Fusion Signature sound and much more, plus Clarion gets N2K

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


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


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


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


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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The Jose Fernandez boating tragedy, some safety thoughts

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 28, 2016

Jose_Fernandez_crashed_boat_courtesy_Patrick_Farrell_Miami_Herald.jpgYou probably already know at least the rudiments of the story. At about 3 am on Sunday, three young men died when their 32-foot center console fishing boat engaged at high speed with the long north jetty that guards the Port of Miami's Government Cut channel. Just the violence of the crash -- it was heard by a policeman on shore nearly a half mile away -- was noteworthy, but the owner and probable driver was the beloved budding baseball star Jose Fernandez. It's a deeply tragic story as is, but is there anything in it to learn about boating safety?

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Testing Raymarine Quantum Q24 radar, solid on many levels

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 22, 2016

Raymarine_Quantum_Q24_displayed_on_eS128_cPanbo.jpgThat's very good radar imagery in my experience, especially given that it's the fully automated output of a relatively small and affordable radome which can be super easy to install. Note, for instance, how well it's separating the moored boats in Camden's recently discussed Outer Harbor and thus usefully revealing the channel into the Inner Harbor (that many visiting boats have trouble finding even in clear daylight). I also got to see how well Raymarine navigation networks can handle dual radar scanners and how sophisticated their WiFi has become. And finally I hope to spank Ray about its annoyingly overprotective MARPA alarms (though that situation could be easily fixed in software ;-)...

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Navico NASA moves tech support to the cloud

... written for Panbo by Bill Bishop and posted on Sep 10, 2016

navico_nasa_logo_aPanbo.jpgMarine electronics tech support is a ritual I'm all too familiar with. Dial the phone, wade through the metaphorical press one for yes, two for no and wait until the tech picks up. For the average boater this can quickly turn into a button pushing slog with unsatisfactory results. Tech: "What version of software are you running?" Boater: I don't know, where do I find it?" Tech: "Go to the System tab." Boater: "Where's the system tab?" Tech: "It's in Settings." Boater: "Where's Settings?" I won't belabor this but sometimes it takes a lot of patience to provide tech support with the information they need to help you. This is now changing for the better with Navico's new cloud-based Network Analyzer Service Assistant (NASA) software. It's the most significant use of the Internet by a MFD to date, I think, and the high-tech aspect of the NASA acronym isn't lost on me either.

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New: Lars Thrane sensors, B&G Triton2, and Maine Cat 38

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 6, 2016

Lars_Thrane_LT-1000_NRU_and_LT-500_AHRS_aPanbo.jpgToday I've got a smorgasbord of new gear to share, starting with a trio of serious multi-sensors from Lars Thrane A/S in Denmark. The company first came to my attention when they inquired about advertising -- thanks, LT -- but a little research revealed why their products may well appeal to Panbo readers. The LT-500 AHRS in the foreground is an 11-sensor Heading, Roll, Pitch, Air Pressure and Temperature device; the LT-300 GNSS not shown is a 72-channel GPS/GLONASS/BeiDou receiver; and the LT-1000 Navigation Reference Unit (NRU) shown installed essentially combines the two. Common to all of the current Lars Thrane products is promised high precision, reasonable pricing, simultaneous NMEA 0183 and 2000 output, and an impressive attention to the real boat details involved in installation, calibration, and future proofing...

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Garmin wireless wonders #1: Virb XE and now the Virb Ultra 30

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Aug 31, 2016

Garmin_Helm_app_showing_wireless_Virb_XE_cam_and_gWind_cPanbo.jpgThe multiple layers of Garmin wireless communications going on above may seem crazy, but they all work well and have endless practical and/or fun applications around a boat. Normally, for instance, it would take two people to align a fixed boat camera, plus running power and video cables. But I simply climbed up Gizmo's mast, mounted a Virb XE with an adhesive base, and aligned it using the free Garmin Helm app on my phone to see the Virb video screen running on the flybridge GPSmap 7612. It took mere minutes to get a masthead view at my helm, and while mounting the gWind sensor required tools, it too is completely wireless. Garmin is blazing several worthy wireless trails...

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A Camden boat grounding dissected, can crowdsourcing help?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Aug 18, 2016

aground_in_Camden_mooring_field_blurred_cPanbo.jpgThe identities of the yacht and its operators are irrelevant. But how did they go hard aground in a highly used harbor during a clear summer day? Was it just a dumb mistake or was a lack of chart detail partially to blame? Should the USCG or the town of Camden better mark the danger? Did marine electronics somehow contribute to what was at least an embarrassing incident? Can crowdsourced data help? I'm not sure about the answers but I have assembled a lot of information for discussion...

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