Panbo

March 2012 Archives

Offshore Systems, beyond N2K tank sensors

Mar 31, 2012
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When we argued recently about how much NMEA 2000 rules inhibit hardware innovation, one success story I thought of was Offshore Systems (UK) Ltd, which developed an interesting N2K solid state tank sensor I first wrote about in 2005. Some 4,000 installations of the 3271 Volumetric Fuel Sender still doesn't make Offshore a large company, but founder Bruce Coward has continued to create innovative N2K hardware, all of which is both NMEA and CE certified. The photo above shows a few such items seen at IBEX...

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"A"...must be for awesome

Mar 28, 2012
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It's hard to beat this chap's description of what it must be like to arrive somewhere aboard the 390-foot motor yacht A:

You could hear the sound of penises shrinking from as far away as San Remo when "A" dropped anchor in the bay of Cannes recently. You could hear the sound of Billionaire's accountants calculating the cost of building a more spectacular boat about thirty seconds later.

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The smallest PLB: ACR ResQLink or Satro PLB-110?

Mar 26, 2012
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I was pleased to get an email from NOAA this weekend reminding me to renew the registration of the ACR AquaLink View PLB I first tested in 2010. I'm especially aware of how important it is to keep distress beacon info up to date because in Miami I got to visit the USCG District 7 SAR Command Center and meet the folks who tend to 44% of all CG EPIRB/PLB activations. And since ACR nicely gave all the attendees a new ResQLink+ to test, I registered that too. As the photo shows, ACR makes it easy by providing the NOAA form with the beacon specifics already filled in and even a postage paid envelope (and ditto for the warranty), but I went online...

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DHS's Small Vessel Cooperative Tracking, what's your guess?

Mar 23, 2012
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It's amazing how the whole boating community can apparently miss information of great interest even though it's in plain sight. Remember how we argued about possible Department of Homeland Security AIS mandates last March? Well, had anyone poked around the DHS's interesting Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, we would have known that the government had already expressed a desire to get the small vessel tracking job done in a much more passive manner, even with benefits to us boaters!...

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Teleflex Marine Optimus 360, N2K & CANbus cool!

Mar 21, 2012
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Aside from the StructureScan HD demo just discussed, I also got to try out the remarkable Teleflex Marine Optimus 360 system in Miami. Yes, it does bring joystick go-any-which-way control to twin outboards -- YouTube videos here -- but there are several impressive subtleties too. One is the underlying Electronic Power Steering (EPS) system that's diagrammed in blue above and can be had without the "360" throttle, shift, and joystick if desired...

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Sonar wars: Navico StructureScan HD & Humminbird 360

Mar 19, 2012
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Yes, there was some jocularity in Miami about the manliness of the new Lowrance StructureScan HD transducer, once it was whipped out by Lucas Steward (of tricked-out Hobie Pro Angler fame). But more impressive than what an SS HD user gets to show off at the launching ramp is what they'll see on screen. Navico has managed to give StructureScan more range and improved resolution while also simplifying its use and keeping the price the same (at about $600 for the new transom transducer and LSS-2 module)...

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USHarbors, a new crowd source player?

Mar 16, 2012
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The Maine Boatbuilders Show starts today, and I'm making my (almost) annual pilgrimage to Portland first thing this morning. But I've already spent some quality time trying out a show debut, the rather spectacular update of the USHarbors Network. Among many major enhancements is a full screen raster-charts-over-Google-Maps mode that may well be the best online charting engine I've ever seen. Note how it's even quilting in skewed small craft charts at the particular zoom level I captured above. That's hard, and moving around on these charts is fast!...

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Should sailboat radars be leveled, and if so how?

Mar 14, 2012
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This entry is inspired by Edson's Miami introduction of a Manual Radar Leveling Kit that looks neat to me. I've seen pole mounts like this before--either custom fabricated or made by less familiar companies like Garhauer--and they struck me as a simple and economical way to deal with the issue of decreased radar performance due to boat heel. But before discussing the merits of manual (or electric) leveling mechanisms versus the many self-leveling mounts, I probably ought to address the fact that some sailors reject the whole notion of radar leveling as hokum!...

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Inmarsat, boxed in by attacks from all sides?

Mar 12, 2012
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"One thing you need to understand about satellite communications is disaster pricing!" I can't recall who shared this theory about the importance of price-insensitive satcoms customers, but I was certainly reminded of it last week while taking in Inmarsat's 2011 FY investor presentation. Not only does that slide above illustrate how "events" like tsunamis and revolutions can significantly accelerate sat phone sales, but you can also hear a CFO refer to "a continuing headwind in Afghanistan" that apparently means a winding down of western involvement and the related heavy use of satellite services. But the main thing I learned from the presentation is why Inmarsat may drastically raise the minimum service costs of FleetBroadband services even though it views the recreational users who might howl about it as an important growth element in its "addressable market"...

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Lucas's Hobie Pro Angler, a Lowrance testing platform

Mar 8, 2012
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Navico product manager Lucas Steward may look like he's having fun, but he really is putting a lot of Lowrance gear through its paces. Really. When I got chatting with him during an early morning Miami demo (more on that soon) and he mentioned that he does some testing aboard his Hobie Mirage Pro Angler, I pictured perhaps an Elite-5 DSI fishfinder/plotter mounted on its deck. But it turned out that Steward had a much grander vision for his 14-foot pedal boat...

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