Category: Communications

Smörgåsboat: The tasty testing buffet installed on Gizmo for 2017

Jul 31, 2017

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While I do think that Gizmo offers a bountiful spread of delicious marine electronics these days, a more serious title for this entry might read: "Guilt: All the darn gear I've borrowed but haven't reviewed yet!" So the plan here is to share some first impressions of various new installs and thus begin discussions toward future deeper reviews. You might enjoy clicking the yummy helm photo above bigger before we dig into the details...

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Garmin inReach Explorer+, armchair transatlantics & hands on

Jul 2, 2017

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A big kick in my small life is seeing a technology I champion do well (especially when it involves a small company in Maine). I became a DeLorme inReach fanboy before it even shipped, and a succession of models have not let me down over thousands of testing hours. And I believe that the Explorer+ jointly developed with new owner Garmin is the best yet, based on personal experience and also on observing one serve well over thousands of transatlantic miles aboard S/V Lunacy (above). However, I also recently watched one Panbo reader suffer a very close call with inReach customer support...

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Glomex USA, Shakespeare and the search for better antenna cabling systems

May 14, 2017

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Recently I struggled installing a typical marine antenna with its included cable and annoying 0.71-inch (18 mm) diameter PL-259 connector. I could have cut the coax, run the cable, and attached a new PL-259, but I'm not sure that any human can install a cable connector as well as a machine, and certainly not me. That's why it's nice that Glomex now offers a variety of antennas and machine-made cables that use 0.35-inch (9mm) FME connectors. But for U.S. boaters, the Glomex news is better still...

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SkyMate Mazu/mSeries all-in-one Iridium sat comms & Si-Tex NavStar Android MFD

Mar 26, 2017

SkyMate_Mazu_and_mSeries_intro_MIBS2017_cPanbo.jpgIt was good to see SkyMate return to the Miami Boat Show after years focused on commercial fishing, and the company clearly has not lost its touch at squeezing lots of easy utility out of skinny-band satellite communications. Its new Mazu/mSeries marine system promises surprisingly full-featured weather and email using Iridium's least expensive service, plus texting, SOS, navigation and (optional) off-boat monitoring. And, just around the corner in the Si-Tex booth, I saw a very interesting Android-based touchscreen NavStar MFD nicely interfacing with SkyMate's existing communications system...

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New Garmin: Fantom radomes & Panoptix thru-hull FLS, plus radios & "budget" MFDs

Nov 2, 2016

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Were you hoping that Garmin would bring its Fantom solid-state radar technology down to radome size, including the Doppler-assisted target motion highlighting they call MotionScope? How about two sizes, 18 and 24 inch? Or maybe you're a Garmin owning cruiser jealous of Simrad or B&G users with ForwardScan forward looking sonar? That's also taken care of, sort of. And these are just two highlights of all the new products Garmin announced today, many of which will ship soon...

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Lauderdale 'lectronics: sensors, sats, cams, boats, ROVs and ?

Nov 1, 2016

Fort_Lauderdale_Boat_Show_2016_maps.jpgThe Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) has become an enormous event, and I would have a hard time covering all the interesting electronics-related exhibits even if I actually motivated my lazy old butt out of Maine this week. But I do have the goods on one important set of new products (that I can share tomorrow), and I've also got some ideas about booths and docks to visit that some of you might enjoy and perhaps even report back about...

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Remote Boat Monitoring: here comes Navico GoFree Vessel/Track and Siren Marine MTC

Oct 19, 2016

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While off-boat monitoring was already getting better and more competitive, finally one of the big four marine electronics brands is about to join the fray. Navico's GoFree Connected Vessel concept is not just important because it will be marketed and serviced worldwide, but also because the development team took the time to think out a truly comprehensive system that can potentially serve a wide variety of boaters in multiple ways. Meanwhile team Siren Marine has been building on their years of remote monitoring, tracking and control experience and will soon announce a series of second-generation MTC products that sound exciting. This entry will take a preliminary look at both these systems and I'll soon share testing results on two more...

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Standard Horizon GX6500: a loaded VHF radio also integrated with Class B AIS

Oct 11, 2016

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The wait is almost over. The Standard Horizon Quantum GX6500 combines Class B AIS and VHF transceivers into one device, an important first in critical marine communications that some boaters have long hoped for. It is not yet for sale pending FCC approval, but the expected price of $800 seems quite reasonable given the install efficiency, the integrated GPS/VHF/AIS features, and a lot more that Standard has designed in. The GX6500 would be an extraordinary radio even without the AIS...

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Navico NASA moves tech support to the cloud

Sep 10, 2016

navico_nasa_logo_aPanbo.jpgMarine electronics tech support is a ritual I'm all too familiar with. Dial the phone, wade through the metaphorical press one for yes, two for no and wait until the tech picks up. For the average boater this can quickly turn into a button pushing slog with unsatisfactory results. Tech: "What version of software are you running?" Boater: I don't know, where do I find it?" Tech: "Go to the System tab." Boater: "Where's the system tab?" Tech: "It's in Settings." Boater: "Where's Settings?" I won't belabor this but sometimes it takes a lot of patience to provide tech support with the information they need to help you. This is now changing for the better with Navico's new cloud-based Network Analyzer Service Assistant (NASA) software. It's the most significant use of the Internet by a MFD to date, I think, and the high-tech aspect of the NASA acronym isn't lost on me either.

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Bill Bishop | Permalink | Comments (12)

DeLorme inReach gets weather & goes to Cuba

Jun 21, 2016

DeLorme_inReach_weather_feature_cPanbo.jpgI've long felt that the DeLorme inReach is a valuable safety and communications tool for boats that sometimes go beyond reliable cellular (and/or VHF) contact with friends, families and rescue centers. But one gripe for skippers hoping to use an inReach as their only offshore communications device was the lack of weather forecasting. There were some necessarily crude third party solutions, but now DeLorme itself is offering easy-to-use and understand forecasts, both marine and terrestrial. I've just been testing this and many other inReach features in Cuba, though the legality of taking a satellite messenger/tracker there is uncertain...

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