Sailfeed
October 21st

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

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It was easy to gather a slew of devices currently on board Gizmo that hunger for a USB power supply at least occasionally. Heck, when the Verizon Android Galaxy phone is providing an LTE WiFi hotspot and also streaming Bluetooth audio to the Fusion IP700 stereo as it is now — I’m online while listening to a Maine radio station — it needs to be charged almost constantly. The hard-working phone is also why I keep those two USB charged/charging batteries topped up for shore trips (and, yes, they do make great press event swag, thank you Simrad and FLIR).…

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October 15th

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

Furuno_DRS4W_WiFi_Radar_cPanbo.jpgOne of many technologies I was glad to learn more about at the NMEA Conference was Furuno’s unique DRS4W 1st Watch Wireless Radar. While it was introduced in Europe last March, FurunoUSA still hasn’t listed it online and for a while I thought they might not carry it at all. Furuno’s regional distributors seem to have some leeway in this regard, which apparently is why the Furuno MaxSea PC Radar system that Kees Verruijt covered for Panbo is not available in North America. In recent comments to that same 2013 entry you’ll find some strong reservations about the DRS4W concept and even myself writing “I don’t see the problem the Furuno WiFi Radar is solving.” My skepticism wanes as I learn more but still 1st Watch seems like a confusing bundle of limitations and possibilites.…

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October 9th

Written by Ben Ellison on Oct 9, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Simrad_NSS_evo2_home_screen_w_ForwardScan_cPanbo.jpgOn Monday I got to poke around Baltimore Harbor with a beta test version of the Simrad ForwardScan announced last spring (discussed here on Panbo) and also introduced recently as B&G ForwardScan. Navico’s sonar product manager Matthew Laster brought along several versions of the NSS evo2 software that supports the new forward looking sonar (FLS) transducer but loaded the latest, saying “It hasn’t been tried on a boat yet but I think it’s quite stable.” In fact, it was darn stable and I was quite impressed with what I saw…

Once the updates were installed, the Simrad NSS7 evo2 home screen seen above got that ForwardScan icon as did the NSS16 on the fly bridge.…

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October 5th

MFD and AIS anomalies, be careful out there

Posted by // October 5, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Boats and Gear, , ,

Written by Ben Ellison on Oct 5, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

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Consider this is a portrait of a deeply experienced boat guy who still remains skeptical about the wonders of modern marine electronics. Lord knows I tried, but gremlins sabotaged my efforts from the moment when my old friend Joe McCarty arrived in Rockland, Maine, for the trip to Baltimore. I was using the Garmin Helm app on my iPad mini to watch the tank gauge as I squatted on the deck pumping diesel fuel and Joe just had time enough to say, “Well, that is cool!” when the digitized tank reading plunged from 85% to 20% and stayed stuck there even as we topped off using the old-fashioned method of listening to the changing vent gurgles…

Though expressed electronically, the tank problem was actually a mechanical one, and the floating sender that had apparently been jammed down by the high volume diesel fill freed itself at some point that night, probably when Gizmo whacked a particularly sharp wave.…

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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 (1 Comment)

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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…

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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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