Wireless & Apps

Beta testing FloatHub boat monitoring, and the wonders of marine WiFi

18 Jul

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 18, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

FloatHub_yellow_box_beta_testing_on_Gizmo_cPanbo.jpg

I don’t usually write about beta testing, but the FloatHub monitoring system is already proving itself so smart and functional that I want its Kickstarter campaign to succeed and hope that some readers enjoy the good deal that seems available, at least for the next few days. Detailing FloatHub is also a good opportunity to discuss the many ways WiFi is being used afloat these days, a subject that many boaters are understandably confused about…

FloatHub_boat_monitoring_main_online_dashboard_cPanbo.jpgFirst, here’s a visual taste of what the yellow hardware box ...

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Beta testing FloatHub boat monitoring, and the wonders of marine WiFi

18 Jul

Written by Ben Ellison on Jul 18, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

FloatHub_yellow_box_beta_testing_on_Gizmo_cPanbo.jpg

I don’t usually write about beta testing, but the FloatHub monitoring system is already proving itself so smart and functional that I want its Kickstarter campaign to succeed and hope that some readers enjoy the good deal that seems available, at least for the next few days. Detailing FloatHub is also a good opportunity to discuss the many ways WiFi is being used afloat these days, a subject that many boaters are understandably confused about…

FloatHub_boat_monitoring_main_online_dashboard_cPanbo.jpgFirst, here’s a visual taste of what the yellow hardware box ...

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NMEA to WiFi gateways: TeamSurv’s & FloatHub

2 Jun

Written by Ben Ellison on Jun 2, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

TeamSurv_NMEA_Tools_NMEA0183-WiFi_bridge_collage_cPanbo.jpgWhen it rains, it pours (particularly at Panbo HQ this “spring”). NMEA-to-WiFi bridges are quite useful — mainly for getting basic boat data like depth, GPS, and wind into the wonderful world of marine mobile apps — and there have been numerous choices for a while. But yesterday TeamSurv started offering an interesting and notably inexpensive new bridge on KickStarter, and the intriguing FloatHub bridge and monitoring system will join it there soon…

TeamSurv_NMEA_Tools_NMEA0183-WiFi_bridge_comparison_cPanbo.jpgSince 2010 TeamSurv has been involved in crowdsourcing depth survey data, and thus ...

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News+: Victron Venus, CruzPro SOG2, DY WindSense, Vaavud Ultrasonic, & Panbo “News+”

21 Apr

Written by Ben Ellison on Apr 21, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Victron_Venus_GX_aPanbo.jpg

Victron’s new Venus GX is a dauntingly complicated looking blue box, but it could beautifully simplify and improve the monitoring and control of a boat’s electrical power system. Essentially, Venus is a Color Control GX without the screen, which makes it less expensive, and it also has extra goodies like 3 tank level and 2 temperature inputs, built-in WiFi, and yet more I/O that hasn’t been enabled yet. The Color Control has evolved (and been used) a lot since I wrote about it in 2014, ...

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SkyMate Mazu/mSeries all-in-one Iridium sat comms & Si-Tex NavStar Android MFD

26 Mar

Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 26, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

SkyMate_Mazu_and_mSeries_intro_MIBS2017_cPanbo.jpgIt was good to see SkyMate return to the Miami Boat Show after years focused on commercial fishing, and the company clearly has not lost its touch at squeezing lots of easy utility out of skinny-band satellite communications. Its new Mazu/mSeries marine system promises surprisingly full-featured weather and email using Iridium’s least expensive service, plus texting, SOS, navigation and (optional) off-boat monitoring. And, just around the corner in the Si-Tex booth, I saw a very interesting Android-based touchscreen NavStar MFD nicely interfacing with SkyMate’s existing communications ...

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Navico Hawks 2017: “Full boat integration into one display cluster”

27 Feb

Written by Ben Ellison on Feb 27, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Navico_integration_update_2017_Leif_Ottosson.jpg

The Miami Boat Show was loaded with marine electronics news, but first let’s visit the Navico writers event held at Hawks Cay, Florida, earlier this month. Deeper still – Mercury engine integration, B&G Zeus PredictWind weather routing, the Halo radar VelocityTrack Doppler upgrade, Navionics SonarChart Live everywhere, Simrad’s new 3kW 3-channel S5100 super sonar, and Lowrance Carbon (Gen3) MFDs are some of the goodies that were demonstrated and/or discussed. But I was especially taken with CEO Leif Ottosson’s opening “big picture” presentation and think it’s valuable ...

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Nautic Alert, excellence in monitoring and control

9 Feb

Written by Ben Ellison on Feb 9, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Nautic_Alert_system_diagram_aPanbo.jpg

While my boat, thankfully, doesn’t need six bilge pumps like the system above, four months of serious testing has left me deeply impressed with the Nautic Alert bilge, battery and GPS precision sensor platform. Yes, it also manages one pump or many — probably better than any us ever will — and it clearly informs a skipper of problems whether you’re on board or off. Finally, Nautic Alert regularly assures me that all is well, and it’s ripe for expansion. I think I’m in love…

Nautic_Alert_NMEA_booth_w_Nick_Velado_cPanbo.jpg

First, ...

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PanPan CrewWatcher, smart MOB beacon for smartphones, plus Sea Tags & Fell MOB+

23 Jan

Written by Ben Ellison on Jan 23, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

beta_testing_CrewWatcher_bluetooth_MOB_system_cPanbo.jpg

Does it make sense to use smartphones and tablets for a man overboard alarm and recovery system? I can testify that the first reaction of Sail magazine’s Pittman Innovation Award judges was skepticism. Nonetheless we found PanPan’s CrewWatcher so well thought out and potentially so useful that we gave it an award in the safety category, and then an independent second set of judges picked it for the Overall Winner. And truth be told, the finished CrewWatcher personal beacons and apps don’t actually exist yet!

man_overboard_courtesy_Sail_magazine_Steve_Sanford_aPanbo.jpg“Everyone’s ...

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Cartography lessons learned searching for the best charts of Cuba

30 Dec

Written by Ben Ellison on Dec 30, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

GEOCUBA_Cienfuegos_1-25000_chart_snips_aPanbo.jpg

Pardon my photography, but the point is that many detailed, up-to-date, and well-crafted official paper charts of Cuba do exist. Unfortunately, they’re not easy to own and the good work of the Cuban hydrographic service is also not yet fully available in any electronic form. In fact, many “current” electronic Cuba charts are based on shockingly old data with substantial chunks of critical cruising detail missing. But visiting boaters do have at least one good current chart choice, GeoCuba is moving into the modern world, and ...

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WilhelmSK app shows what Signal K, good boat WiFi, and smart DIY coding can do

15 Nov

Written by Ben Ellison on Nov 15, 2016 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

testing_WilhelmSK_app_and_solid-state_radars_on_Gizmo_cPanbo.jpg

Hey, those are all solid-state radomes showing on the 7-inch displays at Gizmo’s lower helm, and you’d see a fourth one running on the flybridge. Comparative testing is underway, but today I’m going to write about the rather amazing WilhelmSK app running on the iPad above. It is not only mirroring the Raymarine a77 screen, touch control included, but also neatly displaying lots of NMEA sensor data that’s been converted to the app-friendly Signal K protocol, thanks to Digital Yacht’s iKommunicate gateway. In my opinion, WilhelmSK ...

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