Panbo

Lowrance Elite 5/7 cheap CHIRP, the sonar wars rage on

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 26, 2014

Lowrance_Elite-5_CHIRP.jpgLowrance just launched Elite-5 and -7 CHIRP fishfinders and plotter combos today, but they showed off working prototypes during the Navico writer's event I attended in January. What seemed to particularly excite the product managers was the Elite's new ability "to produce low, medium and high CHIRP sonar ranges and display two user-selected ranges simultaneously" using just an "affordable" HDI Skimmer transducer. Apparently they didn't realize that this tranducer could usefully CHIRP until they tried it, and now they think they have a edge in the sonar battle that's taking place both on the water and in law offices...

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Sonos WiFi HiFi tested: excellent at home, maybe for boat

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 23, 2014

Sonos_Play_1_test_cPanbo.jpgI knew little about Sonos wireless hifi a month ago. While the ads suggested an elegant Apple-like design, I had the impression it also came with Apple-like premium prices and was certainly not suitable for boats. But now that I've lived for a month with the relatively new Play:1 seen above, I may have been wrong on both counts!  Many reviewers have already praised the little speaker/amp's hardware and audio quality compared to similar wireless speakers. I want to detail the superb Sonos audio access and control software that you can tap into with just one $199 Play:1(though adding more components will be a huge temptation) and also discuss how Sonos can make sense afloat.

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Si-Tex T-760 Series radar, other ways of integration

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

Si-Tex_T-760_standalone_radar_w domes_aPanbo.jpgThere's more to the new Si-Tex T-760 Series radar than you'll currently find on that product page. Those multi-speed radomes are unlike anything Si-Tex has offered before and contain digital processing that will eventually put 16-level true color target imagery on that 800 x 480 pixel touch screen (with a software update). Plus, the case is carved from solid aluminum and can be easily flush mounted. At a suggested retail of about $2,100 with the 18-inch radome and an impressive set of radar features, the T-760 looks like an interesting alternative for boaters who don't want all their electronic navigation tools on a multifunction display. It might also work for those early adopter types who can't get radar on the tablets they want to use for primary navigation...

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More Ray LightHouse II goodies: Sounder Select, GPX, DSC, PDF & Fusion-Link

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 15, 2014

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One of many features in Raymarine's latest software update (besides the just-discussed LightHouse charts) is support for multiple sonar sources. While I didn't have the hardware or even the working vessel to test this, it's neat that the demo video I screenshot above is built right into the LightHouse II update (and actually more detailed than the one currently on YouTube). But who needs multiple sonar sources? I know that some readers may perceive it as feature glut, but not I, and I'm not even much of a fisherman...

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Raymarine LightHouse II, the chart goodness

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

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A demo look at the new LightHouse Charts got me excited last fall, and I feel more so now that I've cruised around with them. U.S. boaters who own Raymarine a-, c-, e-, or gS-Series multifunction displays will find that both types of reprocessed free NOAA charts install fairly easily, look good and zoom/pan quickly. And though no LightHouse charts for waters beyond the U.S. have been announced, Raymarine clearly has the ability to produce them or permit third party cartographers like NV-Charts to do it themselves. Finally, Raymarine's U.S. plotter models should hopefully cost a little less with free charts, and Navionics has perhaps been motivated to up its game. (Whatever the motivation, significant new Navionics features are right around the corner.)

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The new MarineTraffic Internet AIS service, cautiously optimistic

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

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These days I feel obliged to include a warning every time I write about AIS over the Internet. What you see in a nice app like ShipFinder HD (above) probably does not include every vessel that's transmitting AIS info even in fairly well covered areas like the Miami/Lauderdale area, and many areas aren't covered at all...unless perhaps you're using the Seapilot app in Sweden or somehow have access to another well-organized AIS receiver system. That's because what most of us see on computers, phones or tablets connected to the web is target data collected by patchy networks of volunteers, whose shore antennas may well miss even fairly nearby 2 Watt Class B AIS transmissions or even 12 Watt Class A signals obscured by buildings or terrain (or may suddenly go offline just because the volunteer's kid trips on a power cord or something similar).

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Fusion-Link N2K & Garmin, happy together

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 3, 2014

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The ability of Fusion marine stereo systems to integrate with multifunction displays over NMEA 2000 (or Ethernet) is a wonderful example of what MFDs and standard network protocols can do for us. One day last summer a Garmin software update suddenly made the GPSMap 7212 already installed on Gizmo's flybridge the best interface I had for the Fusion IP700 stereo installed below. And mind you, I already had a Fusion NRX remote control up there, and I also had the Fusion Remote apps running on iPad and smartphone via Gizmo's WiFi router. There was a notable glitch, which I'll describe, but that's long past and now Fusion-Link has arrived beautifully in the Garmin 7x1 and 8000 Series MFDs seen above.

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eLoran is back, thanks to Kim Jong-un?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 27, 2014

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When this photo went up on Panbo in early 2010, the prospect of an eLoran system to back up GPS in the USA seemed worse than dead. As the Coast Guard dismantled the old Loran C infrastructure, it would obviously get more expensive to resuscitate the eLoran concept. Well, by golly, the rebirth of eLoran USA is happening anyway! I learned about this good news in a fairly startling way earlier this month, and I'd like to share it with you...

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Miami 2014 comms #2: VHF, AIS & the app connection

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 25, 2014

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There is still an amazing number of boats that can't use the excellent DSC distress feature that's been built into every fixed VHF marine radio sold in the U.S.A since 1999. Their radio either hasn't been interfaced with a GPS or hasn't been programmed with the owner's MMSI number, or both. I've heard Coast Guard rescue center personnel report that a DSC alert can work beautifully to quickly identify and locate a boat in trouble, but that they rarely see valid DSC alerts. So before discussing advances in VHF (and AIS), let's note how companies like Standard Horizon and Icom are helping to make working DSC a pervasive reality (finally)...

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Miami 2014 comms #1: WiFi, Cellular, and V-SAT advances

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Feb 21, 2014

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That's the Web browser built into the Humminbird ION10 MFD that I first saw demoed in Lauderdale (pre browser), and the test was pretty realistic for a boat show. It was easy to log the ION onto my phone's WiFi hotspot and if you click the image bigger, you'll see how well it rendered a complex site like www.powerandmotoryacht.com. It even supports tabs for multiple sites, so if I were out fishing on, say, a sunny center console, I could have had a weather site open while still checking my gmail or moderating Panbo comments, all on a bright waterproof screen. This is a MFD first, I think -- the Standard Horizon CPN1010i can access the Web, but not while in navigation mode -- though the lack of ION detail on Humminbird's site suggests that they are taking their time getting it out the door.

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