Panbo

Hand's on Scanstrut Rokk adjustable mount & 2nd generation Lifedge iPad case

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

Scanstrut_Rokk_rail_mount_on_bend_cPanbo.jpg"Rokk" is a apt name for Scanstrut's adjustable mount system. Due to the large surface area and fine machining of those metal-on-metal ball and socket joints, it's easy to precisely position an attached MFD or iPad and then just a modest twist on the white handle will render the whole rig rock solid. I tested the Rokk Adjustable Rail Mount -- note how well it handles curved 1-inch rail or helm pedestal pipe -- with the Lifedge iPad case holder shown, but there's also a Rokk Adjustable Deck Mount and either can accommodate top plates custom designed for various popular displays in the 5- to 7-inch screen range. Is Rokk better than RAM?

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Lenovo Windows tablet, new MFD accessory or primary plotter?

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

Digital_Yacht_SmarterTrack_on_Lenovo_MiiX_2_aPanbo.jpgI first heard of the Lenovo Miix 2 when Digital Yacht dubbed it a "best buy for boaters"; besides a low price of about $220, the 8-inch tablet is purportedly bright, fast, and able to run regular Windows navigation programs like DY's own SmarterTrack. While an internal GPS enables standalone navigation, the DY team mainly envisions the tablet as a second station using NMEA 0183 or 2000 boat data (like the AIS seen above), provided over WiFi by one of its many black box hardware options. But then a look at the Miix 2 on Amazon revealed a sailing reviewer who's very enthusiastic about this tablet as his primary nav device, running free OpenCPN software...

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New Raymarine a9, a12 & gS19 -- aboard the mighty Raymariner

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

Raymarine_a9_gS19_a12_aPanbo.jpgRaymarine recently announced three new multifunction displays, extending the multitouch aSeries to 9- and 12-inch screen sizes, and the glass bridge gS Series to 19 inches (the proportions of my collage are approximate). Given four additional a9 and a12 models with digital sounder or Chirp DownVision built in and the fact that all these new MFDs can network with all the aSeries, cSeries (non touch), eSeries (hybrid touch), and gS models already available, is any other manufacturer offering so much choice? They all run the same software -- now up to Lighthouse II, release 10 -- so you may already be familiar with most of the features, but the new MFDs do have a few new hardware highlights, some of which I got to see in action aboard Raymarine's remarkable testing vessel...

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On board HMS Medusa, D-Day marine electronics

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jun 6, 2014

Alan_Watson_on board_HMS_Medusa.JPGThere's much to report about my three day visit with Raymarine's impressive product development team, but the impromptu kicker was a visit to HDML (Harbour Defense Motor Launch) #1387, and the vessel's key story couldn't be more timely. 70 years ago yesterday, well before D-Day H-Hour, 1387 headed toward Normandy loaded with electronics that helped her crew precisely mark the planned final channel to Omaha Beach, first for the minesweepers and then for the vast fleet of landing craft that left Portsmouth behind her. And today she's headed for France again, this time with an all-volunteer crew led by Alan Watson, the gentleman who so kindly showed me around last evening.

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Inmarsat Fleet One, affordable FleetBroadband for real?

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

Sailor_Inmarsat_Fleet_One_system_aPanbo.jpgBoaters looking for a reliable, moderately fast satellite Internet connection for light and/or occasional use have learned to be leery of Inmarsat. When FleetBroadband came out in 2009 -- particularly the FB150 model with its easily installed 13.5-inch stabilized antenna -- it seemed like a reasonably affordable option for bluewater cruising. This promise was confirmed in a terriffic Panbo review series conducted by Gram Schweikert as his family sailed from Maine to New Zealand with both KVH FB150 and Iridium OpenPort antennas mounted on the spreaders. Note the fairly friendly FB rate sheet published in Gram's installation entry and how (with very careful data use) he found the FB150 quite useful out in the Pacific at only about $100 to $150 a month in service charges. Unfortunately, the deal changed...

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Navionics Boating app, now with free U.S. charts!

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 29, 2014

Navionics_Boating_app_v7_w_US_Gov_chart_cPanbo.jpgThis is a significant surprise. Version 7.0 of the free Navionics Boating app released today for iPad and iPhone includes the ability to download and use NOAA vector charts, as seen above. Meanwhile, if you already own a Navionics Marine app for iOS, there's a 7.0 update available which adds "Gov Charts" and the same feature will soon come to Android versions of both the Boating and Marine apps. Navigators who already use Navionics charts on a tablet or phone may find it useful to have NOAA data for comparison, but the big news is that any U.S. boater can now enjoy a Navionics level charting app completely free...

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Gizmo's Ocean Armor topsides & Pettit Hydrocoat Eco bottom, the testing begins

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 24, 2014

Gizmo_5-2014_Ocean_Armor_topsides_cPanbo.jpgCheck out the evening gleam on Gizmo's flared bow. I think it's impressive for a gelcoat surface that's seen a lot of weather over 14 years and better yet, the pros who applied the "nano polymer wax replacement" were also impressed. There's more detail on the new coating called Ocean Armor Pro Maxi All Gloss further along in this entry and also my experience with an initial application of Pettit HydroCoat Eco bottom paint, which seems like another winner so far...

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Quality NMEA 2000 cabling, the eBay way

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 20, 2014

eBay NMEA 2000 Turck JBBS cPanbo.jpgI'm not sure whether to thank or curse the Panbo reader who got me hunting for NMEA 2000 cabling equipment on eBay. There is a thrill to picking up a $290 Turck JBSS 57-811 DeviceNet multi-port junction box for about $35 to $45 with shipping (and there seem to plenty left here, here, and here). It's beautifully made -- fully potted with nickle-plated brass connectors and gold-plated brass contacts, plus a built-in voltage indicator -- and it can definitely be a useful part of most any boat's NMEA 2000 network, as I'll demonstrate. But you may find yourself up late looking for related heavy duty N2K network components, probably getting confused by complex nomenclature and maybe even buying stuff you can't use. Then again, you're apt to learn how many ways there are to build a valid N2K network...

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Changing transducers -- "So you have a 5200 problem?"

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 16, 2014

Gizmo_forward_transducers_May_2014_cPanbo.jpg

I'm tentatively proud of Gizmo's 2014 forward transducer installs (which you can see better by clicking on the photo above). I knew it would be hard to remove the three ducers installed there in 2010 and "mistakes were made" during the replacement phase, but I'm fairly sure the boat is set up now to properly compare EchoPilot FLS with ForwardScan, and I also look forward to checking out the manly HD version of Navico StructureScan. Plus, there are yet other possibilities for the forward retractable casings and two new fixed transducers back aft...

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Two way testing DeLorme inReachSE, plus new Explorer model & OCENS SpotCast Weather

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 13, 2014

DeLorme_inReachSE_message_screen_cPanbo.jpg"Two way" doesn't just refer to the fact that a DeLorme inReach handheld satellite messenger/tracker will let you text back and forth with people pretty much like a cell phone. I also tested the shore side of the system by loaning the sample inReachSE model to friends Doug and Dale Bruce when they went on an adventure cruise to some remote islands south of New Zealand. So that's me messaging from Maine when I saw where they were headed (via their MapShare track), and then Doug texting me back a few minutes later. Yes, he had a little trouble with SE's little cursor keyboard, but heck, he was in rough seas on the other side of the planet!

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