Ben Stein

GPS date rollover affects older GPS units

22 Feb

On April 6th, 2019 older GPS units may experience a range of problems because of a limitation in how they handle dates.  Thos problems could include not being able to receive location data.  It turns out the way dates are stored in older GPS units has a rollover event every roughly 20 years and we are about to experience the second one since the GPS constellations came online.  The rollover last happened in 1999 but in the last 20 years, the use and dependence on GPS has increased dramatically.

The Department of Homeland Security has published a bulletin on the ...

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Raymarine and Mercury’s preview of semi-autonomous docking assist

5 Feb


For many of us docking maneuvers are the most stressful part of boating. So engine manufacturers, electronics companies and boat builders have introduced systems like integrated joystick control and dynamic positioning to make the task easier. Last Friday I got hand’s on with a new technology from Raymarine and Mercury Marine that takes docking assistance to a new level. They call it Virtual Bumper and I can attest that it lets you dock like a pro, even if you’re not.

With Virtual Bumper you still drive the boat, but 3D cameras are monitoring the situation in all directions and ...

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Debris takes out Garmin Panoptix FLS transducer, boat still floats

24 Jan


Before heading from Chicago down to the Mobile, AL, I had two new holes drilled in the bottom of Have Another Day to install  Garmin Panoptix PS-51 and Simrad Forward Scan forward-looking sonar transducers.   Our travels down the debris-filled rivers revealed a potential problem with anything protruding below the hull, but it also showed how robustly these transducers are built.

Our departure south was already behind schedule when I decided to install the FLS transducers.  So, I wasn’t able to do the wiring and commissioning work the manual suggests.  Without proper commissioning, I wasn’t confident in the information they ...

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Raymarine Ray90, a full featured black box VHF radio with wireless handsets and Bluetooth audio

20 Jan

Ray90 wireless handset in my hand with the wired handset on the left and the cradle for the wireless on the right

I believe that VHF radios from the big four MFD manufacturers are primarily offered so that boat builders and customers can put a single brand of electronics at the helm, and thus my normal advice is to consider VHF radios (and AIS transponders) from specialist manufacturers who may offer fuller-featured, better-performing equipment.  Testing the new Raymarine Ray90 makes me reconsider that recommendation. The 90 is a compelling VHF regardless of your brand of MFD, plus I discovered an ...

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Raymarine adds easy STng-to-N2K adapter plugs and a SeaTalk NG alarm

14 Jan


With the introduction of the Axiom MFD line Raymarine moved away from their proprietary SeaTalk NG cable/connector system and joined most other manufacturers offering standard DeviceNet cabling for NMEA 2000 networking.  Now they’ve introduced a helpful line of adapters to make that transition easier, and the little adapters above can solve a lot of installation headaches.

In 2007 Raymarine began offering its own SeaTalk NG ports and cables in lieu of the Micro (or Mini size) DeviceNet gear that NMEA selected as N2K’s preferred physical layer, though the underlying wiring remained the same and the two cabling systems could ...

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LED replacement bulbs, the options get better and cheaper

3 Jan

My most recent bulbs ordered from Amazon

LED lighting keeps getting better with higher quality light output, better fitting replacement bulbs, and lower costs.   While new LED fixtures are a good choice on some boats — note how Gizmo got brighter and dimming cabin lights that way —   the options in replacement bulbs have gotten so good that the expense was not justified given my boat’s existing fixtures.

Several years ago I set out to convert as much of Have Another Day’s lighting to LED as possible.  With over 100 12v halogen fixtures this was going to be quite an ...

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Happy New Year, 2019 is going to be a busy year

2 Jan

A full load of test equipment ready to be loaded onto Have Another Day

I’ve started multi-brand, underway testing with lots more to come in 2019.   Have Another Day’s 2018 ended with quite a few installs planned or in progress.  I’m pretty excited to see how the various products will work in real-world cruising aboard our boat if the weather decides to clear up and let us actually cruise.

In early October we left Chicago and headed down the flooded Illinois and Mississippi rivers before joining up with the Ohio River.  We then had several pleasant travel days through the ...

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Navionics Apps add ActiveCaptain Community

13 Dec

Navionics Boating app chart with ACC waypoints displayed

Back in April Garmin announced that the Navionics apps would be getting ActiveCaptain Community (ACC) support by the end of 2018.  With not too many days left in 2018 it appeared time might be running out on that promise.  Today, new apps were released to both the iOS App Store and Android’s Play Store supporting ACC.

Version 13.0 of the Navionics Boating app nicely displays all of the ActiveCaptain Community data and the app allows editing of data by taking you to the ACC website.  I’ve just cruised through the app pretty ...

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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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