Panbo

Maretron FFM100 fuel flow monitor test (part 1), as good as it gets?

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

Maretron_fuel_flow_install_cPanbo.jpgWhen I first wrote about Maretron's FFM100 fuel flow monitor, I was enthused about both its advanced sensor technology and the possibilities of a system designed from the ground up for NMEA 2000. Now that I've installed the system on Gizmo and tested it a bit underway (before the weather closed in), I'm even more impressed. But I have also learned how difficult it can be to accurately measure how much fuel a diesel actually uses in real time... 

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Humminbird Ion Series, GeoNav is way more than back

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

Humminbird_Ion_Onix_intro_FLIBS_2013_cPanbo.jpgJohnson Outdoors really wants a piece of bluewater marine electronics. I learned a lot about the long, determined history of Johnson Family Enterprises when JO was trying to make GeoNav a major brand back in 2011. But while the GeoNav G12 MFDs I saw demoed had a lot of interesting features, even autorouting using either C-Map or Navionics charts, the competition from the existing Big Four brands is daunting. Plus, the economic timing was terrible and Johnson Outdoors pulled GeoNav's plug, saying that they'd eventually try again under their successful freshwater Humminbird brand name. So, yes, the industrial design of the new Ion series looks like the old GeoNav G Series, but Ion really is "a new species of bluewater technology"...

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BoatLogger, well worth serious beta testing

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

BoatLogger_beta_test_Home_page_cPanbo.jpgIt's good to start the year with a project, and I've got one to share. I'm convinced that a new boating service called BoatLogger has a terrific concept for collecting log data, cruise photos, equipment manuals, and much more to a personal boat website they've made very easy to set up. But what the developers need right now is a hardy band of beta testers to create their own sites, try every feature possible, and report problems. That's how I spent much of 1/1/2014 as you can see at www.boatlogger/gizmo. I'll explain what I've learned after the break, and also detail an incentive available to the first 50 beta testers... 

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3M Scotchloks, is my love so wrong?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 29, 2013

3M_Scotchlok_UYbx_connector_test_cPanbo.jpgIn October I promised to eventually discuss the 3M Scotchlok IDC connectors I used to tap into Gizmo's engine gauge wires in order to install an Actisense EMU-1 Engine Monitoring Unit. Given that two experienced commenters already strongly dismissed these connectors for boat use, I did more research and testing. Tentative conclusion: while 3M does indeed state that Scotchloks like those tiny UY butt connectors above are meant only for 22-26 gauge solid copper conducter wires, they still seem like the fastest, surest way I've seen to splice the fine gauge stranded wires we often deal with afloat. Could it just be a mistake that's kept a lot of useful Scotchlok models out of 3M's limited marine line, or did I miss some major difference?

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Happy Holidays & Bonne Navigation, a 2013 card collection

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 25, 2013

RNLI_greeting_card_by_Nick_Monro_courtesy_Sling_the_Hook.jpgI love Nick Munro's signal flag holiday cards -- which you can see more of at the cheery Brit blog called slingthehook: the geek and the girl go to sea -- but unfortunately, they no longer seem available to benefit the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (though other Munro RNLI designs are).  What follows is a highly eclectic collection of notable boating world cards that came my way recently, and I will point out a way you can help the U.S. Coast Guard as well...

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B&G H5000 tempts my racing heart

... written for Panbo by Kees Verruijt and posted on Dec 22, 2013

BandG_H5000_system_aPanbo.jpgAt the METS 2013 show in Amsterdam last month B&G unveiled their new H5000 range of sailing instruments and auto pilots. Unlike the Triton range which is meant for recreational and club racers the H5000 series is designed for high end cruisers and all levels of racers (from club to round-the-world), and replaces the H3000 series. B&G's racing reputation stems from the capability of their systems to make corrections to the raw sensor values and deduce derived values at high rates. Cruising systems do basic smoothing of raw sensor values (wind, boat speed) and some computations (remember the Panbo discussion on calculating true wind?) but nothing else. The H5000 range can do much, much more. For instance all systems compensate the wind speed for heel and trim angle, there are advanced MOB features and the autopilots have special gust and high-wind response modes.

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Lowrance Elite-4 HDI, a whole lot of tech for a little dough

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 19, 2013

Lowrance_Elite-4_HDI.jpgWhile I don't normally follow the small-size displays closely, the new Lowrance Elite-4 HDI models announced yesterday seems to sport a remarkable ratio of dedicated marine electronics to cost. Their bright 4.3-inch LED-backlit screens, for instance, are substantially bigger than the Elite-4 models they replace, which were praised for their value. The plain Elite-4 HDI model, with a suggested $299 retail price, not only offers both regular fishfinding and high-frequency narrow beam downscanning -- each with a shallow/deep frequency choice built into the included transom transducer -- but also includes GPS, a bundle of lake and coastal cartography and support for all sorts of chart card types...

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SeaNav app, now with AR, GoFree, and Pebble!

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 17, 2013

SeaNav_GoFree_wind_on_Pebble_watch_cPanbo.jpgGetting True Wind to my wrist was actually easy, especially considering the complex path it traveled. The raw Apparent Wind readings originated in a Maretron WSO100 on Gizmo's masthead and then went to a Simrad NSS8 MFD via NMEA 2000, where it was combined with other N2K data like COG, SOG, Heading and/or STW (depending on which True Wind ;-). The NSS8 then sent the data out using the NMEA 0183 tier of GoFree over WiFi, where it was captured by the SeaNav 2.0 charting app running on an iPad, which then passed it along to my Pebble watch over Bluetooth! It sounds crazy, but when everything is working right, it's as simple as turning on the boat system and opening SeaNav, which has many other features to appreciate...

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Long test: "Chart Table 21"

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 11, 2013

Chart_table_21_hidden_mode_cPanbo.jpgOnce I'd bench tested "ChartTable21" in 2011 -- a project Panbo readers helped design -- I planned  to soon post a followup entry showing and discussing the finished install. Well, now I can tell you that this sometimes invisible computer system not only works well but has survived more than three boat seasons without problems. The photo above, worth a click to see larger, shows how Gizmo's original varnished cherry chart table can look nearly as lovely as designed and built. Sometimes you'd even see paper charts there, and obviously the sight lines through the big windows remain unobstructed. But when it's time to "go to the office" or zone out with Netflix, or do extensive nav planning, the scene transforms...

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NMEA OneNet 2013, already ahead of the curve?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 9, 2013

2013_NMEA_OneNet_Committee_courtesy_NMEA.jpgOneNet is the NMEA's ongoing effort to create a subset of Ethernet and Internet Protocol (IP) standards for marine electronics. It won't be fully released for two more years, but I liked what I heard (and could understand) in a September seminar delivered by NMEA Technical Director Steve Spitzer. When I first wrote about OneNet, for instance, some skeptical commenters could only envision it as a way for the major manufacturers to keep small developers out and profits up. But that seems paranoid when you consider the wide variety of organizations who are volunteering time and expertise to create OneNet...

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