Panbo News and Reviews

5

Fusion Apollo Amps, easy tuning and powerful sound

Fusion’s new Apollo amps address several common difficulties with installing and tuning boat stereos. They offer easy installation and tuning from a smartphone application. On paper, there’s a series of improvements, but it wasn’t until I installed one that I appreciated their biggest improvement. It’s rare to find an amp in an easily accessible location. Fusion understands this and made an amplifier designed not to be visited once it’s installed. But, how do they do on the water? I’ve been evaluating the six-channel model on Panbo(at), so read on for more about the installation and tuning process and most importantly, how it sounds.

8

Balmar MC-618 regulator with SmartLink integration, first look

Last spring Balmar rather quietly introduced the new MC-618 regulator, but I think it’s a pretty big deal and have been pleased to see how well it integrates with their SG200 battery monitoring system. While the scene above is only a bench test, I expect the 618 to work fine on Gizmo because it’s essentially an update of the venerable MC-614 technology that’s been managing the boat’s main alternator since 2011. But configuring, fine tuning, or troubleshooting the new regulator will be a whole lot easier, plus I’ll be able to see how the charging system is performing in real time…

15

NMEA 2000 network troubleshooting with Digital Yacht, Actisense, and DIY Tools

NMEA 2000 networks are pretty reliable but when there’s trouble it is often unclear where to start. Digital Yacht and Actisense have both brought out new products to help ensure the health of a network and better understand its operation. But, even if you don’t have any specialized tools onboard, you can still do some basic but effective troubleshooting of the health of your network. Let’s explore Digital Yacht’s NAVDoctor, Actisense’s A2K-TER-U smart NMEA 2000 terminator, and the troubleshooting you can do with an NMEA 2000 breakout cable and a multimeter.

5

Victron’s Venus OS on a Raspberry Pi, install and configuration

The Victron Remote Management (VRM) portal and their Venus OS monitoring software deliver best-in-class access to information about your boat (, RV, or fixed solar) electrical sytem. But, running one of these systems has typically required Victron hardware which starts around $300. Victron has a long history of embracing the open-source community and they’ve continued that effort by supporting Venus OS on a Raspberry Pi. But, many people hear Raspberry Pi and either think dessert or that it’s over their heads and too complex. This guide walks you through the steps required to get Venus OS up and running on a Pi and sending data about your electrical system to VRM.

11

AMEC B600W Class B SOTDMA AIS, data multiplexing included

Class B AIS transceivers only became legal in the USA about 13 years ago, but they’ve certainly become valued equipment on many mid-size and larger recreational vessels. The Class B regulations have also improved — when the higher-power, faster-talking SOTDMA transmission protocol became a choice — and many manufacturers added useful features beyond what’s required by the AIS regulations. The AMEC WideLink B600W that I recently installed on Gizmo Junior pretty well illustrates the state of Class B these days, and also includes a rare data multiplexing ability that can improve PC or tablet navigation…

3

Bivy Stick, ACR’s new satellite tracker with strong outdoor roots

For years ACR has touted the merits of EPIRBs and PLBs as the preferred way to summon help when lives are on the line. So, when ACR announced they’d purchased Bivy, the maker of the Bivy Stick two-way satellite messenger, I was immediately anxious to get my hands on one. Let’s see what got ACR into the two-way satellite messaging business.

21

Discover Battery’s Lithium Blue LiFePO4, a premium drop-in

Discover Battery has been in the battery business since 1949, so they’re not new to the challenges of building batteries. They’ve recently begun distributing their Lithium Blue LiFePO4 battery in the U.S. and I’d say their experience shows in the quality of the product they’re delivering. Let’s take a look at what these batteries offer and how they’re different from what’s already available.

9

Icom M510, marine VHF meets smartphone

The headline feature of Icom’s new IC-M510 fixed marine VHF radio has to be its ability to use a smartphone as a wireless mic. It’s never been done before, and it could be quite useful; picture a free extra VHF mic that’s already in your pocket or charging next to your berth. There’s more to like about the new radio design — plus another Icom innovation, possibly controversial — but let’s look at more details about the smartphone support…

17

Victron RV upgrade, MultiPlus inverter especially

My family and I are getting ready to escape the Florida summer heat and visit friends and family we haven’t seen in much too long. Our trip’s mix of stops means sporadic availability of shore power, and that makes for great testing opportunities. I’ve been planning to install my DIY LiFePO4 battery to get some real-world testing in. But, to test any LiFePO4 battery, I needed to ensure the inverter and charger systems would coexist nicely with lithium chemistries.