Gemeco iNstall ipad app, for do-it-yourselfers too

Gemeco_iNstall_home_menu_aPanbo.jpgFirst of all, Gemeco’s iNstall app is free if you already have an iPhone or iPad. Second, though aimed at professional marine electronics installers, some of its tools are valuable to do-it-yourself types and even just regular boaters…

Gemeco_iNstall_wire_sizer_aPanbo.jpgiNstall includes an ABYC-based wire sizer. Dial in wire length, maximum expected current flow and pow, there’s the minimum gauge you need for the job. There are several of these out there as standalone apps or online widgets, but this one seems to be full featured — except perhaps for a help file explaining nuances like “allowable voltage drop” — and it’s just one of many applets in the bundle.

Gemeco_iNstall_beam_width_aPanbo.jpgThere’s also a calculator that estimates the bottom coverage of a particular transducer or of any transducer with a known beam width at a particular depth. This is a feature that I’ve always appreciated seeing on fishfinders or MFDs (always from Raymarine?) because it helps me understand what I’m seeing on the sonar screen. A big fish or rock that looks like it’s right under the boat could, in fact, be anywhere in the sonar cone (or multiple cones for multiple frequencies and/or even somewhat flattened cones in some cases).

Gemeco_iNstall_tilt_measurement.jpgYou may already have a tilt/heel measuring app, but iNstall’s is nicely dampened and especially calibrated to help you determine which tilted element transducer to install at a specific hull location. And if you’re catching on that iNstall is especially focused on transducers, you won’t be surprised that the wholesale marine electronics distributor, Gemeco, in South Carolina is a subsidiary of Airmar Technology in New Hampshire.

Gemeco_iNstall_wiring_diagrams_aPanbo.jpgBut since Airmar manufactures at least some of the transducers offered by or for every marine electronics brand (I think), the app’s depth of information in this area is substantial. You can search for wiring diagrams by name and plug image and then tap to download the PDF if your iThing is online. You can also search for appropriate mix and match transducers (PDF poster here) by plug type, legacy electronics definitely included, or search the whole Airmar transducer catalog by several criteria faster than you can on the company’s own website. 

Gemeco_iNstall_thermistor_testing_aPanbo.jpgThe iNstall applets get more arcane with details of testing thermistors and the reference tables a tech uses with an EDI transducer tester. These serve mainly to remind me how complex even one corner of the marine electronics installer world can get. And also to remind me of the several installers who’ve recently told me that they feel like they’re “caught between a rock and a hard place,” or more specifically between big manufacturers who want to sell through every channel possible and customers who always want more for less. Now, imagine an iNstall app that also dealt with the subtleties of marine antennas, ethernet cabling, boat cams, etc., etc. Respect thy installer!

The good news is that Gemeco is looking for ideas about more useful applets to add to iNstall, and they distribute many more products than Airmar’s. In fact, their thick catalog offers more lines of NMEA 2000 sensors and sub systems than I’ve ever seen in one place, along with a lot of other goodies that are often hard to source or even know about. And the catalog is all online for your perusal. Consumers cannot buy directly from Gemeco, but they’re happy to direct you to a dealer/installer who can. I was reminded of that — and frankly of the app, which debuted in September — when the Gemeco phone number showed up on an Actisense advert here this week. If you do download iNstall, please tell us what you like and what you think should be added.


PS: Today I learned that Gemeco is beta testing another free app called Boat Docs. It’s intended to be “a hand-held library of every installation manual, owner’s manual, technical document, brochure or any other electronic media we are able to locate regarding electronic items found on a boat. Our goal is to give a marine installer a single sourc to locate any current or archived media he may need to service a vessel. An owner will be able to create a private library of every manual pertaining to their specific vessel as well.” Check out the screenshot, with over 1,200 docs already collected and waiting for us:


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.

18 Responses

  1. Ken Jennings says:

    This looks like more good news. When will we see the Android version?

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I asked Gemeco about Android, Ken, but am not too optimistic. It looks like they’ve already invested a lot into iNstall.
    Also wanted to note that I used that particular catalog page showing a CZone Signal Interface because one respondent to the reader survey complained that I’d gotten him excited about taking his existing tank senders to NMEA 2000 ( ) but he couldn’t find the parts. I don’t know who you are but if you’re reading this, call Gemeco. They seem to list every CZone module and accessory.

  3. I downloaded it when it first came out and I agree it’s outstanding… almost like having their catalog on your phone. Gemeco’s support is also extremely good – all the fellows there have been courteous and helpful.

  4. Capt John says:

    “The most recent data from IDC shows that for Q3 of 2013 Android made up 81 percent of devices shipped.” Looks like Gemeco is missing de boat. No, make that a lot of boats!

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I heard from Gemeco about an Android version of iNstall. They’d like to offer one but unfortunately Android apparently does not support the sensors used by some of the tools in a standard way, so porting iNstall to Android is quite complicated and expensive. It may not happen.
    I also suspect that global statistics about iOS versus Android market share are not very relevant to boaters or even electronics installers. There are many more marine apps for iPads and iPhones, and developers who offer free apps for both operating systems, like Raymarine, tell me that iOS downloads far outnumber Android downloads.

  6. Tom says:

    Is there or will there be a windows version of the InStall app?

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Note the PS added to this entry. Yesterday I learned that Gemeco will soon offer another free app called Boat Docs. The goal is to create a downloadable library of ALL available electronics manuals, brochures, etc., which sounds good to me.
    Peter Braffitt at Gemeco added that “since it does not use any hardware in the device, I am exploring the Android platform as an option. We may even be able to develop a Win8 app for ‘Boat Docs’.”

  8. Capt Bill says:

    I loaded this onto my iPod touch, hoping to use as a mobile tool. Unfortunately, some of the features need to have the built-in gyro and GPS from your i-Device. In otherwords, they will only work if you have an iphone or cellular version iPad.

  9. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Bill, all my testing was on a WiFi-only iPad mini. I don’t think any of the tools require a built-in GPS or cell connection. Please describe which tools don’t work on your iPod Touch.
    iNstall compatability is listed as: Requires iOS 6.1 or later. Compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. This app is optimized for iPhone 5.

  10. Capt. John says:

    “There are many more marine apps for iPads and iPhones” Besides this app and Garmin what other apps do you get on iDevices that are not on Android? Thanks!

  11. Patrick Harman says:

    Thank you Ben for sharing this app. Just the wire sizing is worth paying for. The future of this concept is mind boggling. Kudos to Gemeco for their efforts and wanting to further advance the availability of useful information. In the past I have struggled to find adapter cables to connect proprietary connectors. This app will make that task much easier.
    Patrick Harman

  12. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Gosh, Capt. John, I’m not sure you really want to know.
    How about iNavX, one of the most popular nav apps and the one that probably supports more ways to get NMEA 0183 or 2000 data from your boat to your iPad than any other?
    How about Nobeltec and MaxSea Time Zero, possibly the most noteworthy nav app that debuted in the last year?
    How about SeaNav, which just added Agumented Reality and Pebble support? I believe that developer would like to do an Android version but says the worked needed is staggering.
    Trust me, I am not an Apple fan boy. In fact, I think the company can be infuriating. But like the man used to say “the iPad is magic.”

  13. Capt. John says:

    Oh,ok Ben. I thought when you said “many more” you were using the word many like with beer when you have had “too many”. Where I come form three is not many. 🙂 And I do know you ain’t no Apple fan boy. I thought maybe there was something in the world of Apple Apps I had missed. The truth is if they were programming in the right languages than all of these apps should be fairly easy to port to other platforms. I mean Angry Birds can do it for Jimmny Sakes! And that brings up another thing. Could you tell me why I would want to view the contents of my $6000.00 MFD on a $400.00 device that I can’t read outdoors in th sun when I am boating? Naw, just kidding. Love this forum. Thanks for your great work!

  14. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    John, my three examples were just the most prominent of many. The difficulty that Gemeco has with porting iNstall to Android has to do with hardware sensors, so not sure it has anything to do with the development language. I can also give you lots of examples of how MFD WiFi remote viewing and control apps can be useful, but I’m not sure you actually care? But thanks for the complement.

  15. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Now, back to the idea of giving Gemeco ideas for new iNstall tools:
    1. Is there some way to codify recommended horizontal and vertical distances between different types of marine antennas? If so an applet might let us choose two different types and see the recommended distances.
    2. How about an antenna coax connector glossary with photos and general explanations of use? I found one once online but not sure it’s up-to-date and would love to have in an app toolkit:

  16. Capt Bill says:

    The tools I could not use on My iPod Touch are “magnetic field” and “tilt angle”, the two I would use most often as an installer.
    I get a message reading, “This device is unable to measure…”.
    I am running OS 6.1.5 on iPod touch Gen 3. These features work fine on my iPad and partner’s iPhone.

  17. Roi Frank says:

    Regardless of the Andriod requests, as a diagnostic tool if you need to have both OS, then thats what you do.
    Looking forward to doing a field test of this software

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