It’s no question that boat ownership can be an expensive pastime, particularly when choosing all the equipment that you might want installed onboard. As a new boater, this can seem very daunting, but it doesn’t need to be.
My advice to anyone is to always do your research.
It is important to understand if the electronic equipment you are choosing is fit for purpose, but also that it isn’t overkill. Multi-function displays MFDs are a perfect example of this.
Acting as the ‘brain’ or control centre of your NMEA 2000 network means that it must be capable of performing all tasks you need it to do. This could vary from just acting as a simple chart overlay, through to radar and sonar imaging connectivity for commercial fishing.
With the wide range of products available on the market, it can be a little overwhelming, Personally, my best advice would be to speak to the manufacturer directly, to ensure that their equipment is capable of doing everything you need. On the flip side of this, you don’t need a $2000 MFD when a $400 display would do everything you needed.
Once you have done your research and are happy with the equipment being installed, the next piece of advice is to plan. Draw a layout of your install, including networks, cabling and device install location. This will make it much easier when it comes to doing the physical install.
When the schematic is being created, be sure to visually inspect the area you are planning on running cables or installing devices. Whilst in theory the plan will work, there is always the chance of it not working in practice. For example, you may plan to run cables through the vessel, but in reality this is a solid material with no space for a cable.
Save yourself the headache by double checking before you install. If you have any doubts, or simply feel like you aren’t qualified for the task, always reach out to a certified ABYC / NMEA technician and have them come out for the job. Sometimes it’s better to pay a professional than do it yourself, especially when installing power systems or safety critical devices.