Yearly Archive: 2012

Iridium Extreme & AxcessPoint, they work as expected 7

Iridium Extreme & AxcessPoint, they work as expected


In July I tested the Iridium 9575 Extreme satellite phone and the AxcessPoint WiFi hotspot accessory that we first discussed here a year ago. Why haven’t I written about it sooner? Well, this summer went by in a flash thanks the PBR, family, and my efforts to prepare boat and home for Gizmo’s southern sojourn (starting this weekend!). Plus I wasn’t really wowed by this gear, though in retrospect I wonder why…

Raymarine e165, enough already? 24

Raymarine e165, enough already?


On Tuesday Raymarine announced the e165 and while a replacement for the 14-inch E Widescreen was predictable, it’s pretty neat that they managed to get a 15.4-inch screen plus large second-generation “hybridtouch” controls into a svelte casing that can swap right into the helm panel hole currently occupied by an E Wide 14 (or a C Wide 14). That’s 20% more screen area, and the LED backlighting is said to be wicked bright though the e165’s maximum reported power draw is only 36 watts. And of course the e165 has the triple processing, WiFi, apps, Bluetooth, and new “Lighthouse” interface that seem to be drawing customers to the littler little “e” Series (breakdown of all four “e” sizes and seven models here). But I’m going to guess that many owners of E Wides — which was a brand-new ground-breaking Series only just announced three years ago! — are not happy to see them superseded. There is a dark side to Raymarine’s meteoric resurgence…

AIS MoB & SART display, Garmin nails it? 19

AIS MoB & SART display, Garmin nails it?


I think that personal AIS beacons are a deservedly hot new safety technology but, as discussed in June, the display manufacturers are just learning how to handle them well. In fact, right around that same time I had to add bug alert comments to an earlier Kannad R10 AIS MoB beacon entry about how a certain Garmin software update could cause its MFDs to shut down after receiving the beacon’s test signal!  It was an embarrassing moment in product improvement, as documented in these email warnings to the Newport-Bermuda race fleet, but Garmin eventually solved the issue and may indeed have set a new bar for the proper integration of AIS beacons. The screen above, for instance, shows how very clearly the Garmin 7212 on Gizmo alarms shortly after I activated the test mode on a Kannad R10…

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…