Saturday, November 19, 2016

Getting Skooled

It's time to get tutored again by Garmin to keep my certification valid. The last time was in Ft Lauderdale a couple of years ago. This required getting up at 3 am to get my sorry ass to Lauderdale by 8 am. The 4 hour drive return trip wasn't any more fun either. This time fortunately training was in Tampa so I only had to get up at the crack of dark and drive an hour. The format this time was very different, and much improved.


In Ft Lauderdale there was a large room with tables and a huge three ring binder jammed full. You sat, the speakers changed and the day went on. This time we did the moving. The massive binder was gone and thumb drive had taken its place. The day started with everyone in a large room with a welcome and outline of the day. On the back of my "Hi, I'm Bill" badge was my schedule. 

The day was divided up into break out sessions that were one hour fifteen minutes long with about a dozen in each session and six of them filled the day.

What was different was the amount of hands on involved. As an example in the CZone session above you worked with real systems. In the session on networking you experienced a unstable marine network and why it was cranky. This was much better than staring at Power Point presentations all day long.

In the autopilot session the instructor did an impressive simulation of an autopilot calibration sequence which I suspect had taken some real practice to pull off. By hand the Reactor black box was rotated 1 and 1/2 turns, and the system said, my compass is linearized. For the sea trial he used his hand to rotate the Reactor left and right simulating the boats motion and pulled off a successful calibration. This was true slight of the hand work. I can't aver you could do this every time and pull off a good calibration, but he did it in front of me.

So did I learn anything? The answer is yes. Although I already knew a lot, the complexity and capabilities of these systems has dramatically increased over just a few years and it takes a real effort to keep up. Now add in Navico, Furuno, and Raymarine and it becomes very challenging to stay current.

Beyond the nuance of things like steer by wire autopilot integration I acquire two small tidbits I was tickled with.

The first one is I can now load in PDF documents into the newer Garmin systems. For example for a fishing boat I can add the local fishing regulations. For cruisers it could be manuals for critical equipment or safety related materials.

I also thought it would be a good idea to include installer notes on where I buried black boxes, NMEA connections and other related items. Photo's with circles and arrows with a paragraph on the black could also be added to help the next guy downstream, and myself if a lot of time has gone by.

"Hi I'm Bob, you worked on my boat about four years ago and I have a problem. Do you remember me?" "Hmm, I'm not sure Bob, is your boat white?" "Yes Bill that's me. " Sorry Bob, I don't remember, they're all white. I need a little more info."

The other cool thing is I can change the splash screens. I can add dealer logos, boat names, or any JPEG picture and or text the owner would want. The are some rules like matching the resolution to the MFD but it's straight forward.

Can the customer do this and load PDF's? The answer is no. It requires knowing where the secret buttons are to access all of the special diagnostic menus. A wrong move here could do real damage to the system and we all had to do a blood oath to get the info. Well maybe that didn't really happen but the Gods at the Garmin mother ship wouldn't be happy with me if I disclosed this info, and your local Garmin tech would be pleased to help you with these things.

Good job Garmin. The training format was terrific and the instructors were all very professional and knowledgeable. The day flew right by and lunch was good. I'm sorry I couldn't hang out and help pack and schelp all of those MFD's down to the van, I had an important bourbon meeting to attend to.

1 comment:

  1. did the same seminar in New England. It was great

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