Understanding and connecting the equipment may seem complex. It is not as difficult as it seems thanks to multi-windowing. This cuts the screen into multiple windows, each having a function. One may thus display the chart and sounder. Or one may display two levels of zoom on the map, the sounder and the radar. These individual pages are programmable by the user, based upon their activity. A positive development has been made to facilitate the use of the devices to avoid the re-reading of documentation after each winter period!


Two approaches to multi-function

There are two manners in which to view the multi-function:
-A card reader connected to the sensors
-A card reader which serves as a display for a number of the elements connected to the system. The first device is the simplest, the least expensive but also the least evolutive. It consists of a screen (often between 7 and 8 inches) that incorporates a card reader, a GPS (internal or external) and perhaps a sounder module. The inputs to the rear of the device correspond to sensors that can connect to it (sounder, Speedo…) In the case of devices connected to a network, one can add modules to it that will communicate with each other (radar, AIS…) this arrangement is more capable of evolving.

The importance of a network

The choice of a multi-function device requires long term thinking. With this type of system it is possible to equip oneself over a period of time. That is why one must consider the solutions available (Ethernet, NMEA 2000, or NMEA 183,) or to build on equipment already on board. Note that the new NMEA 2000 system permits the connection of devices from different brands. A Simrad multifunction can display information from a Garmin NMEA 2000 vane.

All multifunction possibilities

  • Card readers
  • GPS
  • Graphic sounder
  • Radar Automatic pilot
  • AIS
  • Motor information
  • Wind vanes-anemometers
  • Log-speedo-water temperature
  • Camera
  • Man overboard system
  • Musical display reader (USB port)
  • Video reader (USB port)
Professional advice
“A multifunction gathers all onboard information. It is the nerve centre for navigation.”