The paper chart, still the best?

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


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

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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Simrad Halo solid-state open-array radar, what you get

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


This is big. Today Simrad announced the first recreational solid-state open-array radar and it seems to be a humdinger. In January I got to see Halo in action aboard the same Yellowfin 36 seen above in a screen grab of Simrad's informative Halo video, and I've also met twice with members of the engineering team. In fact, there are so many features with so much complex technology behind them that this entry will only attempt to cover what Halo hopes to do for you; next week we'll get into how it works. And yes, this radar does include blue LED accent lighting, if you want it, but that's just the bling...

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Teak Isle, Boat Outfitters, and Qi wireless phone charging

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


Yes, you can have wireless phone and tablet charging built into your boat right now. What's more, the Qi wireless charging standard that's powering the demo above is picking up support at a rapid rate, and the company building it into boat cabinetry is top drawer (so to speak). In fact, you should know about Teak Isle and its DIY retail outlet Boat Outfitters even if you don't give a hoot about induction charging...

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Raymarine eS Series, long live the glass bridge

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Apr 24, 2015


On Monday Flir unveiled Raymarine's eS Series, and shortly thereafter, extensive detail on the new 7-, 9-, and 12-inch multifunction displays went online. A cynic might say that the eS Series is simply a refresh of the existing eSeries with its similar HybridTouch mix of keypad and touchscreen controls. But that would ignore multiple hardware improvements plus the amazing evolution of Ray's Lighthouse II operating software since the lower-case "e" MFDs entered the market in 2011. For instance, click the photo above bigger to better see the full support for Navionics, C-Map, and LightHouse cartography (discussed here recently). Also, not to be ignored is the glass bridge style, which makes sense in all its ramifications and is very much here to stay, I think...

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Digital Yacht Sonar Server, keeping it simple!

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Apr 20, 2015


I'm really impressed with the Digital Yacht Sonar Server introduced last week, though it has almost nothing to do with the technology involved. In fact, I think the DY developers could have engineered this product in their sleep, as could several other companies that specialize in NMEA 0183 utility hardware. What's brilliant here is a simple, reasonably priced, and fast-to-market solution for certain boaters who are understandably hot to use the Navionics SonarCharts Live app feature on their phone or tablet. And Digital Yacht has backed up their marketing smarts with deep info on how to install the Sonar Server...

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Navico WR10 Wireless Pilot Controller & BT-1 Bluetooth-to-N2K gateway

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


Last week Navico introduced a Wireless Pilot Controller that can be added to B&G, Simrad, and Lowrance autopilots that connect to their control heads (and/or MFD controls) via NMEA 2000. It can do more than the keys indicate -- like tack a sailboat that's being steered in wind mode -- and it will retail at $349 with a BT-1 Bluetooth Base Station. The WR10 remote will also be available by itself for $150 as four can work with one BT-1 at once, and eventually the remote may be able to work directly with the Bluetooth built into displays like the recently introduced Lowrance HDS Gen3 or the new Simrad Go7 / B&G Vulcan V7 twins...

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