Monthly Archive: August 2009

SevenStar Class B, & an AIS rumination 33

SevenStar Class B, & an AIS rumination


I’ve been testing a SevenStar SeaTraceR Class B AIS transponder for couple of weeks now, mostly on Gizmo but also in the lab.  I could not detect any significant performance differences between it and other Class Bs, even when quickly swapping antenna connections and counting targets.  But it does have a nice over/under tilt mount that lends itself to numerous install positions, and it also has wires for a remote silent switch, like the ACR Nauticast B (though, also like the ACR, it has no built-in switch).  I’m pretty much convinced that the first generation Class B transponders all perform similarly (and pretty well), but what will we see when the next generation comes along?…

Echomax RTE looks great, but what about USA? 18

Echomax RTE looks great, but what about USA?


I first got excited about RTEs (Radar Target Enhancers) in 2002 when the Sea-Me came out; in fact, it inspired one of my favorite PMY columns (in which you’ll also learn why I want a whomping big horn on Gizmo).  The Sea-Me went on to be quite a successful product, at least in the U.K., but now Echomax — the Brits who already build a respected line of static radar reflectors — has come out with its own Active-X RTE, and apparently it just plain kicks Sea-Me’s butt…

Garmin N2K AIS, & the 5.3 unfix 20

Garmin N2K AIS, & the 5.3 unfix


This was nice.  It was Friday late morning — after the fog burned off but before the torrential rains arrived (summer of ’09 is making history!) — and we were idling along in company with the school schooner Tabor Boy.  All of which was being colorfully portrayed on the Garmin 5212’s Mariner 3D screen; zoom in and you’ll see the Tabor Boy’s Class A AIS signal represented as a 3D icon with heading and track lines. You’ll also see Gizmo’s own Class B AIS represented as an unnamed dangerous target directly under our own boat icon, a little glitch we’ve already discussed

Maretron’s N2KBuilder, better than sliced bread? 10

Maretron’s N2KBuilder, better than sliced bread?


Actually I like to slice bread myself these days, but, man-o-man, Maretron’s latest gift to the world of NMEA 2000 is one brilliant invention.  N2KBuilder — which is free, and downloadable right now — would be handy if it just let you easily mock up a proposed network.  But it does much, much more than that.  As you drag and drop cables, connectors, and devices, N2KBuilder keeps an eye on total cable lengths, amperage loads, and the resulting voltage drops, and alarms you if you’re over the limits.  It also keeps track of backbone integrity and plug genders, and all the while builds a system database from which it can produce various valuable reports, and even a bill of materials (BOM)…