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New GPS advice - considering Simrad

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Hey all - I currently have a Garmin 546 on my skiff and have used Homeport to make waypoints, tracks, etc, but Garmin dropped support for Homeport on the Mac. I am not sure any replacement I find will also have Mac support, but I can always run a virtual machine for PC if needed.

But, my Garmin only supports basic maps. Ideally, I would like to have Google earth quality maps with more options, like contour reveal.

I don't need a fish finder or weather module on it, it is simply for mapping, navigation and scouting locations.

The Simrad Go7 looks pretty slick. But I am not sure about their mapping software, or if I should buy mapping from another company - so recommendations here are appreciated.

And one concern I had seems to be resolved - looks like you can import a Garmin file directly into the Simrad, which is awesome since I have years of data in Garmin:

Any tips are appreciated!
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I have a Simrad Nss7 about 5 years old. I have been using Navionics card which I think is Platinum. It has been a deceit map for me. I have some Standard Maps cards for Louisania that I can use on the Nss7. The micro SD is not labeled which I guess could be recognized from menu in unit.
Joe
 

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Make that decent instead of deceit.
 

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Chittum-LM Beavertail B2 Sold Aug 2021
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Garmin and Simrad use GPX as the "language" for waypoints. I use a garmin presently but I've got a boat on order that will be coming with a Simrad. I Looked into this before committing to the Simrad. In the past I have created waypoints on google earth then converted the KML file (language of Google earth) to GPX then uploaded to Garmin. With the Simrad platinum plus having the satellite map capability I may not need to use google earth. I will find out in a few months. Every so often I update an SD card with GPX files to keep my waypoints as a backup for newly added waypoints in case I loose the stored GPS waypoints. Hope that makes sense. Garmin now uses basecamp app for mac.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I should note that I primarily fish the Texas coast. I've seen some high quality maps out there but they are only for LA and FL.

@Rich11111 - I do the same with Google Earth. I have primary locations, flats, cuts marked in GE, then I export that into Homeport. I then combine my tracks and points together and group them by the general location.

I am curious to try the Simrad mapping app. It is PC, iPhone and iPad, which I've never used the iPad for mapping, so curious how good the interface is.
 

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I am curious to try the Simrad mapping app. It is PC, iPhone and iPad, which I've never used the iPad for mapping, so curious how good the interface is.
EasyGPS is a FREE program that is for a PC that I've recently played with and I like. Also lately I am on the 14 day trial of Navionics app for iPhone/ipad and looks very good so far. Zooming in shows bottom details in some areas I wasn't aware of. When i first tried it I didn't have my areas the downloaded. You will need to download the map where you fish when you give it a try if you are out of wifi range.
 

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Importing waypoint data into a new Simrad unit from a Garmin is easy. However, I think the GO unit is a poor choice if its going on a skiff. The only thing worse would be flush mounting it. There are zero functional advantages to any GO unit vs. other Navico mfg units you could choose. It is not an accident it is inexpensive.
 

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Simrad is the way to go. But as I tell people, I strongly suggest the NSS Evo series. The rotary dial is way better for making changes while underway. The touch screen only is hard to use when you are running 30 and bouncing in a chop.

As to the mapping software the best thing to do is to go to someplace that has units on display (or look at other boat owners units) and look at the various chart options available for your area. Just because software ABC is really good for one place doesn't mean it will be equally good for your area.
 

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I had the Go7 and hated the touch only option. Whenever running in rough water and/or wet conditions, it was very difficult to use.
For my new skiff I just picked up a used Lowrance HDS gen 3 for a much better deal than I could find the comparable Simrad Evo 3 for. Basically the same product but with zoom buttons vs the zoom knob
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Good feedback - I could see how the touch screen only interface could be a PITA when running. I typically only zoom in and out to make sure of my path while running. I do have a Dragonfly on my center console and the zoom in / out knob is terrible - takes like 10 turns to zoom. I'll do some searching and see devices where there are both types, or at least knobs / dials / buttons.

This is going on my B2, so it will not be flush mount. I am not sure if you've ever looked underneath the side console on a B2, but there isn't a ton a room for anything else.
 

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I used to have Garmin and now have a 12" Simrad NSS Evo 3. Here is my take, which will be unpopular on this microskiff board:

- The Simrad's combination of the rotary dial, buttons, and touchscreen is ideal and way all MFDs should be.

- Simrad does not have anything like Homeport and pre-trip planning on a computer is not near as friendly as it is with Garmin. Navico really needs to step up there. You can use Plotter Synch on a mobile device with Navionics but who is going to plan on their phone? I'm not buying an iPad or other tablet just to use Plotter Synch.

- The features on the Simrad seem better than the Garmin but I have found Simrad's reliability and interface with Suzuki motors, and Simrad's own StructureScan 3D transducer to be sub-par. I've had the boat back at a well-regarded skiff shop twice now and I'm still having issues.

- Simrad's customer service is better than it used to be but not up to Garmin's level of service.

- Garmin's transducers seem to work better than Simrad's. I swear my $99 Garmin GT-21 worked better than my $350 Airmar TM165HW; specs including Q-factor say that shouldn't be the case but I can tell you it read bottom better in very shallow water.

Maps
  • Simrad has the most options of maps and thus I have Navoincs Platinum+, C-MAP Reveal, and Florida Marine Tracks for the Simrad.
  • I had Garmin G3 Vision HD maps for the Garmin.
  • The C-Map Reveal is not very useful for flats fisherman.
  • The Navionics Platinum+ is what I use most of the time,
  • I thought the G3 Vision maps (not the G3 base maps that come on the unit) were pretty good... hard to tell if I like that or Navionics Platinum+ better.
  • I'm still trying to like the FMT but not there yet... it seems I'm of the few that prefers contour lines to imagery
Bottom line... I like the Simrad... just wish it all interfaced and worked reliably and had better pre-trip planning programs.
 

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It isn't that hard to do preplanning for a SIMRAD. Just use google earth and a format converter like GSBABEL.
Steve, wonder if you would be so kind as to post an easy to follow, step-by-step process for using Google Earth, placing waypoints, using GSBABEL to convert them, and then loading them onto the Simrad?
 

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It isn't that hard to do preplanning for a SIMRAD. Just use google earth and a format converter like GSBABEL.
Google Earth is the best I've found for Simrad but does not work that great for finding structure, significant elevation changes, current, or temperature breaks offshore or on the reefs. I guess that's not something many here care about though.
 

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would be so kind as to post an easy to follow, step-by-step process for using Google Earth, placing waypoints, using GSBABEL to convert
Here is a Youtube instruction that helped me understand how to do it. Basically Google earth saves waypoints as KML/KMZ file and GSbabel converts to GPx file that Garmin and Simrad can read. So make (all )your waypoints on google earth then covert with GPS visualizers. You don't have to convert each waypoint individually but all as one file will all of them in file.
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Ive been down the same road. My opinion below is specifically regarding chart plotters for skiffs.

I recommend a Lowrance HDS with an aerial map chip (Navionics Platinum, Louisiana One etc). Lowrance and Simrad are the same company so you are basically getting the same functionality in comparable units. FOR ME the only reason to get a Simrad is for SONAR. That said, if sonar is not a concern the only material difference is the zoom dial versus the toggle in/out buttons in addition to touch screen pinch, depending on your personal preference. I prefer the toggle/touchscreen over the dial. I ended up with a Lowrance HDS2 at the time. However the newer HDS screens are way better as far as reducing glare from sun angles and polarized glasses.

Ill add that Ive had Hummingbird and Garmin in the past as well, Lowrance/Simrad is lightyears ahead over the others if you like to have more control over user functionality.

Regarding the file format conversion between different manufacturers, I do this regularly for my job and personally for my skiff and buddies. I can walk you through it offline and have you up and running in an hour or so with no lost data. Lowrance/Simrad come with a very basic mapping software, it sucks for detailed background/Aerial imagery. As you are aware you can export all of your data back and forth in Google Earth, and use google earth for your mapping at home/backup, Alternatively you can get more advanced mapping software depending on how much you want to manipulate data and spend on software (for most users Google Earth more than suffices)
Let me know if you have any specific questions...
 
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