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Author Topic:   Portable vs Fixed Electronics
sarnuk posted 11-24-2003 08:40 AM ET (US)   Profile for sarnuk  
I'm loathe to cut into the console on a new [190 NANTUCKET] to put in GPS type product that will likely be obsolete. How do forum members feel about more portable solutions?

I am not a hardcore fisherman, but would like gps/charts for near shore fishing in case of fog etc. I already have a portable uniden VHF.

Moe posted 11-24-2003 09:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
That's what the 190 console is designed for. It can always be covered in starboard later, and recut for electronics that require a different cutout.

You also now have a boat that's capable of taking you beyond the range of a handheld VHF. Time to get a fixed mount with 25W and a good antenna.

Captain Billy posted 11-24-2003 09:01 AM ET (US)     Profile for Captain Billy  Send Email to Captain Billy     
If you want to use a good size chartplotter (Garmin 162 etc) Try using a Ram mount. When you upgrade you can just swap out the bail mounts on the Ram. I like the way mine works.
TRAFFICLAWYER posted 11-24-2003 09:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for TRAFFICLAWYER    
May I suggest the Standard Horizon cp160/150 color chartplotter [uses c-map] and the matching standard intrepid vhf, they can communicate position and are available in black.
sarnuk posted 11-24-2003 09:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for sarnuk    
moe what is starboard?
whalerajm posted 11-24-2003 09:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for whalerajm  Send Email to whalerajm     

Congrats on new toy...

Starboard is (in their words):

KING STARBOARD® is a unique, superior marine grade polymer sheet, environmentally stabilized to resist harsh sun and sea conditions, including ultraviolet light.

• Easy to fabricate with standard tools.
• Never needs maintenance.
• Unlimited custom/proprietary colors.
• Accents or matches gel coat.
• Made to last the lifetime of the boat.
• Marine grade polymer sheet has a matte texture surface.
• Will not rot, swell, or delaminate when exposed to moisture.
• Finishes cleanly.
• Forms easily for smooth bends.

For more see

Jerry Townsend posted 11-24-2003 11:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jerry Townsend  Send Email to Jerry Townsend     
One feature of the Standard Horizons that is very nice is the quick release mount - which allows the mount to be mounted on top of the console with a few screws - and the electronics is easily and quickly removed. ----- Jerry/Idaho
jimh posted 11-24-2003 02:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The registered trade mark "King StarBoard" refers to a plastic material often used in marine applications.


With regard to whether on-board electronics should be "portable", I find in my own case that I do not use hand held electronics on my Boston Whaler boats, but I do generally remove the electronics from the boats when not in use.

Having to remove them is awkward, but I don't feel they are secure in many of the situations where I have to leave the boat unattended for long periods.

One mounting often seen is to place the VHF Marine Radio in the teak locker (generally a part of most helm consoles on Boston Whaler boats). This allows you to lock the door. While not a guarantee of security, it is better than having the radio in place sight.

Another solution is to mount the electronics in a very permanent fashion. Flush mounting to the console and securing with hidden machine screws from the backside is one way. The disadvantage of this is that it makes large holes in the console. One alternative I have thought about is to to flush mount the electronics into a escutcheon made from wood or King StarBoard, raising the unit above the console an inch or two. This would reduce the hole drilling in the console to four mounting holes and perhaps one or two holes for the cables to pass through.

jaccoserv posted 11-24-2003 02:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for jaccoserv  Send Email to jaccoserv     

The problem on my 170 was that there is simply nowhere to flushmount a GPS. I went with the Garmin 162c, but instead of drilling into the glass, I used heavy-duty 3M velcro-type fastening tape. This stuff holds unbelievably well, in your Nantucket it will be even better. The 3M is expensive, somewhere around $1 and inch, which can add up($20 for two feet of velcro!!!). You'd probably want to stay away from StarBoard on your dash, it looks rather tacky, not nearly as classy looking as the teak dashes of the 1980's. A competent boatyard can always re-glass/gelcoat the area and cut new holes (for a nominal fee of course).

Moe posted 11-24-2003 03:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
Jeff--The industrial velcro is a great idea. Did you find that the adhesive left any stains on the gelcoat?


jaccoserv posted 11-24-2003 04:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for jaccoserv  Send Email to jaccoserv     
No problem with the adhesive, just a little wipe of acetone or laquer thinner...
jimh posted 11-24-2003 08:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
[Changed TOPIC; was "electronics for a new whaler"--jimh.]
jimh posted 11-24-2003 08:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I would argue strongly against using a hand held radio onboard a boat unless you only operate in very small inland waters. A fixed mount VHF Marine radio will have much more value as a communications device and a safety tool.

A handheld GPS makes much more sense, in as much as you can easily take it with you and use it in your car (or other boats).

The performance of a handheld GPS will be about the equivalent of most fixed mount units, except for the smaller display. The performance of a hand held radio will much inferior to a fixed mount, 25-watt radio with a good antenna.

triblet posted 11-25-2003 12:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
There's a middle ground: a handheld VHF with a good antenna.
While I strongly encourage those who have 12V on their boat
to get a console mount VHF, those with many pull-start motors
don't have that option. I have several buddies who have
installed an 8' antenna on their pull-start inflatable and
been amazed at the improvement in VHF reception and

Note that SOME pull start motors can charge a 12V battery.

Also, there's portable and there's portable, and there's
handheld. I can get the Humminbird fishfinder off my
Montauk in about two seconds. I can get the Garmin 162 off
in about a minute. I can get the Standard Horizon Spectrum
off in about 10 minutes, and it takes tools. If I have to
park the boat someplace insecure (my drive is secure, the
launch ramp parking lot while we go to dinner is not), I'll
lock the fishfinder and GPS in the console, but leave the


Jarhead posted 11-25-2003 07:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jarhead  Send Email to Jarhead     
I'll second Captain Billy's RAM Mount suggestion.

I use them and recommend highly recommend them.

jimh posted 11-25-2003 07:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
At the price of some of the larger-screen GPS devices, you could probably buy a hand-held GPS and a laptop computer for the same investment. It would be a kludge to mount and connect a laptop and a handheld GPS on a small boat, but you could use them in a car rather nicely.
triblet posted 11-25-2003 09:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for triblet  Send Email to triblet     
I've been expecting the price of large-screen (e.g Garmin
2010, etc.) GPSs to crash for a couple of years now. Given
that you can buy a laptop with a bigger screen (14" vs 10"),
more pixels (1024x768 (or even more) vs 640x480), more colors
per pixel, more compute power, a hard drive, a CD/CDR/DVD, ...

for half the price,

Something does not compute.


Tom2697 posted 11-25-2003 09:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom2697  Send Email to Tom2697     
Most people do not go far enough offshore to have to worry about the performance difference between a handheld or a fixed mount VHF. While I have both on my boat, I can always be in range of contacting help on either unit...and I have been up to 70 miles offshore! Even a 25 watt fixed mount unit will only transmit up to about 12 or 15 miles. The chances are pretty good that someone is within range and will hear a call for help especially if you boat in popular areas. If you are worried about needing the unit to call for help in remote situations, forget about it. You need either a 406Mhz EPIRB or a SSB radio. VHF's just don't have the range.

As for fixed mount or handheld devices, I like the clarity of the bigger screens of the fixed mounts although the handheld can be used fine. The portability of handhelds are great especially when you go on that trip in your friend's bigger boat and you need to find your secret spot. If you want the benefits of the bigger screen, get one large screen unit that can interface to various handheld devices through a NEMA0183 cable.

HAPPYJIM posted 11-26-2003 08:38 AM ET (US)     Profile for HAPPYJIM  Send Email to HAPPYJIM     
I like the handheld GPS because I can use it anywhere.

I take it with me to sail bareboat anywhere I can rent a boat.

Great for hunting or hiking.

On charter boats, so I don't have to ask where we are.

On other friends boats......I always mark the hot spots.

If it is too hard to decide, get both....the hand helds are cheap but have most of the functions of the fixed mount.

nevada posted 11-26-2003 11:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for nevada  Send Email to nevada     
To get an idea of what starboard is; have a look around your kitchen. If you find a polymer cutting board you will have pretty good impression.

I love the stuff. The previous owners of my Montauk butchered the top and face of the console. They had covered their various holes with many teak patches of various shapes and sizes. When I re-powered recently I cut the face of the console out and resurfaced the face and top with half-inch thick Starboard in order to accommodate the new binnacle and tachometer. It turned out to be very clean install, not original looking but I did not have much choice.

I use a Garmin handheld GPS. and a hand held VHF. The Garmin it suits my purposes just fine. I do plan to install a fixed mount VHF and use the hand held for a back up.


Moe posted 11-26-2003 01:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
Handheld vs Fixed-Mount GPS Chartplotters

The biggest difference (besides price) is obviously screen size. The handheld is designed to be viewed from a distance of about one foot, held in front of the face. That's not always practical in chop, where you want both hands on the wheel. The fixed mount is designed to be mounted on a console and viewed from a greater distance. The fixed-mount Garmin GPSMAP 182 screen is a bit over twice as high, and a bit under twice as wide, as that of the floating handheld GPSMAP 76 or 76S, for a total of exactly four times the screen area. It's the about the same apparent size viewed from two feet as the handheld is from one foot.

The handheld offers about 110 pixels per inch, where normal human 20/20 vision is 300 dpi at one foot. The fixed-mount offers about 78 dpi, where normal human 20/20 vision is 150 dpi at two feet. In other words, even with lower dpi, the fixed-mount viewed from two feet will appear sharper than the handheld viewed from one foot. The handheld has only 4 levels of gray, while the fixed-mount has 10 for smoother transitions of objects in images.

The base map in the hand-held GPSMAP 76/76S is the Americas Highways database, while that in the fixed-mount GPSMAP 182/182 is the Worldwide Marine database. Both databases have highways and marine info, but the focus is a little different. Both are lacking in shore detail and number of nav-aids. Fortunately, both the handheld and fixed-mount can download more detailed highway and marine data from MapSource CD-ROMs into their memory. The fixed-mount can also use pre-programmed BlueChart cards.

There's a big difference in memory in which to download these maps, as well as store your waypoints, etc. The handheld GPSMAP 72 has only 8MB, while the GPSMAP 76S has 24MB. The fixed-mount GPSMAP 182 takes interchangable memory cards up to 128MB.

The hand-held is designed primarily to operate off its internal batteries, and is rated to operate between 10-40 Volts externally. The fixed-mount is designed to handle the voltage drop of a boat battery, without rebooting during starting, and is rated to operate between 8 and 35 volts.

At a greater price, slightly smaller screen, and slightly greater resolution, the fixed-mount offers a 16 color version, the GPSMAP 182C. It is MUCH easier and faster to interpret data from different colors than it is from shades of gray.

And finally, the fixed-mount can also be had with a built-in sounder/fishfinder as the GPSMAP 188/188C. While it may not be as ideal as having separate screens for each, having both units in one is less expensive and takes up less console space.

The GPSMAP 76 (8MB) is $313 with rechargable batteries, charger, cigarette lighter adapter, and boat mount, at

The GPSMAP 76S (24MB) is $374 with rechargable batteries, charger, cigarette lighter adapter, and boat mount, at

The GPSMAP 182 is $706 with internal antenna, 32MB memory cartridge and AC/PC adapter, at

The GPSMAP 182C (color) is $970 with internal antenna, 32MB memory cartridge and AC/PC adapter, at

The GPSMAP 188 (greyscale w/sounder) is $883 with transducer, internal antenna, 32MB memory cartridge and AC/PC adapter, at

The GPSMAP 188C (color w/sounder) is $1209 with transducer, external (only) antenna, 32MB memory cartridge and AC/PC adapter, at

Hope this helps,

Moe posted 11-26-2003 02:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
Ah! I hadn't been to Garmin's site in awhile... here's a preview of their upcoming (Spring '04) color handheld:


diveorfish posted 11-26-2003 05:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for diveorfish  Send Email to diveorfish     
Sarnuk: You have a top tear boat and you spent a chunk of change for it. Why skimp now. Fixed is the only way to go. As Moe stated, that is what that area of the console is for. Worried about it getting stolen? That is what insurance is for. I don’t know the pros and cons of any particular brand, but a fixed color GPS/Chartplotter is the only way to go. Something with BlueChart, C Map etc. would do you and your Whaler proud. With a setup like that, you can continuously monitor it while you are piloting. It is virtually impossible to get lost or misdirected with this kind of setup, especially in mist or fog. The maps are really good, they show depth, hazards, nearby services and tide information. The fixed has a larger display which is infinitely easier to read as well. As far as becoming obsolete, the new products pretty much have every bell and whistle you could possibly need. The only thing that needs updating from time to time is the map which resides on a chip and all you have to do is remove the old chip and plug in the new one with the latest updates.

Have fun with your new Whaler.

jaccoserv posted 11-26-2003 05:21 PM ET (US)     Profile for jaccoserv  Send Email to jaccoserv     
Though seldom mentioned on this site, I believe Northstar to be the top GPS/Plotter on the market right now. If any of you were at the Lauderdale boatshow, you noticed that all the high-end ($1,000,000+) boats use them... many install them as standard equipment. When someone is shelling out 1.5 million for a new Rybovich and they see fit to install only a Northstar, you can be sure it is a good, reliable, solid unit. As anyone else who has experience with them knows, there are about the fastest-loading, clearest machines available. It will be 4 years or so before their current 952XDW becomes obsolete, even then, their new models always fit in the same holes as the older ones.
sarnuk posted 11-26-2003 08:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for sarnuk    
I hear you diveorfish......

Point taken. I guess my thinking was kind of silly. It wasn't a money thing so much as my not wanting to mar this nice voat that I have coveted for a while. A guy on my way out from the dealer told me to check out handhelds, and so I wanted to.

Jimh's point about safety of a fixed DSC VHF makes incredible sense for me and my boys from a safety persepctive, and I hadnt thought that through. Still grappling with the fixd vs portable gps.

Your point appreciated though

jimh posted 11-26-2003 10:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I am leaning toward buying a laptop and a hand held GPS. The ideal arrangement would be to have both support the Bluetooth wireless protocols. You would not need to physically interconnect them, as they would communication via bluetooth.

With a hand held GPS you get all the advantages mentioned above by HAPPYJIM.

So get the laptop for almost free, since you didn't spend the big bucks on the $2,300 GPS with large color display.

Also, you can get a USB-connected GPS receiver for $100. It has its own antenna, you just plug it into your Laptop with a USB cable.

With a laptop and some inexpensive software you can create your own charts from downloaded data from government sources.

It takes more work, it more of a kludge, but if you are into gadgets why not build your own system?

Right now my GPS is in a box and not being used because the boat is laid up for the winter. If it were hand held I could take it to Florida with me this spring!


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