Electronics For Building a Complete Helm

Building a helm from scratch? Begin with quality components like these and create a system that meets all your needs.

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Double Feature: Like the added detail on your high-def flatscreen television? Raymarine's C-series Widescreen (starting at $2,700) puts everything a helm station needs on a broad display with a similar aspect ratio. Chart plotter, radar, fishfinder, and video feeds are all shown on the same highcontrast, sunlight-viewable display, available in 9-, 12-, and 14-inch (shown) sizes. The Widescreen employs a propriety UniControl pad developed to provide optimal control through a wide range of functions. Connecting to its various black-box components through Raymarine's SeaTalkhs protocol, two C-series Widescreen units can be seamlessly integrated for a powerful helm station setup.

Raymarine, (603) 881-5200; **www.raymarine.com**

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Safe Harbor: Collision avoidance is the name of the game and Furuno's FA-50 class-B AIS transponder ($1,800) may deal you just the hand you need. The black-box unit receives data from nearby vessels and passes it to your integrated radar or chart plotter, labeling targets with their speed and course, so you know which way to go in busy harbors or shipping lanes. It also tells other AIS-enabled vessels where you're headed, so they can avoid you, too. While ideal for use with Furuno's NavNet 3D, NavNet vx2, and PC systems through an ethernet connection, the FA-50 can also integrate with other brands' compatible radar and chart plotters.

Furuno, (360) 834-9300; **www.furunousa.com**

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Screen Test: The Ultraview (starting at $4,000) from ambientNav is the kind of display around which one builds a whole helm. Available in 15- or 17-inch sizes, the monitors have four inputs and are now available with leD backlighting for lower power draw and reduced internal operating temperature. But as any cruiser knows, sometimes brighter is not better: The backlighting on the Ultraview turns way down with a single-knob control to preserve night vision, and the lCD screen can be viewed from any angle. The durable ultraview is designed for long service and is ready for installation anywhere, even on an exposed flybridge.

AmbientNAV, (425) 248-2096; **www.ambientnav.com**