Ben Stein

Cruising with Aqua Map charting apps

9 Aug

Have Another Day’s cruising season began in earnest about a month and with it came the need for a new planning and underway app.  As you may know from my ActiveCaptain Community app guide, I’ve been paying close attention to what apps support ACC data.  Aqua Map was among the first to integrate with the new API and in the process collected quite a few accolades for the app overall.  I’d looked at Aqua Map quite awhile ago and hadn’t been that impressed.  This year I took another look and either the app has made a lot of progress, ...

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Using a WiFi Bridge to connect your boat to the internet, interfaces compared

1 Aug

A few of the devices lined up on a rail on Have Another Day

There are a lot of WiFi bridges that can connect your boat to the Internet, though as I mentioned in my article on marine internet, depending on WiFi for connectivity while travelling can be hit and miss.  But, without a WiFi bridge the chances of a usable connection decline dramatically because your laptop’s or tablet’s low-power WiFi radio and small internal antenna have limited range, and especially so lower in the boat.  Once you’ve decided to add a WiFi bridge the variety of prices, features, ...

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Red hot studs and melted wires, could have been worse

13 Jul

The sad looking picture above is the back of Have Another Day’s 240v AC panel.  Though it doesn’t look good here, it was scarier looking when I first opened the panel the and the dull grey stud with the red 6 gauge wire was glowing red along with some of the wires exposed copper conductor.   As soon as I saw the state of affairs I disconnected shore power and began investigating.  The culprit was pretty easy to identify and turns out to be a matter of basic good practices not being followed when this panel was constructed, but realizing we ...

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Can you open the fridge and grab me an iPad?

26 Jun
The upper helm of Have Another Day with two iPads ready to go

The upper helm of Have Another Day with two iPads ready to go

I’m an information junkie; if some information is good, more is better. So, when traveling in unfamiliar waters I would like to know as much as possible.  This data habit finds me with multiple plotters and a couple of iPad Minis at the helm when I’m underway.  Sometimes my quest for information finds me refrigerating iPads.

Navionics charts on the MFD and the Navionics Boating HD app running on the iPad

Navionics charts on the MFD and the Navionics Boating HD app running on the iPad

My boat is currently outfitted with five Raymarine little “e” MFDs with Navionics+ cartography.  I’ve used ...

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KVH Enters the Cellular Internet market

20 Jun

 

KVH announced they’ve entered the cellular internet market with the TracPhone LTE-1.  Their marketing materials say it can deliver “Double the coverage and 10x faster speed at sea.”  KVH is providing the hardware and the cellular service and promises to deliver an all-in-one, end-to-end, no hassle, simple service.  If this announcement weren’t from KVH and it didn’t have some of the pretty bold claims KVH makes it might look like just a ho-hum, me too announcement.  But, KVH says they can do more faster and easier than the existing products so, I for one, am looking forward to ...

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Active Captain Community app support

31 May

On May 23rd Garmin shut down the old way of distributing ActiveCaptain (AC) data and turned on the new ActiveCaptain Community (ACC) servers.  All the mobile apps, charting programs and MFDs programmed to work with AC stopped updating — and, in some cases, stopped showing AC points of interest (POIs) altogether — unless they had been newly modified for ACC. In the table below I’ve tried to show what’s going on, but you’ll see that the number of products currently able to display and edit ACC POIs is pretty small. Hopefully, more blue checks will soon be added, and that’s ...

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The quest for the perfect boat, month 14

23 May

As well as our Carver Voyager 570 has served us we know it’s not the right cruising boat for us as we look to cruise further afield

Like many boaters, I’m always on the lookout for the right next boat.  Since joining Panbo I’ve written somewhat frequently about my recently completed trip around America’s Great Loop.  That trip provided my family and me with an amazing adventure as well as the opportunity to think about what makes the right boat for us.

We currently own a 2003 Carver Voyager 570 named Have Another Day.  We bought Have Another ...

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Uniden MHS335BT handheld: VHF, GPS, DSC and texting!

21 May

When I first read Uniden’s MHS335B handheld VHF press release, the feature that really intrigued me was “Maritime Industry-First Private Text Messaging.”  The release was a little short on details but did say, “Text directly from your phone to other VHF radios.”  I was left with more questions than answers, but was glad when Uniden kindly loaned me two radios to see all their VHF, GPS, DSC, and texting features hand’s on.

Thinking about the use-cases for the VHF-to-VHF texting, I came up with two scenarios, the first from my own cruising experience.  Cell phone service in the Bahamas ...

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An ode to buck-boost DC power converters

8 May

In a comment on my recent Ubiquiti EdgeRouter configuration article, frequent Panbo reader Hartley noted the unfortunate 24v DC power requirement.  The ER-X model of the EdgeRouter is actually capable of running on 12v, but that version can’t supply 24v POE (power over Ethernet) to connected devices.  So I was reminded of my good experience with buck-boost type DC converters like this Drok step-up converter, which can power a 24v device on a 12v boat.

I have both 24v and 12v DC power available on my boat so I haven’t needed a buck-boost converter for step-up functionality, but ...

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Configuring a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter X for WiFi and cell internet on your boat

2 May
My workstation for the configuration

My workstation for the configuration

In my feature Marine internet, a connected year on the water, I referenced a Ubiquiti EdgeRouter as the “heart of our boat network.” It manages multiple WiFi and cellular internet connections to multiple computers, tablets, etc. around the boat, and is remarkably capable for its cost. However, I also described configuring the EdgeRouter as not for the faint of the heart, which drew many requests for more detail. So this follow-up entry is the step-by-step guide to setting up this specific router on your boat, and fortunately it turned out to be easier than ...

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