AutoTether, an update


I was pleased to meet the founder of AutoTether, Anthony Viggiano, at MAATS, and learn more about his wireless MOB safety product, though I’ve already tried it, liked it, and written it up in PMY. Anthony, who struck me as a classic entrepreneur, says he didn’t realize how hard (and expensive) it would be to develop this system. The first part, settling on a design and getting it to work, was relatively easy, he said, but achieving a high level of reliability, without false activation, took some serious efforts.

There are a lot of extraneous wireless signals out there and after a year of added development AutoTether passes highly secure codes between base station and FOBs. Like I say, it seems to work fine, and I’ve yet to see a false activation. Now Viggiano has come up with neat variation, seen above, which will be of interest to sailors and bigger power boat folks; the AutoTether activator can be used to set off an air horn instead of an engine kill switch. Viggiano is also in serious talks with at least one big nav systems manufacturer about integrating his MOB device with a whole helm system. Maybe this business idea will work out.

Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

7 Responses

  1. Norton Rider says:

    Hmm… air horn scares the daylights of the helmsperson causing them to, 1- have a heart attack, or 2- fall overboard. 🙂

  2. Dan (b393capt) says:

    That may just be too loud. Hope that turns off after a brief period! It would be difficult to coordinate a MOB response with that horn sounding. I would also guess it will activate once your back at the dock, and your guests start walking away without returning their tethers … again much louder than you might want for this application.

  3. I’m afraid this is a bit of a ‘Rube Goldberg’ setup. Requires checking to make sure the air horn will work and, as Dan suggests, might be an annoyance in a high adrenalin situation. I’d rather see it integrated with a loud hailer (such as those in many VHF radios) or, failing such available, an audio system. A chip with a pre-programmed announcement (hopefully with better quality than most airport announcements) and easily terminated (either manually or automatically) would serve to get the crew’s attention to the MOB situation. But the basic safety features are appealing, especially to two-up crewing when one crew is normally asleep when off watch. The imagination can go wild thinking of things to wake up the crew !! Terry

  4. Jon Hill says:

    I think it’ll work.
    Been trying to figure out a good way to be alerted if the tender goes astray in the middle of the night and this may be a solution.
    Mount the base station and horn in a locked or hard to get to spot on the tender and the FOB on the big boat.
    Then hope the thief goes 1- overboard AND 2- gets a heart attack when it activates.

  5. Dan (b393capt) says:

    There you go, that sounds like a really swell application of the temporary confusion this kind of noise maker would create.
    I used this horn yesterday to warn away a sixty foot power boat attempting to assert right of way on my almost stationary sailboat (no wind), and it really stunned my crew. This thing is just to loud to be a warning device in a cockpit unless the servo can just pulse it or otherwise reduce the full sound effect a west marine sound horn can produce.

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Geez, there’s a simple volume control for air horns, called a towel! Besides, the full blast might be just the right signal on, say, a two-handed offshore boat where one hand is sound asleep and the other just went overboard. Once on his/her feet, the horn is easy to turn off.

  7. Bob Hinden says:

    I am planning a trip from Hawaii to French Polynesia in late August and was considering a watch schedule where there would be only one person on watch at night on my sailboat. The monitor will be doing the steering. This seems like a good solution to wake everyone else up if the on watch person went overboard.
    I do agree that an airhorn might do more than wake everyone up, but I guess in a MOB situation waking the rest of the crew up ASAP is a good thing. I have a bilge alarm that pretty piercing. That might be a better solution than an air horn. It runs on two 9v batteries.

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