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December 2009 Archives

Furuno FI-50 Multi XL, a NMEA embarrassment?

Dec 30, 2009
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Hey, maybe I can get the NMEA riled up too (though I doubt it has the posse gCaptain does).  Here's the thing:  Furuno's FI-50 line of instruments, including the neat new Multi XL above, are all about displaying NMEA 2000 data, right?  Heck, we've known that since their 2007 introduction.  I later tested them with all sorts of N2K data, saw how well that screen works in direct sunlight, and then used them this summer in a Cruising World article about N2K wind instruments.  They display NMEA 2000 data from most any source, and they're darn good at it!  But I defy you to find any reference to NMEA 2000 in the FI-50 brochure you can download from the Multi XL page.  What the...?...

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gTrax & Ship Tracker, telling it like it is

Dec 29, 2009
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When I recently looked into the dismal-looking future of eLoran in the U.S., and read some of your comments to that entry, I felt obliged to write Secretary Napolitano asking her not to kill the Loran system.  My most unusual, and hopefully persuasive, argument was that she would be serving her boss -- President Obama -- best by reversing a poor decision that he's endorsed, even crowed about.  Telling it like it is, even when that's contrarian, is often the most constructive thing we can do for our friends and colleagues.  It's in that spirit that I feel obliged today to note that my friends at gCaptain have introduced an iPhone AIS app that doesn't seem competitive...

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SmartCraft NMEA 2000 gateway, looking good

Dec 29, 2009
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Never mind that Mercury promised a NMEA 2000 gateway to its SmartCraft engine monitoring system back in 2001, the one it's poised to actually ship in 2010 looks quite powerful and useful.  If you check out the Gateway PDF above linked to this MercMonitor gauge page, you'll see that it can deliver a whole lot of engine messages to your N2K displays.  Plus it turns out that a gent named Glen Ersly has installed a prototype system and written about it in some depth...

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Merry Christmas to all, and to all...

Dec 24, 2009
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The Celestial Compass iPhone app would have trouble near a Pole too.  The ancients developed an amazingly effective system for delineating positions on the earth's surface, but all related systems tend to go wacko when you're in that tiny area where a foot step can span many degrees of longitude.  Big thanks to Dave Blazek for letting me use his cartoon (you can see more here), and for more holiday grins...

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iPhone apps update, & the future?

Dec 22, 2009
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It's hard to keep up with marine related iPhone apps, and the reviews at Apple's iTunes Store often don't help.  The Celestial Compass above, for instance, has seventy 1 or 2 star "this app doesn't work/sucks" type reviews versus just fifteen positive ratings, even though it does exactly what it purports to do, and that's not trivial.  Admittedly 'compass' may be a confusing name, but this app uses spherical trigonometry and an ephemeris to calculate the bearings (azimuths) of three celestial bodies at your location so you can line one of them up with the screen and thus orient yourself to True North, E, S, W, etc...

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For Mark McClellan, a boatguy's boatguy

Dec 21, 2009
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I'm going to get personal here, but I just can't stop thinking about Mark McClellan, seen above with his son Thomas on their schooner Simplicity five summers ago in Camden.  This morning I learned that he was the damn fool who went solo ice boating on Lake Chickawaukie during yesterday's snow and wind storm, setting off what seemed like a successful rescue operation after he broke through the young ice.  But Mark didn't make it.  And "damned fool" sounds much more judgmental than I'm really feeling...

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Raymarine nearly sold(?) & Honeywell's holiday surprise

Dec 18, 2009
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The news from London (reported somewhat differently here) is that Raymarine's board is now negotiating with a single buyer, which is not Garmin, and anticipates a deal in which all debts will be paid off and credit lines extended (but from which share holders may get zilch).  Of course the deal is not done, but it sure sounds more certain, and a lot like what many of us were predicting last month.  We may not know who the buyer is for a while, but doesn't it seem even less likely that Raymarine will go away?  However, part of the due diligence still underway may involve the lawsuit that Honeywell laid on Raymarine, Furuno, and Navico Wednesday...

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eLoran, dead on arrival?

Dec 16, 2009
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Well, this may be the saddest product introduction ever.  Last week CrossRate Technology finally launched its flagship eLGPS 1110 multi mode receiver.  If I had one powered up outside the lab right now, I'm confident that it could use both regular Loran-C, including the eLoran enhancements already added to the system, and WAAS GPS to determine my position in two ways -- and thus redundantly -- and could also use Loran to provide heading even when stationary.  But here's the giant rub:  A single signature, which may come at any moment, could end Loran-C, and eLoran, in the U.S.A. for good, starting next month...

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Fusion MS 600 series, the best gets better

Dec 15, 2009
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The lighting was tough for photography, but the quiet, sunny Camden breakfast spot was a fine place for Todd Crocker to demo Fusion's latest 600 series of "True Marine" stereos.  When Todd visited in 2008, he had the very innovative 500 series to show off, which I later tested myself and then wrote up for PMY.  If you check the links, you'll know I liked the MS-IP500 a lot; but I like the new models even more...

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ComNav Class A AIS transponder, with NMEA 2000!

Dec 14, 2009
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Very cool!  It looks like the compact and relatively inexpensive Class A AIS Transponder that SRT teased last summer is not only getting close to real, but that it will also -- nice surprise -- have NMEA 2000 output (in addition to regular NMEA 0183 HS and RS232 PC outputs).  The ComNav data sheet is available here (thanks, Dave!), but there are some caveats...

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