Panbo

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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More AIS in the USA, the new USCG requirements

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 3, 2015

USCG_AIS_Final_Rule_collage_cPanbo.jpgPlease credit the U.S. Coast Guard with a sense of humor. The (NOA and) AIS Final Rule may be a dry read, but not last week's email announcement, which began with the giddy declaration "4,232 days in the making!" I don't know why the rulemaking process took so long, and it may have been most frustrating for those who do, but I'll still be glad to have more of the commercial vessels working along our coasts equipped with AIS. It won't happen fast, though -- vessels newly required to carry Class A or B AIS transponders can take until March 2016 to install them -- and the number of such vessels seems uncertain...

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GoFree goes online & Insight Genesis Social Mapping goes free

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 30, 2015

GoFree_gets_online_cPanbo.jpgThe 2015 Navico writers event was in the same Florida Keys location as last year's spectacular, which only seemed to highlight the rapid development pace we witnessed. For instance, fishing in a now familiar place and style with the new Lowrance HDS Gen3 multifunction display really showed off the phenomenal variety and quality of functions built in. It may even qualify as a "revolutionary" MFD feature set, despite my earlier skepticism, and it wasn't even mentioned at the 2014 event. But that story will have to wait. Last fall Navico also announced a plan to get their MFDs online and as suggested on the screen above, I got to see the software update in action. It's only the beginning of what the GoFree online connection can be, but it's an impressive beginning...

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Digigone DigiMed telemedicine kits & more Pittman Innovation Award winners

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 26, 2015

digigone_DigiMed_Mini_aPanbo.jpgSail's 2015 Pittman Innovation Awards were just announced and one of several interesting winners is a series of DigiMed wireless kits that work with Digigone's existing telemedicine service. Even the smallest DigiMed Mini above can teleconnect you to a 24/7 emergency medical center via Android tablet and Bluetooth headset, and I've seen how the included wireless macro camera allows the experts to examine the victim down to skin pore level...

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TorqTrac: Torqeedo electric outboards get app monitoring & more

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 19, 2015

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I declared my love for the Torqeedo 1003 electric outboard in 2011 and the feeling only deepened after two seasons of long testing, despite a glitch or two. Well, wow, the same motor has run like a top ever since, and as of a few days ago, it has a very cool accessory. The TorqTrac Bluetooth module and apps were announced some time ago, but apparently the $149 kit is only becoming available now. The version 1.0 app does not look like what was originally announced, or even what's shown at Torqeedo USA right now, but my first underway tests suggest that TorqTrac is going to add some nice spice and utility to my Torqeedo 1003 relationship...

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Garmin GNX 120/130, 7- and 10-inch NMEA 2000 instrument displays

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 16, 2015

Garmin_GNX130_showing_green_BSP_aPanbo.jpgThis morning Garmin announced the $900 7-inch GNX 120 and the $1,500 10-inch GNX 130 (above) with planned delivery in February and May respectively. They use what's called "high-precision glass-bonded monochrome ultra-glow LCD displays" and the data backlighting can be switched to most any color. Set up is done with those onscreen touch buttons or with a new GNX Keypad . Over 50 NMEA 2000 data types will be recognized and there will be five display configurations including "single, dual and triple functions, plus Gauge and Graph mode"...

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Icom M424G & 324G VHF with GPS, and DSC embarrassment

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 14, 2015

ICOM_IC-M423G_GPS_VHF_aPanbo.jpgI'm visiting Gizmo in less chilly North Carolina for a week (before TrawlerFest) and was reminded that just before leaving in November, I experienced the first DSC Urgency message I'd ever seen. My reaction was slightly embarassing, but the U.S. Coast Guard response was impressive, as will be detailed below. For now, let's just say that DSC is a potentially excellent but underused safety tool and thus, it's good news that Icom has upgraded two of its fixed VHF radio models to include internal GPS sensors, so they will be ready to make DSC distress calls almost the moment power and antenna are attached. At the London Boat Show last week Icom UK introduced the IC-M423G above, which features a "striking new white backlight LCD" as will the M424G U.S. version...

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Real, Synthetic & Virtual AIS AtoNs, can you see them?

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

USCG_synthetic_AIS_AtoNs_New_York_on_MT_cPanbo.jpg One way to spend a frigid night in Maine is learning about AIS AtoNs, an electronic augmentation to the aids to navigation we commonly think of as nav buoys, lighthouses, beacons, etc. The US Coast Guard recently began a year-long experiment with AIS AtoNs in New York Harbor, and sure enough, there they are on Marine Traffic. MT is an imperfect tool for understanding what AIS AtoNs look like on our boat displays, but if you set up the Filter as I have above -- Show Ship Names on, all vessel types but Navigation Aids off -- you can see that they are now set up around many major U.S. ports and that we're behind much of the world. There are three major types of AIS AtoN, along with many nuances, and their capabilities seem impressive, though perhaps a little confusing or even scary for some mariners...

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