Panbo

NIBS #1, electronics tidbits

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Sep 19, 2011
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It's rare that I go so long without writing an entry, and I'd like to say that I spent the time digging deep into electronics at the Newport International Boat Show. But the truth is that most of my time there went to working as one of the several Newport for New Products award judges, plus I met with my Cruising World and Yachting editors (first office visit ever ;-) and did a lot of driving. So unfortunately I didn't get much more than a glance at the new Raymarine i70 instrument display (and p70 pilot head) seen above. The i70 display is wicked bright, the buttons are big, and moving through menus is snappy, but a fuller appraisal will have to wait. Incidentally, the WiFi and Bluetooth signs in the background of course refer to Ray's new e7 MFD and are germane because those two capabilities are probably the main reasons that the e7 won the Best New Boating Product award... 

Using Bluetooth and WiFi to integrate marine electronics with consumer electronics is quite a noteworthy innovation, and innovation is generally the primary criteria for awards like this. Seeing the e7 wirelessly control audio tracks on an iPhone that was playing inside a Fusion stereo dock while also repeating its screen to an iPad was a wow, but I was particularly glad to hear Raymarine President Dave Bimschleger confirm the company's commitment to making the RayView iPad app (now available free on iTunes) fully functional; he wouldn't promise a date, but someday e7 owners will be able to use an iPad to run their MFD from wherever they want on board... 

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I didn't get to spend much time with the new B&G Triton display either, but again it's so bright that it's hard to photograph. (Though I did notice that both new displays are a bit more pixelated than the press release images indicate.)  Triton also got the attention of the new product judges, particularly the ability of the auto pilot keypad to make the T41 into a full AP head as well as an instrument, or to work alongside the pilot head abilities of the B&G Zeus or Simrad NS series (as long as the pilot itself is a Navico model). And check out the nifty new install scheme on the T41. After the holesaw cut, you just fasten in that black collar and henceforth the display can be twisted in or out without tools and without plastic fastening covers to break or lose.

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There were a couple of interesting brand new electronics lines I met in Newport -- like the AquaBotix underwater cameras and the Siren Marine cellular monitoring systems -- but I'll cover them separately. The rest of today's entry, and tomorrow's, will be about details I noticed on some of the many new boats I got to tour.  For instance, the EmpirBus "breaker" panel installed below on this Hallberg Rassy 372 was not the only sign of distributed power systems I saw, but it was interesting that not one of the company representatives who showed us a DP equipped boat mentioned it! I guess digital power management is still so novel and confusing, perhaps even to the sales people, that it's not worth getting into on first visit... 

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But who wouldn't show off a wireless jet drive and thruster control, especially one mounted in a perfectly varnished teak case. This Hinckley JetStick is an accessory on the company's retooled Talaria 55, and pushing or twisting that single control will make the boat do anything that the JetStick mounted by the helm can, including full planing speed ahead (I was told). Of course its real value is for docking, and making docking easier has become a big deal in yachting...

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For instance, the Sabre 48 Salon Express that also premiered in Newport is designed for  Zeus drives and while it lacks a portable joystick, Zeus does have a "Skyhook" dynamic positioning feature so once you get the boat up to the dock there's no rush to get the lines squared away. Meanwhile, the Palm Beach 55, which won the over 30 foot power boat category, has a wired remote that I'm not sure Volvo Penta had pictured being fashioned for its IPS drives. The remarkable qualities of the Palm Beach, whose 50 model won overall power boat honors last year, are an elegant use of space and high performance. In fact, when we looked at the 55 last Wednesday, it was only about 24 hours after it had been craned off a ship in Philadelphia, and three of those hours had been spent doing a wash down in Cape May and another five show prepping in Newport. And I don't believe that it was flat calm out there last Tuesday night.
   Finally, note that while all the boats mentioned so far are on the high end, the two we picked as overall winners -- the perfectly modernized Destino 20 runabout and the super safe but super fast BayRaider 20 daysailer -- are both under 30 feet.

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Comments

I've heard the rumor that aged Raymarine's PC I/F box would be updated and would have some neat interface such as USB, Ethernet and WiFi. Is there any indication about that at the show?

Posted by: Atsushi inoue at September 19, 2011 5:37 PM | Reply

Sorry, I didn't get to spend much time with Raymarine in Newport, and haven't heard that rumor. But I will be going to the NMEA Conference next week, followed by the IBEX boatbuilders show, and then FLIBS (Fort Lauderdale) ...so I will have a chance!

Posted by: Ben in reply to Atsushi inoue at September 19, 2011 6:01 PM | Reply

I got to play with the new Raymarine products a bit over the weekend as well, not in Newport, but in Auckland New Zealand where they moved the annual boatshow to coincide with Rugby World Cup. I thought the i70 and p70 were beautiful and my 5 minutes of playing went well thought I didn't get much beyond that. I thought the iPad app needs the ability to control the MFD to be added ASAP. The iPad display just begs to be pinched and panned. Not saying it needs full control of all functions, but they do need to add the ability to pan an zoom before I think this has any real value. Also played with the new KVH Mini-Vsat V3 which Electronic Navigation Ltd (NZ distributor) had running to allow full browsing on a computer at the show. Dome is not much bigger than a FB150 and at just $1 per megabyte the $16k hardware cost might just be worth it. Biggest problem for sales down here is that Fiji and Vanuatu are out of the coverage area though apparently a new bird launched recently which should fix that I believe.

Posted by: Gram Schweikert at September 19, 2011 8:46 PM | Reply

Any word on an Android version of the app for the e7?

Posted by: Geoff Collins at September 20, 2011 3:57 AM | Reply

Really bright displays are wonderful when you see them at the show but once installed and working with them at night they become blinding. Bright displays need an ambient light sensor like the Garmin chart plotters have in order to adjust for night time/day time use. In my opinion, the ancient NEXUS displays had the brightness level just right for practical use.

Posted by: Richard C at September 20, 2011 8:24 AM | Reply

Richard, LED backlighting is also suppossed to be good for very low but even nightlighting. That seems to be the case with the Simrad NSE12 and I'll bet its true of these new LED instruments too.

I think an ambient light sensor is useful but I usually end up tweaking light levels at night anyway. I do like how most same brand N2K MFD/instrument systems can be dimmed and color changed simultaneously.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Richard C at September 20, 2011 3:32 PM | Reply

With color displays, much more so than B&W displays, I have found it really tough to adjust the display brightness in daylight after having turned it down for use at night.

The next generation of display could really benefit from an ambient light sensor. Although I suppose this specific issue could be dealt with some display logic that automatically bumps up the display brightness at power-on rather than remembering a super low brightness setting from the night before.

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at September 20, 2011 4:32 PM | Reply

Just back from Southampton Boat Show, I played with the i70 and the E7, the i70 impresses, the E7 did not, confusing menu system thats very different from previous Raymarine products. Confusion between touch and joystick operation. Ray need to refine this a good bit.


The new Triton from B&G seems good, but at the show was only showing preproduction software. B&G rep was unsure though that the B&G unit would work out of the box on a SIMNet. Is there a difference under teh hood, between Zeus and NSE/NSO

Dave

Posted by: Dave at September 23, 2011 5:45 PM | Reply

"B&G rep was unsure though that the B&G unit would work out of the box on a SIMNet."

Oy! There's no Triton manual online yet, but I'd be shocked if the T41 display didn't work fine with N2K wind, depth, etc. data on a Simrad system, or Raymarine, Garmin, Maretron, Airmar, etc. And I'm pretty sure that it will calibrate SimNet sensors, do synchronized display dimming with Simrad NSO/NSE/NSS MFDs, and serve as an control head for Simrad autopilots with the keypad.

I think the real question is how well it integrates with existing B&G technology, like FastNet! The B&G site ( http://goo.gl/hvLuj ) says nothing about this, only "Choose a simple network and expand it to fit your requirements with full B&G Zeus navigation system compatibility." To my knowledge there is NO difference between a Zeus and the Simrad MFDs, except for extra sailing and weather software features, and the brand label.

As noted, Navico has challenged itself to persuade sailors that there is a new world of lower-end B&G gear (based on Simrad/Lowrance technology), and apparently that applies to B&G sales people ;-)

Posted by: Ben in reply to Dave at September 24, 2011 8:20 AM | Reply

PS: Here's a video from the Southampton Show that has footage of Triton T41, Ray i70 and p70, and Garmin GDL40 in action: http://goo.gl/Jqk7T

Posted by: Ben at September 24, 2011 9:46 AM | Reply

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