Smörgåsboat: The tasty testing buffet installed on Gizmo for 2017

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.

23 Responses

  1. An olde-fashioned steering wheel and mechanical shift/throttle control? I was expecting a round Star-wars style socket for Ben’s bionic finger (like R2D2)to drive your rocket sled.
    Looks good Ben – are you in Camden these days? We’ll be up your way by next weekend 🙂

  2. Anonymous says:

    Local boat burned to the waterline last weekend from an engineroom electrical fire. They initially had the fire out but it restarted. Note the battery switches were in the engineroom where they were nott accessible after the fire started.

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Hi Hartley, That’s actually a 17-year-old Volvo Penta electronic shift/throttle and while it’s extremely smooth and easy to use, it’s also slightly scary. Every once in long while, shortly after startup, it shifts on its own! Neutral becomes Forward, Reverse becomes Neutral and more Reverse reverses. I know the problem is local to that lower shifter and the wiring/connectors beneath it, but lots of cleaning/fiddling has not completely eliminated it.
    At any rate, I’m around Camden a lot, and welcome up close troubleshooting advice. (Also have your hat.)
    Anon makes a valid point about the location of the battery switches, though the state of a fire would have to just so to make a difference between in the engine room and immediately above it. Also Gizmo does have automatic engine room fire suppression, which was just renewed and moved closer to the diesel air intake and house battery bank.

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    So it was great to learn this morning that Axiom LH3.1 is out along with a detailed FAQ about the feature roadmap:
    But about my only disappointment with that roadmap involves the Q of supported entertainment systems:
    “A. LightHouse 3 and 3.1 support remote control of Rockford Fosgate head units only. We are planning to add control of FUSION marine stereo systems with LightHouse version 3.2, coming in September.”
    This supports the point I was trying to make above when discussing the Clarion CMS4 I’m testing. Apparently the relatively new NMEA 2000 entertainment standard does not yet work in the standard way we might expect and/or desire. I hope NMEA can fix that soon (though the task may be daunting given how complex entertainment system interfaces can get).

  5. Nick Reynolds says:

    Thanks for the detailed review of all of this stuff. It is becoming overwhelming to consider the capabilities and connectedness of all of these units. With the 0183, 2000, and wifi capabilities, I find myself more and more confused about how to implement.
    Historically I used a GPS, VHF, and Depth finder. My last boat had a 7″ Lowrance MFD, 7″ Lowrance 75/200/400/800 depth finder, mercury marine network gateway, and Standard Horizon VHF with receive only AIS. And additional monitoring with the Lowrance LMF 400. This was all networked via NMEA 2000, except for the VHF which required 0183. The entire install was about $3000.
    As I think about my next boat, and what it will entail, the possibilities are endless, and I don’t yet have a feel for how extensive I want that to be.
    As you have the time and energy, I would appreciate your opinion on a whole system overview. Maybe an inexpensive option akin to my prior system, another that includes additional wi-fi and entertainment options, and maybe an expensive version that includes satellite capabilities. Maybe with a focus on units and brands that play together well, as that has been the most difficult part for me. In a prior iteration, I never did get the time to display on the LMF 400 from a Garmin GPS, and it always seems like it is difficult to find the exact item you are looking for. I currently can’t get the Mercury trim level to display on the MFD.

  6. A seagoing 17 year old electro-mechanical device does indeed sound a bit scary, though the fact that you have been using it (instead of having it idle for long periods) is a plus. I’d take a hard look at whatever is encoding the lever position to see if a single point of failure could result in the symptoms noted.
    Just think of the bizarre things it could do if it had a microprocessor running things!
    Still no LH3 for our (now antique at 5 years old) Ray e95, but maybe that’s OK – I’ve been noting symptoms of processor overload with V17 & V19 (LH2) on occasion. I have noted a reduction in glitches with V19 over V17, however.
    I do have a beef with the update process – when we updated to V17, it had a big caution about the associated update to the autopilot, and we were sure to do all the required setup. The V19 update makes the same statement, but since the autopilot update was already done with V17, I assumed it wouldn’t happen again – big mistake! Even though the update is already installed, it does it again anyway, and resets all the autopilot variables to some default state, which caused complete failure in our pilot. We had to anchor in the harbor at Beaufort NC and do an autopilot setup all over again 🙁
    Very peaceful in North Haven last night 🙂

  7. Ben, Great article, a few relevant comments. First it is important to note when mixing and matching that some things don’t mix so well. The Icom M506 VHF radio does not like any other AIS receiver to be pushing data into the NMEA 2000 network such as a Garmin AIS transponder/b. If you do this the data displayed on the chart plotter will be corrupt. In my case I display on Nobeltec TZ and after discussions with Icom we jointly decided that I must unplug the NMEA 2000 and feed a separate 0183 GPS signal into the Icom M506…a disappointment. The Icom guys said they are working on it!
    I also run a complete Maretron system with 31 reporting boxes for a total of 271 monitored and recorded sensors. The DCR box you mentioned is also working well for me, if you set up a channel within the box as “annunciator” instead of “normal” you can than go to the alert screen and set up automation such as turning on the deck lights at a specified time every day. I also turn on my engine room fans based on a temp sensor thru the DCR box, Its like a mini PLC (Programmable logic controller)…cool!
    I now sit in my condo and using Team Viewer on my computer I can log on to my boat and turn on the A/C unit or tinker with the deck lights…more circuits to come in the future.
    Thanks, Cyril

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Cyril, but sorry to hear about your M506 experience. I had thought Icom understood that sometimes the 506 would be installed on an N2K network that also had AIS transponder input and that a user could turn off 506 AIS output.
    However, now I see that the M605 doesn’t seem to offer that flexibility either. I have the test unit installed on Gizmo’s second NMEA 2000 network — mostly Simrad including autopilot — and the target output is working fine. But I will try mixing it up other AIS input just to see what happens 😉
    Also, I fear that the M605 does not know how to pop up an alarm if it sees an AIS MOB device. I’ve asked Icom about this, and wonder if by chance you’ve tried AIS MOB test mode with your 506?

  9. Doug says:

    Is the Apple wireless keyboard used with the iPad, or some other Mac under the dashboard?

  10. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    For doing quick work on the iPad. A Mac mini and full size Apple keyboard are hidden away over to starboard, though I run Windows on the mini:

  11. Anonymous says:

    Ben ,
    Will you be posting a review of Garmin’s Fantom 24 Dome?
    Up against the usual suspects? Hope so.

  12. Leftbrainstuff says:

    Icom M506 or 605? We have an Icom M506 connected to our B&G NMEA2k network which also has a B&G NAIS400. No problems with AIS corruption.
    Our approach is simple networks and redundancy with no wifi for mission or safety critical systems. Also no mixing of safety and non safety critical systems like entertainment with nav and comms systems.
    Interested in your experience, and any data, on network overload. NMEA2k is afterall a variant of CANbus a decades old protocol.

  13. He has the brand-new M605, as shown in the picture in the article. Does your M506 alert on an AIS MOB on the N2K buss? I have an M506 myself, but I have no good way to test this.

  14. Steve says:

    My Garmin AIS600 stops functioning (sending N2K data and broadcasting AIS messages) when I flush my electric toilet under sail. Could be a similar low voltage issue with the Vesper.
    Voltage stays high enough when the alternator or dockside charger is running. I should solve it soon with larger gauge wires to the main panel and wiring the toilet separately from the main panel as I should have from the start.

  15. Patrick says:

    Hi Ben,
    will you be reviewing the Garmin PS51 Forward Looking Sonar, or do you consider this equal to the one that B&G and Simrad has?
    The transducer may look very similar between brands, but the presentation on the screen seems to be much better on B&G, with live depths info also on the chart.
    I have tried to find some reviews on the internet but there are hardly non, not even Garmin has any promotion videos for this, other than flashy videos that in reality says nothing.

  16. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Patrick. After using the Panoptix PS51 FLS for a year, I think it easily matches the performance of the Simrad/B&G ForwardScan. Actually, it seems to be faster and to have a little more reach, though basically both do the same job and expectations should not be set too high. And in terms of bang for the buck, the Simrad/B&G FLS wins big.
    The main displays are pretty similar, but the Panoptix has an added LiveVu that’s interesting and definitely better for seeing fish. Garmin does not have the “ice cream cone” ForwardScan chart overlay but you have to be very zoomed in on a Simrad or B&G chart for that to have much value, and the PS51 does now have a depth alarm that works regardless of what’s on screen.
    I do have some videos and will try to edit them into something worth putting online.

  17. Patrick says:

    Hi, Ben and thank’s for the information. Garmin promotes the PS51 as a navigational aid, and not primary for fish. For fish they have the lower numbers of the Panoptix series, PS21-22-31.
    My intention for this piece is when entering natural harbors, that we have loads of here in Sweden. I can spend the whole summer just mooring to the cliffs every night and entering the marina in daytime just for filling up with food and booze. Navigating into these natural harbors are sometimes tricky and a FLS would be helpful when getting close to the shore line. It would be nice to have the “ice cream cone” in these moments.
    The Simrad and B&G is nearly half the price to Garmin but can I connect a B&G transducer to a Garmin plotter?
    Here’s a practical test (one of the three I have seen on Youtube):

  18. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Sorry, Patrick, both ForwardScan and Panoptix only work with same brand displays that support them. Besides the sonar technology is quite different, plus the PS51 is the first transducer I’ve used that outputs over Ethernet (and has an independent power connection).
    I think that either one will work fairly well for your purposes. Range is always constricted by depth, but every FLS I’ve tried increases the x factor with depth. In other words, it may see 5x ahead in 10 feet of water — only 50 feet ahead — but 8x ahead in 30 feet, for a range of 160 feet. So you’ll see more in deep harbors with steep obstructions, like Sweden and Maine 😉

  19. Andrew Clark says:

    Hi Ben, very interested in the Icom 605 and it’s AIS display capabilities. Because I already have 2 distinct AIS sources on board, I do not feel I need another. But I would like to DISPLAY the AIS output from, say, my Vesper, on the 605’s snazzy little display. Do you know if it’s possible to purchase the 605 non-AIS model and connect the AIS feel to it and view the various AIS screens? Thanks.

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Hi Andrew, I’m pretty sure that the answer is yes. It’s a little hard to tell because my test 605 includes AIS, but there is a NMEA 2000 menu item that lets you choose the GPS and AIS sources.

      Mine shows choices of Vesper XB8000, All, or Not in Use. I selected the Vesper and thought I could prove it was working by powering it down, but the ICOM appears to have responded to that by defaulting to ALL.

      I’ll keep fooling with it, but what you want sure seems possible.

  20. Andrew Clark says:

    Thanks, Ben, for the quick response. Makes sense that there would be an N2K selection for GPS, AIS.

  21. Glenn says:

    HI Ben, I am also considering a 605 without the AIS along with the Vesper XB8000. Were you able to determine if the 605 can actually display the Vesper AIS output?

    • Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

      Hi Glenn, I double checked today (by pulling the antenna off the radio) and the ICOM 605 receiver with AIS receiver can indeed display the AIS targets being received by the Vesper XB8000 (or most any other AIS source, I suspect). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the 605 which doesn’t have an AIS receiver can do the same thing. Have you checked the manuals or asked ICOM?

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