Simrad Insight HD charts, & 2.0 firmware

Simrad_NSE2_Insight_HD_chart_1_cPanbo.JPG

The Simrad NSE12 prototype is back in the lab, and will soon be back on Gizmo at the heart of an extensive SimNet/Ethernet test system. Only now it’s running recently released 2.0 firmware and it’s loaded with the HD version of Navico’s Insight charts that was missing in prototype mode. I was particularly interested in checking out the latter as I’m working on a charting piece for Cruising World, and I like what I’ve seen so far…


For starters, with Insight HD you can zoom the 2D relief mode all the way in without losing the bathy/topo shading I find quite useful to an easy understanding of what’s what.  There’s also some data I’ve rarely or never seen on other electronic charts, especially the pre-loaded variety.  That “Note” icon, for instance, leads (with one button press) to the complete description of that Special Anchorage.  And that fish icon near the harbor entrance leads to specific local information (below) on a subject I know just enough about to feel confident that it was well sourced (and excited that the similar icons I’m finding around the coast might just help me hook some cruising dinners). Nice.

Simrad_NSE2_Insight_HD_chart_2_cPanbo.JPGNow I rarely see an electronic chart presentation I don’t want to tweak a bit, and at first I was annoyed to see those long “Anchorage Area 33:CFR…etc.” labels seen on the smaller chart window at top, especially as they don’t click to any further info and in fact one obscures the note icon that does.  But I was pleased to discover how detailed the presentation control is when I went to Chart Categories, and extra pleased that the changes only applied to the chart window selected.  Thus I’ve turned off Nautical Chart/Names on the larger relief chart view while keeping them on the regular 2D chart, in case Names are important somewhere else.
   There are also easy high/medium/low detail settings for less detail-oriented users, but the latter sure will be impressed with how many categories are switchable.  In the collage below the inset shows the main categories, with Nautical Chart dimmed to indicate that not all subcategories are enabled.  I opened all those main categories just so that scroll indicator (green arrow) shows how few of the total subcategories are shown on the list at left. A tweaker’s dream, and very easy to manage with the NSE’s knob.  At any rate, Insight HD looks good so far, and it seems like Navico is expending some resources on improving them even though the NSE and Lowrance HDS series also do a good job of displaying optional Navionics chart cards, including 3D.

Simrad_NSE2_Insight_HD_chart_3_cPanbo.JPGOne last note on the opening screen shot:  Notice how Navico has copied the mistaken upper anchorage boundary NOAA drew on its ENCs, discussed and illustrated in this entry. No blame there, as I’m pretty sure all the chart makers copied it (and at least Insight shows it clearly).  But that’s why the detailed note might help someone — the correct lines define the sometimes hard to find channel — and another example of how chart perfection is hard to find.

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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.

6 Responses

  1. peter coupland says:

    i have been thinking about Simrad for my system,but running Navionics Platinum.I didn’t know about Navico insight.
    Do they cover my neck of the woods,Vancouver Island?

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Good point, Peter. Insight and Insight HD charts are U.S. only, except that at least part of the Bahamas is included, I think. That’s pretty standard for preloaded charts, though C-Map on the Raymarine E Wides was going to include Canada and the Caribbean as I recall. However, it didn’t happen, or hasn’t yet.

  3. Benoit says:

    NSE 10 ?

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Benoit. I fixed the entry to reflect reality… NSE12.

  5. Damon says:

    Hi Ben,
    We installed all new Simrad electronics a few months ago including an NSE-8. We’ve been running V2.0 for two months and its added a lot of features to the NSE. The autopilot control works flawlessly. The Czone is something we won’t use on our boat but it can sure open possibilities on the right boat. My only disappointment with the NSE so far is that the vessel’s extension line only shows the vessels heading. Every other MFD on the market gives the option to choose COG or HDG for an extension line and I wish the NSE had that option. When underway if one is trying to stay on a course or previously created track, or even when manuevering in tight quarters, an extension line in front of the vessel icon that shows COG is much more valuable than one that shows HDG. HDG and COG will be different of course when the vessel’s COG is affected by winds and currents. Hopefully we’ll see a COG extension line in a future update.
    I haven’t had the opportunity to see how the weather satellite receiver works with the NSE because we don’t get the Sirius weather service this far south. For this reason it would be great if the NSE had an option to overlay standard GRIB files.
    I did play around with the Insight charts for the area around Galveston Bay, my home port. I’m impressed with these charts, its too bad that my sailing area wasn’t included. When I was going through the features of the NSE I found out that you can have two chart displays when using a split screen, and one of the chart displays can be set to 2D and the other 3D, or one course up and the other north up. I did not check to see if one chart screen could be set up for Insight charts and the other Navionics.
    We finally got our AT10HD Simnet heading converter last week and it only took 5 minutes to install. This gives us 10hz heading information on the radar processor box so that we could utilize MARPA. I was really impressed with how quick the NSE made target acquisitions and liked the cookie trail it left behind the target. MARPA targets are also shown on the chart when using radar overlay, but the best part for me the target information on the right hand side of the screen. (Ben, if you send me an email at the email address I entered above I can send you some screen shots of the the radar working with MAPRA targets).
    We did have one glitch with our NSE but Simrad was fast to get another display to us. Sailing in Central and South America made it quite challenging for Simrad to get the replacement to us, but it should be here in about 10 days now.

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I learned that the good fishing info I’m seeing on Simrad Insight HD charts comes from Fishing Hot Spots:
    http://www.fishinghotspots.com/index.html
    Apparently it’s also on Lowrance Insight charts, but exclusive to Navico as included data.

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