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Sandisk CF Cards and formatting in FAT16

To perform the software upgrade of a C-Series, E-Series or A65 display unit, you must have a SanDisk brand Standard Grade CompactFlash® (CF) memory card, and a CompactFlash read/write device to transfer data to it from your computer.

The CompactFlash memory card does not need to be a large capacity card. Any 32 MB or larger card will work fine for software upgrade purposes.

CompactFlash (CF) memory cards having storage capacity greater than 64 MB are typically formatted using the FAT32 file system. If you will be using a large capacity CF memory card (i.e. greater than 64 MB) with a C-Series display, it will be necessary to reformat the CF memory card using the FAT16 format.

E-Series displays are compatible with both FAT32 and FAT16 formatted CF memory cards. But C-Series are NOT.

When choosing a CompactFlash memory card, Raymarine recommends using SanDisk brand flash cards. While other brands may work in the C-Series or E-Series display, they were designed using SanDisk brand cards.


My CF card is not recognized by my C-Series display when trying to work with waypoint archives or software updates. How can I correct the problem?

Answer :

Generic CompactFlash (CF)memory cards can be used to archive waypoint and route data, and also to update the software in the C-Series Multifunction displays. In some instances, certain CF cards my not be readable by the C-Series display. This will result in a message like “retrieve failed” or “save failed” being displayed by the C70, C80, or C120. In the case of a software upgrade, suspect cards will not be recognized by the display and ignored during the boot sequence.

The cause of this problem is the type of formatting applied to the CF Card. Default formatting varies by manufacturer, card size, or whether the CF Card was previously used in a camera or other recording device.

It is possible to change the format of a CF card using a computer with a CompactFlash reader/writer.

CAUTION: Under no circumstances should you attempt to reformat a Navionics CompactFlash Chart Cartridge. Doing so will ERASE the map data from the card. If you are having trouble reading a Navionics CF Map Card, please contact Raymarine Technical Support or Navionics.

In reformatting the CF card, it should be formatted to FAT16 format. To do so, perform the following:

Insert the CF card into the PC’s reader/writer
Open a command tool (Start->Run->cmd)
Type the following the prompt in the command tool:

Format [drive letter:] /fs:FAT
Note: [drive letter:] in the above Format command should be replaced with the drive letter that your PC has assigned to the CF card.

Note: Some people recommend increasing the file allocation table block size from the default 512k to 4096k…using this command…
Format [drive letter:] /fs:16/12 /a:4096
I am guessing that they have found that this speeds up data access on some of the older CF cards – I personally don’t think this is necessary using CF cards produced in the past year with one of the many “express” brands…

When prompted for a Volume Name, press the ENTER key on the keyboard.

When formatting is complete, close the command tool

Remove the CF card from the PC’s reader/writerp


Raymarine RC400 – Pros and Cons

rc400 on bracketI was lucky enough to get a RC400 and a Garmin 76CS as gifts in August 2005.

There seems to be a number of discussions on various forums about the pros and cons of these units so I thought I would give my experiences of using both while sailing in the English Channel for the past 2 years.


RC400- the Pros:
1. I have limited space at the helm of my 32ft yacht so I have a mounted the RC400 there since there is no room for anything larger. This makes the RC400 a great choice and it fits well.

2. The colour screen is good and is legible even in pouring rain

3. The screen can be turned down at night and does not interfere with night vision like some of my friend’s larger consoles such as the Raymarine C80 and larger.RC400 1

4. I have installed a power cable and do not rely on the batteries while on passage.

5. I can see a high quality chart at the helm, without going below to see my main chart plotter which is the Raymarine C120 at the nav table.

6. It has its own GPS so it is another backup for position data separate from my main GPS / C120 setup.

7. The Navionics Gold chart is excellent and is compatible with the C120 unit I use at the nav table.

RC400- the Cons:
1. I agree with those who say that the unit eats batteries. The 2300mAh batteries hardly last 1 hour and mine no longer hold a charge. I have now bought 2500mAh batteries – but will still use it on power from the yacht while I am on passage.

2. Interfacing is useless. It does not interface using Seatalk so I cannot connect it to the C120. Although both the C120 and the RC400 have import/export functions for waypoint data – I have not been able to make this work by exporting from the C120 to a Sandisk and then importing to the RC400.

3. I have not tried interfacing with NMEA data since all my instruments are Raymarine and are outputting Seatalk as is the C120.

RC400 24. The batteries do expire rapidly. Apparently it is using current even when it is off. The original 2300mAH AA batteries are all dead now and won’t accept a charge. I have just bought 4 x 2500mAH batteries and a fast charger – so I will see how I get on with those. But to be honest – I have mains power connected to the RC400 at the helm so it is fine on passage and the built in battery charger keeps topping up the batteries while on passage.

5. The GPS seems to lose position at least once on passage – I have a feeling this is a glitch in the software or firmware since my other two GPS units never lose position. Turning the unit off and on seems to correct the issue.

6. Raymarine have discontinued this unit – so no more support. They must have their reasons.


Portable device – Charging batteries

If you are anything like me you have a tendency to hoard useful electronic gadgets – as a result I have a garage that has many battery chargers from many different eras. I refer to the task of charging so called rechargeable batteries for torches, PDA’s, GPS units and so on…

Well the latest and fastest (?) charger that I have acquired is the Uniross X-Press 700 Charger RC104311 – cost £18.94 including delivery from Battery Logic in the UK.The impetus for this was the fact that the Raymarine RC400 that is mounted at the helm will now only run on the mains power that I have installed there and the batteries are refusing to hold a charge any more. The batteries supplied with this unit are the AA 2300mAh NiMH type.

Uniross x-press-700The Uniross X-Press 700 Charger looks like a good unit and comes with 4 new batteries – which are 2500mAh (ultra high capacity) so I hope they will perform even better in constant use on passage than the previous set.

Charger features:

• Includes 4 x AA 2500mAh Ni-MH rechargeable batteries.
• The Xpress 700 will charge AAA & AA size batteries.
• This charger will charge 2 or 4 Ni-Cd / Ni-MH batteries.
•Due to an intelligent charge control inside, the charger will switch to trickle charge after charging.
• V-MAX technology protects against damage from using with non-rechargeable technologies.

Charge time for batteries:

Type Capacity Charge time
AA- Ni CD 800mAh 1h 15m
AA-NiMH 1300mAh 2h
AA-NiMH 2100mAh 3h 30m
AA-NiMH 2300mAh 4h
AA-NiMH 2500mAh 4h 15m **
AAA-Ni CD 250mAh 45m
AAA-NiMH 700mAh 2h 15m
AAA-NiMH 900mAh 3h


Dual Band AIS – Raymarine AIS250

At last Raymarine have produced an AIS receiver – not only that but it combines three other cost saving attributes :

Ramarine AIS250-275-2061. It has a built in multiplexor with 2 inputs and 2 outputs which can all be set to different speeds. Remember the C and E series Raymarine chart plotters only have one NMEA port and that can only be set to one speed. If you dedicate this port to AIS then you have to set it to 38,400bd and if it is dedicated to your normal NMEA instruments it would be set to 4,800bd. This new unit from Raymarine would avoid that choice having to be made and would make the Brookhouse multiplexor that I installed last year redundant since that was primarily used to enable me to run NMEA0183 at 4,800 baud (normal instruments) and at 38,400 baud (AIS signal). Of course the Brookhouse also gives me USB connection for a PC so that is a bonus that the Raymarine AIS does not offer – yet. Cost saving for a UK install – approximately £200. On the otherhand I have greater resilience by using a seperate multiplexor.

2. It has an antenna splitter. This means that you dont need a completely new antenna, antenna mounting, and cable run just to install an AIS. Your main VHF aerial can now be used for AIS, FM, and VHF – Cost saving for a UK install – I would say about £250. Again, I would counsel against using splitters, and going for the greater resilience of a separate VHF aerial for the AIS

3. It is dual band receiving on 161.975 MHz and 162.025 MHz but only one channel at a time (just like my NASA unit – oh well….)


Only gripe – no status lights ! – why dont they learn !


Electronic Navigation – New System

This is my new system..
– GPS Raystar 125 (2nd GPS)
– Chart plotter – C120
– AIS (outputting at 38400 to Brookhouse and then to the C120)
– Raymarine 18″ 2Kw Radar

Connecting to a laptop
– ACER Aspire 5022WLMi

– E85001 – NMEA0183/Seatalk I/f box to output NMEA0183 to serial and then via a serial to USB adaptor into the laptop

– Brookhouse Multiplexer to I/f AIS to C120 at 38400 and to output on its built in USB cable straight into the laptop

This means that two independent programs can operate on the laptop both getting data in from the ships instruments

All of this now works well after many hours of head scratching and torn knuckles 😉