Digital is in; analog is out. Everything on your next battlewagon will most likely function in binary code. The advantages of your NMEA 2000 backbone are only beginning to be discovered, but you don’t have to wait to retrofit your currently cherished battlewagon with the latest, most powerful electronics for navigation, fish finding, communications, or audio and visual entertainment. What follows is just a starter list of the top new electronics we’ve found this year.
Raymarine Axiom MFD
The new Raymarine Axiom MFD is a beauty. It’s currently available in 7-, 9- and 12-inch screens, but we fully expect to see an expanded line of these beautiful, optically bonded touchscreen displays move into the 16- and maybe even 20-inch models, and we’ll bet they will have the buttons and knobs most offshore captains have come to expect. The Axiom boasts the Lighthouse 3 interface, and the system eliminates black boxes for chirp, Sidevision, Downvision and Realvision 3D, all of which are integrated into each display — that means redundancy. Axiom is also capable of handling radar, FLIR and Sirius Weather. You can also integrate your propulsion ECM and Fusion or Rockford Fosgate audio system for touch control and easy monitoring. The built-in Wi-Fi enables social chart systems and smartphone-app control.
Simrad NSS evo3 MFD
The Simrad NSS evo3 16-inch multifunction display gives you a brilliant navigation landscape thanks to its new SolarMAX display, which is clear in the sun and viewable from a wide span. The integrated StructureScan HD imaging, ForwardScan and dual-channel chirp sonar make it a fish-finding machine that also accepts Sirius Weather input, radar and StructureScan 3D imaging. It’s Wi-Fi enabled to connect easily with Navico’s GoFree charting system to create social maps, or private charts with your updated sonar readings.
Garmin Pantoptix PS51-TH
The Garmin Panoptix PS51-TH forward-looking sonar employs a through-hull-mounted transducer with a phased array that transmits multiple signals to measure and map the sea bottom ahead of the vessel in real time, allowing you to avoid mishaps in unfamiliar waters. It displays the bottom up to 300 feet ahead of the boat and delivers nearly instant feedback to give you more time to react, and the FrontVü image data can be easily shared with Garmin MFDs.
The Simrad S5100 chirp sonar is three sonars in one, thanks to triple independent processors and room for three transducer inputs. This allows your NSS evo2 or evo3 MFD to read three different regions of the water column without noise and with crystal-clear target returns that will ensure every opportunity to hook up. Connect the S5100 to any Simrad proprietary transducer, but you’ll definitely want to use one plug for the game-changing Airmar Ultra Wide 40-degree wide-beam chirp transducer.
The Airmar PM411LWM wide-beam transducer is designed specifically for the needs of tournament captains who need the clearest, most detailed and noise-free view of the water beneath their boat. It covers a 440-foot width at a depth of 600 feet and does it with unequaled target separation. Its low 80 to 130 kHz frequency is powerful, and the transducer footprint is designed to retrofit vessels already equipped with Airmar’s most popular nonchirp transducers, so it saves money and speeds up the installation process.
Furuno's DFF3D sonar module combines three functions in one black box: side-scan, cross-section and standard sonar. The transducer integrates a motion sensor that compensates for roll to produce the clearest image possible in any mode. The black box processes side scan out to 120 degrees in both directions, down and standard sonar, then allows you to display one or all images, plus a 3D sea-bottom chart. You can adjust the display windows in any combination, as well as break up side scan into left, right and center imaging. Fish can’t slip away unnoticed.
Icom M605 VHF
The Icom M605 VHF with integrated AIS can serve as the main communication hub at your helm and network with a combination of three Icom HM195 CommandMics, two mics and a second M605 VHF, or two VHFs and a CommandMic. You get full communications on both devices, but AIS-tracking data is visible only on the Icom M605. The color screen boasts a red-screen option for saving night vision. The full keypad makes entering a “phone book” of friendly-vessel Maritime Mobile Service Identity numbers a breeze. It’s also NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 capable.
Standard Horizon GX6500 VHF
The Standard Horizon GX6500 VHF radio combines the features of one of the clearest 80 dB commercial receivers with the crispest transmitting VHF radios, and it is shipped with a 66-channel WAAS GPS antenna to enable its integrated Class B AIS transponder. Its NMEA 2000 backbone connectivity supports and integrates with an existing MFD, but the radio has its own large 3.75-inch diagonal screen. You can further expand your stations with either the Standard Horizon SSM-71H RAM4W wireless remote or hard-wire the SSM-70H RAM4 remote microphone to take full advantage of the functions within the GX6500 system.
The Flir M400XR forward-looking infrared-vision system is nearly military-skunk-works cutting edge, but it’s unclassified. It gives you both an infrared camera with a 4x optical zoom and a full-color 30x zoom camera, and an LED spotlight for target enhancement. With the XR system, you get target tracking to keep track of objects as they approach you or you approach them. The camera is gyro stabilized to render the clearest possible images on your MFD in any sea conditions.
Garmin inReach Explorer+
You never expect to need Garmin’s inReach Explorer+ personal-locator beacon offshore, and we hope you never do, but a PLB is essential for peace of mind and safety for offshore fishermen. Garmin’s new device not only gives immediate SOS connectivity to the proven Geos 24/7 rescue monitoring center, but it also allows you to text loved ones ashore or for them to text you using Iridium’s worldwide satellite-communications system. It doubles as a handheld navigator too. Sync it with a smartphone and the Earthmate app for sophisticated mapping, satellite images, weather forecasts and U.S. NOAA charts.
Vesper Marine Watchmate XB-8000
Vesper Marine's Watchmate XB-8000 AIS is a black-box solution for navigation safety that employs Vesper’s Class B AIS transponder and displays information on either Vesper’s integrated display or your N2K-enabled MFD. Vesper’s Smart AIS technology monitors traffic to make sure you stay safe: An alarm notifies the captain with enough time to take corrective action if the system detects a problem through Vesper’s target-tracking capabilities. The same technology is also used to monitor anchor position and personal electronic transponders for crew that will notify the captain of an overboard situation. The system is Wi-Fi capable, so you can easily receive new firmware updates for added functionality as it’s developed.
The compact yet powerful high-resolution Aqualuma SL12 spreader lights can be installed anywhere you wish. The handsome fixture is watertight and ready for long years of service, and two or three fixtures will flood your cockpit with light. Install them in an array to cover lines, riggers and deck for easy night fishing, or for readying the cockpit during those pre-dawn hours. Flush-mount models are also available.
Lumishore EOS TIX402
Exterior vessel lighting was never easier to install, maintain, operate and adjust than with the new 9,000-lumen EOS TIX402 through-hull lights with the EOS mini Wi-Fi controller. The aluminum bronze alloy housing is durable and corrosion resistant, and you can count on the LEDs to last more than 50,000 hours. Use the controller or the free iOS Lumi-App to change color and dynamic effects, add strobe effects or coordinate your lights with onboard music for dancing-light shows.
Shadow Caster SCR 24
The Shadow Caster SCR 24 Round Light is a surface-mounted bronze housing that contains 24 LEDs with a 40,000-hour life expectancy. They are waterproof to 20 feet and offer a wide operating range from 10 to 30 volts. With the SCM-ZC Zone Controller, you choose a single light color or opt for multicolor styles with custom color, hue and brightness.
The Clarion CMS4 black-box media receiver is complete with a hard-wired, full-color-screen digital commander and gives you the ability to integrate it into your N2K backbone for four-zone control throughout your vessel. Bluetooth streaming, Wi-Fi app control and camera input with audio — perhaps to monitor the engine room — make the CMS4 more than just an entertainment system. Pair it with 8.8-inch biaxial (CM2223R) speakers, four 10-inch subs (CMQ2512WL), and put a few tower speakers (CM7123T) on the pipework to make sure everybody is enjoying the music between bites.
Garmin Virb Ultra 30
The Garmin Virb Ultra 30 video camera is their most sophisticated Wi-Fi-enabled, livestreaming Bluetooth-controllable camera yet, and it can be set up anywhere on (or even underwater with the dive case) your battlewagon to display the engine room, cockpit or bridge on the MFDs. Create and livestream video or edit polished storylines in 4K, 120 fps slow-motion or time-lapse video. Control and view the cam on your phone as well, and even download and edit on the fly with the Virb smartphone app available for Android and iOS. Audio clarity is astonishing even in the optional dive case.