Panbo

Apple Watch boat applets, Pocket Mariner is raring to go

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Apr 9, 2015

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I find the Apple Watch fascinating, even if I have no plans to own one myself, and I encourage anyone else with an interest to read David Pierce's Iphone Killer: The secret history of the Apple Watch at Wired.com for a deep look at what the obsessed designers were up to. The first hands-on reviews are coming out now, pre-orders start late tonight, and at least one boating apps developer will be ready to go when the watches release to the public on April 24...

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Onboard WiFi and cell booster strategies, the diagrams

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Apr 6, 2015

Online_Boat_no_boosters_cPanbo.jpgI've given numerous seminars about what modern mobile communications can do on boats these days and I'll be presenting the latest version at TrawlerFest's new Essex, Connecticut, location in early June. Aside from guidance about useful apps and the neat ways phones, tablets, and the Internet are integrating with marine electronics, boaters want to know how to improve their WiFi and/or cell connections with shore. But when I start talking about typical methods of installing wireless boosters, confusion sometimes follows! So, I'm working on a series of diagrams that Panbo readers might also find useful or might help improve...

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2 new "standalone" 7-inch MFDs: Simrad Go7 and B&G Vulcan V7

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 31, 2015

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The brand new Simrad Go7 looks like an all-glass version of the Simrad NSS7 evo2 Combo, but its design may actually define an interesting new "standalone" glass bridge MFD style that trades some of the multi in multifunction for a much lower cost. The Go7's suggested retail price is just $799 without charts or transducer, and its B&G Vulcan V7 sibling is also just $799 with an added bundle of sailing features. I put "standalone" in quotes -- and we need a better term -- because these chartplotter/sonar combos can make many useful connections over NMEA 2000 and WiFi, though they do not include the Ethernet needed to fully network with radars, other MFDs, and external sonar sources...

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Wemar Nautipad, why not e-paper instrument displays?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 29, 2015

Wemar_Nautipad_displays_aPanbo.jpgThey look like excellent instrument displays, especially when you realize that they're portable, wireless, waterproof, touchscreen tablets that rarely need charging and shouldn't be wicked expensive. Unfortunately, though, they're not currently available. I hesitate to write about a discontinued product, but the seemingly well-developed Wemar Nautipad system above could come back on the market if another company wants to give it a go, and e-paper screens seem like an interesting idea for boats anyway...

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Wireless autopilot controls: Madman for Raymarine, Si-Tex SRS-100 for any brand

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 25, 2015

Madman_ap_control_for_Raymarine_cPanbo.jpgSome people think it's crazy to run an autopilot with a smartphone, so maybe it's fitting that a company called Madman Marine is the first to make this possible with Raymarine pilots. But then again, Madman's AP-WRC3iF comes with two fobs that run on a separate wireless frequency and that can also make course changes, initiate autotacks and change pilot modes. And it only costs about $235 U.S. plus shipping from Australia (with the fob-only model at about $190)...

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AMEC Camino 701 Class A AIS, first with a nearly complete NMEA 2000 interface

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 19, 2015

AMEC_Camino_701_Class_A_AIS_front_aPanbo.jpgThere are several reasons that a yacht or workboat might want to use an AIS Class A transceiver instead of Class B, even if they're not required to. With Class A you'll be seen by other boats from a greater distance because you'll be transmitting at 12W instead of 2, and you'll be tracked much more smoothly -- particularly if you're going fast and/or manuevering -- because the Class A update rate for dynamic data like position, speed, and heading is much more frequent than Class B. The problem is that the total install cost of Class A can be quite high and especially annoying on a modern boat with a NMEA 2000 network -- despite what you may have read on Panbo! -- because no Class A truly supported N2K until the AMEC Camino 701 came along (and it's not perfect yet)...

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Raymarine Chart Store, the Lighthouse format go international

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 15, 2015

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I heard in Miami that the online Raymarine Chart Store would soon open, but I had no idea how well stocked the virtual shelves would be. It was great when Ray enabled its own Lighthouse raster and vector chart format a year ago even though they only duplicated NOAA's entire free coverage of US coastal waters. Now there are more free charts available -- for other nations that also give their data away, like Brazil and New Zealand -- as well as access to an interesting array of commercial charts...

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Shouldn't our community sourced marine data be open to all developers?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 10, 2015

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I've been cogitating a lot about crowdsourced depth data lately, including the realization that "community sourced" is a better term. Whatever it's called, Navionics in particular has made it wonderfully easy to collect and share sonar files and especially wow with the Vexilar integration. But the business stakes are high and thus we have the frustration of Navionics and Garmin butting heads. Upon further contemplation, a wistful thought from that last entry -- "Wouldn't it be great if we could upload our data to some service that would make it available to any chart developer?" -- seems not only important to avoiding further messes and helping this technology proliferate, but also quite possible...

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The Navionics SonarCharts for Garmin conflict, messy business!

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 6, 2015

Navionics_Garmin_SonarChart_beta_New_Bern_NC_cPanbo.jpgThis screenshot shows the Garmin GPSMap 8212 installed on Gizmo displaying the same crowdsourced Navionics SonarChart bathymetric data that I recently enjoyed improving via the Navionics Boating app and Vexilar dinghy sonar. In fact, all the chart data seen above came from Navionics, even the beta version was fairly usable for navigation (I thought), and the finished chart cards are now for sale. But I doubt that many will be purchased once potential users realize how Garmin is reacting to this development! Navionics and Garmin seem nearly at war, and this entry will attempt to untangle what's happening. I fear there are no heroes in this battle, and it may even foreshadow further tensions in the critical world of chart and plotter manufacturers...

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Vexilar T-Box WiFi fishfinder & Navionics SonarChart Live wow

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Mar 1, 2015

Navionics_Vexilar_SonarChart_Live_skinny_water_cPanbo.jpgThis mid-January screenshot represents a very pleasing experience in marine electronics testing. Thanks to a Vexilar SonarPhone T-Box SP200 and the Navionics Boating app I'm cruising around in my 9-foot dinghy with more than just charting and a fishfinder. I have access to three different chart formats plus a live SonarChart being created as I move along, and the data I'm collecting will be available to my fellow cruisers a week or two later. It sounds exotic, but the total cost was about $250 (iPad mini excepted), installation was fairly trivial, and it all worked quite well right out of the box.

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