Panbo News and Reviews

1

Garmin OnDeck, potential aplenty with room for improvement

Boat monitoring sounds like a pretty simple concept; tell me about my boat and alert me if something is wrong. In practice, it’s not quite so simple. Siren Marine has been in this space since the beginning and often notes they’ve seen over 40 companies come and go. Garmin’s OnDeck entry into the space caught my attention. I immediately wanted to see how Garmin tackles a complex challenge like boat monitoring and if they can make it simple for the user. Thus far, the answers are mixed but I think it’s a product with a ton of potential.

9

Vakaros Atlas 2 RaceSense & the promise of dual-band GPS

RaceSense is such a novel concept that it’s hard to understand at a glance. While that screen looks like a virtual sail racing app that you play with your fingertips, what’s actually virtual are the folks normally needed to run a real event — plus their boats, the marks, the horn, etc. Instead, Vakaros Atlas 2 tablet-style instruments on each of the real sailboats form a meshed wireless network, and a built-in feature called RaceSense uses distributed artificial intelligence to create the course, call penalties, and name winners. Wow…

6

Siren 3 Pro, boat monitoring evolved

Since the introduction of their first boat monitor nearly a decade ago, Siren Marine has been a leader and innovator in boat monitoring. The Siren 3 family of monitoring products encompasses their decade of experience and promises a comprehensive boat monitoring system. With wired, wireless, and NMEA 2000 sensors the system has the ability to monitor nearly every aspect of your boat, and it can even control your boat remotely. But, how does it all work together? I’ve been testing the Siren 3 Pro aboard Have Another Day and can share some results.

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.

7

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…