Panbo

Garmin 2015: glass bridge 7600 series, Reactor autopilot, xHD2 radar & more

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 31, 2014

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Garmin introduced lots of new products in Fort Lauderdale yesterday along with the promise that all of them will be shipping by mid-February. There's even a special Marine 2015 website, while this Garmin blog entry offers a succinct overview of the whole lineup. At the press conference the line that seemed to neatly frame Garmin Marine 2015 was "not necessarily ground breaking, but easier to select, easier to install, and easier to use." I noticed evidence of all that along with a few features that do indeed seem unique and valuable...

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Android app with boat data: Memory Map Pro & Naviotab

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 28, 2014

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The partial screenshot above shows Gizmo in the BridgePointe Marina slip where she'll likely spend the rest of 2014. I'm a bit sad about tying up long term, but also looking forward to the Fort Lauderdale Show and especially being back in Maine with my family for the holidays. And while I haven't made winter plans yet, it will be nice to have the boat staged for further cruising, or at least repairs and projects afloat. But more relevant to this entry is the new version of Memory-Map that I tested during the trip down from Baltimore. I believe that it's the first Android charting app that can integrate boat data like GPS, depth, wind, and AIS coming over WiFi...

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USB charging on a 12v boat, fie on Apple?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 21, 2014

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It was easy to gather a slew of devices currently on board Gizmo that hunger for a USB power supply at least occasionally. Heck, when the Verizon Android Galaxy phone is providing an LTE WiFi hotspot and also streaming Bluetooth audio to the Fusion IP700 stereo as it is now -- I'm online while listening to a Maine radio station -- it needs to be charged almost constantly. The hard-working phone is also why I keep those two USB charged/charging batteries topped up for shore trips (and, yes, they do make great press event swag, thank you Simrad and FLIR). The Phonak hearing aid accessory needs nightly charging and while the DeLorme InReach Explorer in the background can go for days doing satellite tracking and a few messages, I prefer to keep it plugged in so my Share Map stays complete. In short, I need multiple 12v USB power sources to keep this crew happy and thus, this entry will cover several types I've tested. There are a lot of cables involved too, but it's nice that all the gadgets pictured use a standard USB mini or micro size power/data plug, with one very significant exception...

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Furuno DRS4W 1st Watch WiFi Radar: Niche or breakthrough product?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 15, 2014

Furuno_DRS4W_WiFi_Radar_cPanbo.jpgOne of many technologies I was glad to learn more about at the NMEA Conference was Furuno's unique DRS4W 1st Watch Wireless Radar. While it was introduced in Europe last March, FurunoUSA still hasn't listed it online and for a while I thought they might not carry it at all. Furuno's regional distributors seem to have some leeway in this regard, which apparently is why the Furuno MaxSea PC Radar system that Kees Verruijt covered for Panbo is not available in North America. In recent comments to that same 2013 entry you'll find some strong reservations about the DRS4W concept and even myself writing, "I don't see the problem the Furuno WiFi Radar is solving." My skepticism wanes as I learn more, but still 1st Watch seems like a confusing bundle of limitations and possibilities. Let's discuss...

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Simrad ForwardScan (B&G too): a breakthrough even in beta testing

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 9, 2014

Simrad_NSS_evo2_home_screen_w_ForwardScan_cPanbo.jpgOn Monday I got to poke around Baltimore Harbor with a beta test version of the Simrad ForwardScan announced last spring (discussed here on Panbo) and also introduced recently as B&G ForwardScan. Navico's sonar product manager, Matthew Laster, brought along several versions of the NSS evo2 software that supports the new forward looking sonar (FLS) transducer, but loaded the latest, saying, "It hasn't been tried on a boat yet, but I think it's quite stable." In fact, it was darn stable and I was quite impressed with what I saw...

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MFD and AIS anomalies, be careful out there

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 5, 2014

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Consider this is a portrait of a deeply experienced boat guy who still remains skeptical about the wonders of modern marine electronics. Lord knows I tried, but gremlins sabotaged my efforts from the moment when my old friend Joe McCarty arrived in Rockland, Maine, for the trip to Baltimore. I was using the Garmin Helm app on my iPad mini to watch the tank gauge as I squatted on the deck pumping diesel fuel and Joe just had time enough to say, "Well, that is cool!" when the digitized tank reading plunged from 85% to 20% and stayed stuck there even as we topped off using the old-fashioned method of listening to the changing vent gurgles...

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Maritime Robotx Challenge & the WAM-V USV, heads up!

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 22, 2014

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Right now it's possible to come upon an unmanned surface vessel (USV) like this trying to navigate waterways all over the world, though rest assured that there will be a boatload of attentive geeks nearby. That's because fifteen student/professor engineering teams from five countries have been given a basic 16-foot WAM-V articulating catamaran to which they are adding propulsion and control systems for the upcoming Maritime RobotX Challenge in Singapore. The contest strikes me as a great way to accelerate robotics development, but of course one eventuality would be unmanned vessels roaming the coasts. In fact, that may already be happening...

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Appreciating fuel management, wanting more

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 18, 2014

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Gizmo is fenders down, awning up, in bustling Baltimore Harbor, and I have tales to tell. This old powerboat sails! That's no surprise given her windage, but now I have precise data about how much wind (and current) can help her along, thanks to a fuel management system. In this photo, for instance, we were making around 10 knots over the ground at 1,350 RPM but still getting over three miles to a gallon, thanks to a stiff easterly wind pushing us down Long Island Sound. That's a wake-pulling, inefficient RPM when running on flat summer water in Maine, but is much easier on crew and autopilot when in seas like these. While I'm usually willing to spend more fuel money to shoulder through conditions like this, I was pleased to learn that the dollar difference wasn't great...

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Antenna masts: Edson Vision & more

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 11, 2014

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So far, so good. Finishing up Gizmo's antenna mast was the last minute task before heading south, but nothing fell on our heads during the often lively passage to the Cape Cod Canal and around into Long Island Sound. Most of the new installs up there worked, too, though we experienced a couple of very odd MFD issues that I'll write up once I understand them better. For the time being I'll just repeat a venerable adage: Do not rely on any one source of navigation information. Now let's discuss the Edson Vision and custom mounting hardware I used for the antenna farm...

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Gizmo south: TFU, IBEX, NMEA, HSR & other self promotions

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 2, 2014

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I didn't write the seminar title, but I do understand the value of a grabby headline and I'm excited about being part of the entirely revised TrawlerFest in Baltimore. Paul Comyns and I will make a valiant attempt to cover all the important electronics bases for the knowledge-hungry, long-range-cruisers-to-be that tend to take the all-day "TF University" courses. An interesting added challenge for the presenters is to provide money-saving tips. I'm already working on concepts like how GPS, AIS, and improved signal processing have made it possible to "make do" with a smaller radar, but please suggest other reasonable cost-cutting strategies. And TFU is just the beginning of my fall speaking engagements, one or more of which you might want to attend or at least kibbutz about...

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