Panbo

Vesper SmartAIS MOB simulation, a little known & nifty test tool

24 Oct

I often use and deeply appreciate the bundle of clever features that Vesper Marine calls SmartAIS, but darned if I didn’t miss one. While the WatchMate app screen above shows some aspects of the Vesper collision avoidance intelligence that makes this my favorite real-world AIS plotting tool (among many choices), it is actually a built-in simulation with significant benefits. So while no one actually fell off Gizmo today, and no AIS MOB signals were actually transmitted, I still got to see how various MFDs and instruments reacted to a “real” AIS MOB transmission.

For instance, here is the Garmin ...

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FLIR M232 thermal camera ClearCruise, eyes-on with Raymarine Axiom and eS

19 Oct

In this scene, Gizmo is negotiating the complex traffic almost always encountered around Hampton Roads, and the Raymarine eS128 screen above is helping with C-Map chart plotting, Quantum solid-state radar, and a FLIR M232 thermal cam. I’ve got a lot to say about the extensive Raymarine system I’ve been testing for the last year — almost all favorable — but today I’ll focus on one unique feature:  the automatic ClearCruise highlighting of “non-water” objects shown with yellow brackets on the thermal video.

A timely first point I’d like to make is that this ClearCruise feature — which was rather ...

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Calypso Ultrasonic Portable, wireless wind and more

1 Oct

One reason I like ultrasonic wind sensors is the absence of vanes, cups or any other moving parts that might get damaged by roosting birds, loose lines or clumsy humans. So how about one that can also sense Heading, Air Temperature, Pitch and Roll; that is especially sleek and compact; and that comes in three models able to deliver the data over Bluetooth, NMEA 0183, and/or WiFi? I’ve been testing the completely wireless Calypso Ultrasonic Portable model seen above and I’m tentatively impressed.

The Calypso Ultrasonic Portable anemometer was able to maintain its battery during short Maine winter days and the wind readings did not seem affected by snow and rain

This Calypso Ultrasonic Portable anemometer was working despite harsh winter conditions

While the other two Calypso Ultrasonic ...

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Concerned about the Carolinas, searching for data

14 Sep

This great aerial image from Marinas.com shows the peaceful, safe harbor I so enjoyed while keeping Gizmo at the New Bern Grand Marina last winter, and across the Trent River at Bridge Pointe Marina three winters before that. Well up the Neuse River from the Outer Banks and below the normal ice and snow belt, these well-managed operations seem like cruising boat havens and that’s reflected in the large, active liveaboard communities.

But New Bern got pummeled by hurricane Florence last night, and it’s hard to tell the amount of damage or how worse it may get. I find myself ...

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Testing the Efoy Comfort fuel cell, and the value of premium amp hours

4 Sep

As installed on Gizmo, the EFOY 210 usually outputs 8.6 amps but starts slightly lower

For almost a year I hardly used this little control and monitoring panel because the attached EFOY fuel cell was already flawlessly performing its duty:  If engine alternator, solar panels, and/or shore power were not keeping Gizmo’s main battery bank at the voltage parameters I’d configured, the EFOY automatically and quietly charged the bank for a variable period also configured.

While the amp hours are expensive — the tested 210 model retails for $5,899, and the company’s methanol fuel costs roughly $10 per 100ah — I’m convinced that an EFOY Comfort could be a very pleasing addition to many cruising ...

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USCG warns about LED lights interfering with VHF & AIS, wants test results

28 Aug

The USCG recently issued a Safety Alert about how LED lighting near VHF antennas can cause poor reception on attached radios, which of course includes AIS and DSC reception along with regular marine VHF audio channels. I’m surprised because I remember such problems coming up and being solved a decade ago, which was very early in the evolution of LED lighting.

For instance, when I wrote “LED nav lights, a fast moving target” in 2008, it quickly got comments about various interference issues and especially in regard to the popular Orca Green Marine tricolors (often installed right next ...

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Standard Horizon GX6000 bad and good news, plus new HX890 and HX40

22 Aug

What the heck? An AIS transceiver with a decent antenna up reasonably high can see other AIS transceivers fairly far away, but not 3,508 nautical miles! What’s actually illustrated here was a Standard Horizon GX6000 mistranslating AIS target positions into NMEA 2000, as strongly suggested by the photo below. But as bad as that glitch was, there’s already a firmware fix and the way the update operation works has further benefits.

Here’s the GX6000 I began testing in June photographed at the same time I grabbed the Garmin 742 screen at top. Note the realistic bearings and distances for vessels ...

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Must see: Draken Harald Hårfagre, with Viking electronics

3 Aug


Aha! The tar-smeared GPS mushroom antenna stuck incongruously in the bow of the mighty 115-foot replica Viking ship Draken Harald Hårfagre was not a surprise. That’s because live maritime historical research requires modern aids both by regulation and common sense. And, holy Leif Erikson, what a dim and dangerous history this vessel tested.

I didn’t get a peek into that cabinet as I took the Draken tour with a steady stream of interested Mainers, but I’ll bet there’s a networked Simrad MFD giving the lookouts access to the 4G radar and maybe a forward depth sounder. Which seems pretty prudent ...

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Will trade wars cause sudden marine electronics price increases?

31 Jul

A US versus EU trade war cartoon courtesy of the China Daily seems like a fit illustration of the Navico “2018 Price adjustment warning” recently sent out to dealers (one of whom shared it with Panbo). As you can read below, the company is trying to answer questions about what all the changing tariff changes may do to their costs and hence our costs as well as the business situation for everyone in between.

Navico doesn’t really know yet, but while presently “unaffected by these new tariffs” they warn that “if in future we do see an impact, then we ...

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Garmin’s ActiveCaptain marine business plan looks good, plus Eartha

26 Jul

On Tuesday I drove down to Yarmouth, Maine, to meet some of the ActiveCaptain Community team at the former DeLorme headquarters building that Garmin now partially leases for inReach and cartography development. The key news is that Garmin recently contacted marine businesses to explain the three-tier business “ownership” and advertising plan they intend to roll out in late August. I think it’s brilliant.

Garmin obviously took a cue from Google — no shame — with the concept that every relevant business on a largely crowd-sourced map deserves special status regarding the facts about their business, and that granting such status ...

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