Sailfeed
April 15th

Vexilar SonarPhone T-Pod, WiFi fishfinder in a bobber!

Posted by // April 15, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

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Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 15, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Vexilar_SonarPhone_T-Pod_closeup_cPanbo.jpgIt’s 2014 and a sealed plastic 5-inch bobber can indeed contain a fairly able 400 Watt, 125 kHz fishfinder and a WiFi radio, plus enough rechargeable battery to run both for a few hours. The SonarPhone T-Pod will strike many as a toy, but it actually works quite well considering its small size and price tag ($130). And the manufacturer Vexilar puts the same technology into models meant to install on small boats, which means that dedicated iPad (or Android tablet) boaters do indeed have a fishfinder option…

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That’s the SonarPhone T-Pod kit above, my iPad mini excepted.…

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April 8th

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 8, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

WaveTrax_log_history_cPanbo.jpgI wish that track was on the water, but testing WaveTrax auto boat logging over the road is impressive, nonetheless. Running on my iPad mini, the app not only collects a track point every minute, but automatically creates log entries marking my Lat/Long, COG, and SOG on the hour (and at user selectable distances). It’s fairly easy to add notes, captioned photos, engine/fuel status, and weather observations as desired, and when a trip is done, I even get to touch scribble a signature. But that’s hardly half of it…

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WaveTrax is both an app and a synchronized personal website, and in my view, that’s the way to go for tasks like this.…

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April 3rd

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 3, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Afterguard_HUD_in_action_aPanbo.jpgThe goal is to direct your focus wherever it’s needed on or beyond the boat while still having critical data in sight.  Brand spanking new today is the Afterguard heads-up display (HUD) for racing sailors. Yes, recent America’s Cup skippers apparently used HUD sunglasses, though you’re a better researcher than I if you can find detail about how they worked and what data they provided. Afterguard intends to bring this technology down at least a few levels, and that means we get a better look at what it can do.…

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March 30th

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 30, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

XB-8000-3-in-one-800.jpgI’ve had a Vesper XB-8000 installed in the lab for the last month, and I’m confident that it will do well in a long test on board Gizmo beginning in May. I will miss some features of the Vesper Vision I tested last season, but having the blue box installed behind the scenes will help me test the glass bridge concept (one MFD brand, many screens), and at $799 I think the XB-8000 is a multifunction value that could work on a wide variety of vessels.…

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March 23rd

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 23, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Sonos_Play_1_test_cPanbo.jpgI knew little about Sonos wireless hifi a month ago. While the ads suggested an elegant Apple-like design, I had the impression it also came with Apple-like premium prices and was certainly not suitable for boats. But now that I’ve lived for a month with the relatively new Play:1 seen above, I may have been wrong on both counts!  Many reviewers have already praised the little speaker/amp’s hardware and audio quality compared to similar wireless speakers. I want to detail the superb Sonos audio access and control software that you can tap into with just one $199 Play:1(though adding more components will be a huge temptation) and also discuss how Sonos can make sense afloat.…

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March 18th

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 18, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Si-Tex_T-760_standalone_radar_w domes_aPanbo.jpgThere’s more to the new Si-Tex T-760 Series radar than you’ll currently find on that product page. Those multi-speed radomes are unlike anything Si-Tex has offered before and contain digital processing that will eventually put 16-level true color target imagery on that 800 x 480 pixel touch screen (with a software update). Plus, the case is carved from solid aluminum and can be easily flush mounted. At a suggested retail of about $2,100 with the 18-inch radome and an impressive set of radar features, the T-760 looks like an interesting alternative for boaters who don’t want all their electronic navigation tools on a multifunction display.…

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March 6th

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 6, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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These days I feel obliged to include a warning every time I write about AIS over the Internet. What you see in a nice app like ShipFinder HD (above) probably does not include every vessel that’s transmitting AIS info even in fairly well covered areas like the Miami/Lauderdale area, and many areas aren’t covered at all…unless perhaps you’re using the Seapilot app in Sweden or somehow have access to another well-organized AIS receiver system. That’s because what most of us see on computers, phones or tablets connected to the web is target data collected by patchy networks of volunteers, whose shore antennas may well miss even fairly nearby 2 Watt Class B AIS transmissions or even 12 Watt Class A signals obscured by buildings or terrain (or may suddenly go offline just because the volunteer’s kid trips on a power cord or something similar).…

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February 25th

Written by Ben Ellison on Feb 25, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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There is still an amazing number of boats that can’t use the excellent DSC distress feature that’s been built into every fixed VHF marine radio sold in the U.S.A since 1999. Their radio either hasn’t been interfaced with a GPS or hasn’t been programmed with the owner’s MMSI number, or both. I’ve heard Coast Guard rescue center personnel report that a DSC alert can work beautifully to quickly identify and locate a boat in trouble, but that they rarely see valid DSC alerts. So before discussing advances in VHF (and AIS), let’s note how companies like Standard Horizon and Icom are helping to make working DSC a pervasive reality (finally)…

First note the “WARNING!…

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February 21st

Written by Ben Ellison on Feb 21, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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That’s the Web browser built into the Humminbird ION10 MFD that I first saw demoed in Lauderdale (pre browser), and the test was pretty realistic for a boat show. It was easy to log the ION onto my phone’s WiFi hotspot and if you click the image bigger, you’ll see how well it rendered a complex site like www.powerandmotoryacht.com. It even supports tabs for multiple sites, so if I were out fishing on, say, a sunny center console, I could have had a weather site open while still checking my gmail or moderating Panbo comments, all on a bright waterproof screen.…

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February 18th

Written by Ben Ellison on Feb 18, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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The Garmin and Volvo Penta Glass Cockpit won a lot of awards and shook up the competitors. I think it’s why Raymarine rolled out its nifty-seeming ECI-100 so quickly, and I suspect it motivated Mercury Marine to put together the clean “glass dash” above. The Simrad NSO evo2 driving those two MO19-T monitors is not only doing the boat’s CZone switching — even able to activate the four outboards — but its Mercury Vessel View app seemed a terrific interface to all those engines…

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While we never got underway in the quad-powered center console, I began to buy Mercury’s claim that they’ve gone way beyond virtual analog engine gauges with both its own VesselView displays and especially the just announced Navico integration.…

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