Category: Editors’ Blog

6

What’s in the box? Included accessories change the cost of marine electronics

Installing electronics on a boat is often a solitary experience and leaves one with time to think. Recently, while installing a camera, I found myself thinking about the significant differences in what each manufacturer includes with their equipment. What I realized is that comparing the cost of the item doesn’t tell the full story.

13

DIY LiFePO4, the build begins

In the last couple of months I’ve installed two of the three main types of lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries. In March I installed Mastervolt’s system integrated MLi batteries on Have Another Day and just last week I finished up the installation of Battle Born’s 8D drop-in batteries on another boat. With two out of three types covered I figured it was time to get my hands dirty with the third type, a do-it-yourself build of a 12-volt battery from four cells and a battery management system (BMS).

5

KVH’s TracPhone V30 announcement includes more affordable mini-VSAT service plans

It’s certainly noteworthy that KVH now offers a smaller, simpler, and less expensive VSAT antenna, but the TracPhone V30 announcement also mentioned new service rates of potential interest to those cruising and working on slimmer budgets. Although the more affordable plans only include small amounts of high-speed data, they also offer unlimited low-speed data. Is it fast enough to make working by satellite a reality at a reasonable cost? Depending on how you use the KVH mini-VSAT broadband service, it just might work for you.

25

Lithium battery math, better than you may think

There’s a lot of talk about installing lithium batteries in boats, but the enthusiasm often comes to a crashing halt when boat owner hears the cost. I’ve just installed a Mastervolt lithium system in Have Another Day and I’m over the price shock. But as I work to understand the results of my upgrade I’m amazed by the benefits I hadn’t anticipated. Follow along with my math and see if you reach the same conclusions I do about the benefits of upgrading to a lithium house bank.

11

Cordless tools make marine electronics installs easier and faster

I’ve just completed an entire electronics refit on a 60-foot boat without ever plugging in a power tool. Besides never having to find a working AC outlet, and never tripping over a power cord, I think that my families of drills, drivers, saws, grinders, vacuums, and heat gun with interchangeable lithium batteries made the job faster and neater. There are many decent cordless tool families to choose from these days, but some detail on my experience may help you make the right choice.

2

EPIRB and PLB Return Link Service, what’s the holdup?

Over 15 months ago, I got excited about the first PLB with Return Link Service (RLS), a Cospas-Sarsat system improvement that would let a boater know that their distress signal had been received ashore along with their location. And it was supposed to be operational in early 2020, at least for some regions, and RLS capable EPIRBs would soon follow. But you still can’t purchase Orolia’s FastFind ReturnLink or any other RLS beacon in the USA and some of the countries that do permit them only allow RLS PLBs while others only allow RLS EPIRBs. What happened?…

18

My love letter to a Milwaukee M18 Wet/Dry vacuum cleaner

I’m a tool guy; little gives me more satisfaction than finding one that makes my work easier. You may have noticed a red, toolbox-like thing with a hose sticking out of it in several of my recent project photos. It’s a Milwaukee M18 cordless wet/dry vacuum that has become an integral part of nearly all my projects, making them easier and tidier.

12

Digital Antenna 992, wideband VHF/AIS antenna with easy cabling

Both Ben Ellison and I have recently installed Vesper’s Cortex VHF Radio, AIS, and boat monitoring system. Cortex uses a single VHF antenna for VHF voice and AIS, which calls out for a wideband antenna that covers both frequency ranges well. Ben E. selected a Shakespeare 6500-WB antenna, and I’ve been testing a Digital Antenna 992 wideband antenna. We don’t have the ability to perform in-depth performance comparisons, but here’s a look at what you should expect from the antennas, and also the installation differences.