Cartography lessons learned searching for the best charts of Cuba

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Dec 30, 2016

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Pardon my photography, but the point is that many detailed, up-to-date, and well-crafted official paper charts of Cuba do exist. Unfortunately, they're not easy to own and the good work of the Cuban hydrographic service is also not yet fully available in any electronic form. In fact, many "current" electronic Cuba charts are based on shockingly old data with substantial chunks of critical cruising detail missing. But visiting boaters do have at least one good current chart choice, GeoCuba is moving into the modern world, and the back story reveals chart issues every navigator should understand, with a Cuban twist...

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McMurdo SmartFind G8 AIS EPIRB, first of many, PLBs too?

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

McMurdo_SmartFind_E8_G8_and_G8_AIS_EPIRBs_aPanbo.jpgLet's first note that McMurdo's trailblazing SmartFind G8 AIS EPIRB still awaits FCC approval and probably won't be for sale in the U.S. until spring (along with its more conventional E8 and G8 siblings). But McMurdo has definitely developed this useful combination of local and global rescue beacon, other manufacturers may have AIS EPIRBs in the works, and I've got some details about how they'll work. I also have some safety tips from an acquaintance who just dramatically experienced the effectiveness of a current ACR EPIRB...

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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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