Beta testing FloatHub boat monitoring, and the wonders of marine WiFi

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jul 18, 2017

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I don't usually write about beta testing, but the FloatHub monitoring system is already proving itself so smart and functional that I want its Kickstarter campaign to succeed and hope that some readers enjoy the good deal that seems available, at least for the next few days. Detailing FloatHub is also a good opportunity to discuss the many ways WiFi is being used afloat these days, a subject that many boaters are understandably confused about...

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New at ICAST: Evinrude iDock and Raymarine Axiom Pro

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jul 10, 2017

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I won't be at the ICAST fishing show this week, but I do know something about two of the major pre-show product announcements that came out today. For instance, while the introduction of yet another outboard engine joystick control system might seem insignificant, what if the technology is deeply integrated into the outboards, requires little rigging work or locker space, and costs a whole lot less? Say hello to iDock as it joins Evinrude's Intelligent Piloting System...

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Garmin inReach Explorer+, armchair transatlantics & hands on

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jul 2, 2017

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A big kick in my small life is seeing a technology I champion do well (especially when it involves a small company in Maine). I became a DeLorme inReach fanboy before it even shipped, and a succession of models have not let me down over thousands of testing hours. And I believe that the Explorer+ jointly developed with new owner Garmin is the best yet, based on personal experience and also on observing one serve well over thousands of transatlantic miles aboard S/V Lunacy (above). However, I also recently watched one Panbo reader suffer a very close call with inReach customer support...

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Raymarine Axiom & LH3, a little fishing & then the install

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jun 20, 2017

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There is understandable grumbling about how Raymarine's new 7-, 9- and 12-inch Axiom multifunction displays shipped (somewhat late) without several significant features that Ray plans to deliver with a software update at a yet unspecified date. But I'm fairly confident that the longer term story is rosy. After two days of fishing with beta MFDs in Florida and installing a test Axiom 7 myself, I'm impressed with both the hardware and the new LightHouse 3 interface, and I'll be surprised if the missing features and more don't fill in nicely. Let's take a glass-at-least-half-full look at this major product line change...

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LED headlamp beanie, your boat may need one

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jun 9, 2017

Ben_w_LL_Bean_LED_Beanie_cPanbo.jpgThis LED beanie has gotten a lot of use since a knowing Secret Santa gifted it to me at our family Chrismakah celebration, and I think it would make an excellent Father's Day gift for many dads I know. Or maybe you just need to buy one for yourself, in which case the magic words apply: "I need it for the boat"...

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NMEA to WiFi gateways: TeamSurv's & FloatHub

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jun 2, 2017

TeamSurv_NMEA_Tools_NMEA0183-WiFi_bridge_collage_cPanbo.jpgWhen it rains, it pours (particularly at Panbo HQ this "spring"). NMEA-to-WiFi bridges are quite useful -- mainly for getting basic boat data like depth, GPS, and wind into the wonderful world of marine mobile apps -- and there have been numerous choices for a while. But yesterday TeamSurv started offering an interesting and notably inexpensive new bridge on KickStarter, and the intriguing FloatHub bridge and monitoring system will join it there soon...

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Is it true news that "NOAA wants to stop making NOAA charts"?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 30, 2017

Landfall_email_NOAA_Wants_to_Stop_Making_NOAA_Charts_cPanbo.jpgI'm a longtime fan of Landfall Navigation and I'm sure their intentions were good when they emailed this call to action Friday afternoon. But please don't file a comment or call your congressman without looking deeper into the "news" that NOAA plans to discontinue all (paper-chart-like) raster files. In my read the end of rasters is only a far future possibility suggested in a recently published National Charting Plan that has some real meat (discussed below), and I'd be flabbergasted if it happened soon, or ever at the expense of important chart detail. Let's judge NOAA on facts, not fearful conjecture...

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Monitoring 2017: Siren, QuikTrak, DotMobile, Yacht Protector, GOST, Maretron, Boat Command & GoFree

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 23, 2017

MIBS2017_Siren_Marine_Dan_Harper_cPanbo.jpgThere was so much going on with remote boat monitoring, tracking, and control at the Miami International Boat Show that I started wondering if 2017 would be the year this technology takes off. I've long thought that many boat owners would really appreciate the peace of mind offered by good monitoring if only they experienced it. And while this hardware/service category is confusing because there are so many things that can be done in so many ways, wow, there sure are a lot of companies that hope to help you experience it...

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Glomex USA, Shakespeare and the search for better antenna cabling systems

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 14, 2017

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Recently I struggled installing a typical marine antenna with its included cable and annoying 0.71-inch (18 mm) diameter PL-259 connector. I could have cut the coax, run the cable, and attached a new PL-259, but I'm not sure that any human can install a cable connector as well as a machine, and certainly not me. That's why it's nice that Glomex now offers a variety of antennas and machine-made cables that use 0.35-inch (9mm) FME connectors. But for U.S. boaters, the Glomex news is better still...

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Garmin acquires ActiveCaptain, now what?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 11, 2017

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This morning Garmin purchased ActiveCaptain and I have no idea if that will turn out to be good news or otherwise. Will this large and growing database of crowdsourced cruising information change now that it belongs to a major electronics brand? I have no bold opinions but I do have lots of questions I hope to discuss...

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