Panbo

Category: AIS

MFD and AIS anomalies, be careful out there

Oct 5, 2014

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Consider this is a portrait of a deeply experienced boat guy who still remains skeptical about the wonders of modern marine electronics. Lord knows I tried, but gremlins sabotaged my efforts from the moment when my old friend Joe McCarty arrived in Rockland, Maine, for the trip to Baltimore. I was using the Garmin Helm app on my iPad mini to watch the tank gauge as I squatted on the deck pumping diesel fuel and Joe just had time enough to say, "Well, that is cool!" when the digitized tank reading plunged from 85% to 20% and stayed stuck there even as we topped off using the old-fashioned method of listening to the changing vent gurgles...

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Vesper XB-8000 test, much more than a Class B AIS transponder

Mar 30, 2014

XB-8000-3-in-one-800.jpgI've had a Vesper XB-8000 installed in the lab for the last month, and I'm confident that it will do well in a long test on board Gizmo beginning in May. I will miss some features of the Vesper Vision I tested last season, but having the blue box installed behind the scenes will help me test the glass bridge concept (one MFD brand, many screens), and at $799 I think the XB-8000 is a multifunction value that could work on a wide variety of vessels. The recent testing also revealed some new features that apply to both the XB and the Vision as Vesper continues to expand on the concepts expressed in the 3-in-1 diagram above...

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The new MarineTraffic Internet AIS service, cautiously optimistic

Mar 6, 2014

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These days I feel obliged to include a warning every time I write about AIS over the Internet. What you see in a nice app like ShipFinder HD (above) probably does not include every vessel that's transmitting AIS info even in fairly well covered areas like the Miami/Lauderdale area, and many areas aren't covered at all...unless perhaps you're using the Seapilot app in Sweden or somehow have access to another well-organized AIS receiver system. That's because what most of us see on computers, phones or tablets connected to the web is target data collected by patchy networks of volunteers, whose shore antennas may well miss even fairly nearby 2 Watt Class B AIS transmissions or even 12 Watt Class A signals obscured by buildings or terrain (or may suddenly go offline just because the volunteer's kid trips on a power cord or something similar).

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Miami 2014 comms #2: VHF, AIS & the app connection

Feb 25, 2014

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There is still an amazing number of boats that can't use the excellent DSC distress feature that's been built into every fixed VHF marine radio sold in the U.S.A since 1999. Their radio either hasn't been interfaced with a GPS or hasn't been programmed with the owner's MMSI number, or both. I've heard Coast Guard rescue center personnel report that a DSC alert can work beautifully to quickly identify and locate a boat in trouble, but that they rarely see valid DSC alerts. So before discussing advances in VHF (and AIS), let's note how companies like Standard Horizon and Icom are helping to make working DSC a pervasive reality (finally)...

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Panbo at AC34, photo tweeting

Sep 12, 2013

Panbo_at_AC34.jpgBest ticket ever?  I'm so excited about getting slightly behind the America's Cup 34 scene -- and out on San Francisco Bay for races 6 and 7! -- that I'm dreaming up things might go wrong. Could there be too much wind to race?  In race 4 both boats averaged 31 knots -- with bursts to 45 -- in winds that averaged 19 with peak gusts at 23. Obviously, things can really go wrong when a catamaran is going that fast, while delicately balanced on relatively tiny lifting foils. Or might Oracle Team USA find some way to delay further as crew and/or boat changes are hotly rumored...

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Hand's on Vesper Vision, Class B AIS superstar

Aug 27, 2013

Vesper_Marine_WatchMate_Vision_on_Gizmo_cPanbo.jpgI ended my entry about Vesper Marine's excellent AIS collision avoidance software with tentative enthusiasm about the company's next generation WatchMate Vision transponder.  Well, a test unit has been installed on Gizmo's dash since mid-July and frankly, it's spectacular. While it certainly offers the AIS target filtering and alerting genius previously discussed, now these talented developers have put maximum AIS utility into a 5.7-inch touchscreen, while also creating what could be the central WiFi link between a boat's fixed sensors and a boater's mobile apps...

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Smart Chart AIS needs our help, Uncle Sam's too!

Jul 25, 2013

SmartChart_AIS_web_splash.jpgThe first Smart Chart AIS app, a result of the very interesting U.S. government-funded Class E AIS project discussed here last August, is looking for 100 Panbo beta testers.  Volunteers need to have an Android smartphone or tablet and should be boating in U.S. waters or at least spending time on the coast.  Here's the Smart Chart web site and here's the beta sign-up site.  Beta feedback will happen on the SC forum, not in this entry's comments, please.  I've been in the test program for a few weeks and will illustrate some of the app's features below.  I'll warn you, however, that there's a major disappointment, which has nothing to do with Smart Chart's developers...

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Seapilot & True Heading, AIS in Sweden #2

Jul 8, 2013

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I'm not sure that anyone has made such an effort to show me his marine electronics products as Anders Bergström, and it worked. I left Sweden very impressed with the Seapilot charting/AIS app and the AIS expertise of True Heading. But Sweden itself played a part. The country has built out an AIS-friendly infrastructure that I hope other nations will replicate, and its complex waterways often highlight why we should want them to. It's not uncommon, for instance, to sail around a high island and find yourself in a tight channel with a large fast-moving ship...

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AF Race 2013, learning AIS Swedish style

Jul 2, 2013

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The AF Offshore Race 2013 -- in which all boats are required to carry AIS -- began in Stockholm Harbor on Sunday and the screen above shows how it looked on the Swedish-made ipad app SeaPilot. Note how the group at the right, already racing, is hard on the (light) wind while the next class stalks the starting line. SeaPilot was even set up to show the race marks as well as the country's many AIS weather-reporting bouys. But actually my iPad went largely ignored at this point because lucky me was perched high on a historic citadel with an incredible eyeball view of the whole scene...

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Vesper Marine WatchMate, still the leader in AIS collision avoidance?

Jun 11, 2013
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New York Harbor demands your attention even when you have lots of great electronics including what's arguably the best recreational-level AIS target tracking system. That's my excuse for not photographing the ideal example of the Vesper Marine AIS WatchMate 850 at work in heavy traffic. A more compelling shot might be more zoomed in and would have at least one solid target icon indicating a vessel(s) that had reached the Vesper's highly configurable alarm level. But do note how the WatchMate is tracking 114 targets at this point in time though it's also filtering 102 of those off the screen so that yours truly can better see the ones that matter. That in itself is worthy of discussion... 

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