RCMSAR and facilitating marine rescue from the cloud

... written for Panbo by Adam Hyde and posted on Mar 11, 2016

Royal Canadian Marine Search And Rescue Training Horseshoe BayFor the past 7 years I've been a SAR volunteer in Unit 1 (Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver) of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR). My unit had 87 calls in 2015, making it the busiest volunteer marine SAR station in Canada. It's a situation that motivates a tech enthusiast and advanced crew member like myself to think about better tools and procedures...

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New NMEA 2000 stereos: Rockford Fosgate PMX-5, JL Audio MM100s & Navico SonicHub2

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 9, 2016

Fusion_MFD_integration_collage_cPanbo.jpgBeing able to use your helm's bright waterproof color screen to run your stereo system has to be one of the most appreciated benefits of multifunction display evolution and the NMEA 2000 network standard. Typically the stereo head unit is installed in the boat's living area while one or more MFDs serve as remote controls in the cockpit, on the flybridge, etc. The interface can be a simple mute/volume/next menu bar leaving ample screen room for navigation or a screen window with more controls and info. Usually, you can also go full screen to easily browse a phone or iPod full of music, or access the stereo's deeper settings better than you can on the head unit. And it costs next to nothing!...

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Solid state radar #2: the Doppler effect

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 1, 2016

Furuno_NXT_demo_w_Eric_Kunz_cPanbo.jpgWhy is this guy grinning? At the end of the solid state radar #1 entry, I suggested that the Doppler target speed discrimination feature just introduced by Furuno and Garmin is truly game changing. Now I'll try to break that down. While Doppler effect is a seasoned and fairly well known concept, I suspect that its sudden and intriguing arrival to marine electronics is going to effect change...

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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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