Testing the Garmin Fantom 24 in a new world of solid-state radar

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 1, 2016

Gizmo_testing_four_solid-state_radars_11-2016_cPanbo.jpgIt went unmentioned at our large family Thanksgiving feast last week, but I am thankful that solid-state radar became omnipresent in our marine electronics world this year. In fact Gizmo's four test radomes now all share the solid-state virtues of near instant power up, low power draw, low emission levels, and long life (at least theoretical). They are all decent performing radars, too, and several offer very special features that only seem possible with solid-state technology. In this entry I'll try to sort out the field, while also sharing first impressions of that spanking new Garmin Fantom 24 radome.

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METS 2016: Navico, Fusion, Airmar and Signal K

... written for Panbo by Kees Verruijt and posted on Nov 18, 2016

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This year's annual Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) in Amsterdam seemed busier than ever. It's good to see that the marine industry has largely recovered, although the sailboat business still seems to lag behind behind motorboats. The super yacht halls were very busy too. I saw some exciting new developments from Navico, who were showing the brand new NSS evo3 and B&G Zeus3 as well as their recently announced instrument displays. Fusion had a new high-end speaker, and Airmar showed me their brand new electromagnetic DX900+ multifunction speed sensor.

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WilhelmSK app shows what Signal K, good boat WiFi, and smart DIY coding can do

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Nov 15, 2016

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Hey, those are all solid-state radomes showing on the 7-inch displays at Gizmo's lower helm, and you'd see a fourth one running on the flybridge. Comparative testing is underway, but today I'm going to write about the rather amazing WilhelmSK app running on the iPad above. It is not only mirroring the Raymarine a77 screen, touch control included, but also neatly displaying lots of NMEA sensor data that's been converted to the app-friendly Signal K protocol, thanks to Digital Yacht's iKommunicate gateway. In my opinion, WilhelmSK is a terrific early example of Signal K's potential and also a testament to Raymarine's powerful WiFi strategy...

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If you want to sail away, free FastSeas weather routing can help

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Nov 9, 2016

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If you're looking for a real getaway this morning, or even just an online distraction, FastSeas.com can help. It's also a testament to how much goodness a smart boater/coder can create for his or her fellow mariners these days. And while FastSeas is primarily an online weather routing service for sailors embarking on ocean passages, it's easy and flexible enough that even a coastal power cruiser can benefit...

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New Garmin: Fantom radomes & Panoptix thru-hull FLS, plus radios & "budget" MFDs

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Nov 2, 2016

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Were you hoping that Garmin would bring its Fantom solid-state radar technology down to radome size, including the Doppler-assisted target motion highlighting they call MotionScope? How about two sizes, 18 and 24 inch? Or maybe you're a Garmin owning cruiser jealous of Simrad or B&G users with ForwardScan forward looking sonar? That's also taken care of, sort of. And these are just two highlights of all the new products Garmin announced today, many of which will ship soon...

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Lauderdale 'lectronics: sensors, sats, cams, boats, ROVs and ?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Nov 1, 2016

Fort_Lauderdale_Boat_Show_2016_maps.jpgThe Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) has become an enormous event, and I would have a hard time covering all the interesting electronics-related exhibits even if I actually motivated my lazy old butt out of Maine this week. But I do have the goods on one important set of new products (that I can share tomorrow), and I've also got some ideas about booths and docks to visit that some of you might enjoy and perhaps even report back about...

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Fusion Signature sound and much more, plus Clarion gets N2K

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 27, 2016

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Fusion's Todd Crocker has twice impressed me with on-water demonstrations of the company's premium Signature sound system, first at the Miami Show (above) and again during the NMEA Conference. I'm not sure why it took me so long to write about what I heard, but maybe it's because the sound quality was so good it hurt! Not my ears, but the fact that no stereo in my life -- boat, car, home, or portable -- comes close. Fusion has also introduced new products for more modest budgets and seems intent on conquering all corners of marine audio. But then again, competitors like Clarion are definitely stepping up their game...

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Remote Boat Monitoring: here comes Navico GoFree Vessel/Track and Siren Marine MTC

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 19, 2016

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While off-boat monitoring was already getting better and more competitive, finally one of the big four marine electronics brands is about to join the fray. Navico's GoFree Connected Vessel concept is not just important because it will be marketed and serviced worldwide, but also because the development team took the time to think out a truly comprehensive system that can potentially serve a wide variety of boaters in multiple ways. Meanwhile team Siren Marine has been building on their years of remote monitoring, tracking and control experience and will soon announce a series of second-generation MTC products that sound exciting. This entry will take a preliminary look at both these systems and I'll soon share testing results on two more...

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Standard Horizon GX6500: a loaded VHF radio also integrated with Class B AIS

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 11, 2016

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The wait is almost over. The Standard Horizon Quantum GX6500 combines Class B AIS and VHF transceivers into one device, an important first in critical marine communications that some boaters have long hoped for. It is not yet for sale pending FCC approval, but the expected price of $800 seems quite reasonable given the install efficiency, the integrated GPS/VHF/AIS features, and a lot more that Standard has designed in. The GX6500 would be an extraordinary radio even without the AIS...

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NMEA 2000 realities, the pro installer view

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Oct 4, 2016

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The day after the annual National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) Conference ended, the Association ran its new Advanced NMEA 2000 Installer Certification course in the same Naples, Florida, hotel and let me sit in. I learned about numerous N2K subtleties and also about how NMEA trainings have evolved, but let's start with a fact that says a lot about who the overall organization is: The course creator and trainer Mike Spyros (seen twice above) is not only an exceptionally knowledgeable and seasoned electronics technician, he's also the incoming chairman of the NMEA Board...

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