Skip to main content

Tested: Raymarine aSeries MFD

The frozen Raymarine aSeries MFD had almost finished a two-day low temperature test, but that was only the beginning of its suffering. Next it had to run another two days in a high-temperature cabinet with 85 percent relative humidity, followed by 19 more days of torture as part of Raymarine’s ERT (Early Reliability Test) Qualification Process.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

The frozen Raymarine aSeries MFD had almost finished a two-day low temperature test, but that was only the beginning of its suffering. Next it had to run another two days in a high-temperature cabinet with 85 percent relative humidity, followed by 19 more days of torture as part of Raymarine’s ERT (Early Reliability Test) Qualification Process.

The venue for this cruelty-to-electronics extravaganza was Raymarine’s R&D center in Fareham, England. Some of the testing was difficult to see in action, like the intense, Red Sea-level sun, humidity and spray simulated within the Q-Sun Xe-3 Xenon Chamber. (Although I did think of how little the RD418HD radome on Gizmo’s mast has faded since I began testing it in 2009.) Similarly, they couldn’t safely show us what happens in the Near Lightning Strike (NLS) closet. I doubt Raymarine can prevent all forms of lightning damage, but I am glad they are seeking out all fixable weaknesses. Meanwhile, 550 pounds of salt tablets stacked along a hallway suggested how the salty fog chamber reaches Icelandic levels.

The shock and vibration testing was especially dramatic. At the time of our visit a new a12 MFD on the shaker table was undergoing a protracted sine sweep with the computer graphing the vibration of both the table and the display. Frequencies that cause harmonic reactions stand out so either the MFD mount can be modified or the device tested further with the more difficult vibes. Chris Landry, of Soundings Trade Only, videoed this test and another with a nasty machine that whacks screens and other parts with precisely measured blows.

Chris’s video also shows the water jet and spray booth, which is the last stop for devices that have been frozen, baked, vibrated, etc. Apparently, testing to IP (ingress prevention) standards should be done with “aged” equipment. And besides, according to Raymarine’s director of engineering, Gordon Pope, they test beyond IPX6 and 7 standards, because the ultimate goal is to avoid major warranty issues. He noted, for instance, how an aged MFD with failed gaskets might survive the IPX6 100-litres-per-minute jet at 100 kPa from 3 meters, because the pressure actually resealed the unit, but the same unit might fail the lesser IPX3 spray test.

In the photo at the top of this page, Pope is explaining one of Raymarine’s several EMI (electromagnetic interference) test chambers to some of the other visiting journalists. The sounder module on the table, which is powered up and receiving transducer data, is being targeted with EMI that might emanate from other gear on a boat, while the test engineers use that white camera to watch what happens on the screen of a networked MFD that is on the floor. 

The module will also spend time in a chamber that looks very similar, except that a receive-only antenna will measure any EMI the sonar throws off, so hopefully it passes whatever government standards it’s meant to meet.

As a side note, while I was touring the facility, I found myself thinking back to FLIR’s acquisition of Raymarine a couple of years ago and what may have been some of the drivers behind the decision. One conclusion I reached was that FLIR (and Garmin, which also made a bid) clearly saw value well beyond the brand name and distribution network. In fact, while the R&D facility in Fareham may be relatively new, Raymarine’s engineering and marine culture stretches back to its Autohelm days. The engineers there clearly know what they are doing and what works and doesn’t work out on the water.

I’ll close with a bigger thought. My visit to Raymarine impressed me a lot, but I also saw some excellent R&D science and cadence when I visited Garmin a few years ago. I once characterized Navico as “firing on all cylinders” (which still seems true), and would now say the same of Raymarine. I have also long admired Furuno with its powerhouse hardware developers in Japan and software team in France. We live in a good time for marine electronics, people!

For more of Ben Ellison’s insights into marine electronics, go to panbo.com

Related

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

Video: Celestial Navigation Pt3

. In episode three of the Practical Celestial Navigation course, Andy Howe examines the theory behind celestial navigation, the celestial triangle and the celestial sphere, and why it is important to have a basic understanding of each. Topics introduced include zenith position, ...read more

01-LEAD-6.-After-2-years-ashore,-Nada-headsto-the-water-(3)

Sailing in the Time of Covid

In mid-August 2019, my wife, Terrie, and I laid up our Malö 46, Nada, in Falmouth, England, and flew home to Maine. We booked flights back to the UK for May 2020, anticipating a summer of cruising the Atlantic coasts of France and Spain. Then Covid struck. Remember that first ...read more

Ulysse Nardin promo photo

The Ocean Race Names Official Timekeeper

With just under one year before the start of The 2022-23 Ocean Race, Swiss watch manufacturer Ulysse Nardin has been named the official timekeeper of the race. The Ocean Race, formerly known as the Volvo Ocean Race and before that the Whitbread Round the World Race, announced ...read more

Arthur Daniel_RORC Maserati - RORC Transatlantic 2022 - Jan 15th -Social Media-4

Fast Finishes for the RORC Leaders

Over the weekend, the first finishers of the 2022 RORC Transat made landfall in Grenada, led by Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati, which was awarded line honors with a corrected time of six days, 18 hours and 51 minutes. Maserati finished ahead of Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 ...read more

Background-02

Notice to Mariners: A Blog from the SAIL Editors

As a teenager, I stumbled across a copy of Derek Lundy’s Godforsaken Sea in the back room of a used bookshop. I had never heard of the Vendée Globe and frankly found all the boat-speak in the first 50 pages a little difficult to get through. But Lundy’s storytelling and the draw ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

VIDEO: Celestial Navigation Episode 2

Celestial navigation is an invaluable tool for all kinds of sailors. In episode two of the celestial navigation series, learn the basic elements of navigation and the sight reduction process using declination and GHA to determine the Geographic Position and navigate using a ...read more

Film-poster-EP-2048

Cruising: Year of the Sea Shanty

Along with other timeless pursuits, like baking sourdough and gardening, singing sea shanties surged back into popularity during the recent lockdown, thanks, in part, to the app TikTok and its “duet” feature, which allows singers from around the world create music together. By ...read more

Book-Cover-9780712353700

Book Review: Sailor Song

Sailor Song is the ultimate guide to the music of working sailors during the 18th and 19th centuries. The book includes lyrics and sheet music for 50 of the most beloved sea songs with fascinating historical background on the adjoining page. Chapter introductions provide ...read more