Panbo

Category: Communications

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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Miami 2014 comms #1: WiFi, Cellular, and V-SAT advances

Feb 21, 2014

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That's the Web browser built into the Humminbird ION10 MFD that I first saw demoed in Lauderdale (pre browser), and the test was pretty realistic for a boat show. It was easy to log the ION onto my phone's WiFi hotspot and if you click the image bigger, you'll see how well it rendered a complex site like www.powerandmotoryacht.com. It even supports tabs for multiple sites, so if I were out fishing on, say, a sunny center console, I could have had a weather site open while still checking my gmail or moderating Panbo comments, all on a bright waterproof screen. This is a MFD first, I think -- the Standard Horizon CPN1010i can access the Web, but not while in navigation mode -- though the lack of ION detail on Humminbird's site suggests that they are taking their time getting it out the door.

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Iridium's GO! satellite WiFi and Globalstar's mysterious SatFi

Feb 12, 2014

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Wow! With a bounty of significant cruising electronics news on my desk, the new Iridium GO! may rank #1. Think of it as the Iridium Extreme -- arguably the most versatile, rugged, and expensive sat phone available -- with the phone interface replaced by a WiFi radio able to handle five smartphones or tablets. The GO can install semi-permanently with an external antenna, or sit on deck while you make a quiet call below, or go in your pack when you hike in Tierra del Fuego. You'll still be able to make and take phone calls anywhere, but they will be easier, less expensive, and purportedly better sounding. Plus there's global email, tracking, and so much more...

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Icom M506, five models of goodness

Feb 6, 2014

Icom_IC-M506_aPanbo.jpgWhen Standard Horizon introduced its Matrix AIS/GPS radio in December, we learned from a European reader that Icom UK was showing off a VHF with just about every feature a boater might desire (with the possible exception of a built-in GPS).  As hoped for, Icom America has now revealed its version of the IC-M506 and will be showing it in Miami next week. It turns out that at least here in the states the M506 will be available in five models so you can get the features you want without paying for ones you don't...

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Standard Horizon Matrix AIS/GPS and Raymarine Ray260 AIS/N2K VHF radios

Dec 3, 2013

Standard_Horizon_Matrix_AIS_GPS_GX2200_VHF.jpgWhile it looks and works very much like the Matrix AIS GX2100 that caused quite a splash here in 2009, Standard Horizon's just announced Matrix AIS/GPS GX2200 very usefully includes a built-in 66 channel GPS. And it still has the same $400 MAP (minimum advertised price) as the evolved Matrix AIS+ GX2150, which will now get a $350 MAP. Two years ago Standard introduced the Explorer GX1700 -- the first fixed VHF with GPS built in, and still the only one (I think) -- and while I haven't tried one myself, I think that front panel satellite antenna bump works pretty well even when installed under a fiberglass deck or top...

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GOST, FLIR, and KVH: working together

Oct 30, 2013

GOST_FLIR_KVH_joint_advertisement.jpgIt's quite unusual to illustrate a Panbo entry with an advertisement, but I think this one has editorial content. Isn't it great to see three separate companies state in print that their electronics will work together to accomplish a complex task? Won't that make it harder for any one of the three customer service departments to point the blame for operational problems elsewhere? Plus, the task in this case -- to put the control and output of yacht cameras onto the Internet so owners or crew can access it anywhere -- is pretty impressive. 

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Testing the Wilson AG Pro Quint, and hello Shakespeare Anywhere cell boosters

Oct 28, 2013

Testing Wilson AG Pro Quint on Gizmo cPanbo.jpgThe test scene is admittedly messy, but having the Wilson AG Pro Quint cell booster out at the helm made it easier to read and photograph. I could also monitor the screen on the Medusa Power Analyzer that the 12v feed is running through (the Quint pulled about 11 watts with two of its amps turned up to about 70db and the other two at about 50 and 55). The best part, though, is how real the testing was. Gizmo is anchored in a wicked cell hole that also happens to be beautiful (mapped here via the test DeLorme InReach SE mounted to the windshield) and only about 11 miles from Camden. Heck, a Verizon call with my wife failed abruptedly about two miles from the anchorage and I couldn't even get a text out!

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Intellian Technologies: smart, articulate & classy

Jun 27, 2013

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Intellian Technologies has come a long way since they first introduced their own brand of satellite TV antenna systems at the 2008 NMEA Conference, where I first met them. In fact, the company may well be the fastest growing in marine electronics, going from 77 employees in 2010 to 160 today. Intellian has also gone from supplying only the relatively modest end of the marine TV antenna market to all size vessels, broadband satellite communications definitely included. The company story is interesting on many levels, but there was a particularly telling moment as Global Marketing VP Paul Comyns (standing above) and CEO Eric Sung (to his left) addressed the group of American and European boating journalists that Intellian hosted in Korea.

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KVH V3-IP Broadband & Thuraya SatSleeve

Apr 18, 2013

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Since leaving Myrtle Beach on April 1, I've spent a fairly ridiculous amount of time messing around with WiFi and cellular Internet connections, and not only is Gizmo quite well equipped in those categories but she's stayed within a mostly first world country (just kidding, North Carolina). Admittedly my thirst for connectivity is high, but I might trade a small body part for a system that simply put me online 24/7/wherever. That's the promise of KVH's latest TracPhone mini-VSAT V3-IP, and 'simply' is the key word. KVH has for a while offered high-speed, 'reasonably' priced satellite Internet with a 17.6-inch high V3 dome antenna that can purportedly work on boats as small as 30-feet. What's new here is the unified antenna controller and modem known as the CommBox (above), which not only looks simple but can even be installed out of sight because as the "ip" in the product name suggests, you can check into this system with most any browser on a PC or tablet connected to the CommBox by Ethernet or WiFi...

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Gizmo's antenna mast 2013: FLIR, Rogue, Wilson & more

Mar 25, 2013
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I've heard it said that if you heeded all the manufacturer advice about antenna placement, you'd need a boat 100-feet long with four or five masts. I've been meaning to ask Panbo readers about how to best use Gizmo's single (though beefy) antenna mast, but instead I went and rejiggered everything last week and your advice will have to wait for the next revision. What mainly drove the change is the long term loan of a FLIR M-Series camera system, which certainly deserves the premier masthead position...

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