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Hi all!

 

I use the calmness of the holiday season to research and structure my thought around a potential B&G refit of the sailing boat I recently bought. Maybe you can help me a bit - some of the topics I will bring up have been touched on in the discussions here but either the discussion happened some significant time ago (and available hardware changes quickly) or they seem to me not to be conclusive in themselves.

 

The boat (which I use for single-handed sailing and sailing with my family but extensively for racing) has a B&G H3000 setup consisting of the following main components:

  • Two GFD displays (one not working correctly and one only partially working - in both cases as a result of dampness in the display)
  • One GPD autopilot display (working but showing also some wetness in the display)
  • H3000 Hydra CPU
  • B&G VMHU wind transducer
  • ACP1 autopilot computer
  • Jefa DD15 drive
  • Three 20/20 mast displays
  • KVH compass
  • Remote vision remote control
  • Depth transducer
  • Speed transducer

As a result of the two GFD displays failing the whole system is not operating correctly anymore and I will have to do something about it. Basically I see the following three main alternatives:

 

 

1) Get one new GFD and one new GPD from A+T Instruments

I am thinking about the displays being shown here: http://www.aandtinstruments.com/home/products-2/displays/

Most likely the quickest alternative but will set me back 3500 €.

And somehow I hate the fact that I will be investing so much in an older system - I also checked with them: Reparing my existing displays sustainably will be very difficult if not impossible.

 

A potential other alternative would be to by an H5000 display and the B&G H5000 Fastnet Interface but that is only transferring data in the direction of the display and no commands in the other direction (like to control the 20/20 displays or to calibrate the autopilot) ... or am I mistaken here?

 

2) Upgrade to H5000

Most likely I can keep the transducers, the compass and the drive but will have to buy displays, autopilot and CPU. This will set me back 5300 € (if I am lucky). But I will not be able to use the nice mast displays...

 

Is this worth it compared to the other alternatives? Especially if I consider how annoyed I feel about B&G not supporting the H3000 system anymore after what feels only a few years...

 

3) "Upgrade" to a Triton-based setup

Maybe it is worth to migrate to a Triton / NMEA2000 based setup - also because of not being trapped in the situation where you have to upgrade everything because just one critical component fails in a system that is not supported anymore. I am considering:

  • Two Vulcan7 as displays in the cockpit
  • A NAC2-Autopilot
  • A Precision9 compass
  • 508 Wind sensor
  • DST800 speed and depth sensor

This will set me back roughly 4400 € - and maybe I can sell some of my still working old stuff on Ebay. But:

 

Which one of the alternatives would you recommend in general? Sorry for the lengthy post but I am a bit lost here ... and: Enjoy the rest of the holiday season!

 

Cheers

Sven

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I recently (and still currently) went through a similar situation. Unfortunately there is no way to use the H5 or nmea 2K system with the H3 20/20 displays. Maybe this will change in the future if B&G comes out with a new converter but personally I doubt that will ever happen. The short answer to your question in my completely non-professional opinion and recent experience is just go all in and replace everything with the new H5 & nmea 2K. Other options would be:

 

1) Go half way and use the fastnet converter & get the new H5 GFD's. This is what I did and I must say the new displays are very nice. Some issues I've encountered with my system (H3 cpu) is the fastnet converter doesn't accurately calculate tide rate, tide set, and VMG. I also can't remotely change my 20/20's without unhooking the nmea 2k and fastnet converter. I'm far from an electronics guru and installed the converter myself so maybe it's something I did wrong. But it's a very simple install and despite lacking professional skills I feel confident it's installed correctly thus it's either something with my system in particular or the converter itself. The strange thing to me is all the raw data (BS, SOG, heading, COG, GPS data, etc) seems to come out accurately on the new H5 GFD, not sure why the current/tide calc's are so far off. So, if VMG and tide/current are important to you you'll still need one old display for these values. The other problem with a half way upgrade is you still need the old H3 GPD to operate your AP.

 

The fastnet converter is fairly cheap, easy to install and in my experience a good temporary alternative if you want to upgrade your system slowly by just adding some new displays now. But at least from what I've experienced it's not a permanent solution. It does give you time to wait for the next latest and greatest upgrade from B&G in a year or two.

 

2) replace your bad H3 displays with A+T GPD's and GFD's. Not a bad option if you want new but they are super pricey. If you're happy with the rest of the system and don't think you'll want to upgrade anytime in the near future this may be the best option despite the price.

 

3) replace your bad H3 displays with used ones. In the short term definitely the cheapest and easiest. As you probably already have found used GPD's are getting harder to find. They're still out there but you may have to wait a while to get one. And a lot of them will eventually suffer the same water inside the display issue you're experiencing now. The problem I ran into was finding one quick when I needed it. The most frustrating thing to me was one of the used GPD's I bought crapped out 8 months later. I don't think it was anything the seller knew about and enough time had gone by where I didn't think it was fair to ask for even a partial refund. In my experience it seems like every time I buy used equipment I later wish I would have just spent more and bought new. You just never know what you're getting and the seller can also sometimes be unaware of possible issues despite completely honest and pure intentions.

 

4) If you go all in with new H5 cpu and displays there are a couple things to keep in mind (check with a professional on these things though).

-You should be able to keep your masthead unit and paddle wheel. The depth sounder will likely need to be replaced.

-You will likely have to replace most of your AP equipment except for the hydraulic ram.

-Depending on how big your boat is you may be able to use triton displays on the mast which are 1/3 the cost of new 20/20's. The tritons can be set up to show just one data value on the screen which is pretty big. Maybe on a 40' or bigger boat it may not be big enough though.

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You need to ask yourself how much money you want to throw away in the short term before you bite the bullet and throw away a lot more money later.

 

You can find GFDs all over the world if you look hard, mostly because there are plenty of people ripping out old H2000 & H3000 systems on the upgrade path to H5000 or WTP3.

 

If you can replace your GFDs with used units, that's likely your best bet for a season or two. There are places in Europe and the States that sell and repair GFDs - A+T does a lot of that business and may also be able to direct you to used GFDs.

 

If you can't find used kit, I'd recommend biting the bullet over the winter and doing the big upgrade.

 

Good Luck ...

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Hello, 

I find myself in the exact same position that you were in. The GPD on my h3000 system has packed up and I am struggling to find something to replace it with. Like you I am reluctant to invest heavily for new A+T instruments on an old and unsupported system. Out of interest, which route did you take in the end?

Also, are there any options to separate the pilot and the rest of the system by changing to a different head unit and maybe pilot brain to at least make use of the drive etc? I mostly steer myself but do a lot of solo stuff and just need to be able to leave the helm, so steering a straight line by compass will do fine to ensure I can manoeuvre. I was always pretty dubious about the H3000 system's ability to do much more anyway. 

In the longer term I may upgrade but if I have to replace the lot I may go NKE as I had that on the last boat and much preferred it. 

Any retrospective advice on how your situation resolved itself would be appreciated! 

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This is a pretty common discussion at the moment. The second hand supply of H3000 GFDs is getting pretty low and the cost of units even in pretty rubbish condition is nearly as much as a new H5000 graphic.

I would go down the route of getting the H5000 fastnet interface and doing a gradual upgrade, starting with displays that have failed. B&G released this pretty late after they realised that customers were reluctant to bite the bullet and buy a whole new system.

https://ww2.bandg.com/product/h5000-fastnet-interface/

(Full disclosure, I used to work for B&G)

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Hi,

Thanks very much for this expert insight, that is really useful. 

On that basis, if I was to get the Fastnet Interface would the pilot controller (https://ww2.bandg.com/product/h5000-pilot-controller/) drive the  ACP1 pilot brain I currently have, or would I need the H5000 pilot computer straight away (https://ww2.bandg.com/product/h5000-autopilot-computer/).? If so would it work with my existing  hydraulic ram?

Thanks again for your help

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On 5/30/2018 at 9:24 AM, Rupeski said:

Hi,

Thanks very much for this expert insight, that is really useful. 

On that basis, if I was to get the Fastnet Interface would the pilot controller (https://ww2.bandg.com/product/h5000-pilot-controller/) drive the  ACP1 pilot brain I currently have, or would I need the H5000 pilot computer straight away (https://ww2.bandg.com/product/h5000-autopilot-computer/).? If so would it work with my existing  hydraulic ram?

Thanks again for your help

Pretty sure you'll have to upgrade to a new H5 AP computer, I think the ram would work but not 100% sure of that.  I have the fastnet converter on a H3 system with H5 GFD's and the AP controls on the H5 GFD w/ the fastnet converter won't control my AP on the old H3 system.  The fastnet converter only goes from nmea 0183 and converts to nmea 2K, any info that goes from 2K to 0183, like a 2K AP controller to a 0183 AP system won't work.  That same reason is why you can't get a H5 CPU and use the converter for old H3 displays.

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