Reliability B&G vs NKE

Hi all,

have owned an X-41 now for 5 years (love it) with a B&G H3000 CPU/system, which I love a lot less (incl some H5000 upgrades like two MFDs, AIS). 

Now looking to build a new project (44-47 ft) for 2019 and contemplating going NKE. 

I understand with the AP, NKE may have the edge. But either NKE or H5000 with proper gyros etc will be great compared to the functionality I know.

However, I am most frustrated with the hardware reliability at current (engineer/mechanical/electrical background, so every thing I touch is properly installed). For example for the second time in 3 years my MHU failed, and it’s the damn expensive one for $US 3,000+ retail. The mechanics are great, its the stupid PCB inside...

The 20/20s on the mast fade and fog, the H3000 MFDs were crap too (especially for the $$$) etc  etc  

Sailed wit Andraz Mihelin (CEO Seascape) couple years ago and he opined upon my complaints:”B&G is as good as it gets, the others are no better... “

So before I lock myself into another manufacturer with somewhere between $15 and $20k for an instrument/AP system — could  NKE or others be my savior? Any hard data on this?

Thank you!

 

Wet Spreaders

Super Anarchist
2,484
286
SF Bay
I installed an NKE setup in 2009 including all the fancy sensors, two Gyrographics, one TL25 and the autopilot driving a 20 year old Raymarine mechanical ram.

Nothing has broken, calibration seems to remain good for at least a racing season. Connectivity is problem-free. I'm happy with it.

 

us7070

Super Anarchist
10,229
243
For example for the second time in 3 years my MHU failed, and it’s the damn expensive one for $US 3,000+ retail. The mechanics are great, its the stupid PCB inside...
I hope you are not replacing the entire MHU every time it fails...

a lot of boats carry an extra board, or two.., 

 

gurok

Member
56
19
UK
Hi all,

have owned an X-41 now for 5 years (love it) with a B&G H3000 CPU/system, which I love a lot less (incl some H5000 upgrades like two MFDs, AIS). 

Now looking to build a new project (44-47 ft) for 2019 and contemplating going NKE. 

I understand with the AP, NKE may have the edge. But either NKE or H5000 with proper gyros etc will be great compared to the functionality I know.

However, I am most frustrated with the hardware reliability at current (engineer/mechanical/electrical background, so every thing I touch is properly installed). For example for the second time in 3 years my MHU failed, and it’s the damn expensive one for $US 3,000+ retail. The mechanics are great, its the stupid PCB inside...

The 20/20s on the mast fade and fog, the H3000 MFDs were crap too (especially for the $$$) etc  etc  

Sailed wit Andraz Mihelin (CEO Seascape) couple years ago and he opined upon my complaints:”B&G is as good as it gets, the others are no better... “

So before I lock myself into another manufacturer with somewhere between $15 and $20k for an instrument/AP system — could  NKE or others be my savior? Any hard data on this?

Thank you!
I have used both systems and they are both very good. I'm in the UK and the biggest barrier to entry for NKE was/is lack of widespread support. You can get B&G support anywhere but finding good NKE expertise is a tad harder. Don't get me wrong, back when I had NKE the support I got from Joel Bars was excellent but he was one man and when I could not get a hold of him I was left scratching my head. In contrast, my latest boat was built in Knysna, South Africa and getting a full H5000 system with a local expert to install. commission and calibrate was pretty straight forward.

In terms of build quality I was not alone in getting through a fair number of H5000 pilot controllers ( the early ones were made of cheese ) however that was some time ago and they seem much better now. I never experienced a failure with the NKE kit.

 

us7070

Super Anarchist
10,229
243
The boards can be repaired for about half the cost of a new board. And the replacement can be done at the masthead.
but you should still carry a replacement...

how do you replace the board in place up the mast? they are like 5 or 6ft above the masthead...

anyway - i'm the navigator.., so that's not my job!

 
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Moonduster

Super Anarchist
4,823
229
You say:

However, I am most frustrated with the hardware reliability at current (engineer/mechanical/electrical background, so every thing I touch is properly installed). For example for the second time in 3 years my MHU failed, and it’s the damn expensive one for $US 3,000+ retail. The mechanics are great, its the stupid PCB inside...

I say rubbish.

Spend a week with a top installer doing Grand Prix, America's Cup or Volvo installations and you'll quickly learn that those who make electronics work offshore for a living have forgotten more than you know unless you work with them or in Formula 1 or a space program.

Your MHU is failing because there was a bad batch of wind wand boards. The PCB doesn't cost $300 and if you know your dealer, they wouldn't charge you if the serial number was in the faulty batch. Lousy batch aside, you should plan to replace a wind board about every 10,000 miles; most club racers never have a problem.

90% of problems are interconnect, not PCB related. This is more true with NMEA2000 interconnect because the connector standard is horrible. 90% of the rest of problems are configuration or user error. The CEO of a yacht brand knows as much about electronics as he does about sails; they're both dealer options, the advice you got was worth what you paid.

To your question regarding NKE and B&G, it's really a question of what you want. NKE's basic solution is quite dated but quite good. B&G has evolved significantly from the H3000 days. The H5000 is a more capable and better solution by almost any metric - but few programs can discern the different between a well-installed NKE or well-installed H5000 system.

As is usually the case in such posts, you say nothing of the sailing you do, the kind of boat you're considering, the way you look at instrumentation dollars vs sail inventory dollars vs bottom prep dollars vs beer dollars.

Your H3000 system is older than your car and probably older than your marriage. It's been working pretty well for a long time in a horrible environment with little care or attention except when it isn't working. It's been neglected, abused, ridden hard and put away wet. It's outlasted every sail you've ever bought. Stop whining.

 

Rail Meat

Super Anarchist
7,192
169
Mystic, CT
I can't compare to B&G as I have been using NKE since 2002.   The classic set up from 2002 to 2008 and then the HR Pilot and processor since 2008 on the Class 40.  In that time I have had one cpu plug require repair, one 3 axis accelerometer go bad, and one GPS antenna go bad. The rams have been replaced several times but th hats because it gets pretty wet in my rudder compartment because of the JP3 bearings that I would be reluctant to ever recommend. The rams themselves are L&S and they are great. That's with about 70,000 hard ocean miles so a dar. Good miles to repair track record. And the pilot performance is crazy good. Bananas good. 

It's also very straight forward to wire up, and reasonably easy to configure. Reasonably, not very. I do all my own installation work with the occasional call and email to the US distributor.

All in all, the nke system has held up better than everything else on the boat. Including the skipper.   I highly recommend the system. 

 

jdazey

Member
428
127
Kingston, WA
but you should still carry a replacement...

how do you replace the board in place up the mast? they are like 5 or 6ft above the masthead...

anyway - i'm the navigator.., so that's not my job!
Just take the wand down and do it in the cabin where dropped parts are less likely to go Splash.

Cheers,

Joe

 
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jdazey

Member
428
127
Kingston, WA
OK, take your tool bag up the mast, disconnect the wand, try not to drop anything....., sure it can be done, at least with my 213, but should it? I've replaced my pcb. There are some delicate bits in there. Maybe Sweare has some extra hands.

 

Ron Swanson

Member
393
60
Los Angeles
I was faced with the same decision (for me it was about reliability, not features), and went with NKE as their system hasn't changed significantly for some time. I figured they have worked out any bugs by now. I've only just installed the system (yes, you really should put it in yourself), and everything came up just fine. I'm looking forward to sea trials & calibration soon. Apologies I don't have more anecdotal evidence for you.

True, support here in North America is less than B&G, but then again the service calls I've heard about from B&G technicians on other boats left me shaking my head. On the other hand, it's odd how little NKE seems to care about the North American market. The english translations of their documents are hard to follow in places, but perhaps not unlike Furuno! Here on the Left Coast I feel like I'd be left on my own anyway, with support consisting of phone calls and UPS.

 

LionessRacing

Super Anarchist
4,346
582
Myrtle Beach,
As with anything, the best ingredients can be compromised by the quality of the install.

I'm an electrical engineer with >40 yrs making stuff that went into orbit and/or to the DOD as well as personal electronics at hundreds of millions of units. 

My skills at doing "Technician work" are as bad as my welding. I know the theory, I can do it well enough to illustrate but at the end of the day if it matters, I go to the professional and having them do what they do all day. If its not mission or life support critical, I may do it myself, without the attention to detail and deal with the consequences. (And the bill for repairing the oversize hole in the bulkhead...) 

You take a guy such as Eric Steinberg who's living depends on the quality of work and customer referrals and he will do a cleaner, stronger and just plain better install , e.g.with pre-tinning & shrink tubes over crimps and properly strain relief and dress the wiring so that someone else can sort it if needed.

It will take longer and cost more, but won't be developing intermittentents and weirdness. 

I did consciously purchase the H5k stuff from him at full MSRP, so that his advice and consultation would come along in the margin. Damn good investment, well worth the cost. Buying an MFD at online discount  price where there's no value added also made sense. 

It's not that different from buying sails mail order, sure you might save some money, but you won't get the attention that your boat might require, to get a sail that fits, is trimmed and sets right. 

 

Stigaro

Member
I have a set of NKE Topline instruments from the early/mid-90's on my Beneteau Figaro that are still going strong. The old sensors/instruments are interchangeable with new instruments so if I want to replace them piecemeal, I can.  While the look of the NKE is a little dated compared to the B&G, the quality is definitely there. I cannot comment on the B&G instruments but I wouldn't hesitate to buy NKE based on my experience.

 

Soley

Super Anarchist
NKE is still on 0183 I believe? Getting them to reliably talk to non NKE products is an issue. Sailed a bit on a J112e with them. As with anything in the 0183 world nothing networked together the way it should. 

I was involved in an extensive NEMA 2000 install based on B&G products. Everything works, everything including non B&G stuff networks together properly.

Until NKE gets into the NEMA 2000 age and gets decent support in the US, I will stick with B&G.

Also quite few boats with B&G systems are using Garmin mast displays instead of 20/20, 40/40's. Plug it in, tell it what data you want to see, simple. On 0183 that would be the dark art of black magic.

 

Grrr...

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9,689
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Detroit
The 20/20s on the mast fade and fog, the H3000 MFDs were crap too (especially for the $$$) etc  etc  
Really?  Fogging is STILL a problem for B&G?  Christ, I remember the "remove and bake in an oven" that we had to do every year or two so they would stay defogged for long enough to race a season.  I can't believe they are still struggling with fogging.

 
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