Joakim

Vulcan 7R/9FS vs. Zeus 3

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What are the differences of current Vulcan vs. Zeus? I can see the knobs and NMEA 0183 in Zeus, but are there any differences in the software and available functions? Especially related to racing (without B&G processor and at the moment no other B&G instruments). The price for the same size including maps is about double for Zeus around here.

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We just had this one:

 

The Zeus can share charts with another Zeus which the Vulcan can't. I think the screen is supposed to be better (that's purely anecdotal), I got the Vulcan 7. 

Would have have rather had the Zeus, but couldn't justify it at the time. I'm happy with the Vulcan, but its hard to use with cold wet hands. Still beats the GPS128 I had before. 

 

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28 minutes ago, MiddayGun said:

We just had this one:

 

The Zeus can share charts with another Zeus which the Vulcan can't. I think the screen is supposed to be better (that's purely anecdotal), I got the Vulcan 7. 

Would have have rather had the Zeus, but couldn't justify it at the time. I'm happy with the Vulcan, but its hard to use with cold wet hands. Still beats the GPS128 I had before. 

 

Thanks for the link. I'm not going to have two new plotters (I do have a very old plotter at the chart table) and thus not interested in the ability to share charts. Nor will I have a radar or a sounder giving more than depth as a number.

I might connect a mobile device, a laptop to WiFi or Bluetooth. Are there differences in that respect?

You mentioned that your Vulcan gets hot. I noticed that in a boat show as well. Is that due to backlight consuming a lot of power? How much? B&G gives 12 W for both 7 and 9" Vulcans, but a huge 20/23 W for 7/9" Zeus3. Is that just extra brightness that can be dialed down mostly or is Zeus3 just exceptionally power hungry for a modern device. IPAd consumes ~3 W with 10" display.

This shows the differences: https://www.bandg.com/en-gb/bg/type/chartplotter/

Are sailing and racing software totally identical? Both have WiFi. What's the actual difference in lacking "Network capabilities"? Hard to understand that a processor difference would be important (cause of higher power consumption?). I'm still quite happy how responsive my old plotter (~2010) is and how an even older IPad works.

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JoakimGive the forum readers a little more to work with :-) 

What model & size sailboat is this for?    What kind of use?     What size MFD are you considering? Will the MFD be under canvas or exposed to the elements?

While racing, will you be able to see the MFD upwind, or will it be out of sight and used mostly for navigating?  With no other instrument displays, will your crew be able to see the display?  Does your crew use water-proof wi-fi mobile devices while racing, either a protected phone or tablet for example or a hand held GPS?

Will there also be instrument displays in the future, how many?  Mast, cockpit, or helm mounted? If you later got a Zeus, is there a place you could relocate your Vulcan to be a future instrument display?

Will you setup polars, are you going to be looking for any of these values displayed on your instruments or MFD? (target TWA, target AWA, target speed thru water, set/drift)? 

How significant, in knots, is the water current in the areas you race?

Do you plan to be one of the very, very, few that carefully calibrate your wind instrument?    Is your STW sensor on the center line?  

Any electrical concerns? (Z3 uses more power) What is the size of your house battery and engine alternator?  Do you keep your boat power at a slip or on a mooring? 

Edited by b393capt
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The sizes I consider are 7 and 9" as I told. I have mast displays and they even display targets and starting line distance (from my own custom processor, which also calibrates BSP or STW as you call it).

35' boat with one big steering wheel. The plotter would be installed to the wheel pedestal where I also have a few instruments, which not really used that much, since all the data is at the mast. Thus can't be seen from the normal steering position (unless I make a rotating base for it).

The plotter would be used for both racing and cruising. The current plotter is only 5".

I sail in the Baltic Sea. Currents are typically 0.2-0.5 knots. Can sometimes be over 1 knots. Mostly we just totally ignore currents.

BSP sensor is not exactly on the center line, but far from the keel and not that far from the center line. Haven't noticed any difference in the accuracy between port and STB. BSP is well calibrated. AWA is only centered and no corrections are done to AWA/TWA/TWS. The current instrument system does not allow for this (my own CPU would, but haven't done). It's mostly ST60 that came with the boat + other brand displays I bought to mast + my CPU. No NMEA2000 devices yet, but SeaTalk to SeaTalkNG converter should work fine for bridging the current instruments + AP to the new plotter.

Some day I need to update the instruments, but it's not planned yet. The budget will not be high for this (no B&G CPU etc). Perhaps then I will stop using my own CPU and use the layline and target systems provided by plotter/instruments.

I'm keen on keeping the current consumption small. House battery is 180 Ah, alternator 60 A and shore power charger 20 A. Also I have a 50 W solar panel. We have seldom need to charge with engine or even with shore power, but we don't do much night sailing. The current system (two chartplotters, instruments, AIS receiver, VHF and system pilot in standby) consumes about 1.5 A. So adding 1.5 A just for the plotter would ruin the low power consumption we have. Refridgerator consumes about 1 A in the average (can be 1.5 A with unusually high water temperature). We have a LED tricolor and LED internal lights. 48 h is the longest sailing we have ever done. I think we had to charge once then. No need for 24-30 h.

But I don't know how all this is related to my question about the differences between Vulcan and Zeus3.

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I'm not sure what the power draw is, I'm sure its listed on the website. 

From the top of my head I draw about 1.5 amps to 2.0 amps with everything turned on, plotter, VHF, AIS receiver, VHF splitter, NMEA183-2k gateway to get it on the network, 2 triton displays. I'd guess the plotter is at least half of that if not more. 

I've found sometimes the plotter can be laggy when loading the chart when you turn it on, its very hot to touch but seems to run OK. Its annoying because the back is in the heads so ideally I want to cover it up, but I want some airflow. Could use a computer fan but then that's another power drain. 

My boats only 27.5 and I run into power issues if I use the fridge on anything other than a day sail. I need to install more capacity, or put the solar panel somewhere that actually gets good sun.

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The Vulcan seems a good match for you. The Z3 seems to add things you won't use at the helm of a large wheel or with your custom computer.

If bad weather and heavy seas away from familiar harbors, you may value either the 9" Vulcan (vs. 7") or the Z3. It's hard to place your finger in the correct spot on a 7" small touch screen display in a bouncing boat (which is why the better MFD's offer both touch screen and traditional manual controls). 

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If it's that hot, it must consume a lot of current. B&G says 12 W thus 1 A for 7 and 9" Vulcan. But it must depend on backlight setting. 

Are you using full backlight daytime? Is it necessary to do so?

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In 2015 12" Zeus2 was measured to consume 25.8 W at full, 9.6 W at 1/2 and 8.9 W at minimum backlight in a Finnish boating magazine. It was not said how visible 1/2 was. And it's an old model with bigger display.

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In bright sun you need full backlight. But its only hot because its in direct sun. On cloudy days its absolutely fine even on full brightness.  

Probably to do with the fact that with a glass screen its basically a mini greenhouse. 

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43 minutes ago, MiddayGun said:

But its only hot because its in direct sun. On cloudy days its absolutely fine even on full brightness.  

Probably to do with the fact that with a glass screen its basically a mini greenhouse. 

I have a bit of doubts about that. As I said I noticed that all B&G plotters were quite hot at the boat show (indoors, not caused by spot lights etc). Looking more closely I noticed that B&G gives too power consumption values. For Vulcan 7 (and 9") these are 12 W (typical) and 20 W max. https://www.bandg.com/en-gb/bg/type/chartplotter/VULCAN-7R-NO-XD#prl_specifications

For some reason B&G gives only max value for Zeus3 (23 W for 7 and 9"). I find it strange that the 7" and  9" would really have the same power consumption. 9" display has 65% more area than 7". At the same brightness it should need 65% more current for the backlight, which seems to take most of the max current. Installation manual says max 20+-4 W for Zeus3 7" and 23+-4 W for Zeus3 9". For Vulcan 5-9 it say 12 W, but does not say it's the max.

Comparing those power from the sun, which is at max about 1 kW/m2. Vulcan 7 is 197 mm * 141 mm thus 0.0277 m2 and would receive 28 W in direct angle (faced directly to sun, at e.g. 45 deg 20 W). So about the same as max power consumption , which all turns into heat.

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Well it doesn't it all convert to heat, or you wouldn't see anything at all. 

Its warm when its running, its only ever hot when its in direct sunlight. 

But hey don't believe me, you asked for experiences, I gave you mine, I'm not here to sell shit for B&G. Either buy it or don't. 

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2 hours ago, MiddayGun said:

Well it doesn't it all convert to heat, or you wouldn't see anything at all. 

Its warm when its running, its only ever hot when its in direct sunlight. 

But hey don't believe me, you asked for experiences, I gave you mine, I'm not here to sell shit for B&G. Either buy it or don't. 

Probably 90+% converts to heat, since it lights the display inside the glass not the surroundings. Think of how much light you get from 10 W LEDs and yet even they generate a lot of heat (typically about 70% of the power and all that remains near the LED).

OK so it even gets much worse in sunlight. The plotters in the boat show was about as hot as my phone gets when left in the sun. I don't know if I tested Vulcan 7, but there were a couple of different size Zeus3 and Vulcan, all hot. I have never noticed that my current plotter was hot in the sun, but it is black, which is bad in sun.

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Sounds like you're worried so don't buy it, but if you want to mount a plotter outside that's visible then you're probably going to have to live with it being hot, whatever the model unless you only sale in cold climates. Maybe you can buy something with a good quality transflective screen IDK. 

Mines been used 3 seasons for 3 years now, looks as good as the day I bought it. 

There are plenty of videos on youtube from those buy me a beer sorts who seem to have no trouble with them in hot climes. 

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I'm a bit worried about excessive current consumption and would really like to see some measurements. 12 W/1 A would still be about  OK, but 20 W is too much.

As a electronic designer I don't like electronics running hot, since it will shorten their life. As such I'm also quite puzzled about the high current consumption. CPU should only take 100 mA or so. There are display technologies that don't try to compete in brightness with sun, but take advantage of sunlight. Even modern laptops take just ~10 W with enormous computing power and 13-17" display.

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6 hours ago, Joakim said:

There are display technologies that don't try to compete in brightness with sun, but take advantage of sunlight.

The color fidelity on transflective displays is pretty awful, especially in moderate light. Look at a Garmin watch for an example. They use them to get great battery life and have an always on screen, but the colors are muted and vary a lot in different lighting. 

I think MFDs consume a lot of power both because the designers don't care that much and because the screens have much brighter backlights than an iPad or laptop.  I assume there is an exponential power relationship to brightness with LEDs.  My 7" Raymarine e78s also takes about 10-15 watts depending on brightness.  I'd also assume that they are buying older process and not as efficient ARM processors compared to mobile devices. 

I don't turn on my plotter when racing and just use the instrument displays (which are very power efficient).  

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I would prefer low power consumption over color fidelty or even no colors at all. I kind of like the old black and white plotter I have at the chart table. I find it clearer to read than the color one I have at the pedestal. Maybe even some e paper display would work? They are slow, but I don't see that as a big problem with north up pure plotter use.

 

But I guess I'm the minority and marketing needs bright colors. Probably most don't care about power consumption.

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