Panbo News and Reviews

11

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.

5

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.

2

Aqua Map updated with no-wake zones, live sharing, and more

Two recent Aqua Map upgrades have brought several new features and the ability to share your location with other Aqua Map users. Aqua Map now displays no-wake zones, artificial reefs, and the state of Georgia’s restricted anchoring zones. Although it might not seem like a major feature, I’m most excited about the ability to display no-wake zones.

7

Dymo XTL labeler, premium quality labels at a premium price

Several weeks ago I shared a few pictures of me working in an engine room with Ben Ellison. He used those pictures in his recent entry and in a caption asked, “Wait, is that yellow/black thing an exotic cable label machine or what?” Well, it is indeed a (somewhat) exotic label machine, the Dymo XTL 500 and I think it’s definitely improved the quality of my installs. The XTL series of labelers print on a broad range of labels including several very well suited for work aboard a boat.

47

DIY LiFePO4, build completed and testing underway

My first installment of this series introduced my build of a 280 amp hour LiFePO4 battery using cells purchased from China and a 120-amp battery management system (BMS) from a reputable U.S. supplier — though the BMS is still made in China. I left off in the very early stages of the build while I was giving the cells an initial charge to get them ready to join into a 12-volt battery. Although the process took longer than expected, it’s done and I’ve made a 12-volt battery. But what about the big question of capacity and performance of this homemade battery? I’ve got some early answers…

3

Fusion XS series speakers: Quality sound & cost-effective

Fusion offers two lines of speakers: The XS series are the value models and Signature is the mark for their high performance, more expensive line. I’ve recently outfitted my 22-foot center console with a full XS suite, subwoofer included. Open, relatively high speed boats like mine create a challenging environment for speakers. The noise from an open boat on plane often reveals a speaker’s weaknesses. Although they’re probably helped by a powerful amplifier, I’m pleased by the performance of these value-oriented speakers.

What's wrong with this picture? 67

Lost Bens? Nope, we’re in the lithium mines, finding gold!

The caption is serious, because right in front of your eyes is the most basic — and possibly dangerous — mistake anyone could make while setting up and bench testing a fully integrated lithium-powered marine electric power system. And it’s a mistake I made even though it was truly right in front of my eyes during the many hours I spent trying to figure out why Victron’s brand new and quite amazing Lynx Smart BMS would not power up. So if…

29

Garmin GPS 24xd: inexpensive Heading data to stabilize charts, radar, and AIS

The Garmin GPS 24xd combines a high-performance GNSS receiver with a heading sensor though it only costs $50 more than their GPS 19x GNSS receiver. Thus it can inexpensively stabilize chart and radar views on your MFD while also ensuring that your boat’s AIS target is headed in the right direction even when it’s tied up. I’ve been testing one, successfully, and also investigating why the GPS 24xd is not a good replacement for a more accurate, faster-updating, and likely better located Heading sensor that’s appropriate for autopilots and radar ARPA/MARPA calculations.