Airmar 2018 part 2: Ultrasonic and EM speedo mysteries unraveled, plus new UDST800

14 Feb

Written by Ben Ellison on Feb 14, 2018 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Airmar_UDST800_ultrasonic_triducer_for_real_2-2018_cPanbo.jpgAirmar’s newly announced UDST800 Ultrasonic Smart Triducer is real! I’ve held one in my freckly hand and even installed it on Gizmo. The reality of a new product would not normally be news, but the history of Airmar’s high tech ultrasonic and electromagnetic speed sensors has frustrated boaters wanting the promised precise and reliable Speed through the Water results, which should be many boaters, I think…

Airmar_DST900-EM_and_ultrasonic_ST900_never_shipped_cPanbo.jpgTo be brutally frank, neither of the Airmar products described above ever materialized as presented, and the same is true ...

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Airmar 2018 part 1: Newly certified installers toting TDT1000 transducer testers

11 Feb

Written by Ben Ellison on Feb 11, 2018 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Airmar_TDT1000_kit_case_n_ACI_logo_cPanbo.jpgDoctor Ducer is in the house! Seriously, the already impressive Airmar TDT1000 Transducer Diagnostic Kit is now key to the company’s new certified installer program, and thus you and your sick fishfinder may one day appreciate a boat call by an informed ducer doc with the right tool. And if an ACI installs the transducer in the first place — let’s call it “preventative medicine” — you get a significant warranty upgrade. I tested the tester last month and learned a lot about Airmar and sonar ...

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Ode to hydronic boat heating, and Sure Marine Service

9 Jan

Written by Ben Ellison on Jan 9, 2018 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


It seems appropiate to kick off 2018 with a discussion of heating technology, specifically the diesel-fired hydronic system I installed on Gizmo last year. It was a significant purchase and a major install, but the 66 degree pilothouse temperature seen above certainly made my early December ICW trip a lot more pleasant. I’ll explain why I chose hydronic, detail how the system went together, and profusely praise Sure Marine Service, a marine heating equipment distributor par excellence…


This Weather Underground history graphic is annotated with Gizmo’s...

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Doppler radar: Simrad VelocityTrack & Furuno DRS6A-NXT

22 Dec

Written by Ben Ellison on Dec 22, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


Simrad has now officially joined Furuno and Garmin with a solid-state radar feature using the Doppler effect to instantly highlight targets moving relative to your vessel. “VelocityTrack” can be added to any existing open array Halo radar with the purchase of an unlock code, and it appears to be the most sophisticated version of the feature yet. Simrad also created a thorough VelocityTrack presentation that even explains technical subtleties common to all such Doppler radar features. Meanwhile, Furuno is now challenging the Simrad and Garmin solid-state ...

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Computer-assisted groundings? Bad Navionics charts?

7 Dec

Written by Ben Ellison on Dec 7, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


Despite incredible advances in chart availability and chart plotting, keels keep banging on reasonably well charted ledges and reefs all over the planet. Why? I’ve made far too many navigation errors to play the righteous scold, but I am taken aback by the tendency of boaters to blame technology and especially the recent trend toward castigating chart manufacturers like Navionics as if perfect data is a possibility or even an entitlement…

The damaged keel photo above comes from a cruising blog entry titled Navionics Sonar Charts ...

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New in safety: Exposure OLAS Float-On, Vesper smartAIS deckWatch, and Digital Yacht Nomad portable AIS

21 Nov

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

Exposure_OLAS_Float-On_aPanbo.jpgThe Exposure OLAS Float-On is one hell of a flashlight (or “torch” in Brit speak). That’s because it’s also an automatic water-activated MOB strobe light and a Bluetooth MOB alerting device that can network with smartphone apps and more familiarly styled MOB tags. Details follow, along with several other interesting new safety products that also got the attention of the DAME Award judges at METS…

Exposure_OLAS_tag_n_app_MOB_system_cPanbo.jpgFirst, let’s sort out the names. Exposure Lights is a UK firm developing technical “torches” for boating and other demanding niches; ...

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AIS issues: Garmin, Navico, McMurdo, AMEC and SRT

13 Nov

Written by Ben Ellison on Nov 13, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub


I like to write about marine electronics that facilitate safer, more enjoyable boating, especially new developments that seem headed in that direction. It’s been gratifying, for instance, to see the infant Class B AIS that Panbo began covering in 2005 grow into a highly appreciated tool for cruisers, racers and fishermen. AIS is a huge success on many levels, but today the subject is two issues that may concern some Class B AIS users…

Marine_Traffic_worldwide_AIS_nav_aids_cPanbo.jpgThe opening Marine Traffic screenshot shows the 152,552 active AIS transceivers the ...

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Garmin & Navionics part 2, a close look at ActiveCaptain the app

6 Nov

Written by Ben Ellison on Nov 6, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Garmin_ActiveCaptain_app_notifications_Navionics_cPanbo.jpgIt’s odd that I was writing about the Navionics Boating app’s excellence at MFD integration when Garmin purchased the company and downright weird that the acquisition news arrived via a beta version of the brand new Garmin ActiveCaptain app that takes MFD integration to some other excellent places. For instance, have you ever seen phone notifications pop up on your helm screen while you’re underway (if you choose)? The two apps are good news for lots of boaters as they are right now, but what fun ...

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Navionics & Garmin part 1, long live Plotter Sync

29 Oct

Written by Ben Ellison on Oct 29, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Navionics_Plotter_Sync_improved_cPanbo.jpgDid my planned back-to-back reviews of evolving Navionics and Garmin apps suddenly become moot when the Garmin acquired Navionics on Friday? I don’t think so! The terrific Plotter Sync integration I’ve been experiencing between the Navionics Boating app and multifunction displays from Simrad and Raymarine is not likely to go away anytime soon, if ever, and it may add significantly to your current navigation happiness. Moreover, many Garmin owners are about to receive a wonderful app gift, and while the different advances are not such a ...

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Smörgåsboat 2: More tasty test electronics southbound on Gizmo

17 Oct

Written by Ben Ellison on Oct 17, 2017 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Passagemaker_Who_is_Ben_Ellison_article_opening_spread.jpgThe jury is still out. Brian Lind may have written a blushingly laudatory profile of Panbo and me for PassageMaker magazine — and you can now check out “Who is Ben Ellison?” online — but I agree with regular readers who may rightfully doubt my ‘authoritative’ ‘expertise’! This site is not the “arbitrator of marine electronics” — no such thing exists — and evidence is building that I’ve become a bumbling old boat guy barely in command of all the gear he’s installed, ...

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