Ben Stein

Amazon Fire TV Recast on a boat?

28 Nov

In late September Amazon announced a slew of new hardware in time for the holiday season.  Included was the Fire TV Recast, a clever network-based TV tuner and DVR (digital video recorder).  The Recast announcement immediately piqued my interest for use on a boat. Could this be an easy and cost-effective way to record over-the-air TV on, or for, the boat?  I bought one to find out and so far I’m cautiously optimistic.

For years I just paid for satellite television every month without giving it much thought.  But as alternatives to the $100+ a month cost became more ...

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$65 for Verizon unlimited hotspot? I’ll give that a try!

16 Nov

A few days ago Ben Ellison posted a link from the Mobile Internet Resource Center announcing Verizon updated their unlimited offerings adding a $65 / month truly unlimited option.  Every change to plans from the national carriers seems to be taking something away, further perverting the meaning of unlimited, or raising prices.   So, this caught my attention.  Did a national carrier really do something to make the options available better?  I read through the review on the Mobile Internet Resource Center then cruised over to Verizon’s own info and couldn’t find any big gotchas.  Verizon says there are no caps ...

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SiOnyx Aurora night vision camera demo ride

5 Nov


At the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show I got to take a demo cruise with SiOnyx to see their Aurora night vision camera in action.  What I saw during our cruise of the New River and Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway was impressive, but also illustrated some limitations.

The $800 Aurora is based on a 1-inch 720p CMOS sensor that is sensitive to the infrared light (IR) that’s not normally visible. This allows the Aurora to display night vision in color. SiOnyx explains that there is a large amount of naturally occurring IR, so even in extremely low light situations the ...

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Blue Guard BG-One, Smart Bilge Pump Switch

26 Oct

Blue Guard’s BG-One Oil and Fuel Detector with Smart Bilge Pump Switch won the IBEX innovation for electrical equipment.  With this switch, Blue Guard seems to have thought through the problem of oil in the bilge and come up with a smart solution to ensure safety while minimizing the potential for environmental impact.

The $219 BG-ONE is a solid state bilge pump switch with multiple sensors able to detect the difference between being immersed in water versus fuel or oil.  So when the sensor is immersed in oil it can deactivate the bilge pump and trigger an alarm at the ...

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Balmar SG200, a good battery monitor gets better

15 Oct

Balmar’s Chris Witzgal stands with the SG-200 display at IBEX

I recently judged the Innovation Awards at the International Boat Builders’ Exposition (IBEX) and we selected the new Balmar SG200 battery monitor as the winner of the electrical products category.  The SG200 combines the goodness of the highly regarded original Smartgauge with a shunt to deliver a more complete picture of what your batteries are doing.

The first generation Smartgauge differed from almost every other battery monitor on the market by measuring a battery bank’s State of Charge (SoC) using just two voltage wires.  This meant that while the Smartgauge ...

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Onboard with Raymarine’s new ClearCruise Augmented Reality technology

4 Oct

ClearCruise AR targets on the Hillsborough River. The icons across the bottom of this image allow turning on and off target types. Note the MOB mark 106 feet off our port bow.

I spent the last four days judging the Innovation Awards and then attending IBEX, the International Boat Builders’ Exposition.  We awarded Raymarine’s ClearCruise AR (augmented reality) technology (press release) the award for the OEM electronics category, and I have to say I’m pretty excited by this technology.

I’ve seen a few gizmos like this before (though not marine) and most of them left me more nauseous ...

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Accidental grounding, familiarity breeds complacency

20 Sep

My 2018 cruising started with a trip straight up Lake Michigan’s Wisconsin coast bound for Manistique, a small town on Michigan’s upper peninsula.  We had something very rare, three consecutive days of flat water on Lake Michigan.  So we made the most of the conditions and ran all three of those days for a total of 300 nm at 9 kts.  We made it the length of the lake to Manistique without incident.  Unfortunately, we didn’t make it into Manistique harbor without incident.

I’ve been into Manistique’s little harbor a handful of times before.  In fact, I had bread crumbs ...

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Winegard Connect marine WiFi and cell internet connection, simple and functional

19 Sep

The Winegard Connect 4G1xm along side it’s power injector

I first mentioned my “installation” of a Winegard Connect because I was exercised about the cabling and mounting scheme Winegard employs. But the company deserves high marks for their response to my concerns, as they quickly had a proposed solution (explained below).  While the Connect all-in-one WiFi and cellular get-online system — with the cell service included — is Winegard’s first entry into the marine internet market, they’ve been at it in the RV world for quite some time and the rock-solid RF performance is pretty impressive even if the ...

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Nebo, voyage tracking and social networking app

30 Aug

Nebo’s view of the eastern U.S. Th boat named “My Boat” isn’t my boat.

Not long ago while talking to another boater he mentioned something about finding another boater on Nebo.  At first I thought he misspoke, but then he repeated it three or four times.  Now I was curious so I grabbed my phone and searched the app store.  What I found was pretty impressive… think one part Marine Traffic and one part social network.

Nebo’s tagline is “Log. Connect. Share the journey.”  That does a pretty good job of capturing the core functionality.  Nebo is a free ...

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How to get TV on your boat, the choices expand

27 Aug

Molly and Madelyn enjoying a little TV on-board Have Another Day

It’s no surprise that I get a lot of questions about the best way to receive and watch TV onboard.  The traditional choices for homes were already more complicated on a boat, especially a cruising boat, and now there’s the added choice of streaming TV over the internet. So in this entry, I’ll detail the options and hopefully you can determine which one best fits your needs and budget.

TV Options

First of all, let’s acknowledge that some people regard their boat as an escape from the rest of ...

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