Monthly Archive: January 2010

Iridium 9602 & Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro, oh boy! 8

Iridium 9602 & Inmarsat IsatPhone Pro, oh boy!


The smaller, cheaper Iridium short-burst data (SBD) modem I heard about at Fort Lauderdale is now official and, wow, doesn’t it look able to “disappear into as many marine devices as possible!” It even has a GPS input/output ports so that it and the modem can easily share a dual-mode antenna.  Hardware and service costs aren’t specified but Iridium is claiming that the 9602 will have “the highest value in the industry.”  I, for one, can’t wait to see devices like the Spot Messenger that are global and bi-directional, and what the MFD and marine security/tracking developers might do with the 9602.  And I’m glad for Iridium that it’s got this and OpenPort going on, because it sure looks like Inmarsat is about to attack its dominance in the satellite phone department…

EasyBailer, a good idea done well 17

EasyBailer, a good idea done well

EasyBailer cPanbo.JPG

Weird world that it is, I first learned of EasyBailer via Twitter, even though the “factory” is just down the coast.  Last week I stopped in and met “CEO” John Bianchi in his shop full of small boats, including an impressive plank-on-frame Rangeley Guideboat he build himself.  Thus I wasn’t surprised to see how neatly put together his solar-powered dinghy pump is (click above for detail).  And I consider myself somewhat expert about this as I tried to assemble a similar bailer myself with poor results…

ActiveCaptain 2010, huge things? 7

ActiveCaptain 2010, huge things?


My longtime admiration for Jeff and Karen Siegel, and their creation ActiveCaptain, has started to lean dangerously toward jealousy!  They’ve spend many months cruising from Maine to Florida and judging from their blog and the latest AC newsletter, they’ve not only been having fun but also writing code and making deals the whole the way.  Version “X” of the interactive cruising guide is really taking shape, and other developments coming soon do indeed sound “huge”…

America’s Cup 32, monitoring the madness 17

America’s Cup 32, monitoring the madness


Good grief!  It was plain as day that this America’s Cup was going to be all about technology (and bad mojo), but a wind-seeking microlight equipped at minimum with anemometer, satellite compass, and radar?  I can’t find any info about the Alinghi Airforce on the team’s own site, but Sailing Anarchy has the tape, and some trenchant commentary.  If any of you can find out more on that electronics set up, or — even better — what’s on the boats, please let us know.  Meanwhile, I’m lining up the resources I’ll use to monitor this madness in progress…

Standalone AIS — new DY, Vesper, & Icom 2

Standalone AIS — new DY, Vesper, & Icom


As noted recently Digital Yacht is on a new product roll.  To my knowledge this SmarterChart SC500A is the first new C-Map plotter in quite a while, and the first plotter to have a built-in AIS receiver period .  At $799 list, it might be just the thing for open helms on some smaller boats, for which DY also has a new line of helm pods (though they don’t seem to be online yet).  But some bigger boats might want one of these to serve mainly as an AIS target plotter (it has NMEA 0183 output too), and there are a couple of other interesting developements in that department… 

Avia Design, a new N2K player 10

Avia Design, a new N2K player


I’ve recently been beta testing a suite of software products from a marine electronics newcomer called Avia Design, and I’m tentatively enthusiastic.  They are the first products I know of that are fully leveraged off the NMEA 2000 Third Party Gateway (TPG) discussed yesterday, and therefore a sign of many things to come (I think).  And they’re cool, or at least should be when finished.  Check out that real time polar diagram for performance sailors above — I’m not sure there’s ever been one before — and there’s plenty of power boaters too…

Actisense NGT-1 NMEA 2000 gateway, now we’re talking 21

Actisense NGT-1 NMEA 2000 gateway, now we’re talking


I’ve got a large NMEA 2000 network set up in the lab now, and it’s giving me a good chance to try out the Actisense NGT-1.  It’s fully NMEA certified now, and selling for $200 at some outlets, but I gather that the Third Party Gateway system (formerly known as the Intelligent Gateway) of which it’s a part is not yet fully detailed.  In other words, we don’t quite know yet how software that works with it will get NMEA approved and what, if any, restrictions there may be on how it’s sold.  For instance, bundling in an NGT-1, or a similar gateway, may required.  But I can tell you this:  Beta versions of TPG software are starting to look powerful…

Garmin Homeport, excellent but revealing 11

Garmin Homeport, excellent but revealing


I can’t imagine why anyone with a Garmin plotter, a Windows PC, and a bit of ability to use both wouldn’t find Garmin Homeport more than worth the $30 charge.  I was able to easily copy the 5212’s embedded charts — plus the mess of tracks, routes, and waypoints I put on it last season — and then review/manage all on my home computer.  In fact, I stowed away some memorable tracks, quickly cleaned up some extraneous waypoints (careful with that track-to-route feature), improved some routes, and then overwrote the user data on the 5212 with a much more useful set.  But today’s look at some deeper Homeport features gets the benefit of a friend’s embarrassing navigation error.  Click to enlarge the screen above and I’ll explain after the break…

ARGUS, harvesting depth data the ambitious way! 21

ARGUS, harvesting depth data the ambitious way!


The concept is pretty sensational:  The ARGUS (Autonomous Remote Global Underwater Surveillance) system would equip volunteer vessels with a custom WiFi transceiver that are connected to the nav system for GPS and depth, and that can automatically upload (when possible) the resulting data files to a shore server where it’s collated and quality controlled before being turned over to NOAA so it can better manage its dredging and charting responsibilities.  If it all works out as hoped, the volunteers might even get the equipment for free and be able to use the WiFi connects for their own Internet needs…