Panbo

Category: Communications

Team Soltero: StarPilot, GMN, RedPort, Bliss & so much more

Aug 4, 2015

Bliss_anchoring_in_Pulpit_Harbor_cPanbo.jpgBehold the 39-foot trawler Bliss about to anchor behind Gizmo in Pulpit Harbor. She's a custom Jay Benford design (based on a Cascade sailboat hull) that already turns heads, but note the cabin top presence of both Inmarsat FB150 and Iridium Pilot antennas (the latter formerly known as OpenPort, and tested for Panbo on VOJ). The serious satellite communications -- and there are more devices less visible -- are because owner/operators Luis and Kim Soltero have spent much of their thirty year marriage creating a remarkable portfolio of satcom services and devices, and they're still at it. Yes, we had a Bliss/Gizmo geek rendezvous and it was a blast...

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YB3i tracker/messenger, a highly evolved system

Jul 10, 2015

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The hardware portion of the YB3i tracker/messenger couldn't be much simpler or tougher. It's just a little bigger than the GPS mushrooms also installed on Gizmo's flybridge and it feels solid, while the ScanStrut Rokk rail mount that it fits is truly rock-like. The black cable only leads to a power source (9-30v DC) and the YB3i can get along without that for quite a while, thanks to an internal backup battery. And finally, the single LED "interface" is really only needed for extreme trouble shooting. But such hardware simplicity is only possible because of the impressive array of satellite services, cloud server wizardry, and mobile apps that comprise the rest of the ecosystem...

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Coastal Marine WiFi, a winner!

Jun 22, 2015

Coastal_Marine_WiFi_hardware_cPanbo.jpgSince early May I've used the Coastal Marine WiFi kit with all sorts of onboard WiFi devices and all sorts of Internet hotspots, and I'm very impressed with its smart design and easy, reliable performance. Yes, the overall system architecture is quite similar to several other good boat WiFi "booster" solutions like the various Wave Rogue and Bitstorm Xtreme kits, but there's a lot of nuance to making these systems easy to install and operate. And whereas many boaters are still understandably confused about the WiFi booster/router combo that's so unlike what they use at home or office, I'm going to dig deep into how the CMW goes together and what it can do...

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Onboard WiFi and cell booster strategies, the diagrams

Apr 6, 2015

Online_Boat_no_boosters_cPanbo.jpgI've given numerous seminars about what modern mobile communications can do on boats these days and I'll be presenting the latest version at TrawlerFest's new Essex, Connecticut, location in early June. Aside from guidance about useful apps and the neat ways phones, tablets, and the Internet are integrating with marine electronics, boaters want to know how to improve their WiFi and/or cell connections with shore. But when I start talking about typical methods of installing wireless boosters, confusion sometimes follows! So, I'm working on a series of diagrams that Panbo readers might also find useful or might help improve...

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Simple marine cell boosting: Wilson Sleek 4G (weBoost Drive 4G) and Digital Antenna Bullet

Feb 9, 2015

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New FCC regulations have caused turmoil in the world of cell boosters and now leading manufacturer Wilson Electronics has changed its name to weBoost. Thus, the Wilson Sleek 4G (460107) above, one of the very first new breed boosters last April, has just morphed into the weBoost Dash 4G-S (470107). Adding to the confusion is the boater's need to replace that wimpy car top antenna with a possibly illegal marine model -- I'm happily using a Digital Antenna 1285 Bullet in my testing -- but the whole package ends up relatively simple to install and effective for its cost.

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Digigone DigiMed telemedicine kits & more Pittman Innovation Award winners

Jan 26, 2015

digigone_DigiMed_Mini_aPanbo.jpgSail's 2015 Pittman Innovation Awards were just announced and one of several interesting winners is a series of DigiMed wireless kits that work with Digigone's existing telemedicine service. Even the smallest DigiMed Mini above can teleconnect you to a 24/7 emergency medical center via Android tablet and Bluetooth headset, and I've seen how the included wireless macro camera allows the experts to examine the victim down to skin pore level...

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Icom M424G & 324G VHF with GPS, and DSC embarrassment

Jan 14, 2015

ICOM_IC-M423G_GPS_VHF_aPanbo.jpgI'm visiting Gizmo in less chilly North Carolina for a week (before TrawlerFest) and was reminded that just before leaving in November, I experienced the first DSC Urgency message I'd ever seen. My reaction was slightly embarassing, but the U.S. Coast Guard response was impressive, as will be detailed below. For now, let's just say that DSC is a potentially excellent but underused safety tool and thus, it's good news that Icom has upgraded two of its fixed VHF radio models to include internal GPS sensors, so they will be ready to make DSC distress calls almost the moment power and antenna are attached. At the London Boat Show last week Icom UK introduced the IC-M423G above, which features a "striking new white backlight LCD" as will the M424G U.S. version...

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LinkWav, Inmarsat FB finally makes sense for intermittent users

Dec 14, 2014

LinkWav_website_home_page_aPanbo.jpgHo hum, just another sat coms service provider? No way! I think that LinkWav has pulled off something quite special in the daunting world of expensive marine satellite voice minutes and data megabytes. The company figured out how to offer a simple Inmarsat FleetBroadband service plan with decent rates and nearly realtime cost/budget monitoring, but without an oppressive contract. In fact, LinkWav is especially designed for the ocean racers, cruisers and small commercial operators who only need satellite communications now and then, sometimes with many months in between. The cherry on top is the high quality of the LinkWav team...

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METS 2014: AIS MOB, Class A N2K, Torqeedo app, Wave WiFi router & more

Nov 26, 2014

Last week there were two Panbots roaming the annual Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS) floor. Henning Dürr and Kees Verruijt were there trying to find (some) of what was new and interesting. This first entry focuses on vendors that Henning visited.

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AIS MOB and SART with DSC
AIS MOB devices were once called Personal AIS SARTs and are the baby brothers to commercial lifeboat AIS SARTs, but with lower requirements for range and operating hours. The advantage is that they can be made smaller, small enough to be carried by individuals. Since both device classes are relatively new, older displays capable of AIS targeting don't necessarily handle this type of AIS well (good behaviour illustrated here). Additionally AIS MOB beacons are not yet part of the official GMDSS, so officially the world wide SAR operations do not need to react to them and/or may not have the equipment to use them. Ocean Signal and Weatherdock showed new models with a DSC twist that aims to fix this -- as was discussed here on Panbo in 2012.

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Standard Horizon HX870, handheld VHF/GPS/DSC powerhouse

Nov 3, 2014

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I was impressed with Standard Horizon's original HX850 and I've been happily using the slightly upgraded HX851 model above for several years. It's a fine handheld 6 Watt VHF (if you don't mind the size), plus it's always ready to place a DSC distress call and/or navigate a life raft (or tender or kayak or...). But wow, look what they did with the new HX870 model: The screen is at least twice as large, the interface seems usefully updated with soft keys and icons, the battery is substantially larger and more...

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