Here’s an entering Portland, Maine, screen photo, bigger here, designed to make a few points re: our discussions of the Garmin Guide To feature and the way the big units display data. This is a Combinations screen and it can have one to four windows with most anything in them, plus the Data Bar if you want. Unlike the largely pre-configured dashboard style data on a regular chart window, you can put any number in the system on that bar. On the 5212, you just touch the field to get list of choices; on the 4000 series you just punch one of the softkeys.
As of today, MadMariner.com joins Power & Motoryacht and Sail as a Panbo sponsor. You may not be familiar with the site, as it’s nearly brand new, but it’s an ambitious operation putting up fresh, and mostly original, boating content every day. Mad Mariner will be streaming Panbo along with its other blogs, which puts it side by side with HardWired, another marine electronics blog written by Jeff McLaren. Jeff is a manager at a Southern California marine distribution company, and also created an impressive set of Raymarine C– and E-Series instructional videos, and I think our blogs compliment each other nicely. Meanwhile, Panbo is poised to cross the 50,000 unique reader mark for September, and that doesn’t include some 15,000 Mac fans who stopped by. And note the advertisers who are braving BlogAds’ kludgy interface to get onto the right column. I thank them all, and especially Mad Mariner, for support that will help Panbo to improve and expand.
Last week I got a call from Phil, who’s cruising his Tayana 55 down the West Coast, headed for Mexico and beyond. He “loves” his new Garmin 5212, except for an interfacing bug that he’s hoping someone (Garmin?) can help with. Check the photo above, which shows the standard chart display with its dashboard style numerical data. The way that works is that under the Menu key you have four categories of data that you can set to Show, Hide, or Auto (i.e., show only if there’s appropriate data). I know from my own testing that Phil has the “Navigation” either on Show or Auto and hence is getting the info across the top, which is putting him right on his long SE leg toward San Francisco, 9 hours to go at 8 knots. He’s also put “Sailing” data in auto mode (and has the 5212 hooked to his Simrad instrument system), which is why you see not only wind speed and angle along the bottom, but also the wind indicator around his boat icon. I don’t know if he’s set Wind to Apparent or True (or if Garmin can cope with Ground/True subtleties), but the real question is why the heck is that boat icon headed North?
What’s this…a set of parallel rules that didn’t eat right as a child? Nope, the 7.25” ParaLocks were especially bred for taking the lat/long of a waypoint off a paper chart. Put one edge on any handy vertical or horizontal line, spread the rule to your mark (the finger holes help hold it tight to the chart), use the black knob to lock the spread (which can go as wide as standard 15” parallels), and, bada-bing, you’ve captured a measurement you can then take to the edge of the chart or to a scale in order determine a precise latitude or longitude. ParaLocks also have protractor and ruler marks, and do regular parallel rule work nicely on small chart tables and/or small charts, like the 12” wide Maptech Waterproof Chartbook shown. By the way, despite my role as champion of gee whiz electronics, I still like paper charts (and paper guide books). And though I wasn’t a fan of ChartKits when they first came out (um, a couple decades ago), the current versions are great on bigger boats, while the Chartbooks are handy on small boats. Maptech has been doing good work on the print side. Ditto Weems & Plath in the navigation tool dept. ParaLocks are well made and retail for around $22.50.
This photo, of which I’m especially proud (talk about herding cats!), is also a great example of how well Panbo can work with magazine articles. It’s the opener to my October electronics column, in which—thank you, PMY—I had the support to seriously ruminate about testing these four new Garmins. But here online I can show you the picture in greater detail, and write the long caption it deserves.
Before you get overly excited, note that so far you can only use this new satellite phone in Asia, Africa, or the Middle East. But according to the Inmarsat announcement, the service will be worldwide by the end of 2008. Like Iridium, the IsatPhone does data at a piddly 2400 bps, but that’s enough for email and file up/downloading, especially with a little help from XGate. And especially when the phone’s expected retail is “about $500” with voice calls at less than $1/minute. The data rate is 9600 when the phone is used in GSM mode; that’s Globalstar speed, but hopefully delivered more reliably by Inmarsat. There will also be a worldwide FleetPhone version of this service—with a down-below handset and external antenna—said to be “ideal” for smaller fishing vessels and yachts. “We are coming to shake up the satellite phone market,” says Inmarsat’s CEO. I think the reaction of a lot of offshore boaters will be: “Bring it on!”
It’s a Panbo first, but this entry is meant only for the various agency and manufacturer personnel who work with the media that covers marine electronics. A hassle they have before the big boat shows is trying to schedule press events that don’t conflict. Often they’ll call each other and/or a geek like me who tries to make every event. That’s why I came up with the idea of an open and easily updated Panbo tentative schedule of FLIBS press events. The Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show is just a month off, and some major events are already on the calendar. There’s even a bit of conflict, which is going to happen sometimes regardless. I certainly don’t want to play referee, but am hoping that Panbo can be a neutral and useful source of information. If the idea works OK, I’ll do it again for Miami, starting earlier.
Well then, rounding out a week of gear that you may need a lottery win to own, here’s something quite unusual called Automatic Sea Vision. The camera I saw at METS last year looked different than the one currently showing on the ASV Web site, but I’m sure the idea is the same.
Being a bit of contrarian, I thought I’d put up another high-end display for Panbo’s nattering nabobs to fire upon (just kidding, fellas). Actually, I don’t know what this new RaceVision 3000 costs—B&G is apparently reticent about online prices—but I’d guess it’s a pretty dear 8.4” ruggedized, touch-screen, daylight-viewable tablet PC. The press release suggests that it’s meant to connect wirelessly to a set of instruments—preferably H3000 digitals via B&G’s souped-up WTP2 Processor—and directly to the Web for GRIB file downloads. In fact, the latest 8.2 version of Deckman, which comes preloaded, includes integration with the nifty Ugrib software I tried a while back. At any rate, a full-on race system with a 3000 on deck could really add up.