Raymarine MFD apps three ways: from drone control to sat comms to video streaming

Ben Stein and Ben Ellison

Ben Stein and Ben Ellison

Panbo editors Ben Ellison and Ben Stein usually create their own Panbo entries, but sometimes we write together.

14 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Sorry to add to the “MFD App” confusion, but I’m not the only one who has also used that term for a phone or tablet app that connects to an MFD… and Raymarine has new one of those coming too!
    We didn’t see it in Miami but…”The new Raymarine LINK mobile platform for iOS and Android allows Raymarine users to plan, sync, and control their Axiom navigation display from their mobile device. For example, Raymarine LINK allows users to plan waypoints and routes while away from the boat. Once onboard, LINK synchronizes waypoint and route plans automatically. Raymarine users can also access trip logs, screen shots, and video recordings from the Raymarine LINK mobile app. Review trip logs at home and share trips, screenshots and video captures with friends. Raymarine LINK also provides backup for all MFD settings and keeps your Raymarine gear up-to-date with the latest feature and software updates.”
    Sounds a lot like the Garmin ActiveCaptain app?

  2. Hi Ben, besides the usual declarations, is there any evidence of decent online security involved? To say I’m uninterested in having some pimple-faced punk in Riga rummaging around in my primary navigation tool is a bit of an understatement!

  3. Dan Corcoran (b393capt) says:

    Just need a smartphone with 800-1000 nits to use in direct sunlight. Looks like Galaxy S9 is close (700 nits)

  4. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    Raymarine didn’t have anything to say one way or another about security (and I should admit we didn’t ask). The underlying Android OS’ security is likely to be the primary information security involved. Your opinion of that security may vary but I do think it’s likely there’s a good deal more sensitive and interesting information to a hacker on your smartphone than on your MFD.
    Ben S.

  5. Hi Ben S! Well, yes and no – while my phone’s contents might be of more interest to the thief, any sort of computing device is of interest to someone building a bot net — which is why the Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming such a mixed blessing.
    I doubt any hacker is interested in my routes and tracks (though they might be if I was someone important), but they might find it amusing to mislead my autopilot or alter my variation setting. Worse, it might just slow my MFD down so much I can’t tell where I am some foggy night in Maine..
    Here’s an article that might provide some food for thought:
    73 DE Hartley

  6. Ben Stein Ben Stein says:

    I stand by the notion that I have more critical data on my phone than my MFD. I don’t dispute the notion there’s nuisance / amusement value to a hacker being able to remotely control navigational electronics.
    As far as a bot-net, in most vessels I believe the MFDs will be sporadically connected in a manner that doesn’t make them overly useful in this capacity. My boat is in fact a little different in this respect in that it is connected nearly always. As a result, I employ an enterprise-grade router giving me diagnostic data on the end points connected, their remote connections and data transfered. Network level AV and anti-malware is an option as well. Like any other network security is obtained through defense-in-depth. Attempting to secure the devices alone isn’t enough.
    Your questions cause me to circle back to one of the questions I’ve asked of Raymarine but not yet gotten an answer on. How are apps added to the list of approved apps for the MFDs? If Raymarine is curating the list of apps that can be installed is part of this curation based on security reviews?
    Security is a highly valid concern. You raise some great points and it’s something we will need to ask the MFD manufacturers about as they increase the connectivity of their devices. For me personally, security of these devices hasn’t yet risen to a point that it would slow my adoption. Given the way these devices have been implemented and my use of them I’m comfortable with the risk. YMMV.
    Ben S.

  7. drewc says:

    Great to see marine manufacturers leveraging mobile technology to deliver some exciting new capabilities, but where is Furuno? I invested in the newish (and Android-based) TZtouch2 MFD…should I remain hopeful that they, too, will join the app parade? They seem to be a half-beat behind in delivering these kinds of innovations…

  8. Hi Again, Ben S! You are hopefully correct about the limited nature of the Internet connection – but it seems to me that most of the “new capabilities” being touted here will require a high duty-cycle connection to the Internet – certainly the AIS, weather and NEXRAD aps will require a connection to be useful, not to mention the “entertainment” aps – including “watching the big game” 🙂
    It is this trend of invoking more and more connected features that concerns me – UNLESS the security concerns are addressed along with them – hence my concern.
    With my LH2 stuffe, I’m pretty unlikely to be connecting my MFD to the Internet – but when the time comes to move forward, this WILL be a concern (especially if updates and refreshes will require an Internet connection vs today’s micro-SD card “sneakernet” approach).
    73 DE Hartley

  9. Ian Falconer says:

    Another informative article. While I’m all for well thought out APIs and good SDKs I have the following concerns:
    1) APIs need to be right from the beginning. Reworking them later breaks backward compatibility and leads to abandonment by third parties
    2) App stores are filled with crapware. This includes everyone’s app stores and not just Android. For a mission and safety critical system this would imply an open source mandate, an independent validation of ‘allowed’ apps and some strategic guidance by governments looking to the longer term.
    3) I can see the marine hardware vendors business models needing to mandate monopolies and frequent obsolescence. All factors we don’t want.
    4) Open source software, OS’s and firmware is the only trusted approach to software defined things. (proprietary code has no place anywhere IMHO) It allows third party and independent validation and maintenance when vendors move onto the next shiny thing.
    5) No mention of backward compatibility to current hardware. Where does B&G approach fit into this. The GoFree app store is a sad, sad thing. Even their ssl certificate is out of date. This doesn’t make me want to trust these folks.
    6) Much of the crapware in the app stores relies on good, fast, always connected internet connections so the app can be overly chatty to the mothership. This behaviour just consumes valuable onboard resources for no benefit to the operator. What standards are proposed to ensure security, performance, robustness and low enery consumption are optimized? My first reaction after reading your great article is no way do I want any third party crapware on my boat.
    I look forward to following your and your contributors comments.

  10. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Ian. I don’t know enough to comment on most of your points, but I am dubious about “marine hardware vendors business models needing to mandate monopolies and frequent obsolescence.”
    Obsolescence certainly happens in marine electronics but the driving forces I’ve observed are the attractions of better suited operating systems — like Ray’s painful switch to Android — and improved networking protocols that aren’t necessarily backward compatible with existing sensors etc.
    I’ll add that while my new colleague Ben Stein is much better suited to discussing your concerns, he’s currently deep into rebuilding the Panbo website. But you can help him get free from that project by giving us some Panbo reader feedback 😉

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Raymarine LightHouse 3.4 is out:


    Sorry to add that a couple of the apps discussed in this entry, like Seakeeper and Mazu, won’t be supported until a “future software updates” but then again 3.4 includes enhancements that weren’t demonstrated in Miami.

    (And owners of Raymarine MFDs that will not get LH3 may appreciate the fact that some of 3.4 enhancements are already in LH2.)

  12. Just finished writing up my notes on v3.4 and the various features within at https://sailbits.com/raymarine-lighthouse-v3-4-apps-bluetooth-find-nearest-and-more/

    I think apps are a great new feature that could drive some interesting integrations. The rest of the features are great too, including finally being able to control brightness from one place. Now if they would only add a “night mode”….

  13. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Wondering what happened to the Axiom drone integration feature? Me too. I don’t think it’s been included in an update yet, but Raymarine is demonstrating it again at iCast so I guess it’s still on its way:


  14. A.C. Mendiones says:

    Lest our readers get too excited about the prospect of running ‘off the shelf’ Google Store apps on the Raymarine Axiom series MFDs, you can’t.

    As of v3.11.42, if the app isn’t ‘signed’ by Raymarine, Lighthouse 3/Android will not install it

    My Axiom is used for situational awareness (and updating the autopilot components).

    Watching Netflix on an 800×480 screen was never one of its missions.

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