Panbo

Foggy, Brooklin Boat Yard builds an artful automated sloop

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jul 4, 2015

FOGGY_at_BBY_6-2015_cPanbo.jpgMaine is rightfully well known for boatbuilding but the craft was largely dormant when I got here in the early 70's, and it stayed that way for quite a while. In the late 80's many of the talented builders I worked with at WoodenBoat School were doing repairs and restorations. A commission for most anything larger than a sailing skiff was a big deal. But wow, did that change. It's been wonderful to witness remarkably crafted custom vessels launch at yards like Lyman Morse (now also in Camden!), Rockport Marine, and Hodgdon Yachts to name a few. In fact, I only learned on June 20th that Brooklin Boat Yard -- already masters at composite "Spirit of Tradition" beauties -- was working on the extraordinary sloop above...

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SRT acquires Class B AIS patent, consequences uncertain

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

SRT_Acquisition_of_Patent_release_clips_aPanbo.jpgFor me, this story began with a March 5th email titled "AIS patent wars - a tax on safety?" It referenced the SRT stock market announcement partially shown above and went on to say:

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SOTDMA Class B AIS, the "new" middle way?

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

SRT_5W_SOTDMA_AIS_Class_B_on_way_aPanbo.jpgIt may be a while before we see the first 5 Watt SOTDMA Class B AIS transceiver actually available for sale, but it certainly is interesting to see a prototype trumpeted in SRT's Summer 2015 Pulse Newsletter (available here). Given SRT's main role as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), we may first see this "new" AIS technology -- perhaps with even more features -- branded as Simrad, Raymarine, True Heading, Digital Yacht, Comar, etc. (and/or marketed under SRT's own Em-Trak label). Or maybe Furuno, AMEC, Vesper or another of the independent AIS manufacturers will be first out with SOTDMA Class B? I don't know. More important is SOTDMA Class B as a new middle ground between the Class A AIS used on large vessels (which also works on the SOTDMA protocol) and the CSTDMA Class B technology that we're used to...

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Coastal Marine WiFi, a winner!

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jun 22, 2015

Coastal_Marine_WiFi_hardware_cPanbo.jpgSince early May I've used the Coastal Marine WiFi kit with all sorts of onboard WiFi devices and all sorts of Internet hotspots, and I'm very impressed with its smart design and easy, reliable performance. Yes, the overall system architecture is quite similar to several other good boat WiFi "booster" solutions like the various Wave Rogue and Bitstorm Xtreme kits, but there's a lot of nuance to making these systems easy to install and operate. And whereas many boaters are still understandably confused about the WiFi booster/router combo that's so unlike what they use at home or office, I'm going to dig deep into how the CMW goes together and what it can do...

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Coastal Explorer PC charting revisited, with love to WPx

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jun 16, 2015

Coastal_Explorer_DR_mode_w_route_n_WPx.jpgThe last days of Gizmo's trip north were a difficult dance of wanting to get home quickly versus not wanting to suffer the consequences of a relatively small powerboat in biggish winds and seas. I'm still recovering. But it's a good time to detail the Coastal Explorer planning tools that surely helped me make the best of the situation, and particularly the brilliant yet rare feature known as "WPx"...

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The paper chart, still the best?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jun 2, 2015

Working_on_a_training_chart_cPanbo.jpg

It's true that I don't navigate on paper charts anymore, but I appreciate them and use their electronic equivalent more than ever. One reason is what I learned last January while preparing for a TrawlerFest seminar called "Soup to Nuts Navigation" (which I'm reformulating right now for the new Cruising Boat Expo here in Essex, CT). The other is having just run up from North Carolina -- including the entire New Jersey ICW, which can't fit much more boat than Gizmo -- with just about every chart type and brand in view. I think we would have had more trouble than we did because my mate and I learned navigation starting with paper charts and we referenced the equivalent heavily...

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Testing Lithium Ion engine jumpers (plus), from Weego and Cyntur

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 22, 2015

WeeGo_Jump_Starter_Battery_Pack_Pro_cPanbo.jpg
Most boaters will not experience the benefits of a Lithium Ion main battery bank any time soon, but nearly instant gratification is possible with a portable Li Ion charger pack, some of which can even jump start a small diesel engine. Brands and models are proliferating like fruit flies, but I'm particularly keen on the WeeGo Jump Starter Pro above, which I've been testing for a couple of months. It is a veritable Swiss Army knife of an on- or offboard power source...

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Volvo Ocean 65, powered by Mastervolt Li Ion

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 16, 2015

VOR_65_power_overview_courtesy_VOR_Roman_aPanbo.jpgI'm happy as an oyster slow cruising Chesapeake Bay with my favorite first mate, but if I had a teleporter I surely would have jumped on an invitation to check out a Volvo Ocean 65's systems in Newport yesterday. I doubt I would have encountered a scene as tidy as the photo above -- which looks forward in the main cabin of Dongfeng with most of the engine, power, battery, and keel ram covers removed, as well as the pedestal galley -- but then again all that technology has now zig-zagged almost around the planet in often demanding conditions. There's a lot of gear on these one-design racers that has performed impressively, as best I know, but I'm particularly taken with the Mastervolt Lithium Ion battery system...

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NMEA okays Signal K, a milestone in marine electronics?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 11, 2015

NMEA_recognizes_Signal_K_aPanbo.jpgWow! Today the National Marine Electronics Association -- also known as NMEA, or IMEA for its International reincarnation -- announced recognition of the Signal K open source marine data project. It's clearly not an endorsement, but it does provide clear methods to gateway NMEA 2000 boat data to the Internet-friendly universal marine data model that Signal K is about. And that's plenty good enough, I think. In fact, as the title above wonders, this may turn out to be a very big deal. I also think it marks a nice evolution for NMEA. Though criticism of this trade and standards organization from outside the small world of hardcore marine electronics has largely been unfair, NMEA could do better fitting into the much bigger and faster-moving data/app universe, and now they're trying harder...

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How Simrad Halo works, 12 radars in one!

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

Simrad_Halo_future_is_now_aPanbo.jpgPanbo's first entry about Simrad's unique solid-state open-array Halo radar tried to cover the promised features. Now I'll try to explain how it works, with the huge benefit of slides made available to me by Navico sr. product manager and engineer Don Korte, who I first met when Broadband (3G/4G) radar was introduced in 2009. I'm starting with the image above because that's not just Navico marketing; it would be hard to overstate Don's enthusiasm for Halo as he led me through the presentation. It was a teleconference but I'm pretty sure he was jumping up and down as I slowly got some of the concepts and he answered my smarter questions with a hearty "YES!"...

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