Nobeltec PC Radar & TZ v2 app, blazing trail two ways?

FurunoPC_Radar_DualNav.jpg

Nobeltec Furuno PC-Radar was announced at the Miami boat show, but I don’t think it’s gotten the recognition it should. Yes, it’s like the Furuno MaxSea PC Radar that came to Europe in 2013, but now the feature/cost proposition seems to fit a wider range of boats, plus it’s actually available over here. It’s also noteworthy that Nobeltec’s TimeZero v2 app is now out with support of Furuno WiFi radar and it’s interesting to see how these two radar solutions compare. It looks to me like Nobeltec and Furuno are blazing two distinct paths to primary limited visibility navigation without multifunction displays…

Nobeltec_PC_Radar_diagram_n_pricing_aPanbo.jpgFor a suggested retail of $3,990, a PC Radar bundle gets you Nobeltec TimeZero Trident software and a Furuno DRS4DCM 24-inch 4kW UHD radome complete with cable and power supply. You have to provide the computer(s) and screen(s), but dual nav stations are easily possible because Trident includes two licenses (and/or you can, say, run a mirror screen with touch control in the cockpit or on the flybridge). A Nobeltec Sounder Plus Pack ($400 at P2) and Furuno black box is required to get the system diagrammed above, but for many mid-size vessels the PC Radar bundle seems roughly competitive with, say, a nice bundle of Simrad NSS12 evo2 and 4G radar.

Nobeltec_PC_Radar_DRS4DCM_dual_range_aPanbo.jpg

Distinctly unlike the Furuno 1st Watch DRS4W WiFi Radar that I saw demonstrated last October, the PC Radar DRS4DCM includes the complete feature set of Furuno’s venerable DRS4D. In the screen above, for instance, the overlay and standalone radar windows are running at completely independent ranges, which can be very useful (especially for an experienced operator). PC Radar also has automatic 24/36/48 rpm antenna rotation speed and a powered NMEA 2000 port able to bridge some Furuno N2K sensors onto the radar’s Ethernet feed (though sailors who want to sometimes switch off the radome underway to save power should think twice about this option).



Nobeltec_PC_Radar_DRS4DCM_fine_controls_aPanbo.jpgIn fact, Nobeltec software can apparently do more with the DRS4D than simply replicate what’s possible on a Furuno MFD, which may be quite appealing to the sort of skipper who already leans toward the potential power of PC navigation. Chief Technology Officer Iker Pryzo told me:

We have full control of all radar parameters that you can find on an MFD. In addition we have some (more advanced) post-processing in MaxSea/Nobeltec (PC software) that are not in the MFD (more Echo Averaging levels, more Echo Stretch levels, control of the radar picture “dynamic”…) {See screen above} We also have ARPA capability. The difference is that the ARPA is not computed inside the DRS but by MaxSea/Nobeltec (software processing). We are investing a lot in the ARPA algorithm, because we feel that the ARPA that is available today (across any manufacturer) is not easy for the regular end user. More on this in a future version!

To my knowledge Furuno is already the only manufacturer offering ARPA — not MARPA, which requires manual target activation — in this level of radars. Note, too, that when I ran similar MaxSea TimeZero Explorer software networked to a NavNet 3D MFD and a DRS2D radome I described the results as “punching above its weight”. And the same beautiful, fluid raster chart, Photo Fusion, radar, and AIS integration was almost dangerously mesmerizing running on Gizmo’s Chart Table 21 setup (though I somehow misplaced the screenshots). The point is that PC TimeZero radar has been evolving nicely for quite a while, but now at about $4,000 without the MFD requirement it’s a lot more accessible. (Then again, I was happy to see in the DRS4DCM FAQ that you can later add a NavNet3D or TZTouch MFD to this system – no problem.)

Nobeltec_PC_Radar_TZ_Catch_version_aPanbo.jpgI’ll add that Nobeltec TimeZero can work with legacy Nobletec radars as well as other Furuno radars up into the FAR2XX7 series and all sorts of sonar technology, depending on version and plus pack. The screens above show simultaneous dual frequency fishfinding and radar integration and also Bathy Recorder. What the Furuno/Nobeltec/MaxSea marine electronics complex doesn’t offer (yet?) is the relatively low-cost side scanning that Navico, Garmin, and Raymarine are furiously competing over, or the Simrad/B&G ForwardScan that may become another battleground. But to my knowledge none of those brands permits TimeZero style PC integration with their high performance radar — my hopes for Coastal Explorer and Navico 3G/4G integration remain dashed — and the TZ app WiFi Radar combo is also trailblazing .

Nobeltec TimeZero app V2

Nobeltec_TimeZero_V2_app_to_Camden_cPanbo.jpg

I was quite impressed with the TimeZero app when it came out two years ago, and I like it even better now that version 2 can include AIS, Depth, and Heading. The AIS/NMEA data module costs $10 on top of the chart purchase (iTunes details here), but it works easily with either the Simrad GoFree WiFi1 on Gizmo or the Vesper XB8000 transponder/multiplexer. And since the Vesper is running through my boat router — as discussed in my recent Coastal Marine WiFi review — the iPad is often online to get the bit of weather data seen on the left screen above (or so I can check email quickly).

Nobeltec_TZ_v2_app_w_router_aPanbo.jpgThese days there are all sorts of devices that can deliver NMEA data via WiFi to apps like TimeZero (iNavX has trailblazed in this area and keeps a good list of device links). For me it was simply a matter of getting the IP address and port number from the Vesper configuration program or Simrad NSS evo2 system menu, input them on the “Connect to WiFi Router” dialog (above left) and the data rolls whenever TZ is opened and the iPad is on the right hotspot. Note that I can also use the WiFi stream for GPS and that though TZ is looking for NMEA 0183 data, mine all comes from NMEA 2000 with the bridging done by Vesper or Simrad.



I’m showing the TZ app screen at right above in head-up boat-down 3D mode because that’s how I often use it (and the test TZT14) underway, and I continue to think that the whole TimeZero family is leading the way in useful 3D charting, too. Boaters tend to try and dislike 3D at a boatshow or some similarly static spot — even some of the Nobeltec 3D marketing screens look like they were made at a desk — but the plain TZ app at $50 with all U.S raster charts and super hi res PhotoFusion imagery is an easy way to see how this charting engine can work for you (if you have an iPad).

Furuno_DRS4W_WiFi_Radar_n_Nobeltec_TZ_v2_app_cPanbo.jpgBut the bigger deal with Nobeltec TZ v2 is the $50 Furuno WiFi Radar module. As I wrote last December, combining the $1,695 DRS4DW with a good charting program instead of the included standalone Radar App seems to create a real alternative nav system when at least a basic radar is needed. The WiFi setup is more complicated than what I experienced with the AIS module, however, because the radar insists on being the access point. Unlike the Nobeltec PC Radar system, you don’t need to have fast Heading data to use radar overlay (and ARPA), but it is highly recommended and requires a NMEA data-serving WiFi device that can join a WiFi network and be assigned a fixed IP address. The TZ “How it Works” page identifies three: The Vesper XB8000, the ShipModul MiniPlex-2Wi, and the Brookhouse iMux, though there may be more. (I’m impressed that the iMux can now not only join a network, but simultaneously be an access point as well – PDF here.)

Meanwhile, I’ve heard rumblings that the first version of the WiFi Radar is overaggressive with its automatic tuning, knocking out small targets when there are bigger ones nearby, but I also saw A/B test screens of an imminent update that seemed to put that issue to rest. I believe the updated radar will retain its simple, easy-to-use nature, which is quite a contrast with the advanced tweaks available with PC Radar. And I hope we’ll hear soon from someone who’s actually using TZ v2 and a DRS4DW and suspect that may get more likely if the 12.9-inch iPad Pro comes out this fall.

And like the man used to say, there is one more thing. TZ v2 also introduces MyTimeZero. So far it’s just a way to keep track of friends who are also using the TZ app — either on Web or in the app — and it’s still in Beta though I was able to get it working fine with two Nobeltec employees. But MyTimeZero came up again when I asked about the possibility of sharing routes made (easily and elegantly) in the TZ app with TZ MFDs or the PC charting software. Even though it makes sense for Nobeltec and Furuno to aim the iPad and PC radar products at two different boating markets, there are also plenty of us who like the iPad largely as a planning accessory. Iker’s answer is encouraging:

Yes, there is a plan to share routes among all TZ platforms that can access to the Internet (MaxSea, Nobeltec, iPad, TZT, TZT2) through the MyTimeZero account. We are also thinking about “local sharing” (no Internet required) when the iPad and NavNet MFD are on the same network (similar to the current Route and Waypoint synchronization that we have in between MaxSea/Nobeltec and MFD). In our current roadmap (that can always change a little), the Internet sharing (through the MyTimeZero account) is planned first and will roll out on latest MFD first.

Nobeltec_TZ_v2_app_MyTimeZero_aPanbo.jpg

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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

25 Responses

  1. Quitsa says:

    I wonder what the TZ software can do to enhance performance with a more capable open array radar such as my DRS12A with the greater scope of tuning options.
    The ability to use the “My TimeZero” site to transfer waypoints and routes from the iPad app to a computer running TZ or better yet a Furuno TZT/TZT 2 display will be a very good feature for some of us. Hope it is rolled out soon. Now when I get up at 4:00am to plan an offshore fishing trip, I download the latest sea temperature charts and decide where to go. Then I have to create waypoints (or just write them down if it is only one or two), put them on an SD card, and then load them on the plotter (or enter manually) when I get to the boat. It would be great to just sit home and tap in the waypoints on the iPad and then have them easily synch up with the plotter on the boat.

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Same for me as a cruiser, usually minus the 4:00am part 😉
    Creating routes with Garmin BlueChart Mobile and then sending them over WiFi to the Garmin MFD system works very well and I find it a highly useful feature. Navionics Mobile can once again do something similar with Raymarine WiFi displays, but the process remains awkward because you also have to import the route into the Ray MFD from the SD card.
    At any rate, I think it would be great if I could easily send routes from TZ app to TZT14, either locally or via the cloud. (The TZT14 is now often online via WiFi to my boat router, which is great for weather downloads and could do routes easily.)

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Something that maybe can’t be emphasized enough is how different the DRS4DW WiFi is from the DRS4D and its near identical DRS4DCW sibling, even though the model names are so similar.
    For starters, the DRS4DW WiFi is housed in the same 19.2-inch diameter dome as the DRS2D, not the 24-inch diameter domes the other 4kW devices are in. What’s more the WiFi radar only swings a 15-inch antenna inside the 19-inch dome, resulting in a 7.2 horizontal beam width, while the DRS2D has a full 19-inch antenna and 5.2 degree beam width. The antenna in the DRS4D dome is nearly 24 inches with a 2.3 degree beam width. The claimed bearing resolutions are closer together for some reason, but still no one should expect the DRS4DW WiFi to perform like the DRS4D, DRS4DCW, or even the DRS2D.

  4. Don Joyce says:

    Thanks for the post Ben!
    You mentioned the possibility to run a “mirror screen with touch control in the cockpit or on the flybridge” with Nobeltec Trident. This would a great solution for keeping the keyboard and mouse out of the rain etc. especially on stable platforms. Yet, when I search the Nobeltec and MaxSea websites, I don’t see any mention of touch control, nor are there video examples of touch control on their sites.
    Can I assume this is accomplished with underlying windows software? Somehow I always thought that software using touch control had to be much more tolerant of low precision input compared to other pointer inputs. Therefore even when the OS takes care of the the touch interface, the application software has to have this tolerance in its design to remain user friendly.
    The Furuno touch implementation of MaxSea uses relatively low resolution screens compared to what one might use to implement a PC based system. Unfortunately most monitor touch resolutions necessarily do not scale with the screen resolution….ie, my fat fingers can become very irritating
    Cheers
    Don Joyce

  5. Larry O'Keefe says:

    It seems to me that the killer combo would be having the PC Radar running through a wireless router so that you could run it hardwired to your PC in the pilot house and then via WiFi to your TZ app on the bridge. Any comments on the viability/likelihood of that?

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I like that concept, too, Larry but the full feature set of PC Radar might be daunting to fit on an iPad. Conversely, WiFi Radar might seem too basic if integrated into the Nobeltec PC programs, though they are considering that.
    The possibilities here pretty wild, but what’s available now is two distinct systems: basic radar w slick iPad app for about $1,800 or highend radar with advanced PC charting for about $4,000.

  7. Howard says:

    I am considering the TimeZero sport fishing as it includes radar and bottom floor mapping (PBG)
    I want to integrate into my TZT network. If I don’t desire to control the DFF-1 sounder, just view it, do I need the sounder module?
    I am hoping to use the software for radar, navigation, and hopefully improving my fishing.
    Do I need to purchase the additional module? I really wish Nobeltec would provide a demo version to try before purchase ($1500)

  8. Anonymous says:

    Howard, I have the Maxsea sport fishing module which I believe is the same as the Nobeltec as they are the same company. You do require the sounder module to view, and indeed act as as additional TZT acreen in your system. In fact, I think the interphase is better that on a TZT as you have on screen icons for direct adjustment of your sounder instead of having to go through menu otions. Similar to the adjustments you do today for your radar, but not for the sounder, on the TZT. It costs extra but for me it was worth it. If you do botton fishing you will be very happy with the PBG. I have had Maxsea for 8 years and find it extremely useful for bottom fishing and was using it within a Raymarine system without problems but changed over to Furuno because of the integration and there is no looking back. I use 2 TZT14’s and 2 PC’s with Maxsea with 1 15″ and 19″ outdoor monitors and the results are very good. BTW, I use a keyboard for intearacting with the PC’s but if I did it again I would definitely have touchscreen monitors.

  9. evan says:

    I am looking to upgrade my aging Raymarine E120 Classic Plotter and radar etc. for my single helm pilothouse boat (Nordic Tug 37)
    A PC based system makes a lot of sense to me both from a cost and longevity perspective. I was thinking that I could run TimeZero 3.1 with a Furuno Digital Radar unit like the DRS4DCM with out having to purchase a very expensive low resolution Furuno MFD.
    It’s been some time since you posted this article.
    Would Ben or anyone else have any more up to date comments on the viability of this system?
    Thanks.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Evan,
    I don’t know about stand alone PC’s but I use Furuno TZT’s with 2 fixed PC’s and 2 monitors and can tell you that V3 is very good and can make a reliable system. I use 2 PC’s because I think they are less reliable from a hardware POV than an MFD which is why I have 2 PC’s. I wanted redundancy in case something went wrong. I also did not go with a laptop as my installation is exposed to both sun and water but if you are in a pilothouse your monitors can be larger and lower cost.

  11. evan says:

    Thank you.
    It sounds like you have at least one Furuno MFD in your system.
    Looking at the specs for Time Zero it says that unless you have a Furuno TZT MFD as part of the system the only Radar unit that can be used would be DRS4DCM.
    I’m curious to know whether anyone has actually got this working with the PC / TimeZero setup? (i.e. without the TZT MFD.)
    -evan

  12. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Evan, TZ v3.1 can work standalone with all sorts of Furuno radars, including the amazing NXT…
    https://content.mytimezero.com/hubfs/Compatibilit%C3%A9%20des%20%C3%A9quipements%20Furuno%20avec%20TZ%20Professional%20v3.1_EN.pdf
    …but it may require the Pro version. I’m confused about that part because I’m pretty sur there is a radar module for TZ Navigator.

  13. Howard says:

    My understanding is that is compatible with the Pro version ($1k+) and WILL be with the consumer version with the added radar module. I would contact Maxsea/Nobeltec for the latest updates

  14. evan says:

    Thank you for looking into this Ben & Howard.
    The TimeZero software looks to be quite well configured with many useful features in an ergonomic interface. (I currently use Coastal Explorer but Radar overlay and AIS data does not look to be possible with my setup.)
    With the potential for TZ 3.1 to have Digital Radar and AIS data overlaid on the chart, I would be happy to make the switch if it could be done without needing to buy the propietary MFD. (It seems to me that a well-designed system using PC’s and ethernet connections between devices would represent the ideal system with better customization, integration and a reduced rate of obsolescence. The MFD’s may be a good off the shelf unit for an exposed helm but I don’t need that level of weather resistance and the rather ridiculous price tag for the low resolution of these devices puts me off.)
    When I try to understand what software / hardware components I would need to set up a PC-based system using TZ 3.1 things get a little murky. It seems you need a TZ radar module added to the TZ Navigator software to get the Radar unit to talk to the software. This module is apparently only available for purchase through a local retailer.
    I will have to contact the local vendor I guess…
    BTW: From my reading, the NXT version of the Furuno Radar would require a Furuno MFD in the system. The only Furuno sensor that would seemingly work with a non-MFD setup seems to be the DRS4DCM. I’ve been trying to find the web page where I read that but it looks like it’s been taken down in lieu of that other compatibility document.
    Anyways, if anyone with a similar setup and some feedback on their experience could chime in I would be very interested in their findings.
    -evan

  15. Howard says:

    I have TZT Professional running on a Microsoft Surface Book. The radar module is included with professional. My system consists of a DFF-1 fish finder, Hub 101 Ethernet switch, Airmar GH2183 heading/GPS sensor, AIS, Furuno TZT9″ plotter, N2K to USB converter, N2K to 0183 Converter, N2K VHF and NXT Dome.
    Timezero doesn’t need the plotter running for any reason other than chart license sharing if needed. I usually have the chart on the TZT and Radar on the Surface Book when visibility is low. I run chart on the Surface and the fishfinder on the TZT when I am fishing.

  16. evan says:

    Thank you Howard. That sounds like a good setup.
    Does the TimeZero Software that comes with the MFD plotter include the licensing rights to install TZ on a PC or do you have buy the PC version in addition? (If it is included, that makes the MFD a much better value…)
    -evan

  17. Anonymous says:

    The MFD plotter does not come with any PC software. I will test my TimeZero Professional V3.2 without turning on the MFD to see if I can access and use the radar. Will let you know. I know that if I turn on the PC without turning on the radar or sounder modules I do not even show the sounder or radar workspace.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I can confirm that both the radar and sounder modules will operate without an MFD tuned on. I need to highlight that for receiving GPS or other NMEA 0183 or 2000 data you will need a serial port connection to the PC. If there was a way I would add a picture to see what an actual radar picture looks like on TimeZero. My radar is a 12kW open array.

  19. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, anon, but what version of TimeZero are you using? Also, I can post a photo if you send it to ben at panbo.com.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Hi Ben,
    I just sent the picture. As I mentioned in my mail, I have TZ Professional v3.2.
    Rolando

  21. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Rolando. That looks like very complete radar integration, and here’s the photo where anyone can have a look:
    http://staging.panbo.com/assets_c/2017/08/TimeZero_Professional_3.2_running_Furuno_radar-15524.html

  22. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I got solid info about PC TimeZero Radar and it sounds good. Here’s the word TimeZero (Nobeltec/MaxSea) CTO Iker Pryszo:
    “Before V3.1 of TZ Navigator / TZ Professional, you had to use a specially modified DRS (the “DRS4DCM”) in order to have PC Radar compatibility.
    Since V3.1, there is NO need any longer to use a specially modified DRS to have PC radar functionality.
    Since V3.1, TZ Navigator / Professional became universally compatible with all DRS (including DRS4D-NXT) for PC Radar compatibility.
    The “DRS4DCM” is no longer “produced” (it was just a regular DRS4D with fix IP address modified at factory) since now, you can use any regular DRS.
    The “Radar” function comes standard with TZ Professional (the Radar module is included in the base price of $1500). With TZ Navigator (base price $500), you have to add the Radar module ($500) making the price of TZ Navigator + Radar Module $1000.
    The least expensive package would be TZ Navigator + Radar Module + DR4DL.
    Although, in my opinion, I would go for the DRS4D-NXT (it is worth the $800 or so price difference).
    What is great with the “new series” of DRS (DRS4DL, DRS4D-NXT) is that you do NOT need a Power Supply Unit (PSU). This shaves off a couple hundred dollars (compared to the old DRS4DCM that required a PSU).
    Customer that have V3.0 can upgrade for free to v3.2 (the current latest version).
    Customer with V2 or below of Nobeltec or MaxSea TimeZero can upgrade to V3.2 for a small fee.”
    All this will be online eventually, but not until they finish merging Nobeltec.com and MaxSea.com into:
    https://mytimezero.com/

  23. evan says:

    Thank you for the concise summary Ben. That’s exactly the information I was looking for. (It’s not that easy to find this information in any definitive form.)
    Much appreciated.
    -evan

  24. Anonymous says:

    Great Summary and hard to find anywhere else. I have a 2007 vintage Navnet VX2, two radars, an open array 25kW, and backup 24″dome. I saw the dome NXT at Bremerton boat show last year and am very impressed. Thinking to replace my dome with an NXT dome but the MFD pricing was a turn off. If I understand correctly now I can install the NXT and interface directly with TZ Pro V3.1 on a laptop and have chart with NXT radar overlay? And if needed could purchase Sounder option and also link my DFF1 sounder. I have no need or interest to replace my Navnet VX2 so if my conclusions are correct I would be very satisfied. Can you confirm my thinking? Thanks.

  25. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Yes, anon, you can definitely do that, and you can use TZ Navigator 3.1 plus the Radar Module instead of the Professional version. That way you’ll save $500 as CTO Iker Pryszo explained in my 8/21/17 comment above.
    The TZ website still isn’t crystal clear about all this, but I am pleased to see this:
    https://mytimezero.com/modules-compatibility

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