FloatHub 2020: LTE cellular, web widgets & more

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.

12 Responses

  1. Keith Pleas says:

    I’ve been using FH for a year and have been super happy with the value proposition and the complete lack of futzing – it just works. I have had a couple of issues with the web interface and the developer has responded and implemented fixes / enhancements within an _hour_.

  2. Bill Blendick says:

    This may be a good product, however, nothing I have seen is as good as SeaKey was. We regularly boat in areas that have poor to no cell service (including far off-shore) and that is when you really need a good monitoring/tracking system.

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Interesting: Gizmo’s FH page is not showing AIS right now, but I can see why thanks to another feature I recently learned about. Adding “/debug” to my FH URL brings up an otherwise hidden data page showing GPS accuracy, message counts / delays, and more. There I can see that the FH is sometimes switching over to cellular (set to no AIS), which means that the boat’s Wave WiFi is struggling to find a working connection among the several usually available. I suspect it’s the very thick, wet fog that’s been piling up in the Harbor frequently in the last few days.

  4. Parker Chamberlin says:

    Do you know if the FloatHub works off of AT&T (gsm) or Verizon (CDMA)? We still have coverage issues around Camden with AT&T. Has it seemed robust to you

  5. Keith Pleas says:

    @Parker – I’m using the non-cellular version connected to my boat’s WiFi – which is in turn connected to a Netgear 2120 dual WiFi/Cellular (AT&T) and out via corresponding antennas up on the radar mast. So…if your _boat_ has connectivity you piggyback on that.

  6. Peter H says:

    I’m planning on purchasing a FloatHub in the near future for all the benefits. But…I wonder if having the rest of the data network on the boat turned on 24/7 will make various onboard transponders (weather, depth sounder, water temp, etc.) wear out faster? Maybe I’m too worried about putting extra hours on these devices?

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Keith makes a good point below and I know boats that leave all systems on in at least standby mode 24/7, for their health. I certainly can’t do that on my normal not-cruising-yet power budget, but just 2 amps does power FloatHub, Vesper XB8000 AIS, Netgear boat router, and Wave WiFi dual band Reach, plus Victron BMV712 and Venus GX.

      Keeping Gizmo’s extensive NMEA 2000 network on costs another 2-3 amps, and I usually choose cold beer (refrigeration) instead. But I wouldn’t worry about keeping it on continuously and then FloatHub would be reporting Wind, Depth, etc. along with the other info.

  7. Keith Pleas says:

    Hi @Peter – I would think exactly the opposite. In the “old” days the thermocycling of electronics had significant problems – pushing pins out of sockets, increasing moisture (as temps fell), failing during powerup surges…so we learned to leave everything on 24×7….except then discrete components DID fail eventually. Now the voltages are much lower, integration is tighter, tolerances are higher (look at the acceptable voltage ranges!), and power consumption (and its corollary, heat) much reduced. Look at it another way – you’ll get an early warning of things failing if the reading suddenly fails. I’m a software guy, not a hardware guy, but strongly lean towards leaving electronics ON – with the exception of displays.

  8. Chris says:

    It’s August 2021. I’m using handheld VHF only. Would you go with Vesper XB-8000 + FloatHub or Vesper Cortex which cost more but integrates everything

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Hi Chris, those are all good products in my opinion, but I don’t know how to steer you. Obviously you want a Class B AIS but do you also want a full-powered VHF radio? If so, the Cortex is intriguing though some standard VHF features like channel scanning are still in development. Then again, I think the scanning (and channel recording) will be pretty amazing.

      Also, does your boat cruise over 14 knots or are you in an AIS congested area. In either case a SOTDMA type Class B (like Cortex) will be more effective than the older CS type (like XB-8000). Finally be aware that FloatHub is getting close to offering a model with NMEA 2000.

      • chrish chrish says:

        She’s a 33ft cruising sailboat moored in Boston harbor, so no where close to 14 knots and lots of traffic! She was built in ’72 and I purchased her from the original owner. There are presently no functional electronics at all so I’m trying to puzzle together a system and boy is that tricky!

        Thanks for the pointer on the XB-8000 not being SOTDMA . I guess the tell is that they don’t mention that. Following some links on this site I found two SOTDMA devices that seem approximately equivalent and cheaper. I’ll note them here in case this helps somebody in the future.
        AMEC WIDELINK B600W
        EM-TRAK B953

        While I will need a full power VHF the extra $600 for the capability on a Vertex and the somewhat lengthy list of “coming soon” features gives me pause. I’m inclined to a NMEA2K compatible unit that’ll get it’s GPS and DSC info from the eventual AIS unit.

        Thanks for the reply!

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