Boatsense, hip hip for the home team
Wasn’t I tickled to discover that what looks like a fairly simple and affordable new remote boat monitoring device is being made right here in Maine. And further tickled when Boatsense Solutions cofounder David Jacques zipped right up and explained more about what’s in that little bomb-proof (epoxy potted) box…i.e., more than explained in the so far rudimentary brochure and manual. And tickled even more when I fired up a test unit last night, taught it my phone number, and successfully simulated a high bilge alarm, all in a few minutes.
Boatsense is a GSM cellular modem set up so it can send text messages wherever GPRS data service is available (much of the world). It monitors battery level with just its power feed, plus has an input for most any kind of bilge alarm switch, and three more for whatever sensors you want to add (including output from an existing on-board monitoring system). That’s it; no screen, no GPS, no Web page…but it’s only $499 list and $180 per year for up to 20 messages a month (extras 10 cents each). Distributing partner Hamilton Marine has a package deal here, and if you do a search on “boatsense” there you’ll find a selection of sensor options. I’m going to test this baby more on Gizmo (wished I’d had it last July, rigged with a magnetic motion switch), but I’m pretty sure that it’s well thought out and may well be a winner.
Does the docs say how much power it draws for itself plus any add on’s required to measure bilge water high and battery voltage, not including sending messages? Under 25mA at 12 vdc? Even lower ? Could you power from a solar cell and still have power left over to trickle charge your batteries ?
Specs are pretty impressive, B393. No sensors needed for voltage, and I shouldn’t think it would take much solar trickle to keep ahead of the modem. You do need a high water sensor, but most any will work (I’m told):
Radio frequency: 850/900/1800/1900MHz
Transmit power: Class 4 (2w @850/900MHZ) Class 1 (1w @1800/1900MHz)
Operating: -30ｰC – 70ｰC
Compliant: -20ｰC – 60ｰC
Storage: -40ｰC – 85ｰC
Humidity: Up to 95% non-condensing
DC voltage: 5-18Vdc
Consumption: 8-80 mA
Have you tried hooking up am ammeter yourself to see what it draws when it’s simply monitoring?
I got one of these for my 20 ft center console. From weekend to weekend, I have not noticed any voltage drop on my normal automobile-sized 12vdc marine battery. So, this thing can’t be drawing much.
One thing that I really like about it is it is programmed through my phone by sending the unit a text message command which includes the cell phone number I want it to call. It then text messages me a confirmation. If I want to check it to make sure it’s “on” and working, all I have to do is resend the configuration string, and the unit text messages me back with a confirmation. It can message up to 3 phones, so my son and wife get any alarm messages too. I’m thinking of hooking up one of its auxilliary wires to the ignition circuit, this way it will send a message every time the engine is started.
I purchased a Boat Sense unit before Christmas and still do not have the unit working. Customer service is terrible and I cannot reccomend the purchase of this until. Look elsewhere!
M/V Fast Company