Sailfeed
September 22nd

Written by Ben Ellison on Sep 22, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

QUT Maritime RobotX challenge WAM-V courtesy QUT.JPG

Right now it’s possible to come upon an unmanned surface vessel (USV) like this trying to navigate waterways all over the world, though rest assured that there will be a boat load of attentive geeks nearby. That’s because fifteen student/professor engineering teams from five countries have been given a basic 16-foot WAM-V articulating catamaran to which they are adding propulsion and control systems for the upcoming Maritime RobotX Challenge in Singapore. The contest strikes me as a great way to accelerate robotics development, but of course one eventuality is unmanned vessels roaming the coasts.…

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September 18th

Appreciating fuel management, wanting more

Posted by // September 18, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

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

Gizmo_running_down_LIS_cPanbo.jpg

Gizmo is fenders down, awning up, in bustling Baltimore Harbor, and I have tales to tell. This old powerboat sails! That’s no surprise given her windage, but now I have precise data about how much wind (and current) can help her along thanks to a fuel management system. In this photo, for instance, we were making around 10 knots over the ground at 1,350 RPM but still getting over three miles to a gallon thanks to a stiff easterly wind pushing us down Long Island Sound.…

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September 11th

Antenna masts: Edson Vision & more

Posted by // September 11, 2014 // COMMENT (2 Comments)

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Written by Ben Ellison on Sep 11, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Gizmo_10-2014_antenna_farm_cPanbo.jpg

So far, so good. Finishing up Gizmo’s antenna mast was the last minute task before heading south, but nothing fell on our heads during the often lively passage to the Cape Cod Canal and around into Long Island Sound. Most of the new installs up there worked too, though we experienced a couple of very odd MFD issues that I’ll write up once I understand them better. For the time being I’ll just repeat a venerable adage: Do not rely on any one source of navigation information.

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September 2nd

Written by Ben Ellison on Sep 2, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

TrawlerFest_U_Baltimore_electronics_cPanbo.jpg

I didn’t write the seminar title, but I do understand the value of a grabby headline and I’m excited about being part of the entirely revised TrawlerFest in Baltimore. Paul Comyns and I will make a valiant attempt to cover all the important electronics bases for the knowledge-hungry, long-range-cruisers-to-be that tend to take the all-day “TF University” courses. An interesting added challenge for the presenters is to provide money-saving tips. I’m already working on concepts like how GPS, AIS, and improved signal processing have made it possible to “make do” with a smaller radar, but please suggest other reasonable cost-cutting strategies.…

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August 29th

EchoPilot Platinum FLS, better than expected

Posted by // August 29, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

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Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 29, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Echopilot_Platinum_FLS_on_Maine_ledge_cPanbo.jpg

She: “HEY! Do you realize you’re steering right at a ledge?!?” He: “Yes, dear.” While it was a tough cruise for my lovely first mate, I did learn a lot about what an EchoPilot FLS Platinum Video Engine can actually do. If you click the photo above to full size, for instance, note how the FLS in the Garmin video window is showing especially shallow water about 55 feet ahead, though in a rather vague, pixilated manner. Note, too, that the more conventional and less expensive Raymarine CHIRP DownView/sonar is at least suggesting a shallowing trend.…

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August 26th

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 26, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Mariner_headset_review_PMY_9-2004_cPanbo.jpg

Apparently, the folks at Cruising Solutions have not forgotten that I once characterized their useful and still popular Mariner 500 intercom headsets as “making a boater look unfashionably similar to a Soviet tank driver,” and hence asked me to test their latest solution to the problem of verbal communications when captain and crew are in different areas of a boat. They are called “My Team Talks” Bluetooth headsets and they’re much more than modern looking intercoms. “Bring state-of-the-art multiplex communication technology to your boat” is not an overstatement…

Cruising_Solutions_My_Team_Talks_headset_aPanbo.jpg

The technology that Cruising Solutions has selected for boat use (and to presumably support for a long time) was developed by headset specialists Sena, whose main market is motorcyclists.…

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August 22nd

Garmin SmartMode, and here comes Simrad Bridge

Posted by // August 22, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

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Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 22, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Garmin_8000_SmartMode_home_page_cPanbo.jpg

Garmin’s SmartMode station control seemed like an obviously great idea when introduced with the 8000 Glass Helm series in early 2013. The basic feature simply lets you group 8000 displays at a helm (station) and control what the various screens are showing all at once. But the interface designers went a smart step further by naming the default SmartModes after the overall tasks at hand, instead of the conventional specifics about the tools needed, like “chart/radar/cam”. Thus the 8212 now being tested on Gizmo came with CRUISING, DOCKING, ANCHORING, and FISHING modes already suggested, and I’ve been adding my own in the same task-not-tool spirit…

Garmin_8000_Station_and_SmartMode_cPanbo.jpg

Another sign of Garmin’s interface smarts is the well-done SmartMode explanatory graphic that pops up when you set up a Station.…

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August 19th

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 19, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Gizmo_flybridge_sonar_testing_8-14_cPanbo.jpg

Now we’re talking. Gizmo’s flybridge feels like the starship Enterprise now that the Simrad NSS16 evo2 is installed in its Seaview Power Pod and the Garmin 8212 has been moved closer to the helm since I first discussed the 2014 glass bridge install. Recent visitors tended to break into giddy laughter, but the marine electronics horsepower at my fingertips is truly phenomenal. In this scene, for instance, I’m exploring a dicey area of Camden outer harbor — hence the lack of moorings — using StructureScan and medium CHIRP sonar on the NSS16, CHIRP DownView and sonar on the gS125, and EchoPilot FLS via the Garmin’s video port.…

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August 14th

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 14, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

MBHH_Show_2014_Ben_on_MYC_Akalaria_Open_40_RC3_cPanbo.jpg

I knew I’d gotten Maine Yacht Center’s Brian Harris to photograph me in the comfortable driver’s seat he designed for the second Aklaria RC3 finished out at MYC, but how did the shot come out of my camera like this? Did I fall into some revery imagining reaching the 20 knots this exotic Open 40 racer is easily capable of? The 12th annual Maine Boats, Homes & Harbors Show was rich in the elegant lobster yachts and daysailors my state has become famous for, but there were also plenty of interesting surprises.…

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August 11th

Written by Ben Ellison on Aug 11, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Siren_Marine_TRANSGRES_warning_text_cPanbo.jpg

Boat theft is very rare in Maine, but on a recent Saturday night someone apparently “borrowed” a big twin outboard off a local dock for a “joy ride” during which something was hit hard enough to hole the topsides, and then they put the boat back on the dock and vanished! To my knowledge the mystery remains unsolved, but it sure jogged my memory about the Set feature on the Siren Marine cellular monitoring system I’ve been testing for over two years. The partial phone screen above shows what happened when Gizmo moved more than about 15 meters several days after I texted the “SET” command to the Siren.…

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