Category: Gadgets

Wireless autopilot controls: Madman for Raymarine, Si-Tex SRS-100 for any brand

Mar 25, 2015

Madman_ap_control_for_Raymarine_cPanbo.jpgSome people think it's crazy to run an autopilot with a smartphone, so maybe it's fitting that a company called Madman Marine is the first to make this possible with Raymarine pilots. But then again, Madman's AP-WRC3iF comes with two fobs that run on a separate wireless frequency and that can also make course changes, initiate autotacks and change pilot modes. And it only costs about $235 U.S. plus shipping from Australia (with the fob-only model at about $190)...

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Afterguard heads-up display, the Recon Jet goes sailboat racing

Apr 3, 2014

Afterguard_HUD_in_action_aPanbo.jpgThe goal is to direct your focus wherever it's needed on or beyond the boat while still having critical data in sight.  Brand spanking new today is the Afterguard heads-up display (HUD) for racing sailors. Yes, recent America's Cup skippers apparently used HUD sunglasses, though you're a better researcher than I if you can find detail about how they worked and what data they provided. Afterguard intends to bring this technology down at least a few levels, and that means we get a better look at what it can do. This sort of product is more than a little out of my wheelhouse, so to speak, but it looks like this new company did its homework and made some smart decisions...

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Bad Elf Pro, the perfect iPad GPS (& logger too)?

Dec 3, 2012

It's amazing how small, fast, and precise GPS has gotten. I'm not saying that those accuracy figures seen on the Bad Elf GPS Pro are absolutely true -- without a physical reference point, a GPS can only estimate its own positional precision, right? -- but I have seen some very impressive real world performance. Plus this Bluetooth Elf can do much more than simply feed position data to iPads, Touch iPods, and iPhones (up to five at once). It can serve as a standalone GPS with lat/long, COG, SOG,  and altitude also displayable on that small but readable screen, and it can log up to 32 hours of detailed track data which is easy to make use of on your iThing and beyond...

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Nortek Doppler Velocity Log, measuring Puma's leeway across the pond

May 23, 2012

I learned that the Volvo Ocean Racer Puma had a very special speedo when the race started off around the planet last Fall, but was hoping that I or a Panbo guest blogger would get to see the other end of the system when the fleet visited Miami. Well, right now Puma is leaving Bermuda to starboard as it zips across the Atlantic toward Lisbon, and while Panbot Jeffrey Schwartz witnessed her Florida first place and did get some time with major VOR supporter Inmarsat, he was not able to wrangle his way into any racer's nav station. But let me tell you what I do know about the Nortek Doppler Velocity Log...

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Minn Kota's i-Pilot robot, & Geonav for real

May 4, 2010

The Miami demo of Minn Kota's new i-Pilot technology got somewhat humorous.  After some time with that trolling motor head turning this way and that as it automatically retraced a GPS track or pulled us along to a waypoint -- where it could even maintain station -- I started thinking of it as a faithful, friendly robot.  If I owned one, I might paint eyes and a smile on it to heighten the sensation.  And in retrospect it might have been whispering, "Hey, bub, I represent Johnson Outdoors technology prowess; wait until you see Geonav!"

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Racer's Edge Laser Wind Sensor

Mar 24, 2010
RacersEdgeFrontView.jpgby Dan Corcoran

Are you able to estimate wind direction and speed from small waves in the water, the movement of clouds, or visual cues from other boats 300, 500, or even 700 meters away? It is a good skill for a sailor to have, but very tough to learn. The Racer's Edge, pictured above, is a high tech wind measurement device capable of measuring wind speed and direction at considerable distances, enabling a sailboat crew to optimize course and sail trim for maximum speed.

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Dan Corcoran (b393capt) | Permalink | Comments (5)

SpeedWatch, wireless wireless STW

Jun 15, 2009
SpeedWatch_rowing_cPanbo.JPG That's my goose-bumped knee and I'm rowing at 2.2 knots through the water, which is my true speed in terms of performance, as opposed to speed over ground (SOG), which would be my true speed in terms of getting somewhere.  The distinction relates to endless discussions about what true True Wind is, which depends, but more relevantly to that JDC SpeedWatch strapped to my thigh.  It would be a fairly unremarkable gadget if it was a GPS (showing SOG) but in fact it's listening wirelessly to a tough little transmitter under the boat's bow seat, which in turn is wirelessly collecting STW data from a tiny magnetized propeller mounted on the hull a few inches away...

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Underwater lights, stupid & offensive?

Mar 30, 2009

I was surprised when Tim Flanagan went all Glen Beck on underwater lights last week. It hadn't occurred to me that "no boat owner with an ounce of sense" would drill a hole below his or her waterline just to "make the water glow pretty colors".  In fact, senseless me has long considered going for the dramatic effect above (compliments DeepSea Power & Light) on Li'l Gizmo, which has become fairly reasonable and easy thanks to gear like OceanLED's Amphibians. You'll note that they are surface mounted, and hence only need a cable hole through the hull (they also purportedly run cool enough to use on deck). But, heck, I'd  consider putting bigger holes in big Gizmo's transom if the LED and thermoplastic casing technologies reach the right cost/performance point, which is where they seem headed.  Any underwater fitting deserves especially carefull installation, but I don't think fixed underwater lights compare, danger-wise, to true thru-hulls which involve a forever hole protected only by an often open valve and a hose.  Has anyone heard of an underwater light causing a sinking?  And while I won't argue that anyone really needs underwater lights, they sure can be beautiful...

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Best new tech 2008, boat goodies?

Jan 5, 2009


Just like last year,’s excellent Best of What’s New 2008 edit package is rich with tech that might one day trickle up to yachting. For instance, couldn’t a version of the Lexus super wide-angle integrated cameras seen above be useful in docking? How about a satellite able to deliver 1.2 gigabit/second Internet to modest terrestrial antennas, and even modulate signal strength based on its own weather analysis? In the always exciting megayacht toy department are a trio of flying things: the world’s first production jetpack, an easy-to-fly folding-wing float plane, and an amazing RC helicopter. And isn’t Honda’s first-ever hydrogen production car a hopeful milestone? There’s more to be sure…

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JDC Seawatch, gift for a fair-haired fool?

Dec 19, 2008


Maybe, like me, you’ve been even lamer than usual about Christmas shopping? And maybe someone on your list is a fair-haired fool who’s lame about proper skin protection, also like me? Well, consider the Seawatch, the first ever with a built-in UV sensor…

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