria, and mount in a 4 3/8" hole if I remember correctly.
  15. bcollier

    bcollier New Member

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    I'm new to this forum, but joined here to see who else has moved to all glass. With all respect to those who have posted on the glass bridge subject, I thought I would throw in my two-cents... Our 78 Hatteras is in for an extensive refit and gauges were a big issue for me; keep and renew the old analog or upgrade to digital. Digital won out for many reasons. First, selecting a company with a proven record was critical and Maretron won on all accounts. They have been a standard for commercial work boats for many years and those boys aren't going to put up with faulty equipment. Regarding the computer issue; Maretron uses their own system that can connect to your on board PC but is not dependent on that PC operating. You can install one of their dedicated interfaces (13" or 8" display) or install their black box and output to your own monitor. I would just suggest you give them a good look. They have a free download, NK2View, that you use to set up your NEMA 2000 buss that alerts you to incorrect device placement or using an incorrect cable length. I was getting ready to install furuno instruments to go with my other furuno equipment, then realized I can install a Marethron TSM150 display that can give me a rudder display, then with the push of a button that display turns into my anchor watch, or depth gauge, or anything you have a meratron sensor installed on your boat. One device allows all sx bilge pumps to indicate to any Maretron display on the boat. Install their data recorder and you will know how often any bilge pump kicks on. Use their cloud service, set a parameter, and get a text message when a pump kicks on more times than you feel is appropriate. So, all gauges in pilot house and bridge are gone and my Detroit 4/53's use Actisense EMU-1's to conver analog VDO sender data to NEMA 2000. A final confession... One extra camera will be in the engine room focused on my mechanical gauge cluster. BTW, 10 AM on new years eve day I called their factory and had a 30 minute talk with one of their engineers. If anyone has anything negative or contrary please let me know. Sorry for the long post...
  16. Danvilletim

    Danvilletim Senior Member

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    How about analog to digital engine data conversion ( actisense )
    Nema 2000 to wifi
    Wifi to IPad



    I'm planning to prototype this soon. Specifically for gensets that don't have gauges at the helm. Good articles about an iPad App called nGauge, but can't find it right now.
  17. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    The system I mentioned in my earlier post is a Maretron system. Good luck!
  18. bcollier

    bcollier New Member

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    Just a correction to the software I mentioned above. NK2View is the software that provides the digital gauges, warnings, etc. The free download Maretron provides to ensure you don't overload the backbone is NK2Builder and they have NK2Analyzer. You can find their downloads at http://www.maretron.com/products/softwaretools.php