Solid state radar #1: long ranges and deep thoughts

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 22, 2016

MIBS_2016_mostly_DeLorme_radar_demo_tracks_cPanbo.jpgWhile we've barely begun 2016, the state of recreational marine radar is entirely different than it was in 2015. The simultaneous introductions of Furuno and Garmin solid state Doppler radars in Miami was a stunning coincidence, but the bigger picture is that all four major brands have now embraced solid state technology and a major transition is underway. During the show I spoke with a lot of product managers as we checked out their particular new radar underway, and my (partial) track map above (in two scales) may help readers to better understand the screenshots I brought home...

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Hobie/Lowrance fishing "kayak" & Simrad TripIntel

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 18, 2016

Lowrance_Ready_Hobie_Pro_Angler_14_BenE_cPanbo.jpgAfter four marine events (and three round trips to Florida) in five weeks, I've toured or ridden a lot of nice boats or at least interestingly equipped ones. But some solo time on a Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14 during the Navico writer's event at Hawk's Cay easily stands out. I think the design is only filed in Hobie's kayak section because "fishing kayaks" have evolved so fast a better category name hasn't emerged yet, and that thought doesn't include the unusual Mirage pedal-to-fin propulsion. Whatever you call it, this is a cool boat, and not just for fishing (though it must be a blast to play a big one from that low throne)...

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Furuno NXT & Garmin Fantom, Doppler marine radar is here!

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 11, 2016

Furuno_NXT_and_Garmin_Fantom_solid_state_Dobbler_radars_aPanbo.JPGExclamation marks, curse words...honestly I'm trying to hold myself back. Furuno and Garmin are both announcing new solid state radars here at the Miami Boat Show. So after many years of Navico trailblazing what is arguably a better way of doing radar, and with Raymarine Quantum just recently announced, suddenly all four major brands offer some form of solid state. That would be big news by itself, but the Furuno NXT radome and the Garmin Fantom open array also both justifiably proclaim a first in bringing valuable Doppler radar enhancement to our boating world because neither apparently knew what the other was about to do. Can I get a HOLY MACKEREL!?!...

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FLIR Ocean Scout TK, a $599 handheld true thermal marine camera!

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 10, 2016

FLIR_Ocean_Scout_TK_aPanbo.JPGNew this morning and shipping soon is the FLIR Ocean Scout TK thermal camera. It looks a lot like the existing and beautifully made Ocean Scout series, except that it is about two-thirds the size and half the weight. What's really small, though, is the $599 retail price, which is almost one quarter what even the bottom-of-the-series OS 240 model costs. Now it's true that the TK will become the lowest resolution Ocean Scout camera with the least range, but there's a lot more to true thermal vision than resolution and range...

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Lowrance & Simrad StructureScan 3D, hello interferometry

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 6, 2016

Lowrance_Simrad_StructureScan_3D_kit_cPanbo.jpgWhen I wrote about the StructureScan 3D announcement last July, I recall feeling a dite skeptical. Sure, the screenshots suggested that new users could more easily understand the 3D presentation of the sidescan data, but I wondered if they wouldn't go back to the apparently more detailed 2D presentation once they got a handle on it. But I was wrong. On-water demos have taught me that SS3D is much more than a visual gimmick. The 3D view can be really useful, especially for fishing, even though the new 3D transducer also produces the best 2D StructureScan imagery yet, plus there's some interesting and potentially valuable science going on behind the screens...

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SL Fridge Optimizer, smart new product from a new company

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 2, 2016

Arvid n Annika of_Stainless_Lobster cPanbo.jpgHere are Arvid and Annika Elias as they showed me a prototype of their very first marine electronics product in the press room of last fall's Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. I was quite impressed and am now pleased to report that the Stainless Lobster Fridge Optimizer is official and shipping. If you'd like better monitoring and control of your boat's electric refrigeration system, and/or automated defrosting (fridge only, not freezer), and/or improved battery time at anchor, read on...

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Electric Boats: Steyr HDS+, LTS Marine, Torqeedo, windmills & more

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 26, 2016

eCraftYachts_20_WOT_cPanbo.jpgThe first U.S. Electric and Hybrid Marine Expo was wonderfully educational, though I hardly knew any of the companies involved and could only understand a fraction of some seminars. On the other hand, I met a familiar fellow enthusiast before I even left the Lauderdale airport. Rufus Van Gruisen is the esteemed owner/operator of Cay Electronics, and it turns out he's done more than just dream about quiet, efficient electric pleasure craft. That's him in the orange cap above, showing Newport the first eCraft Yachts 20 that he helped his son to build. It looks like an excellent design to me -- more detail on Facebook and in Great Lakes Scuttlebutt -- and I'd presume a well-engineered power, control, and nav electronics installation.

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TBF: Icom M93D, Garmin Quatix 3 & GNX Wind, Imtra Largo LED, and Navico makes ForwardScan more accessible

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 22, 2016

Icom_M93D_DSC_VHF_prototype_aPanbo.jpgI'm slightly reluctant to mention this Icom M93D announcement because it's only "scheduled to be available in the second half of 2016" with price unknown, but, dang, it sure looks like an interesting DSC VHF handheld radio. I still think that many boaters don't realize the added safety, tracking, and navigation capabilities possible when GPS is integrated with portable VHF, though the Standard Horizon HX870 (that Icom is clearly gunning for) has been earning great reviews for a while. Also, note the lovely color-screen Icom GM600 fixed VHF "coming soon" with an SSB sibling.

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Kees' cool sloop Merrimac, home of CANboat and more

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 19, 2016

Kees_Stadtship_Merrimac_cPanbo.jpgA memorable moment of 2015 was waking up in Kees Verruijt's attic guestroom in Harlingen, Netherlands. If my lens were wider, you'd see the thick thatch capping his sturdy brick home. And if I'd waited a bit, the photo might include one of the family-owned-and-operated cargo vessels that often motor by enroute to or from the Wadden Sea. What you can see clearly, though, is Kees's own dream boat Merrimac, which I would soon tour. I'd been following this boat project for years, knew that it motivated Kees's valuable CANboat work, and given that CANboat helped birth Signal K, I figure that Merrimac may earn a special spot in marine electronics history...

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TBF: Torqeedo Hybrid, transparent displays, DY Aqua Compact PC, Volvo screen repair & more

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 8, 2016

Torqeedo_Deep_Blue_Hybrid_diagram_aPanbo.jpg

Let's begin 2016 TidBit Fridays with Torqeedo Deep Blue Hybrid, a new system I'd like to know a lot more about. It seems to be the most fully integrated electric propulsion and power management system yet, by far, and two independent gentlemen who know a lot more about these technologies than I do feel that Torqeedo has done a great job here. And it's not just for sailing catamarans 40 to 80 feet; Nimbus 365 Coupé Cruisers are being built with twin 80hp equivalent electric inboard motors and the Deep Blue components seem to lend themselves to many configurations. I'll know more very soon...

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