Yearly Archive: 2010

Future SAR gadgets, what are you hoping for? 51

Future SAR gadgets, what are you hoping for?


The illustration above and the term “SAR gadgets” are both borrowed from the final issue of On Scene, published until 2009 by the USCG Office of Search and Rescue (downloads here).  But no worries, On Scene is now a blog, and hence the times-they-are-a’changing illustration, which also serves well for a Panbo entry about evolving SAR gadgets.  On Monday, I’ll be speaking to a group of companies developing SAR communications equipment along with representatives of the agencies that regulate such gear and the ones like USCGSAR which answer the calls.  My task is to articulate what boaters may want to see in future SAR gadgets, and I’d like your help…

NMEA 2000 Bridges #1, they’re coming 36

NMEA 2000 Bridges #1, they’re coming


So what the dickens is a NMEA 2000 bridge and why would you want one?  Well, I think the answers are complicated enough, and important enough, that they deserve two entries.  Mystic Valley Communications, the small company that produced the prototype above, describes its bridge as an “intelligent connection between two electrically isolated NMEA 2000 networks that copies transmitted data between the two networks.” Obviously, then, this is another way to deal with the backbone power issues discussed here in the past; with a bridge you can have two N2K networks that act as one in terms of data but are independent in terms of supplying power to devices, and in terms of a power failure.  But the Mystic Valley brochure (unfortunately not online yet) goes on to claim that the bridge can also be used to increase the number of devices and drop lengths beyond what’s allowed for a single backbone.  How is that possible?…

Cangarda, the touchscreen steam yacht 18

Cangarda, the touchscreen steam yacht


Camden Harbor is pretty quiet these days, but on Monday afternoon — while I was stripping off electronics prior to Gizmo’s inevitable haulout —  Cangarda, the only existing U.S.-built steam yacht, suddenly slipped around the corner and silently maneuvered onto the Wayfarer dock just ahead of me.  Yesterday I was further thrilled when Capt. Steve Cobb himself showed me around, paying special attention to his beloved engine room, where he’d fired up the boiler in order to check that the “water chemistry” was proper for lay up.  You see, I already knew a fair bit about Cangarda, though I’d never seen the 126 foot vessel in all her awesome flesh before…

BEP CZone seen live, more coming 5

BEP CZone seen live, more coming


I wrote about BEP’s CZone distributed power last April, but didn’t get to see it live until I got a ride aboard Simrad’s demo boat during the Fort Lauderdale show.  Isn’t it neat that the control screen can show you the amperage flowing through a specific circuit (and apparently detect a fault)?  And if it’s on an MFD, couldn’t valuable details like that also be on iPad or apps phone like I recently saw live with Maretron’s N2KView?  In April I also wrote about what a difficult niche distributed power is, but I still think the magic of digital switching is one of the most interesting frontiers in marine electronics. And that we’re going to hear a lot more about it in 2011.  BEP, for instance, made a series of announcements during METS…

BGAN on a boat? A test in Hawaii 8

BGAN on a boat? A test in Hawaii

A question I’ve never known the answer to:  Can a cruiser use Inmarsat’s BGAN service — the much less expensive “land” version of Fleet Broadband — at least when at anchor in an exotic...

Gizmo Thanksgiving, & the Garmin 740 networked 22

Gizmo Thanksgiving, & the Garmin 740 networked


It’s about to be Thanksgiving here in the states, and — aside from the normal family stuff (which is huge) — I surely am thankful for being the custodian of a wonderful boat, for living in a beautiful corner of the oceans, and for getting to fool with some great technology.  Above is Gizmo’s lower helm, the Fall 2010 edition, and while there’s a lot here that I haven’t written about yet, I’m going to focus today on that little Garmin GPSMAP 740 on the chart table…

Bad Elf GPS, & the not-so-bad Verizon iPad deal 40

Bad Elf GPS, & the not-so-bad Verizon iPad deal


Hurray for the Bad Elf GPS!  While it’s simply a high-performance GPS receiver that fits into the data/power port of any Apple iThing, it means that an iPod Touch can finally run mapping and charting apps like an iPhone 3Gs can, perhaps even better given the Elf’s high specs. Ditto for older iPhones with their crummy internal GPS receivers and for WiFi-only iPads which — like Touch’s — don’t contain any sort of GPS.  I’m sure that there will eventually be all sorts of ways to get GPS, and even other boat sensor data, into iDevices, but the Bad Elf seems to be an easy solution, and it can be had at Amazon for $100 right now.  Here’s hoping that it will also help some boaters untangle the confusion around iThing GPS, and data plans, which recently got worse…

METS 2010 roundup, thanks to Kees 17

METS 2010 roundup, thanks to Kees


Once again — and a nice contrast to my various METS ramblings — the good Kees Verrujit kindly wrote up his impressions of the huge Amsterdam marine equipment trade show:

Today I visited METS for the fourth year in a row. This year the show was even bigger than last year, by about 20%. Anyone who still claims they can do all halls and booths on one day is a close relation of Baron Münchhausen. I visited some booths as a NMEA 2000 enthusiast, some in my role of technologist for a yard, but most in my role as a delegated Panbo blogger. This year that was a lot easier than last, as more and more people seem to read Panbo or at least know Ben’s name — most vividly portrayed by a huge quote sign in the Fusion Marine Audio booth {like this one, only bigger!}.  The major themes I noticed were: Pads (and iOS apps) were everywhere; AIS is taking off in a major way; Chinese electronics are coming; and
NMEA 2000 is here to stay…