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3 Steps To Better Marine Electronics

3 Steps To Better Marine Electronics
by Dave Alston

Get the most out of your communication and navigation equipment by following these three important steps to better marine electronics.

First – Buy quality electronics that are suited to your application.  There are some pitfalls to beware of in the selection process.  Everyone wants to get feedback from others who have purchased and used the same electronics you’re considering.  What better place to get the real truth, right?  Not necessarily.  Most people have a real difficult time admitting their mistakes.  Have you ever noticed how your buddies always seem to brag about whatever it is they bought and trash everything else?  He very well may not be the expert he’s claiming to be but merely trying to make himself look smarter by making fantastic claims about the electronics he selected.  Unless he has equal experience with multiple brands and models then he has little basis for his claims and accolades.

Do your own research rather than blindly taking recommendations from questionable sources.  Want to find what brands and models are most dependable?  Find a marine electronics technician who’s been around for a while and doesn’t sell anything himself.  He’ll usually point you in the right direction pertaining to dependability and ease of repair.  Look around at the electronics used by the guys who make their living on a boat.  What’s the most popular radar scanner you see?  Which manufacturer has local certified dealers in your area?  Make a test call to the manufacturer and see how easy (or difficult) it is to get someone knowledgeable on the phone.  Do your homework and chances are you’ll make the right decision.

Second – Make sure your new electronics are properly installed.  A poor installation will haunt you forever.  Giving this your full attention will pay big dividends down the road.  If one’s available in your area, consult with an experienced marine electronics installer.  If you’re a do-it-yourselfer or on a tight budget tell the tech you want to do as much of the installation as possible yourself.  Most are happy to provide guidance and let you do the “dirty work” for them.  If a local tech isn’t available then lean on the supplier you purchased from.  Their ability and willingness to assist in the installation process can make all the difference.  Since Internet shopping is becoming more popular and you seldom meet the supplier face-to-face, you have to exercise caution there.  Finding an “On-Line” vendor who actually takes an interest in service after the sale is almost unheard of these days.  However, there is one exception to this rule that I’ll share with you shortly.

Third – Make sure your electronics are properly cared for and maintained.  That sounds simple enough.  When it breaks just call a technician or ship it off to the factory.  Well, that’s one way to look at it.  However, you’ll be way ahead of the game if you learn how to prevent, or at least minimize failures.  Knowing how to identify and isolate basic symptoms may not only allow you to safely continue that voyage but save a bundle of money.  If you were fortunate to have found that local marine technician or dealer then your job is a little easier.  Take the time to discuss with them in detail any precautions or steps you should follow to assure your equipment is protected and maintained as well as possible.  Know where the power connections are made and have spare fuses available.  Locate all the hidden components of your system and perform regular visual inspections of everything.  Catch that small moisture problem before it becomes a major issue.  Take advantage of any and all resources available to you starting with the operation manuals that came with your new marine electronics.