Panbo

The Equation of Time, old time navigation know-how in the modern world

21 Dec

If you ever messed with celestial navigation, you probably understand why even a perfectly installed sundial can be off by more than 15 minutes at some times of the year. But let’s recap on this shortest and darkest of days — in the Northern Hemisphere, that is — and I’ll also discuss how my old celestial nav skills recently helped with some very modern technology.

While it seems logical that the sun will pass due south of a fixed spot on earth at the exact same time every day, it does not. The calculated differences between Mean Solar Time (our ...

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Spinlock Sail-Sense, the IoT now includes tacking and flogging

19 Dec

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) concept has not excited me so far. For instance, the oft-repeated example — a  wireless sensor/software system by which my ‘smart’ refrigerator will monitor a ‘smart’ milk carton’s level so that my phone can alert me when to buy a new one — leaves me as IoT skeptical as this tech pundit. But when the thing is a valuable sail and Spinlock’s Sail-Sense sensing goes well beyond human capabilities, the IoT story gets interesting.

Using the Sail-Sense app to enter sail data that will be saved in the Sail-Sense module

The Sail-Sense ...

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Navico Halo24 & Raymarine Quantum2 radars, Gizmo goes full Doppler

8 Dec

Credit to the schooner Mary Day for lighting up Camden Harbor nights with her Christmas tree main-topmast, but yesterday Gizmo became the rare vessel equipped with four different solid-state Doppler pulse compression radars. Given the Simrad Halo24 announced in October, and the Raymarine Quantum 2 introduced last February, all four major marine navigation electronics brands now offer this valuable technology. And while the timing isn’t ideal, I’m excited about adding the two new radomes to the Garmin Fantom 24 and Furuno DRS4D-NXT Doppler models already being tested.

Navico (Simrad, B&G, and Lowrance) Halo24 radar underside

Navico (Simrad, B&G, and Lowrance) Halo24 radar underside

Actually, near-freezing air temperatures do ...

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Edson ComfortGrip Strips & Gizmo’s winter spot

27 Nov

When I went down to visit Gizmo this morning, the cold rain had pretty much eliminated the ice, snow, and slush that helped make the Thanksgiving holiday such a joy. But that composite float decking still felt a little “greasy,” especially given the 30+ knot Nor’easter that was pushing enough of a swell into Camden’s innermost Inner Harbor to sometimes roll my poor boat about 20 degrees. But mission accomplished: My very first use of that 8-inch Edson ComfortGrip Strip just installed on the stanchion I grab to help me (or anyone) get aboard was much appreciated.

Frankly I wasn’t ...

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More boat system MFD apps: Maretron, Octoplex, Lumishore, Victron, Integrel, and here comes Navico ID

11 Nov

While the functionality of multifunction marine displays has obviously been moving rapidly beyond navigation to include most any boat system that has (or can have) a digital interface, the pace is actually quickening. In fact, I’m pretty sure that next year we’ll finally see boats nearly as easy and pleasurable to use as a modern automobile, or least showing off significantly greater system integration.

This entry covers a hodgepodge of integration developments I’m aware of, but be forewarned that I often have more questions than answers. That’s largely because whole-boat system integration is being marketed mainly to boatbuilders, and that’s ...

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Garmin news: 8600 Series extends, BlueChart g3 includes Navionics, inReach integrates with MFDs & more

30 Oct

Though much of it was somewhat predictable, Garmin is bringing lots of good news to the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) tomorrow. The powerful operating system behind their premium GPSMap 8600 Series 17-, 22-, and 24-inch MFDs is coming to more affordable 10-, 12-, and 16-inch displays; new BlueChart g3 cartography with Navionics data integration and Auto Guidance will be preloaded in the new plotters; the inReach Mini satellite messenger will get a marine power kit and integration with many Garmin MFDs; and there will be more remote control and camera options to help create a particular boat’s optimal ...

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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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