Continuing on the subject of testing KVH’s M3 TV system, pictured above (and bigger here) is the nifty little 12v Direct TV receiver and RF remote that are included. The 3 LEDs along the top left of the receiver tell you most everything you need to know about voltage status, antenna activity, and overall system happiness. In the background you can make out the single coax cable that both powers the antenna and brings back the signal. And then there’s that Navman 8120 multifunction display (MFD) I’ve been testing recently. Pretty cool that you can watch TV on a 12” plotter/sounder/(radar soon) that seems to be selling for around $2,200 on the street.
But the video quality did seem to vary noticeably and in price order, with the Garmin 3210 below (and bigger here) in the middle, and the E-120 pictured last week—which has a video coprocessor—at the top. Hence my cute You Get What You Pay For title. Incidently, none of these MFDs seem able to use their full screens for any sort of video display. But, of course, if you did have a KVH M3 aboard, watching it at the helm would be very much secondary to using it with a nice flat screen TV or two (which I just don’t happen to have on Ralph).
Intermittent WiFi in Cuttyhunk, fog in Fisher’s Island Sound, a greasy scallop and bacon pizza, one engine overheating…it was a hell of a cruise, really! I’ll share more later, but I’m tickled to arrive home and find that two Panbotes e-mailed me about the late Friday news that Boeing has bought C-Map. Wow.
I didn’t see this coming, and am not sure how it will work. The strategy stated in the press release is that C-Map will help Boeing’s Jeppesen subsidiary, already huge in aviation mapping, grow its marine division. I find it a little odd that the release never mentions Nobeltec, which seems to be the only real meat currently at Jeppesen Marine, even if it’s only listed under “Recreational Solutions”. It’s obvious that C-Map’s commercial vector charts will fit nicely into Jeppesen’s commercial goals but what happens to Nobeltec’s Passport charts? And what about the various recreational electronics products, like Standard Horizon plotters, that are actually built by C-Map? And does this affect BNT ME, i.e. Navman/Northstar, for sale and fairly committed to C-Map cartography? Your comments welcome (and a big thanks to Aaron and Milt for the head’s up).
PS, 8/21: I’ve called the various companies involved and no one can really say much during the “quiet period”, i.e. the 90–120 days it may take to have the deal OK’d by various regulatory bodies. But I did learn a little: * C-Map’s hardware manufacturing, as well as aviation/land navigation products, are actually separate companies, and are not part of this deal. * Jeppesen says it has every intention of continuing and improving C-Map’s existing OEM operations, i.e. no worries if you have a plotter using C-Map cartography. * The folks at C-Map and Nobeltec (and, of course, Jeppesen) all sound excited about future product strategies (that they can’t really talk about yet).
Wonder how I got that high shot of Ralph yesterday? It was from the fly bridge of this baby, Shanghai Baby, an Island Pilot 395 that I’ve finagled use of for a week. Designer Reuben Trane turned the helm over to us on Sunday, and we got acquainted by dubbing around the fabulous Spirit of Bermuda launching in Rockport. Yesterday was photo day, with Jamie sometimes on Ralph’s roof while Andrea and I made like tourists around Camden Harbor and hot rodders out on the bay. Fun, particularly as the boat handles quite nicely at all speeds. Today the weather here is crappy and I’m trying to get packed and tie up loose ends. Tomorrow morning we’re off to Essex, Connecticut, probably crossing the Gulf of Maine overnight at displacement speed, for fuel economy and sheer joy of getting offshore on a flat night. Are you getting the picture? Postings will be slim to none until next week!
It doesn’t even look as silly as I thought it would (bigger here
) on my 25’ Ralph (still for sale, people!). The KVH M3 Satellite TV dome is some svelte at less than 18” high and 16” in diameter, supposedly the world’s smallest fully stabilized antenna system. But, think about it, it takes more than small size to succeed on a smaller boat; staying locked onto, say, a DirectTV satellite (the only service so far supported) is harder when a boat’s motion is quicker. Yet I did donuts in Ralph, even got sideways in a wake that snap rolled me so badly I almost fell down… and the M3 retained lock. It was also incredibly easy to install. I’ll have more on this impressive (if somewhat pricey) unit soon, but for now will close with an image of how the M3 output looks on the E-120. It’s bigger here, but do note that a still picture of video never does it complete justice. This was very sharp, saturated, and smooth moving TV.
Imagine a thick New York accent, “So sue me, already.” Maybe the whole thought is, “Hey, pissed off cause I can afford to keep this cherry Bunker & Ellis as shiny as a violin? So sue me!” Sorry, no electronics today, folks, but another in a continuing series on catchy boat names. Have a great weekend (and if possible do drop by the fabulous Maine, Boats, Homes and Harbors Show.)
I have a great deal of respect for professional seaman, but, like the rest of us, they do screw up. Unlike the rest of us, they are driving very massive vessels. In April 2005, for instance, the container ship Lykes Voyager, en route to Vancouver at 19.5 knots had a fender bender in a foggy Taiwan Strait with another container ship, the Washington Senator, which was Hong Kong bound at 17 knots. “No one was hurt but both ships were damaged and a number of containers were lost overboard.” Imagine the sound! As usual the MAIB (the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch) has produced an amazingly detailed report on just what happened, available in several PDfs. Noteworthy items as drawn from the report by Digital Ship:
* “Using the VHF radio, the master of the Washington Senator had agreed to a starboard to starboard passing arrangement with another vessel that he mistakenly thought to be the Lykes Voyager - he was, in fact, conversing with another unidentified vessel.”
* “The use of the radio as the primary method of communication for a distress call after the collision was also ineffective according to the investigation, as there was no response from any other vessels or from the search and rescue (SAR) authorities.” (They used 16, not DSC!)
* “Even though both ships in this case were fitted with AIS equipment it was not utilised for identification - if it had been the Washington Senator could have easily identified which ship it was speaking with, and the incident could have been avoided.” (Both had only MKDs to track AIS targets, which—in other words—were not integrated onto their radar or chart displays.)
We need to think about realities like these even as we get excited about Class B transponders. And thank our lucky stars that we weren’t in a small boat trying to avoid these behemoths that foggy morning off Taiwan.
Did you cruise some mega systems with Intelisea on Monday? Well, now you might want to visit another relatively new monitoring company, Krill Systems, and download its SoftDisplay demo (it’s a single zipped .exe file and needs only XP or 2000 to run, no installation). You may miss that “carefor more champagne, sir?” feeling, but I think you’ll find well thought out software for monitoring important stuff on, say, a 45’ trawler. Krill is aiming for less than mega with a starter kit at $4,500. That gets you an Electrical System Sensor Pod (below), a Tank & Switch Sensor Pod, all cables and sensors, an Ethernet Switch, and the SoftDisplay to run on your yacht’s computer. Krill also makes a waterproof 8.4” display (a dedicated CE PC actually) with built-in WiFi lest the Ethernet run is too difficult. Of course more sensor pods can be added and, because Krill’s front end is a small PC application, off ship monitoring should be fairly easy to setup. Here’s the full image of the SoftDisplay screen above but you really should try the demo, drilling down to see how tanks are calibrated, bilge alarms set, etc. Also note developer Casey Cox’s unique bonus display of incoming NMEA navigation data.
On Sunday I had an enjoyable on board visit with another avid marine electronics geek (and Panbo reader), and one of several things he said that stuck with me was, “If I could get a Class B AIS for $1,500, I’d write a check today!” Well, he doesn’t have long to wait, and he’s going to have choices. I understand that the Comar CSB200 will ship in mid-September and today the German AIS shop Y-tronic announced that it is taking pre-orders for this Trueheading AIS-CTRX Class B transponder, which will also be available in mid-September. Some notes about it:
* These units will be “pre-programmed by the dealer with the yacht’s static data (MMSI, type, name, call sign) and can be operated in a stand-alone fashion”. I’m learning that this may be true of all Class B AIS transponders, thus minimizing erroneously programmed units (think DSC issues). And you’ll still be able to get AIS target and GPS position feeds from the unit if you want.
* The AIS-CTRX has “an additional distress button” that sounds interesting, but neither Holger nor I understand exactly how it works (even after reading Trueheading’s own PDF brochure).
Finally, note that these are not the only Class B transponders that will become shipping products in the next few months, nor is the distress button the only unusual feature. Sorry, but I can say no more.
Stuck in an office far from your boat? Or maybe your mega ride is in the yard for repairs? Well, then, scooch on over to Intelisea, a relative new comer to the world of high end monitoring and control, and enjoy some mouse time touring its online demo. The software design is elegant (and admired in the programming community), and it’s fun to think of yourself minding a 100+’ yacht packed with sensors and PCs. Intelisea systems are being installed on three large new yachts right now, but the builder is so far unwilling to publicize them (frustrating for the sales guys!). The systems are “complete sensor-to-user solutions” and, of course, very customizable, but Intelisea does quote a “standard” price of 60k for a 30m yacht.
I don’t know much about Erica’s electronics, but ain’t she ‘purty’ (bigger photo here). Yesterday I went out on the Bay to watch some of the annual Castine to Camden classic yacht race (also covered here last year). The poor boats were struggling to maintain headway in almost whiffless conditions, but it was great to see this just launched classic, especially with builder Todd French (French & Webb) driving and designer Chuck Paine as ‘afterguard’. From the closeup I’m guessing B&G instruments and a Northstar 6000i multifunction display. And, yes, that’s a URL on the transom of the spiff cold-molded tender, but so far there’s not much to see at www.artisanboatworks.com.