Ben Stein

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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A (long) note on Ethernet connector weather protection, or lack of it

25 Apr

I’m noticing a trend and I don’t like it.  You see that nice, metal wrapped RJ-45 connector in the picture?  It’s junk now, corroded and unusable.  It’s sitting on the counter in my galley clipped off the Winegard Connect 4G1xM I’m starting to test.  I believe this is because of the cabling approach Winegard has used on this otherwise very well designed piece of hardware and Winegard isn’t alone.

As I promised I would in my recent marine internet article, I’m getting started testing WiFi and 4g internet connectivity devices.  So far today I’ve spent about an hour dealing ...

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Garmin addresses ActiveCaptain’s future in email, AC Community is coming to Navionics

20 Apr

Despite our phone conversation with Garmin cartography manager Ken Cirillo, the company had still not officially declared their plans for ActiveCaptain in writing.  That changed today with a  Garmin email to AC captains beginning: “ActiveCaptain Community will continue to be a free online site…”  That statement echoes what we were told by Cirillo, along with his assurance that Garmin remains committed to working with AC partners (i.e. independent app developers). And there’s more official good news in the email.

Since Garmin acquired Navionics the obvious question has been, will Garmin integrate ActiveCaptain Community into the Navionics Boating app?  ...

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