January 30th

GoFree goes online & Insight Genesis Social Mapping goes free

Posted by // January 30, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Written by Ben Ellison on Jan 30, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

GoFree_gets_online_cPanbo.jpgThe 2015 Navico writers event was in the same Florida Keys location as last year’s spectacular, which only seemed to highlight the rapid development pace we witnessed. For instance, fishing in a now familiar place and style with the new Lowrance HDS Gen3 multifunction display really showed off the phenomenal variety and quality of functions built in. It may even qualify as a “revolutionary” MFD feature set, despite my earlier skepticism, and it wasn’t even mentioned at the 2014 event. But that story will have to wait.…

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January 26th

Written by Ben Ellison on Jan 26, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

digigone_DigiMed_Mini_aPanbo.jpgSail’s 2015 Pittman Innovation Awards were just announced and one of several interesting winners is a series of DigiMed wireless kits that work with Digigone’s existing telemedicine service. Even the smallest DigiMed Mini above can teleconnect you to a 24/7 emergency medical center via Android tablet and Bluetooth headset and I’ve seen how the included wireless macro camera allows the experts to examine the victim down to skin pore level…

I first saw the DigiMed tablet and camera system demonstrated last February in Miami and in 2013 Digigone set me up with the bandwidth-efficient SecureChat video chat software and compression service that’s behind all their products.

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January 19th

Written by Ben Ellison on Jan 19, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


I declared my love for the Torqeedo 1003 electric outboard in 2011 and the feeling only deepened after two seasons of long testing, despite a glitch or two. Well, wow, the same motor has run like a top ever since, and as of a few days ago, it has a very cool accessory. The TorqTrac Bluetooth module and apps were announced some time ago, but apparently the $149 kit is only becoming available now. The version 1.0 app does not look like what was originally announced, or even what’s shown at Torqeedo USA right now, but my first underway tests suggest that TorqTrac is going to add some nice spice and utility to my Torqeedo 1003 relationship…


First I did a dry run in Gizmo’s salon.…

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January 16th

Garmin GNX 120/130, 7- and 10-inch NMEA 2000 instrument displays

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


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

Garmin_GNX130_showing_green_BSP_aPanbo.jpgThis morning Garmin announced the $900 7-inch GNX 120 and the $1,500 10-inch GNX 130 (above) with planned delivery in February and May respectively. They use what’s called “high-precision glass-bonded monochrome ultra-glow LCD displays” and the data backlighting can be switched to most any color. Set up is done with those onscreen touch buttons or with a new GNX Keypad . Over 50 NMEA 2000 data types will be recognized and there will be five display configurations including “single, dual and triple functions, plus Gauge and Graph mode”…

Garmin_GNX130_showing_yellow_DPT_aPanbo.jpgI can picture these displays becoming popular on high-end motor yachts — much as B&G instruments have earned space on many megayacht bridges — but obviously the focus is performance sailing.…

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January 14th

Icom M424G & 324G VHF with GPS, and DSC embarrassment

Posted by // January 14, 2015 // COMMENT (1 Comment)

Written by Ben Ellison on Jan 14, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

ICOM_IC-M423G_GPS_VHF_aPanbo.jpgI’m visiting Gizmo in less chilly North Carolina for a week (before TrawlerFest) and was reminded that just before leaving in November, I experienced the first DSC Urgency message I’d ever seen. My reaction was slightly embarassing, but the U.S. Coast Guard response was impressive, as will be detailed below. For now, let’s just say that DSC is a potentially excellent but underused safety tool and thus, it’s good news that Icom has upgraded two of its fixed VHF radio models to include internal GPS sensors, so they will be ready to make DSC distress calls almost the moment power and antenna are attached.…

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January 9th

Real, Synthetic & Virtual AIS AtoNs, can you see them?

Posted by // January 9, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Written by Ben Ellison on Jan 9, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


One way to spend a frigid night in Maine is learning about AIS AtoNs, an electronic augmentation to the aids to navigation we commonly think of as nav buoys, lighthouses, beacons, etc. The US Coast Guard recently began a year-long experiment with AIS AtoNs in New York Harbor, and sure enough, there they are on Marine Traffic. MT is an imperfect tool for understanding what AIS AtoNs look like on our boat displays, but if you set up the Filter as I have above — Show Ship Names on, all vessel types but Navigation Aids off — you can see that they are now set up around many major U.S.…

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January 7th

Raymarine Wi-Fish and FLIR One for everyone

Posted by // January 7, 2015 // COMMENT (0 Comments)


Written by Ben Ellison on Jan 7, 2015 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


Some days I feel like retiring, but wow, the changing technology I enjoy covering just won’t let up. Yesterday Raymarine introduced the wonderfully named Wi-Fish, which seems at least visually even more a sign than Furuno’s DRS4W WiFi radar of how mainstream marine electronics can accomodate our collective fascination with mobile computing. Wi-Fish is essentially a Dragonfly sonar display without the display but with an app that can purportedly do its job and more. And Raymarine didn’t stop there, also introducing a variety of new 4- and 5-inch Dragonfly models, including Pro versions that support the Wi-Fish app while also offering an “All weather viewable” display and GPS plotting on a great choice of chart formats…


The Dragonfly 5 model lineup tells the story, and it’s the same tale for the 4-inch models.…

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January 2nd

Gocycle G2, the ultimate boat bike?

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

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

Ben_on_GoCycle_in_Lauderdale2_cPanbo.jpgTesting a Gocycle G2 folding electric bicycle outside a tent at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show almost cost me dearly. Aside from the beautifully clean design, I found the bike easy to learn and comfortable to use, and it’s a thrill to get some power assistance when you put extra pressure on the pedals or hit the red boost button. I started picturing all the enjoyable and possibly useful trips I could make around cruising ports and the dangerous internal voice of gadget lust began murmuring about the ample credit in my wallet and how I deserve what may be the coolest boat bike around.…

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December 31st

Of light, pressure, Jewish DNA, and lobster trap Christmas trees

Posted by // December 31, 2014 // COMMENT (0 Comments)

Written by Ben Ellison on Dec 31, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Lobster_trap_Christmas_tree_Rockland_Maine_2014-cPanbo.jpgI hope that Panbo readers everywhere enjoyed Hanukkah, the winter solstice, Christmas and/or any other way you celebrate the holiday season. We deserve all the light and cheer we can find, especially when the shortest days are as dreary as they were here on the coast of Maine this year. Instead of cold gray drizzle my almost-Christmas-eve photo above might have shown sparkly snow highlighting the Rockland Public Landing and the islands across the Bay, but, hey, our area does lay claim to the “World’s Largest Lobster Trap Tree“…


This photo taken Christmas afternoon tells more of the weather story.…

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December 22nd

Garmin Start Guidance, a sail racing winner?

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

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


While I haven’t done much racing, I do know that the prestart manuevering can be quite challenging if not downright scary. It’s hard enough to time a sailboat to be at the right place at the right moment going maximum speed in the right direction, but you must also avoid collisions with the competition trying to make the same perfect moves. Some sailors are shy about racing because the starts can be nerve wracking, and one nice aspect of the Garmin Start Guidance software coming out in 2015 is the fact that it’s simply software built into a regular multifunction display.…

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