Monthly Archive: August 2012

NMEA Conference 2012, improved by strife? 16

NMEA Conference 2012, improved by strife?


The 2012 NMEA Conference has been completely redesigned — as in NEW, NEW, NEW! — and I have a pretty good idea why. There was a strange moment during last year’s conference, a noisy late-night hotel bar scene that got just a little quieter when many of us realized that the most senior managers of Garmin, Furuno, Navico, and Raymarine in attendence were gathered in a corner talking intensely. What the heck? The Big Four of marine electronics are pretty fierce competitors and you don’t normally see the honchos having drinks together. Of course there was joking about price fixing but apparently the real subject was how to fix the Conference. To understand the issues — which will affect most all us boaters eventually — you need to know more about the dynamics of the NMEA…

Class E AIS, will it be huge? 15

Class E AIS, will it be huge?


Back in March I wrote about the Small Vessel Cooperative Tracking project that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) entered into the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Essentially, a DHS department called the Port and Coastal Surveillance Improvement Project (PCSI) sought out an innovative way to persuade boaters to voluntarily submit their ID’s and tracks so that various law enforcement agencies would have better situational awareness. Well, today I get to tell you about the idea that was awarded the SBIR phase two grant of about $500,000. We won’t see the results for many months yet, and there are more acronyms involved in thoroughly understanding the concept, but I think Class E AIS will eventually be a huge advance in boating safety and enjoyment…

Greening Gizmo, 17 amps of solar panel! 26

Greening Gizmo, 17 amps of solar panel!

Blue Sky IPN remote 17 amps on Gizmo cPanboJPG.jpg

Happy day! You may recall that I planned to put solar panels on Gizmo last summer, but in fact I didn’t know what to expect in terms of output or even if that output would support my Sea Frost refrigeration system. Well, wow, you’re looking at 17.3 amps of solar juice at around local apparent noon today, and I’m seeing 12 amps as I write this four hours later. And though I’ve been running all sorts of gear all day, and the refrigeration for two days, the battery bank is at 12.6v, which is a healthy number I rarely see unless I’ve just been out cruising. I’m thinking of having a cold beer to celebrate!…

NautiCloud, 2 Ubiquiti Bullets = high power WiFi contender? 32

NautiCloud, 2 Ubiquiti Bullets = high power WiFi contender?


Getting online with WiFi is a big deal for many cruising boats these days and, since the best technologies are somewhat hard to understand and choose among, it’s always a lively subject on Panbo. Normally I’d hesitate to write about the new NautiCloud system because it’s still partially in development, but it’s already a good illustration of what’s possible in high performance marine WiFi and ties together some of our previous conversations on the subject. It also includes some good ideas that all the developers in this niche should consider (I think)…

AMEC NK-80 0183/N2K adaptor, and Milltech’s 7th year of AIS 13

AMEC NK-80 0183/N2K adaptor, and Milltech’s 7th year of AIS


It looks like Actisense has some serious competition when it comes to translating data back forth from NMEA 0183 to NMEA 2000. And while that’s not a sexy marine electronics topic, it’s an important one as many boats use a changing mix of the two protocols. The AMEC NK-80 adaptor above was recently NMEA 2000 certified and it seems quite able. If you go to the NK-80 page of Milltech Marine — which helped develop the product and distributes it in the U.S. — you can download the manual and thus check out the nitty-gritty of specific data fields translated. What I notice is that the NK-80 seems to cover every AIS PGN and lots more, which seems to be a problem for the otherwise able Actisense NGT-1 series of adaptors, appreciating the nuances 20, appreciating the nuances


“Panbo is great, but Ben is so nuts about AIS!”  That’s some feedback from an electronics installer that a friend passed along and I can only plead guilty. In fact, it’s getting worse. Sure, I’d like to think that I recognized the safety value of AIS early and that all my reporting on the birth and proliferation of Class B transponder has been worthwhile. And you’ll hear about more testing of the new AIS SARTs and MoB devices soon. But recently I’ve also been getting deep into the fun side of the technology — dare we call it social media? — and I want to share some things I’ve learned about…