Panbo

Simrad BR24PC, Free Range BroadBand Radar #2

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jun 22, 2010
Expedition with Navico Broadband Radar.GIF

We had a false start in December when we first saw the PC charting program Expedition interfaced to a Navico BR24 radar, but as of last night this interesting possibility, and many like it, seem to be official.  Read the full press release here.  I think this means that Expedition and some other charting programs may soon be able to run a Broadband Radar, with or without a Simrad (or Lowrance?) multifunction display involved, but there are a few details of the plan and implementation that I'd like to know more about...

The BR24PC will not be an open source SDK (software development kit), for instance, but instead only licensed to "approved third parties".  This is understandable, I think, but I do wonder which parties Navico might not approve of?  Like MaxSea and Nobeltec, nearly half owned by Furuno?  (Would they be interested anyway?)  I also wonder what the line about how the "BR24PC SDK is available with two levels of functionality and requires unique unlock codes..." means.  Will free range Broadband radars cost significantly more than they do when bought as part of Simrad system (about $1,600-$1,900 street)?  If there is a premium, will it still apply if you also have a Simrad NSE in the system (a nice combination on two-helm-boats like Gizmo methinks)?  {Please see comments for update on pricing.}
   There are also two hardware interface issues, surmountable no doubt, but to be noted.  You can see below that the BR24 cable ends in a standard, though waterproofed, Ethernet connector at the R11 (or R10) interface box.  But the Ethernet output on that box uses Navico's own connector.  You can simply skip the interface box altogether, but not if you want MARPA.  The BR24 needs to have fast heading data injected into that Comms port (even when the same data is present in an NSE connected to the box via Ethernet!) to do the MARPA processing, which is unusual and not well documented in the manual.  Maybe Simrad will produce a patch cable with their Ethernet plug on one end and a standard RJ-45 on the other, and, besides, our man Kees has already figured out how to make one yourself.
   But these are probably all just little quibbles. Overall this is an exciting development in marine electronics, I think -- and hopefully not the last Ethernet marine sensor to go free range -- and I know a lot of you agree.  Let's discuss.

Navico_Broadband_Radar_interface_cPanbo.JPG

Comments

I would expect "Approved third parties can obtain a license to the BR24PC SDK" to mean that a software vendor signs a contract with Navico under which it can re-license to individual end users for a fee paid per software license. Applied to the example of Rose Point Coastal Explorer (purely speculative at this point), their Radar addition to Coastal Explorer would have to be marked up by the fee paid to Navico for a single user license or something close to it (from this page http://coastalexplorer.net/store/products/7 I understand that the radar add-on to Coastal Explorer for use with an existing Koden radar is available independently, quote: "The suggested retail price for the add-on is $399. It can be purchased directly from Rose Point, or one of their authorized resellers."). In the case of Expedition, there would either have to be an add-on license to allow connectivity to a BR24PC or the price of the whole product is increased by that amount. This is assuming that neither vendor feels like eating the added cost of the license from Navico.
There is no mention of this amount in the press release. If it is $1,500, neither vendor is likely to offer, or, if they did, I wouldn't be interested. If it is a few hundred, I'd be interested.

Ben or someone else (Kees?), how would you compare the BR24's ability to see an approaching weather front or storm cell? In http://www.panbo.com/archives/2009/08/18_radomes_4_the_wet_edition.html you said "The Navico BR24 also did a good job of seeing through rain at very close and medium ranges in auto mode. In fact, I had to fool with the Rain Clutter control to see rain at all, though that didn't help much beyond a few miles, at least in this confined location."

I once went through the Kiel Canal in the densest fog I have seen yet. I couldn't see the bank of the canal 20 feet to starboard and from time to time could hear and sense but not see the towering steel wall of a container ship about 20 feet to port. I could feel the boat ride up the bow wave, then slide down the other side. My existing radar was completely useless. The BR24, mounted 10 feet above the water instead of halfway up the mast, would have shined in that situation.
But I also want to sail the ARC and have a 20 minute warning of an approaching squall.
Will the BR24 give me that?

Posted by: Henning at June 22, 2010 11:08 AM | Reply

Henning, I think you're right that the BR24 would have served you in the canal. But I'm not personally sure about seeing squalls at a distance, though I hope to test that situation more soon. The Broadband Guide, which seems fairly realistic about the detection ranges I've actually seen, claims that a dense rain cell can be seen at 5-10nm, a heavy shower at 2-4, but with various disclaimers:

http://www.simrad-yachting.com/Products/Broadband-Radar/

Meanwhile, it's possible that the BR24PC licensing fee is just a one-time thing for the developers. There's now a site offering the SDK and licenses:

http://www.lei-extras.com/store/search.asp?SearchType=Unit&Unit=Broadband+Radar

And I've learned that a Level 1 license means control of: Basic Radar - Gain, Rain ,Sea, Clutter; Range - customized; Fast Scan; GuardZones; Standard MARPA; Simple PPI application; Ethernet interface; & Windows platform

While Level 2 adds: Multi-Radar Management; STC curve and clutter trimming; Scan Speed Control; & Ability to have raw radar data

Posted by: Ben at June 22, 2010 11:32 AM | Reply

I just don't understand this model of selling licenses so that third-party software can then use specialized hardware. Is there verification that this is how it actually works?

I realize that the manufacturers would prefer if their chartplotters were used with their radars. But to do that, those chartplotters need to be the best in class available. Putting these artificial price barriers hasn't ever worked for the long term. What will eventually happen is that there will be an open radar produced and the manufacturer will lose out on all parts of the installation.

Could you imagine if HP required you to pay an extra $50 to use one of their printers unless you were using an HP computer?

Posted by: Jeffrey Siegel at June 22, 2010 12:16 PM | Reply

Jeff, The license may just be one-time charge to developers, and may be largely aimed at avoiding the burden of hobbyists, like the upfront charge for technical support. The prices are at that www.lei... link above.

I don't know how Koden works with their various PC developers, but if Simrad had wanted to limit sales of the BR24 to users of their MFDs, they certainly could have. Besides for Koden and now Simrad (Navico) that's S.O.P.

Posted by: Ben at June 22, 2010 12:25 PM | Reply

Yes, if the getting the "unique supplier number" from Navico does not also involve signing a revenue sharing agreement of some kind, this simply looks like a proprietary software development kit license. Such licenses are par for the course in the software world; Apple, for example, charges $100 or so a year for access to the iPhone/iPad SDK. In the past I've paid prices in line with those listed on the IEI site for text messaging SDKs, linear optimization SDKs, and so on. In addition to weeding out the hobbyists, as Ben notes, for your money you usually get access to some support or development assistance resources.

Posted by: Adam at June 22, 2010 1:03 PM | Reply

All seems a little bit over the top, would have thought Navico would have been trying to get developers on board to entice customers to purchase their products - a lot of engineering work is required to implement a good radar interface - read development $!

Euronav have the Koden PC radar support built into our seaPro products and charge no more for it (even in the £99 product). Radar's are expensive enough anyway!

Cheers


Brian
Euronav Ltd.

Posted by: Brian at June 22, 2010 4:02 PM | Reply

As I read it, the unique supplier number is free, as is access to the SDK. What the big question is whether the unlock keys are redistributable, e.g. would a supplier need to buy one at $1295 per installation, or $1295 per supplier?

We'll know soon, I guess.

Posted by: Kees at June 22, 2010 4:04 PM | Reply

Hello,

Simrad does have an adaptor cable from the Network port to an RJ45, which is the port you would connect to in most cases.

Posted by: Nick at June 22, 2010 4:05 PM | Reply

First, radar access from MaxSea without an MFD was what I thought Furuno/MaxSea announced in November 2007, though they subsequently stepped back from that. I hope this will encourage them to recommit to that interface.

Jeff, I completely agree with your HP analogy; the marine electronics industry remains about 25 years behind the computer industry with regard to business models and "best of breed". The marine electronics industry is ever so slowly abandoning the IBM/DEC business models of the 70's when manufacturers forced customers to buy a mediocre (or expensive) system solution to get a single "best of breed" product.

Brian, I also completely agree with you. Microsoft and Apple invest $M's to support and encourage hardware and software developers to adopt their platforms. Winning the support of third parties is what makes a Silicon Valley startup successful. Some day the marine electronics industry will realize all those third parties are a resource, not a competitor.

This is great news. The unbundling announced by Simrad is movement in the right direction. Simrad has cracked the door open a little wider and they are to be applauded, even if they haven't quite figured out the licensing terms. Licensing terms are very easy to change!

Simrad has reset the interoperatbility bar in the marine electronics industry. Let's hope that the other manufacturers get the message and move the bar even higher and faster!

Posted by: Russ at June 22, 2010 8:11 PM | Reply

Brian/Euronav, I am very interested in seaPro for it's ARCS support which I would like to use in addition to Coastal Explorer that supports NV digital as well as NOAA vector and raster charts.

You can save me from having to make an either/or decision between BR24PC and seaPro by developing support for it (this is assuming that the prices quoted for the SDK license are per vendor not per user).

Posted by: Henning at June 23, 2010 3:27 AM | Reply

RATS! I have confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the $1,249 BR24PC Level 1 unlock fee is for each radar unit sold, not the SDK.

The press release is confusing, I think, and in retrospect I guess the move is aimed mostly at security and other land markets where price is less a concern, and at niche marine markets.

My question to Simrad/Navico is: "How about a much reduced license fee if a Navico MFD is also on the boat's system?" Wouldn't that change the "development cost" rational for the high unlock charge?

Posted by: Ben at June 23, 2010 11:04 AM | Reply

As Russ said, the marine electronics business is behind the rest of the computer industry. I'm not sure I agree with 25 years, but that's just a detail. You'd think that the incredible advantage of being able to see into the future by manufacturers today would stop the old archaic barriers from being erected. Are we that far away from remembering the history of companies like Wang who tried to lock their customers into a specific product line?

I predict that the first marine electronics company who produces truly open wired and wireless sensors using standards like NMEA 2000, WiFi, etc. - things like radar, depth, GPS, wind, autopilot, video, etc - will see an incredible increase in business ESPECIALLY for their own MFD's.

Posted by: Jeffrey Siegel at June 23, 2010 11:25 AM | Reply

Jeff- No sure if NMEA 2000 is a good example of making open systems - cost of the specification is crazy! Maybe that's why it really hasn't taken off as it should have done - but there again its not exactly on the edge technology, well out of date before it was finished!

But perhaps we shouldn't be too hard on Simrad etc, Raymarine, Garmin are all closed proprietary systems - but as you say they are missing an opportunity!

Now if Google did marine.......

Posted by: Brian at June 23, 2010 11:39 AM | Reply

I beg to differ, Brian. It took a while but NMEA 2000 is all over the place, and doing its intended job pretty well. And I might add in this thread that the latest Simrad and Lowrance MFDs are particularly good at managing and interoperating with all sorts of N2K devices.

I'm also pleased to see that most of the major charting programs are at least experimenting with the Actisense N2K gateway. I hope you know that this is a very reasonably priced way to get involved.

http://www.actisense.com/HTML/Products/Gateways/NMEA_2000_PC_Gateway_1/Software.htm

Posted by: Ben in reply to Brian at June 23, 2010 12:03 PM | Reply

Ben - The key point being it took a lot longer than it should have done and it failed and still fails to address the need for transferring Radar, sonar, video data etc. NMEA 2000 was an opportunity lost.

But do accept that it's starting to make progress and has clear benefits when installing, adding in equipment etc.

Oh and we are adding support for your actisense device into seaPro :)

Posted by: Brian at June 23, 2010 12:13 PM | Reply

Well strike my comments about Simrad / Navico, they are apparently as much an anachronism as the rest of the industry!

I completely agree with Jeff. Navico, Furuno, Raymarine and Garmin are all following in the tracks of Wang, DEC, IBM (remember when they were the giant and Apple was the startup?), Honeywell, CDC and a long list of former computer industry giants that clung to their closed systems all the way to the end.

There is a big opportunity for a new manufacturer to capture the interest of third party hardware and software developers. Could it be Maretron? Could FLIR make fundamental changes at Raymarine? How about a Chinese startup; look at what ChungWa has done to telecomm while former giants like NorTel, Siemens and Ericcson are fading.

The question is not IF, the question is who and when.

Posted by: Russ at June 23, 2010 12:14 PM | Reply

Russ - A perfect example of how to encourage third party support is Google and Android phone, they are doing to Apple(iPhone) what Microsoft did to Apple in the 90's. Giving developers an open platform.

Unfortunately there is one big difference between the PC/Phone business and marine, life cycle of products, one or two years compared to 10/15 years in the marine business. So change is slow , very slow!

So guess Simrad doesn't really have to be competitive in the same way :(

Posted by: Brian at June 23, 2010 12:28 PM | Reply

I don't think NMEA 2000 was ever intended for high bandwidth sensors, Brian. Ethernet is the right pipe for that, and most everyone has adopted it. Now, if they would all together in a NMEA committee and agree on standard data protocols on top of the Ethernet, that would be nice...but I doubt it will happen any time soon.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Brian at June 23, 2010 12:28 PM | Reply

Ben - Even before 2000 its was clear that the CAM bus was just too slow for future use in cars let alone boats. So did seem the height of bad design to carry on down the same route for an industry standard designed to last 20 years+ Perhaps if NMEA 2000 had been designed properly we would not have all the proprietary buses we are stuck with now!

Still we have to make the best of a bad job :)

Perhaps we need an open standards group to design a network system as a high speed, low cost alternative to NMEA 2000?

Posted by: Brian at June 23, 2010 12:56 PM | Reply

Brian - While the cycles are longer, I don't think they are 10/15 years, though I'm sure Ben can put a finer point on this.

In 2000 there was no networked radar when I bought a stand alone Furuno radar. Networking came with NavNet around 2003, I bought mine in 2004. They subsequently introduced NavNet 2 (not sure what year), and they were shipping NavNet 3 in early 2008. NavNet 1 was a big jump, NavNet 2 was incremental, and NavNet 3 was again a big jump. I think that suggests that that Furuno's cycle is 4-5 years.

The iPhone has been on annual updates, but the 3G and 3GS were very incremental, sort of like NavNet2. From a developers standpoint, iPhone OS4 is the big change. The product life cycle is at least two years.

Garmin is more consumer electronics oriented, certainly not 10-15 years.

I agree it's slower than cell phones, but not quite so slow as you suggest.

Posted by: Russ at June 23, 2010 1:29 PM | Reply

Brian, lord knows I've spent plenty of time here arguing with folks who still resent how N2K was designed more than a decade ago. As if that's the route to progess! There is no NMEA 2010, 2015, or 2020 in the works that I know of. And what we've got, N2K and Ethernet working together, is plenty powerful with lots of room for progress.

But I am curious where you got the idea that CANbus was too slow for cars then, or now. I think that if you check, you'll learn that CANbus has in fact come to dominate vehicle sensor networks, with no big changes in sight.

Now I'm going to end my half of this side conversation and go fool on my boat ;).

Posted by: Ben in reply to Brian at June 23, 2010 1:29 PM | Reply

Ben - first I want to thank you for Panbo and the service the site does to keep us all informed of the state of the marine electronics.

After 25+ years in the computer industry, I find the marine electronics industry very slow and with amazingly poor support. The pros/cons for N2K, ethernet, USB, wifi, RF, etc only count when there are BETTER solutions.

This thread/posting is very exciting because I am removing Raymarine from my boat and moving to all PC based systems with N2K to the sensors. I will be very interested when BR24PC is supported by Rosepoint.

Keep up the communication...its all good.

Posted by: HenryD at June 23, 2010 8:59 PM | Reply

Like HenryD, as a software developer I have seen first hand what has happened going from closed, proprietary products to a much more open model which allows for this proliferation of ideas and products to happen. This is not always a smooth process and I understand some of the concerns NMEA has and for now, I'll leave NMEA and N2K as a separate conversation. The problem is much broader, it's a mindset and an arrogance that leaves the customer feeling that they are paying a premium to not get what they want. Brand loyalty is becoming a thing of the past, it's all about innovation and innovation happens when the cost of entry is low enough that the little guy with the big idea can make it happen. This is why the internet has changed the world, the cost of entry is low. Someone who is knowledgeable and passionate can publish a marine electronics blog and beat the big media industry at their own game (then be hired by said media industry :-D). Low cost of entry is the key to innovation.

So, it was such a disappointment yesterday to learn that, no Navico is not going to think outside the box and truly change the game, it's definitely a status quo play for the marine electronics industry. I believe that Navico is incorrect in thinking that having an inexpensive PC Radar solution will dramatically affect MFD sales. People who don't have the money to spend on a full MFD setup and use a laptop with software aren't going to buy the MFD anyway. Many of those who have the money to spend would like the flexibility of having both options and will pay a reasonable price for all the bells and whistles. Yes, there will be those in the middle who can afford it but decide not to buy the MFD, but you get Radar and possibly instrument, autopilot, or other sales out of it. In fact, I will be bold enough to predict that the first big manufacturer to come out with a truly flexible and reasonably priced solution for third party integration with their entire product line will gain significant market share and increase MFD sales as well as total sales. So, I challenge you marine electronics industry, look at other industries, look at other business models, be willing to go into uncharted territory and innovate.

Posted by: outbound_sailor at June 24, 2010 2:20 PM | Reply

I guess I'm one of those that could afford an MFD but the more manufacturers try to force one on me, the more I resolve not to let one get on my boat.
It would be completely superfluous anyway.
I work in the IT industry and I take my laptop everywhere and that's the same computer that runs Coastal Explorer (I just got my update to 2009 in the mail today). I'm writing this on it, tomorrow I'll work on it all day and tomorrow evening I will take it to the boat. At home and at work, it sits in a docking station with a regular keyboard and an external display. On the boat, it's connected via wired ethernet to a Panasonic CF-08 display mounted on the cockpit table between the two steering wheels that is running Windows CE and copying the display of the laptop. It provides touch functionality to the laptop via a remote control software (shareware) for Windows CE. I'm using the big-finger buttons of CE's cruise mode exactly the way they are intended, from the cockpit, sometimes with thick gloves. Last fall we got into a hailstorm that caused the mouse pointer to jump around crazy because of hail hitting the touchscreen but the Panasonic is mounted on a RAM arm and I just tilted it straight up until the hail had passed. At the nav table, last weekend, I have mounted an external display, also with touch function and 1024*768 resolution to match that of the Panasonic display, and I just got a nice lenovo external keyboard with the same layout as the built-in including a mouse replacement, so from now on, the laptop will live in the paper-chart storage space under the nav table (there's still enough room for the paper charts).
With Coastal Explorer I get to use the best quality charts that exist for my area and they are updated once a month by running a simple setup routine, all for the price of EUR 198 per season. When we take that long sailing trip I can buy the best, most current electronic charts of any area that we get to. I could and maybe will buy licenses for seaPro and Exepdition and are you aware of any chart format that is not supported by at least one of these? (to be honest, I think Navionics isn't, but really, I think I can do without) On a side note, all three of these support the Koden PC radar right now, so I could, and probably will, have radar overlay on pretty much every electronic chart in existence.
So tell me, what would I want with an MFD?
And here are just two items from my list that couldn't get if I bought an MFD:
- a Walker Bay Genesis 310FTL Hypalon dinghy (our's is getting old and might not make it through the trip)
- a Doyle asymetric gennaker, 120 square metres, with a "black box" dousing sock and gear
(one of these if I got an 8 inch MFD and both for a 12 inch)
Dear manufacturers, you can either sell me a radar or you can give the business to Koden.

Posted by: Henning at June 24, 2010 6:03 PM | Reply

Do you know if the issues of interference from other radars have been solved on the broadband radar?

Posted by: michael at June 25, 2010 9:35 AM | Reply

Having worked managing development of drivers for process control equipment in the last 30 years I saw the following:
Modbus which Modicon wisely decided would be an open standard is still a popular standard 30 years later.
Folks got tired of proprietary interfaces and made this well known, hence the OPC standard arrived.
We were forced to reverse engineer many communications protocols which in some cases had the protocol owners publish their protocols or quietly cooperate with us for fear that we would leak what we learned.
In my and others opinion, if you buy a device which includes the means to communicate with other devices which are separate products, then you have purchased the use of the means of communication as part of your product purchase. If the vendor does not publish the protocol then in order to use what you have paid for, you are justified to reverse engineer the protocol.

So, lets do the vendors a favor, reverse engineer or bypass their locks and show them that it will increase their sales.

Posted by: Jack Chadowitz in reply to michael at July 21, 2010 6:07 PM | Reply

Jack - Nearly agree! If a company keeps the communication format etc, hidden then that tends to be their loss. But when an industry body such as NMEA charges extortionate prices for the NMEA 2000 specs (makes IEC/ITU/IMO documents look cheap), then serious consideration should be given to that organisations right to set standards.

Posted by: Brian at July 21, 2010 6:56 PM | Reply

Chris Witzgall just pointed out on the original "Free Range Radar" thread that Expedition is now officially supporting the BR24, but with a $1,299 fee.
I'm pretty sure that money goes almost entirely toward paying Navico for an individual unlock code as discussed in the comments above.

And I still think that the big question -- yet unanswered as far as I can tell -- is whether Navico will drop or radically cut that unlock fee for vessels that also install a Navico MFD. I believe that could be an attractive proposition, and I'm hoping Navico will decide in that direction soon.

Posted by: Ben at October 13, 2010 9:39 AM | Reply

Yeah, I think Nick is making $50: $1299 minus $1249 (see the LEI Extras store).

I'm holding out for a while to see if Navico drops the price; I've been using BR24 and Expedition all summer. Although would be cool if to have the radar overlay on Expedition as well, the current pricing is a bit steep to be used as an emergency backup only...

Posted by: Kees in reply to Ben at October 13, 2010 10:31 AM | Reply


Yes, it mostly goes to purchase the Navico licence as discussed above.

After Paypal and bank charges, I almost break even so am hoping not to sell thousands of these just yet.

Posted by: Nick at October 13, 2010 2:25 PM | Reply

PS. I tried an RJ45 connector in the early days too, but Navico has a part specifically for this, part number

000-0127-56 ETHRNT YELW CBL 5 PIN MALE:RJ45 FMALE 2M

Posted by: Nick at October 13, 2010 2:30 PM | Reply

Hi Henning,
I read your message on Panbo about using a Panasonic CF-08 for use as a MFD on your boat.

I have also bought a used (but like new) CF-08 for the same purpose, but I am having a problem getting it to work with my WiFi setup. I have configured the Wifi correctly, and flashed the RAM, but when I turn on the tablet, sometimes it will connect to my router and somtimes it will not. When I bring up the "Wireless" control panel, it will not display my SSID at all (it's like it completely forgets my WiFi configuration). But if I power down & power back up, it will sometimes remember it and connect?

Have you seen this problem at all? Do you have any idea how to fix it? I will call Panasonic, but wanted to see if you ran into this first.

Thanks,
Tim
email: timschweitzer@gmail.com

Posted by: Timster in reply to Henning at October 20, 2010 7:36 PM | Reply

Timster: I'm afraid I don't have the answers you want to hear.

1. I vaguely remember the problem you're having but I never solved it. I also had many more problems with WLAN and the CF-08 as soon as I activated any from of privacy, even the most basic and I tried with a current lenovo laptop and two different access points. After close to two days of fiddling I gave up and changed to wired ethernet which has served me reasonably well but was of course a significant install taking another two days.

2. In my opinion this device is not for boats:
- The power and ethernet connectors are not waterproof when in use. Even if you've got WLAN to work that still leaves the power connector. I stripped the cover off the ethernet connector, put three layers of glued heatshrink tubing over it and sealed everything into the device with a generous amount of Sikaflex. I also sealed the power connector. I guess this voided my warranty but there was no other way. This has worked for two seasons and a half but now there is condensation appearing inside the unit, under the (not bonded) display. I don't have much hope for it's future. This is even so I left it outside for only three or so nights. Do not underestimate the marine environment. I have often wiped salt off it form spray going clear over a 45ft sailboat. Many of the screws have rusted to blobs as they were crome plated steel. I think you want an IP68 (6=dust tight, 8=immersion beyond 1 m) rated unit that will work fully submerged in saltwater 100% of the time and still be covered by a multi-year warranty. The CF-08 has all kinds of openings with seals probably totalling over a foot of seal length and the seals are weak. It's really for semi-outdoor use with an occasional drop of rain not to be subjected to seawater jets, hail and the like.
- You need to use it with a software that copies the screen from the computer and sends back mouse action. I use "z2 R2PC". On several occasions the screen has frozen on the CF-08 while the screen of the laptop continued to change. If you use Office you'll know right away if this happened but not if you use it as a chartplotter and you're underway. In that case freezing is far worse than the screen going black. I found this was related to the lid of the laptop being closed after the screen copy was activated. I have stopped doing that and had no more problems but as the freezing gave me a good scare on a few occasions, I know I will never fully trust it again.
Then, several of the cruise mode buttons of Coastal Explorer 2010 beta don't work with this remote software. There was no problem with CE 1.1 but there is also no problem with 2010 beta directly on the laptop. I want to be out sailing not chase a problem like this.
- It's not a sunlight readable display. Ok, you can shade it from the sun to see a detail now and then but I would ask for more and I'm only using it in northern europe.

So I'm in the market for an IP67 or IP68 rated LED-backlit sunlight readable monitor with capcitive touch and a single circular connector sealed with an O-ring and combining power, VGA and serial mouse. They exist, the price has come down and with LED backlight, the power consumption is also lower. And I'll buy from a local dealer who has all his customers in the area and who depends on word of mouth. Even so, I'll be happy if that monitor makes it all the way through our planned atlantic circuit and when it does, I'll feel that I've got my money's worth. And I'll use VGA only, not even DVI. I want analog as in "if the connector is corroded, the display is fuzzy and poor but it will work. If I lose one of the colors, the screen is all greenish but it will still work."

Remember that the CF-08 will only save any settings if a "backup" is done, then the settings in that backup are used every time.

Posted by: Henning at October 21, 2010 10:55 AM | Reply

Wow, thanks for the detailed info Henning!

I'm glad that I am not the only one who has had problems with the WiFi on the CF-08. I have tried nearly every type of WiFi configuration, and the best I can get it to work is "intermittently". I've flashed/backed up my settings dozens of times. I've also noticed that Panasonic does not have much info about it on their website.. no firmware updates, etc. I guess I will need use ethernet also, which is a pain. It really is poor of Panasonic to sell a "wireless display" that isn't really wireless!

Although they advertise it as "outdoor readable", I agree with you... it's not very readable in the sun. I haven't done any saltwater sailing yet (just Lake Superior), but based on your comments about waterproofness, I'm beginning to realize that this thing might not work very well.

I would be interested to hear of any IP68 LED-backlit sunlight readable touchscreen monitors you find (as I'm sure other readers would be too).

I like your idea of using VGA (analog) for it's graceful degredation if the signal degrades...

Thanks for all your help,
Tim

Posted by: Timster at October 21, 2010 11:55 AM | Reply

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