TBF: Icom M93D, Garmin Quatix 3 & GNX Wind, Imtra Largo LED, and Navico makes ForwardScan more accessible

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Jan 22, 2016

Icom_M93D_DSC_VHF_prototype_aPanbo.jpgI'm slightly reluctant to mention this Icom M93D announcement because it's only "scheduled to be available in the second half of 2016" with price unknown, but, dang, it sure looks like an interesting DSC VHF handheld radio. I still think that many boaters don't realize the added safety, tracking, and navigation capabilities possible when GPS is integrated with portable VHF, though the Standard Horizon HX870 (that Icom is clearly gunning for) has been earning great reviews for a while. Also, note the lovely color-screen Icom GM600 fixed VHF "coming soon" with an SSB sibling.

Garmin_Quatix_3_aPanbo.jpgYesterday Garmin announced the Quatix 3, an absolute monster of a marine smartwatch, and it's supposed to be available by April for $600. By monster I mean loaded with technology, not particularly huge -- though that transflective color display is 1.2 inches in diameter. According to the Quatix 3 specs versus my experience with the original Quatix (and here), the 3 has GLONASS in addition to GPS, WiFi in addition to Ant and Bluetooth, and a whole lot more. Since the Q3 is based on Garmin's existing Fenix 3, for instance, you can learn about its many other multisport abilities in DC Rainmaker's exhaustive F3 review. I particularly like how Garmin has opened its latest watches (and more) to third party developers -- information here -- so that a Q3 owner can use their Connect IQ Store to try new watch faces and apps, and even new hardware integrations.

Garmin_GNX_Wind_aPanbo.jpgGarmin also announced the GNX Wind, a $500 out-by-April alternative to the big GNX displays introduced last year. The GNX Wind specs are not specific about it, but the new 4-inch screen also seems to use both segmented and dot matrix LCD tech to get some graphic flexibility along with high readability and low power consumption. Hopefully, it will work as well in full sun as the big GNX I saw at MIBS 2015 and note the power consumption of 0.35 Watts during the day, 0.4W at night.

Imtra Largo and Cree_LED_sale_cPanbo.jpgSpeaking of saving electricity, that's my shopping cart loading up on $2 Cree 9.5W LED flood lights at Home Depot, and I already had a box of $1 60 Watt equivalents. They're working very well, especially given what I spent on earlier home LED bulbs, but I sure wish it were so easy for boats. In my experience, most LED bulb replacements for existing boat light fixtures are compromised regardless of cost. That's why I was happy to spot the relatively new Imtra Largo LED fixtures, which can replace a regular two-wire overhead fixture with dimmable white, red, or blue light. It's not just power savings but quality bright light with dimming and even color choices that LED tech can bring to your boat, and Imtra has a tremendous reputation for LED quality. I will note, though, that the four similar Lumitec TouchDomes I installed on Gizmo in early 2013 have been excellent and can sometimes be found for about $100. Note that the TouchDome's max 244 white lumens uses 6 watts -- and is quite bright in my opinion -- while the Largo's max 230 lumen only uses 4.7w, indicating somewhat better LED efficiency. For some excellent information on marine LED tech, check out Hella's recently published free PFD guide.

Simrad TotalScan transducer aPanbo.jpgThere are lots of fresh products coming out this winter and the rate is likely to increase. This new Simrad TotalScan transducer, for instance, can provide Broadband, CHIRP, StructureScan HD and DownScan imaging, and it's no surprise that there are Lowrance TotalScan equivalents (except with blue accents). They seem similar to the Garmin GT52HW that's purportedly due out soon (though there is some doubt due to the patent issues described in the comments here). Note, though, that the ForwardScan transducer I've been testing remains standalone -- which makes sense due to its optimal install placement -- and unique to the Navico family.

But ForwardScan is now easier to add to your boat because the new Simrad GO7 XSE and B&G Vulcan 7FS chart/instrument displays can support direct connection to the FS transducer (though not networking the results to other displays, of course, since they don't have Ethernet). I look forward to seeing them, and probably more, in action next week (if I can make it through the blizzard area) as well as presenting at TrawlerFest Riviera Beach. Plus, it's not too long until the newly located Miami International Boat Show and newly named Yachts Miami Beach, and little birdies are telling me about some exciting news there.

BnG_Vulcan_7_FS_aPanbo.jpg

Comments

Ben,
My personal experience with LED bulb replacements for existing boat light fixtures has been very positive.

I replaced all the interior light bulbs in my current boat with LED bulbs from non-marine on-line sellers and have been extremely happy with the results. The color temperature, beam pattern, and durability have all been good.

Posted by: Norton Rider at January 22, 2016 3:33 PM | Reply

I'm glad it worked out for you, NR, and maybe my feelings on this subject are related to old age. I want much better lighting on my boat than what all the conventional fixtures could produce and have been delighted to learn that LED tech can provide it. But in my experience it usually takes a whole LED fixture, not just LED tech squished into a replacement bulb and then a fixture it wasn't designed for. More detail here:

http://www.panbo.com/archives/2012/10/lumitec_alpenglow_led_overhead_fixtures_perfected.html

I do make exceptions, though. For instance, this Dr. LED Edison 60W equivalent replacement bulb...
https://goo.gl/9RBUPI ...is working well in 2 of Gizmo's reading lights. The bulb design is excellent and the fixture quite compatible. It's still not as bright as the similar Alpenglow fixture in that 2012 entry, and doesn't dim, and one of them went bad, but given the cost difference, I have no plans to change.

But all my other LED replacement bulbs are either in fixtures I hardly ever use or in storage.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Norton Rider at January 23, 2016 11:15 AM | Reply

Has ICOM or any other handheld VHF vendor included any features so that the handheld vhf user can get the bearing and distance from another dsc based vhf radio, rather than just the lat/long of the vhf user or the other source?

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at January 24, 2016 5:05 PM | Reply

The previous version of the Quantix watch had a feature that allowed you to control you Garmin Autopilot. There is not mention of the capability in anything I've read about the Quantix 3. Do you know if that feature will be available?

Posted by: Indigo at January 24, 2016 9:23 PM | Reply

Hi Dan. Bearing and distance to a polled position or to a received DSC call may well be supported, but I don't know for sure. I linked to everything I know about the new ICOM radio. One bit of research you could do is to check out the manual for the Standard Horizon HX870:

http://www.standardhorizon.com/indexVS.cfm?cmd=DisplayProducts&DivisionID=3&ProdCatID=85&ProdID=1791

Posted by: Ben in reply to Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at January 25, 2016 10:17 AM | Reply

I noticed that omission too, Indigo, and wouldn't be terribly surprised if Garmin decided that autopilot control with a watch is a bit too much. On the other hand a number of details about how the watch interacts with the boat are not detailed, like which wireless protocol is used. I'm guessing that the GNT 10, which uses ANT, or maybe a Garmin AP head is still needed.

https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/digital/shop-by-accessories/nmea-2000/gnt-10-nmea-2000-transceiver/prod124640.html

I'll try to get some answers.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Indigo at January 25, 2016 10:23 AM | Reply

Ben,
My boat is equipped with an SSB radio, which I am now learning to use. For a bunch of reasons, it is not as easy as VHF, and static/background noise is a big issue. I have heard that LED's (some much more than others) emit RF that will interfere with SSB reception. Do you know whether that is true, and if so how to find and LED that minimizes interference?
Thanks, Rick

Posted by: Rick O at January 26, 2016 11:17 AM | Reply

I would LOVE to have that forward scan on my 43' sailboat. However, the hull rise is far too steep for such a short transducer.

Who could I talk to about the feasibility of installing it center-line, just forward of the keel? Would such an installation affect the structural integrity?

Would love to have this when entering poorly charted bays or atolls.

Posted by: Bob Muir at January 27, 2016 8:31 PM | Reply

As a long term Fenix 3 owner which is still getting GPS issues and bugs resolved I love the watch but they have a tough time releasing bug free products

There have been 19 large updates in 1 year going from 2.2 to 6.5 and not finished :)

The Quatix 3 should be interesting as navigation features like VMG only work on a single waypoint and not a list while the more simple fields do work

VMG is also very sensitive to the watch's orientation with course

No more maps or sharing info has also been a big issue for past users

There has been a prolonged issue with ANT dropouts for various reasons so that will be interesting as I would thing this is how the auto MOB will work

I had 13 drops out in one hour of up to 1 minute last night for no real reason and there are none many times

Posted by: tommays at January 28, 2016 9:20 AM | Reply

I have asked Garmin about controlling Garmin autopilot with the Quatix 3 and they told me that this feature was not available. I think that this is too bad, they just missed the boat!

Posted by: suttonski in reply to Indigo at February 22, 2016 12:08 AM | Reply

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