Panbo

RayControl & RayRemote, the future is here?

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on May 15, 2012
RayControl on iPad1 busy cPanbo.jpg

Above is Raymarine's new RayControl app running on my iPad1 and the screen is purposely busy because I was trying to stress it.  While a NMEA 2000 data simulator tells the test e7 MFD it's going 40 knots up the Bay with one chart window Head Up in 3D and the other North Up, I could still sit in my office -- 40 feet and a "deck" away -- and select/display a tide station with my finger without a noticeable lag. I did manage to crash the app's WiFi connection to the e7 once, but Ray actually recommends an iPad2 or better for best performance and get this: RayControl will give you touchscreen control of the new value-priced c-Series MFDs that don't even have a touchscreen themselves!  In short, Ray has done more than make good on its promise of a two-way app...

Last season when Raymarine started showing off the first MFD with a WiFi-to-mobile-apps relationship, some observers poo-poohed the concept because the first app was just a viewer. But in fact some users were pleased just to, say, have a live fishfinder screen back in the cockpit and, besides, Ray promised to have a two-way app eventually. Well, I'm impressed that eventually suddenly turned out to be now, and not only are there RayControl apps for both Apple and Android tablets (and the special Amazon Fire flavor of Android) but also RayRemote apps for smaller devices. (The remote app also has a screen viewer, but omits the touch control because it doesn't scale well to a smart phone screen.)
   Obviously both RayControl and RayRemote have a virtual keypad that should already be quite familiar to a c- or e-Series user. While of course the "uni-controller" knob and joystick are not as tactile as the real thing, they're surprisingly close. The knob glows red in response to finger turning and, as I tried to illustrate in the collage below, the joystick "moves" as you push the cursor and/or chart around. (Also glimpsed below is how Navionics "Freshest Data" has brought many detail improvements to lake maps like my local Megunticook.)...

RayControl_on_iPad1_cursor_joystick_cPanbo.jpg

One way you might use RayControl for is route making in the comfort of your salon, and I thought it worked nicely. Note how Raymarine has adopted the bull's-eye cursor and "Place Wpt" button so you can finger move the chart under the cursor for exact placement (I think Garmin may have invented this technique?). Note too how RayControl on an iPad with the keyboard out does not take great advantage of the full screen. Well, that chart is still as about as readable as the e7 screen (in muted light) and would probably be crisper on an iPad3, and typically wider aspect ratio Android pads will work even better with this concept... 

RayControl_on_iPad1_route_making_cPanbo.jpg

Will you be able to use RayControl as a complete second station perhaps in a pilothouse? I'll try it for sure, but tentatively think yes. I also think that Ray's apps are likely a model for all the major manufacturers. Actually we can already see Furuno's NavNet TZ apps (multi-touch included), Navico has already revealed its GoFree WiFi and apps strategy, and Garmin's BlueChart Mobile Marine app will be soon emerge (with tremendous development resources on tap).  Marine electronics apps are happening!  I'm not saying that there won't be some interesting independent ways to get boat data onto pads, but aren't the major manufacturers showing us how easy it can be to have radar, sonar, NMEA 2000 etc. anywhere we want on a boat?
   Meanwhile it's worth noting that RayControl and RayRemote won't work without updating c- or e-Series displays to firmware version 3.15, which includes numerous other enhancements. Note on the top screen, for instance, how the e7 can fit more data fields into the top bar, and how it now understands fuel flow data. Raymarine has introduced a slew of impressive new products in the last year but a further test of whether FLIR has really helped the company get back on its feet is the ability to keep improving those products in the field. I think Ray is passing!

Raymarine_App_line-up.jpg

Comments

It was a matter of time, and good job Ray. Now it's time to enable the WEP security on your MFD (it's there). The next step is to be able to log in from home to look at your onboard cameras, upload new charts and routes, and see where you are when the system e-mails you your anchor has dragged. Now if the Ipad was daylight viewable....think about it Apple and others.

Posted by: Bill Bishop at May 15, 2012 9:01 AM | Reply

Aaron - interesting observation, and one I completely agree with. I was missing Navico's "GoFree" and wondering why it's taking so long, when I realized that Navico has released all the important stuff first - several iterations of broadband radar, two iterations of structure scan - all innovations on prosumer-level MFDs... and rock-solid auto pilot integration.

It looks like Raymarine did a good job, jut seems like the wrong order...

Posted by: Patrick at May 15, 2012 9:39 AM | Reply

Wow wee this is really neat stuff - Are you able to control all the functions that are available on the Raymarines MFD's or is there only a limited set ?

Posted by: Patterson Cartwright at May 15, 2012 11:42 AM | Reply

Patterson, I believe the Remote and Control apps can control everything except autopilot, which seems like a reasonable exclusion for a phone or pad.

Aaron & Patrick, I think it's nearly impossible to introduce a new MFD series without bugs, especially one with a largely new code base like the e- and c-Series. What I'm looking for these days is how quickly a company fixes bugs and makes improvements, and gets the updates out to the field. Garmin has set a very high bar in this area, but it seems to me that Raymarine was darn slow with fixes and updates for gear like the ST70 and C/E Wide Series. I'm hoping that's changed and the 3.15 update is a good sign.

In fact, the top screenshot in this entry purposely shows some 3D chart problems that hopefully are moving up Ray's fix list. 3D charting may not be high priority -- a lot of boaters don't care about it -- but it really ought to put the boat toward the bottom of the screen...so you see the most chart detail right around you, not where you've been. I also know from other MFDs like Simrad's that Navionics chart detail can be filtered so that it doesn't jumble up on the horizon like that.

At any rate, I think Raymarine was quite "resource limited" for a while but FLIR has not only stabilized it financially but apparently taught it some of the process discipline learned over its long history of acquisition and development. I have high hopes and will happily publish a screenshot of Raymaine 3D when it gets better ;-)

I'm not going to fault Raymarine for developing these apps, though. This stuff is not just "gee whiz" anymore and the interest in it among the general boating population is absolutely HUGE.

Posted by: Ben at May 15, 2012 12:19 PM | Reply

Bill Bishop: Is the WiFi encryption really WEP?

I thought WPA2 had entirely replaced that years ago.

That said, I'm not really sure what the security implications are on a boat with an advanced MFD...will there be vessel hackers trying to steal your fishing waypoints, for example?

Posted by: Karl at May 15, 2012 2:46 PM | Reply

WiFi security choices on the Raymarine MFDs are "None, WPA only, WPA 2 only (default), or WPA/WPA 2" with Ray strongly recommending WPA2. The c- and e-Series manual dated 4/23 is here: http://goo.gl/voBmO

What I don't see, and hope can be added, is a way to make one of these MFDs part of a boat's WiFi network rather than just standalone. Furuno included that choice on the NavNet TZ (and it's also on Vesper's coming Vision AIS and data hub product). I think that Furuno apps can also display info independent of what's on the TZ screen.

Posted by: Ben at May 15, 2012 4:09 PM | Reply

So unless I'm missing something, if your mobile device is on the MFD's wifi, it will have no cellular Internet access, correct?

Great info, as always. Thanks!

Posted by: CC in reply to Ben at May 15, 2012 5:35 PM | Reply

Ben, I think that will depend on your wifi setup. for example if you use an iPhone as a wifi hotspot for your boat (as I do) it will provide the internet access. Also if you have a router setup with 3G then internet will be on the network. You could be right if you use a router without a 3G modem (seem to recall IOS and android behaving different to each other here where one would fall back to cellular data).

--------

My thoughts on MFD technology.

I like the way this technology is progressing... but for me at this stage it isn't quite coming together:

1. The price - $5k for a NavNet TZT9. Wow. Technically it is little more than a waterproof computer (ipad) which is a fraction of this price.

2. Appearance - Thin is in. a 50" TV is now only 20mm thin. A tablet is 8mm. Marine electronic devices look like they have enough room still for valves.

3. The functionality - for me the killer application missing from a tablet or PC is radar (especially 4G Radar). Otherwise, everything else is there (for me on an ipad). Its hard to justify spending many thousands extra just for radar. Especially when technically it would be very easy for for someone like Navico to build wifi into the radar unit which would integrate nicely with NavX or Navionics all at a fraction of the price.

4. I read above controlling the autopilot is not provided. To me I would use this more than any other function. I would love to make small course corrections with my phone or ipad away from the helm on long trips. The only reasons I can think of to leave this function out is so they sell more autopilot remotes.

In summary the product development strategies seem to focus on selling more MFDs rather than focusing on the software development and marine sensors which would benefit the consumer. I've held out for the last two years on an MFD and Radar and will continue to impress others how come aboard with much more expensive setups but less functionality.

Multitouch, Wifi, music control, portability, course planning, satellite views with GPS, anchor alarms, large screens (with very high res), weather forecasting, AIS, instrument displays, Internet access, video and a 8mm screen are all things I had two years ago by using a $600 ipad. Radar and Autopilot control are the only things missing.

Posted by: Dean at May 16, 2012 3:24 AM | Reply

When you connect you phone on wifi to a Raymarine MFD will in not be like surfing the internet at home ... you can still receive and make GSM calls ? For $59.99 I can now have a chart plotter down below on my iPad.

Posted by: Patterson cartwright at May 16, 2012 3:50 AM | Reply

When you connect to the raymarine it will take away web surfing. To fix this, instead of using the dhcp ip address that it gives you, set it to static. Assign anything like 192.168.0.xxx and LEAVE THE ROUTER FIELD BLANK. Then your iPhone/iPad can use its built in cellular to surf.

Not ideal but works untl they give us the ability to have the mfd join an existing network.

Posted by: Curt at May 16, 2012 9:19 AM | Reply

Dean,

Your first bone of contention: the price of a TZT9. 5K for what is 'basically' little more than a waterproof computer.

Wow. Tell you what. You figure out a way to build a 'computer', make it 'waterproof', and see if that does the trick. Forget about vibration, CCFL/LED display brightness, dedicated PCBs for power and I/O connected to proprietary 'waterproof' connectors, heat disipation along with cooling (passive, cooling. No liquid or phase change cooling), then create your software and database, both front end GUI and back end OS, debug, debug, and more debugging, and then spending the time and money to get proper 'certification', and making sure the system is built to MIL-STD, as the TZT is. Also, forget the infrastructure needed to market, sell, and support the system. Don't worry about making sure you stockpile spare parts in case anything fails, because as this is only a waterproof PC, nothing should fail unless you get a virus or something, right? Now, sell your 'waterproof PC'. Someone will then install it somewhere on a boat, where the ambient temperature could range anywere from minus 50 to 150 degrees. Then start your stopwatch, and power it on. If it even BOOTS up in that kind of climate, I'd be shocked, and if it does, get ready for the "Blue Screen of Ignorance When It Comes To What It Takes And Costs to Build A MultiFunction Display for the Marine Environment", also known as the BSOD. I give it less than a minute.

Don't take offense to this, but try to understand that these companies spend ridiculous amounts of money to produce these machines to make sure they do not fail, as they are TOOLs, not toys. An iPad is a toy. As anyone with an Apple product already knows, the products have the life expectancy of an infant born in a bathtub filled with Red Jello. And that is just from basic use, maybe a drop here and there, forget about the extreme conditions at sea. These 'waterproof PCs' are built to a standard beyond your comprehension because their reliability is responsible for the lives of those who own them. The cost a ton of money to make and to support, from R&D, all the way to keeping those spare parts on the shelf that may or may not ever be needed. Tech support is paid to help those who own them. Warranty Service On Board vessels is available to those who own them. Those dealers are also paid to fix what problems may occur. That's just the tip of the iceberg, but I think you get the picture. Many people are paid to make sure that 5K waterproof PC does its job. And all of that is factored in when a unit is sold. You are not just buying the chips and boards and sunlight viewable display; you are buying a package, that includes a reliable and tested tool to navigate and the value added services that are available, and also helping the company recoup all the money they spent in creating and perfecting that tool the best of their ability. All because of one reason. To get you home safe.

There were many other points you made that were valid, and unfortunately I ran out of steam to explain how your wish for a PC application that will do all of the above as well as radar truly does exist. However that software still should be installed on a properly ruggedized marine PC like the KEP Leviathan or a VEI Mariner, which cost about as much as a high end chartplotter, because like I said before, these are not toys. Use google, type in Nobeltec, RadarPC, Expedition, and BR24PC. You'll find some answers there, as well as in many past Panbo entries. So maybe it's time to stop waiting for the 'Marine iPadX, because it will not happen. You should also google copper, passive heatsinks, and images of CPUs Melting, and that will also explain why the 'thin is in' comment also holds no weight. No pun intended on that last one.

Sorry for the extensive post, and if I get some more energy later, I'll go into more detail, however my point was that you need to understand the difference between consumer electronics and marine electronics, and why your comments set me on fire.

Best Regards,

Labozza
(Not a Marine Electronics Factory Heel, Just a Computer Nerd who knows the difference between an Dell and a Decca.)

Posted by: Labozza in reply to Dean at May 16, 2012 9:51 PM | Reply

Karl, your right, again. it is WPA2, and Dean, "I would love to make small course corrections with my phone or ipad away from the helm on long trips." Away from the helm?

Posted by: Bill Bishop at May 17, 2012 10:31 AM | Reply

My apologies for getting off topic due to some comment above. I completely forgot while defending the merits of true marine electronics to give extreme props to Raymarine, not just for what they accomplished with the RayRemote and the various platforms it supports, but to applaud their entire revamped product line. This is a company that basically started from scratch on their MFD line, rewrote the software and created their Lighthouse interface, and produced a new slew of instrument and pilot dispays that have no equal in the industry. Combine that with their ability to price said equipment so competitively, and boost the quality of the support and the overall quality of construction of the new systems, the company has made such huge strides since being the FLIR acquisition, the company is almost unrecognizable. Big ups to everyone at Raymarine that made this happen, and produced a range that can fit into anyone's budget who is looking for a high end navigation solution. I'm very proud of what Raymarine has done, and it has been an pleasure to see how the company has really come together. Not too shabby, Raymarine. It takes a lot to impress me, but after the app webinar today, it was the icing on the cake to what I feel are the most feature rich systems available on the market right now. Keep the party going, Nashua.

Posted by: Labozza at May 17, 2012 7:37 PM | Reply

Right on Labozza! My thoughts exactly.

It is great that all these companies have found a way to deliver the essentially FREE apps that people demand while still making a buck.

Please remember that the ONLY way most of these companies actually survive is by selling hardware.
This will always be the case. This is why there is no and will not be open source radars and the like, that can be wirelessly connected via a free app, it makes no business sense at all.

Posted by: Foggy at May 18, 2012 6:24 AM | Reply

Thanks for the support, Foggy. I really did not mean to sidetrack the post on what is most important, and that is Raymarine's seamless app integration with their MFDs, which should garner some serious attention as the first company to implement this capability and have it ready to roll as we speak. I think using a CE device to augment a true marine electronics suite really is a major benefit to everyone, but I would hesitate if a person decided all they needed was an iPad and a chartplotter app.

However, to close up the point from earlier, you are absolutely right in that these companies make their money by selling hardware, and obviously a lot goes into the production and support of that hardware and everyone involved is not doing it for charity and need to be compensated. The key is to remember how small the marine electronics industry is compared to the consumer electronics field. Samsung sells MILLIONS of their products. Apple sells MILLIONS of products. These marine electronics companies are lucky to sell over 1,000 of a particular model. We're talking apples and oranges here.

If your Samsung TV or Apple iPad fails, it is not a potentially life threatening scenario. However if you lose your GPS chartplotter or radar, at that point, your life is in danger. Only experience, familiarity, and a working magnetic compass with some paper charts are going to get you home. A far cry from not being able to watch TV for a day. And if they ever did come out with a waterproof and sunlight viewble iPad, what are the chances that it will sell for $600? Last, but not least, everyone here who feels a consumer electronics device fitted with GPS is the answer, I have four letters that can mean the difference between hitting a buoy or breakwater, and that is WAAS. The GPS sensors in an iPad or any other device is only accurate to 30M. That's around 90 feet. Try navigating a rocky channel with that as your primary GPS, just make sure your insurance is in order, as you will end up needing some props and shafts if your CE device happens to be off by a few meters. Just another example, but not the last, however I could not help to throw that one in there.

Posted by: Labozza at May 18, 2012 9:04 PM | Reply

I doubt it's just about wanting to sell more autopilot remotes. It's also about the wisdom of allowing third party, multi-purpose consumer devices sending course correction commands to what otherwise is a thoroughly tested, closed system autopilot. Who knows what state a given iPad/iPhone might be in once its owner has loaded 150 apps onto it and it's actively connected to the web. I imagine there are huge testing/certification and legal implications in play here. I love the technology; I love my iPad. But I want my Simrad autopilot, first and foremost, to be solid state.

Posted by: Brian Engle in reply to Dean at May 21, 2012 11:36 AM | Reply

I use a wired OP40 remote for my Simrads.
Works better than a WR20 and I have something to hold on to if I fall overboard with it.

Posted by: Hendrik at May 21, 2012 12:35 PM | Reply

Bill
While you wait for integrated "drifting" warnings there is an app that will SMS you if your boat drifts. It is called Boat Monitor. If I remember correctly there are two flavors of it.

Posted by: Ken in reply to Bill Bishop at May 26, 2012 7:56 AM | Reply

This could be the end of dedicated displays. I can see a network of data providers running over wifi/tcp/udp and using off the shelve tablets and smartphones for data display and control. This would make things a LOT cheaper.

Posted by: Ren at August 3, 2012 5:35 PM | Reply

Ren, these are great apps and I recently wrote testing RayControl here: http://goo.gl/X2u0x

But how would apps like these get radar and/or fishfinder output without a dedicated MFD involved?

Posted by: Ben in reply to Ren at August 3, 2012 6:25 PM | Reply

Ben,
Every device (like radar, fishfinder, gps) would output/broadcast their data in some standardized way on a wifi network Wireless or wired. The tablet/smartphone would merge these into whatever you'd want to see.
It can easily be done. Biggest hurdle is standardization.
I've worked on air traffic control systems where we would integrate all types of feeds. Missiles, terrain, weather, etc.

Posted by: Ren at August 3, 2012 6:43 PM | Reply

I didn't express myself well, Ren. I understand your concept but I don't see how it will actually happen. Radar and sonar are not off-the-shelf technologies and the few companies that have high performance products have shown no interest whatsoever in developing an output and control standard or selling their radar and sonar as standalone sensors.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Ren at August 4, 2012 6:10 AM | Reply

Ben,
I understand. I didn't say they would. It won't come from the same company, they would be loosing the ridiculously priced screens that are no doubt highly profitable.
I could see a 3rd party come up add ons/apps that will do this.

Posted by: Ren at August 4, 2012 1:12 PM | Reply

Ren, There's been a market for what I've called "free range radar" for some years, that being boaters who'd like to use an Ethernet radar with PC charting programs. In fact, Simrad made it a possibility, but with a high license fee beyond the hardware cost. Info here: http://goo.gl/B6Rn8

The surge of tablets may increase that market some but I'm dubious that some new company is going to come along and develop a free range radar sensor from scratch. Especially since Raymarine and Furuno have already demonstrated how they can push complete control of an MFD to a pad. MFD prices may be high (they are challenging to build) but having an instant semi second station increases the value a lot.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Ren at August 6, 2012 12:04 PM | Reply

Having just purchased Raymarine's C-125 MFD I must say that RayControl works very well with my iPad 2 and I love the ability to utilize my Ipad at my lower helm instead of purchasing another plotter just for occasional use. There are still bugs with the MFD software though. The plotter's 3D display blanks out when you use the Pan feature and so you have to go out and refresh the display from the main menu. Nice to have would be the ability for the MFD to join the ship's wireless network so that you can get internet and Raycontrol at the same time on the same device without switching back and forth manually.

The menu system seems easier to use than the older E-series which I use regularly on a SAR vessel. What really surprised me with the new lighthouse software is that it doesn't like receiving DBT and DPT NMEA 0183 data at the same time from my old Standard Horizon depth sounder. The display's data bar oscillates between depth below transducer and depth if you have an offset value programmed. Raymarine says that you have to filter the data values yourself with an NMEA data filtering device. I find it odd you just can't choose DBT or DPT on the plotter itself. All this is documented in my posts on Raymarine's technical forum.

Another surprising omission is there is no way to display ETA of a followed route or TTG (time to go) of a followed route - only a waypoint. You have to dive deep in the menus to dig out your ETA, every time you want to look. Raymarine has it in as a feature request. Seems to me in 2013 that would have been thought of by now?

Posted by: Adam Hyde at May 21, 2013 4:03 PM | Reply

Leave a comment