Deckband 4i, interesting Bluetooth concept

Deckband_4iSo how about a product whose details are mysterious and which may not exist, and even if it does, probably doesn’t work very well? The thing is that I’ve gotten a little Bluetooth happy, and the Deckband 4i concept looks like a particulary interesting way to use it on a boat. From what I can gather at the unfinished site above, this hub not only permits four crew to communicate via Bluetooth cell phone type headsets, but can also somehow mix in VHF, and (I think) serves as a proactive man overboard alarm system.

I got the latter from its FAQ page which also seems to suggest that the hub has a two-way NMEA 0183 port. Call me crazy, but I find the concept plausible. Not, however, with the Class 2 Bluetooth that Deckband 4i is using. 2.5 mW Class 2 only claims a range of 10 meters, and even Deckband admits that wood, fiberglass, and (especially) metal can impede the signal. My tests of the Bluetooth Class 1 Callpod Dragon V2s—which pump out 10 times more signal, according to the standards—are still inconclusive, but I’m pretty darn sure Class 2 won’t cover much boat. While the Deckband people may get back to me with enlightening detail, I’m mostly wondering if and how this product could be done right. Your thoughts?

PS I even see some pluses in the unusual Iqua Smart Badge that Deckband bundles with its hub. As susceptible to snark as it may be, it won’t flip overboard easily, can hold a extra big battery, and puts more controls where they can be managee better. Might be handy for boat shows too.


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.

1 Response

  1. Phil Murray says:

    Ben, I don’t call you crazy at all, but then I wouldn’t, because I’m the one who developed this product. Yes, it does exist, it does work very well, it does connect with the VHF audio (taking the place of a deck speaker), and it does serve as a MOB alert. The point about Class 2 is that anything more and it would take too long before the lost crew member was out of range. Class 2 in practice can extend to 25m in open air, and reaching the bow of my 46ft Southerly from a below deck nav station aft of midships is no problem at all.
    Sorry to take so long to respond to your views, but a question on our website would have got an answer in 24 hours.
    Looking forward to your custom.

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