Thorough on-the-water product testing is a significant part of Raymarine product development and boating enthusiast Brian Dunton is one of the firm’s most experienced external testers, having worked with the leading marine electronics specialist for over two decades. With a background in teaching electronics and IT, as well as an RYA Yachtmaster qualification, Brian has proved himself well suited to the task of putting Raymarine’s latest innovations through their paces.
A long-term boat owner, and active member of Portsmouth’s volunteer harbour patrol, Brian tests the latest Raymarine technology aboard his 50ft Princess flybridge cruiser, Tallulah. Much of his initial work on new products is conducted aboard Tallulah while she is in harbour, he explained, before he takes her to sea for more thorough investigations.
Describing how he goes about assessing new products, Brian said: “The Raymarine Product Assurance team provides me with test scripts to run but, since we’ve been working so closely over the years, they now just encourage me to use the product to the fullest extent.” He continued: “Typically, after installing the product, I start feeding back any issues I find from the start of commissioning, or if I discover problems or features that don’t seem intuitive.”
Right up until product release, he will continue to provide feedback to the PA team.
One of the greatest changes Brian has noticed over the years is the increasing need to check how new technology integrates with existing products already installed on the boat. He added: “We’ve found and resolved many issues through this regression testing approach, both on the new products and the impact they have on legacy units.”
Asked if there was any device among those that he had tested that really stood out, Brian said Augmented Reality. “Initially, I thought this was a gimmick, but it has turned out to be a great asset to safe navigation and a fascinating source of easy-to-reach information about vessels and chart data which make passage making more interesting.” Another stand-out product, he added, was the latest Raymarine autopilot, Evolution, which he said was “undoubtedly the best so far” of the firm’s already market-leading autopilots.
Discussing what is most important to him when choosing marine electronics, Brian said clear 2D mapping was the main element he looked for with multi-function displays. “I also like split-screen capability, rather than overlay, to see additional navigation information when on passage, such as course deviation, waypoints, routes and cross track error.”
Asked what maintenance advice he could give, based on his long-term experience of marine electronics, Brian urged users to check data capture devices such as transducers and IP cameras at the start of the season, “as without the source data the rest of the equipment becomes redundant”. He also noted it’s a great time to check all your software is up to date, explaining: “Upgrading is easy, the latest software can be downloaded quickly using wi-fi. Raymarine has introduced some really intuitive and exciting new features to their operating software over the last couple of years so make sure you aren’t missing out.”