Panbo

Raymarine Chart Store, the Lighthouse format go international

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 15, 2015

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I heard in Miami that the online Raymarine Chart Store would soon open, but I had no idea how well stocked the virtual shelves would be. It was great when Ray enabled its own Lighthouse raster and vector chart format a year ago even though they only duplicated NOAA's entire free coverage of US coastal waters. Now there are more free charts available -- for other nations that also give their data away, like Brazil and New Zealand -- as well as access to an interesting array of commercial charts...

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Shouldn't our community sourced marine data be open to all developers?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 10, 2015

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I've been cogitating a lot about crowdsourced depth data lately, including the realization that "community sourced" is a better term. Whatever it's called, Navionics in particular has made it wonderfully easy to collect and share sonar files and especially wow with the Vexilar integration. But the business stakes are high and thus we have the frustration of Navionics and Garmin butting heads. Upon further contemplation, a wistful thought from that last entry -- "Wouldn't it be great if we could upload our data to some service that would make it available to any chart developer?" -- seems not only important to avoiding further messes and helping this technology proliferate, but also quite possible...

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The Navionics SonarCharts for Garmin conflict, messy business!

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 6, 2015

Navionics_Garmin_SonarChart_beta_New_Bern_NC_cPanbo.jpgThis screenshot shows the Garmin GPSMap 8212 installed on Gizmo displaying the same crowdsourced Navionics SonarChart bathymetric data that I recently enjoyed improving via the Navionics Boating app and Vexilar dinghy sonar. In fact, all the chart data seen above came from Navionics, even the beta version was fairly usable for navigation (I thought), and the finished chart cards are now for sale. But I doubt that many will be purchased once potential users realize how Garmin is reacting to this development! Navionics and Garmin seem nearly at war, and this entry will attempt to untangle what's happening. I fear there are no heroes in this battle, and it may even foreshadow further tensions in the critical world of chart and plotter manufacturers...

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Vexilar T-Box WiFi fishfinder & Navionics SonarChart Live wow

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 1, 2015

Navionics_Vexilar_SonarChart_Live_skinny_water_cPanbo.jpgThis mid-January screenshot represents a very pleasing experience in marine electronics testing. Thanks to a Vexilar SonarPhone T-Box SP200 and the Navionics Boating app I'm cruising around in my 9-foot dinghy with more than just charting and a fishfinder. I have access to three different chart formats plus a live SonarChart being created as I move along, and the data I'm collecting will be available to my fellow cruisers a week or two later. It sounds exotic, but the total cost was about $250 (iPad mini excepted), installation was fairly trivial, and it all worked quite well right out of the box.

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Furuno TZtouch2 and FI-70, back in the game!

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 25, 2015

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Sorry for the blown out screens, but the point of this photo is Furuno USA marketing manager Dean Kurutz, who co-delivered the NavNet TZtouch2 introduction with senior product manager Eric Kunz just like they did with the original NavNet in 2001 -- when I was just getting into electronics writing -- and every NavNet update since. The dynamic duo have been coming to Miami with the company since well into the last century and a lot of their colleagues have similar histories. If you go Furuno you get remarkable management consistency and institutional memory, but that doesn't mean they're old school...

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MIBS 2015: Raymarine, Icom, Lowrance, B&G, FLIR, Blue Sea and drones

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 23, 2015

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"Black is the new gray," say the folks at Raymarine, and so it is with the three new CPx70 sonar modules which were introduced in Miami. They'll replace the existing blackbox fishfinders but not the CP100 and 200 CHIRP Down-or-Side-Vision and sonar combos designed for shallower depths and structure imaging. So the 600-foot-max-depth CP100 also installed on the demo boat above highlights by contrast the beefiness of the CP370 model, which is actually the bottom of the new line with its traditional dual 50KHz and 200 KHz fixed frequencies, 1,000W of power and purported depth range of 5,000 feet. The performance enhancements seem subtle but multiple...

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MIBS 2015: Ocean Signal, ACR, C-Map, Garmin GNX, Lumitec and Veethree

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 17, 2015

MIBS2015_Ocean_Signal_James_Flynn_cPanbo.jpgIt's often hard to organize the news from a busy event like the Miami International Boat Show (MIBS), but this year a few of my photos stood out because they also portray the people behind the electronics. So say hello to Ocean Signal co-founder James Flynn, seen here showing off their latest ultra compact rescueME safety devices. The MOB1 personal AIS beacon with its added DSC alarm seems impressively simple to fit and use, and thanks to recent FCC approval, it's now available here in the USA.

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Garmin Panoptix All-Seeing Sonar, GPSmap 7x16, and BlueChart Mobile 2.0

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 11, 2015

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The Garmin Panoptix "All-Seeing" sonar announced this morning sounds fascinating, but be aware that it's meant for smaller boat fishing, at least at first. The $1,500 rectangular "multi-beam transducer that utilizes a phased-array scanning sonar technology" will come in two styles, with the tilted Panoptix Forward model oriented vertically on a trolling motor or transom mount and the Down Transducer with its horizontal orientation only available for transom installs. Neither one looks easy to transform into a thru-hull fitting but judging from the screenshots a lot of bigger boat owners will be hoping that's possible...

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Simple marine cell boosting: Wilson Sleek 4G (weBoost Drive 4G) and Digital Antenna Bullet

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 9, 2015

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New FCC regulations have caused turmoil in the world of cell boosters and now leading manufacturer Wilson Electronics has changed its name to weBoost. Thus, the Wilson Sleek 4G (460107) above, one of the very first new breed boosters last April, has just morphed into the weBoost Dash 4G-S (470107). Adding to the confusion is the boater's need to replace that wimpy car top antenna with a possibly illegal marine model -- I'm happily using a Digital Antenna 1285 Bullet in my testing -- but the whole package ends up relatively simple to install and effective for its cost.

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Lowrance MotorGuide Xi5 SmartSteer trolling control, life changing

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 5, 2015

Lowrance_SmartSteer_MotoGuide_Xi5_in_action.jpgTwo Maine blizzards later it's nice to recall that just a week ago I was casting a lure off a similarly tricked-out Yellowfin 24 Bay Boat. I didn't land a pose-worthy fish like my friend Chris Woodward, but the important thing about this photo is how well that trolling motor is holding an "anchor" position. Note the nonchalant skipper, despite a brisk wind and strong current both pushing him toward the channel marker aft, not to mention rocks to starboard and us to port. The pro I was with -- the impressive Tom Rowland of the Saltwater Experience TV series -- seemed equally confident about the reliability of the MotorGuide Xi5 and its do-anything integration with the twin Lowrance HDS 12 Gen3 displays, and it was easy to buy his claim that the combination has significantly improved his boating life.

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