By Ben Ellison
Flying With Garmin
|Part 2: There are some obvious similarities between that gee-whiz glass airplane cockpit and the fledgling big-boat system.|
What’s more, the 3006 and 3010 can be wired to each other and/or more sensors with Garmin’s new Marine Network, which is based on the 100-megabit version of Ethernet except that Garmin has designed its own waterproof Ethernet hardware. The first available sensors are unique. The GDL30 is a satellite receiver able to bring in XM Satellite Radio’s new weather data service; almost real-time Nexrad radar and other useful info like wave heights and surface temps are overlaid on the display’s BlueCharts. (I’m testing the PC versions of XM WX Weather and two similar products for an in-depth report next month.) The GDL30A adds XM’s regular, mostly commercial-free, 100-plus audio channels. The sound is routed to the boat’s stereo but is controlled by the MFD or its optional remote. In other words, you’ll be able to select tunes or even agitated talk-radio hosts with your plotter! All these items should be shipping about the time you read this, with the MFDs starting at $2,400 and the XM receivers at $650 (plus monthly subscriptions).
Contrary to normal practice, Garmin also introduced a Marine Network sensor that won’t be available until early 2005: radar. Details like brochures and prices are lacking, but it is evident—and not at all surprising, given the company’s style—that the engineers started from scratch. The 2- and 4-kW models that Garmin announced are self-contained; all the processing goes on inside the 24-inch radomes, meaning installation will only involve running Ethernet and power cables. The radars, which support chart overlay and MARPA, will display on any attached MFD. By the way, all network components are purportedly “plug and play,” and all will be easily upgradeable via PC downloads that a user can burn to a MFD’s chart card.
A major new system like this raises lots of questions, some of which I was able to throw at Garmin’s marine products manager Craig Mehan. Will Marine Network support NMEA 2000 and/or PC interfacing? “Certainly possibilities; we’ll assess our customers’ needs and continue to develop products that they want.” But he had to counter most of my nosy inquiries about items like open-array scanners and bigger displays with a “Sorry, it’s standard policy not to comment on any future product plans.”
Which is how I got to nosing around the G1000. Lo and behold, there are some obvious similarities between that gee-whiz glass airplane cockpit and the fledgling big-boat system—Ethernet, MFDs, even XM weather. Notable in the G1000 are higher-resolution displays, including a 15-inch model, and integrated VHF communications. It also supports transponder safety systems that are vaguely similar to the upcoming AIS marine safety system; it includes a high-performance, solid-state gyro not unlike the rate-of-turn gyros that are improving marine autopilot and radar overlay performance; and, in fact, a G1000 autopilot is supposedly in development. I asked Mehan if there will eventually be a marine equivalent to the G1000. His careful answer: “That would certainly be cool, wouldn’t it?” Gee, yes.
Garmin Phone: (913) 397-8200. www.garmin.com.
This article originally appeared in the June 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.