June 25th

SOTDMA Class B AIS, the “new” middle way?

Posted by // June 25, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

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Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 25, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

SRT_5W_SOTDMA_AIS_Class_B_on_way_aPanbo.jpgIt may be a while before we see the first 5 Watt SOTDMA Class B AIS transceiver actually available for sale, but it certainly is interesting to see a prototype trumpeted in SRT’s Summer 2015 Pulse Newsletter (available here). Given SRT’s main role as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) we may first see this “new” AIS technology — perhaps with even more features — branded as Simrad, Raymarine, True Heading, Digital Yacht, Comar etc. (and/or marketed under SRT’s own Em-Trak label). Or maybe Furuno, AMEC, Vesper or another of the independent AIS manufacturers will be first out with SOTDMA Class B?…

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June 16th

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 16, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Coastal_Explorer_DR_mode_w_route_n_WPx.jpgThe last days of Gizmo’s trip north were a difficult dance of wanting to get home quickly versus not wanting to suffer the consequences of a relatively small powerboat in biggish winds and seas. I’m still recovering. But it’s a good time to detail the Coastal Explorer planning tools that surely helped me make the best of the situation, and particularly the brilliant yet rare feature known as “WPx”…

Coastal_Explorer_WPx_detail_cPanbo.jpgGiven Gizmo’s job as a test platform, I have at least a dozen different MFD systems, PC charting programs and mobile apps that I can use to build a route fairly easily, and almost all will deliver valuable underway information like bearing, distance, and time to the next waypoint as well as time and distance to the destination.…

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June 2nd

The paper chart, still the best?

Posted by // June 2, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 2, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


It’s true that I don’t navigate on paper charts anymore, but I appreciate them and use their electronic equivalent more than ever. One reason is what I learned last January while preparing for a TrawlerFest seminar called “Soup to Nuts Navigation” (which I’m reformulating right now for the new Cruising Boat Expo here in Essex, CT). The other is having just run up from North Carolina — including the entire New Jersey ICW, which can’t fit much more boat than Gizmo — with just about every chart type and brand in view.…

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May 22nd

Written by Ben Ellison on May 22, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Most boaters will not experience the benefits of a Lithium Ion main battery bank any time soon, but nearly instant gratification is possible with a portable Li Ion charger pack, some of which can even jump start a small diesel engine. Brands and models are proliferating like fruit flies, but I’m particularly keen on the WeeGo Jump Starter Pro above, which I’ve been testing for a couple of months. It is a veritable Swiss Army knife of an on- or offboard power source…

Weego_Pro_charge_testing_cPanbo.jpgWhile the top photo shows the complete WeeGo Pro kit, this photo illustrates how hard it can work.…

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May 16th

Volvo Ocean 65, powered by Mastervolt Li Ion

Posted by // May 16, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Written by Ben Ellison on May 16, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

VOR_65_power_overview_courtesy_VOR_Roman_aPanbo.jpgI’m happy as an oyster slow cruising Chesapeake Bay with my favorite first mate, but if I had a teleporter I surely would have jumped on an invitation to check out a Volvo Ocean 65’s systems in Newport yesterday. I doubt I would have encountered a scene as tidy as the photo above — which looks forward in the main cabin of Dongfeng with most of the engine, power, battery, and keel ram covers removed, as well as the pedestal galley — but then again all that technology has now zig-zagged almost around the planet in often demanding conditions.…

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May 11th

Written by Ben Ellison on May 11, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

NMEA_recognizes_Signal_K_aPanbo.jpgWow! Today the National Marine Electronics Association — also known as NMEA, or IMEA for its International reincarnation — announced recognition of the Signal K open source marine data project. It’s clearly not an endorsement, but it does provide clear methods to gateway NMEA 2000 boat data to the Internet-friendly universal marine data model that Signal K is about. And that’s plenty good enough, I think. In fact, as the title above wonders, this may turn out to be a very big deal. I also think it marks a nice evolution for NMEA.…

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May 6th

How Simrad Halo works, 12 radars in one!

Posted by // May 6, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)


Written by Ben Ellison on May 6, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Simrad_Halo_future_is_now_aPanbo.jpgPanbo’s first entry about Simrad’s unique solid-state open-array Halo radar tried to cover the promised features. Now I’ll try to explain how it works, with the huge benefit of slides made available to me by Navico engineer Don Korte, who I first met when Broadband (3G/4G) radar was introduced in 2009. I’m starting with the image above because that’s not just Navico marketing; it would be hard to overstate Don’s enthusiasm for Halo as he led me through the presentation. It was a teleconference but I’m pretty sure he was jumping up and down as I slowly got some of the concepts and he answered my smarter questions with a hearty “YES!”…

Simrad_Halo_technologies_aPanbo.jpgI got a little carried away with the number of slides I’m using, but many are self explanatory, or nearly so, like this beginning breakdown of how Halo compares to traditional magnetron pulse marine radar and the FMCW transmit technology used in 3G/4G radomes.…

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April 29th

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 29, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


Yes, you can have wireless phone and tablet charging built into your boat right now. What’s more, the Qi wireless charging standard that’s powering the demo above is picking up support at a rapid rate, and the company building it into boat cabinetry is top drawer (so to speak). In fact, you should know about Teak Isle and its DIY retail outlet Boat Outfitters even if you don’t give a hoot about induction charging…

Teak_Isle_iPad_door_n_CZone_mount_cPanbo.jpgI’ve learned that if I spot a bit of nicely designed and executed cabinetry at a boatshow, there’s a good chance that Teak Isle Mfg.

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April 24th

Raymarine eS Series, long live the glass bridge

Posted by // April 24, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 24, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


On Monday Flir unveiled Raymarine’s eS Series, and shortly thereafter, extensive detail on the new 7-, 9-, and 12-inch multifunction displays went online. A cynic might say that the eS Series is simply a refresh of the existing eSeries with its similar HybridTouch mix of keypad and touchscreen controls. But that would ignore multiple hardware improvements plus the amazing evolution of Ray’s Lighthouse II operating software since the lower-case “e” MFDs entered the market in 2011. For instance, click the photo above bigger to better see the full support for Navionics, C-Map, and LightHouse cartography (discussed here recently).…

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April 20th

Digital Yacht Sonar Server, keeping it simple!

Posted by // April 20, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)


Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 20, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


I’m really impressed with the Digital Yacht Sonar Server introduced last week, though it has almost nothing to do with the technology involved. In fact, I think the DY developers could have engineered this product in their sleep, as could several other companies that specialize in NMEA 0183 utility hardware. What’s brilliant here is a simple, reasonably priced, and fast-to-market solution for certain boaters who are understandably hot to use the Navionics SonarCharts Live app feature on their phone or tablet. And Digital Yacht has backed up their marketing smarts with deep info on how to install the Sonar Server…


It’s no wonder that many boaters are confused about SonarCharts, as they’ve evolved in many directions.…

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