Ben Stein

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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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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