Panbo

Category: Navigation

Lowrance HDS Gen3, plus Elite CHIRP and SmartSteer two ways

Dec 18, 2014

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Lowrance put a lot of cards on the table yesterday. Foremost is a new HDS Gen3 series which combines the touch interface of the Gen2 Touch with a keypad similar to regular Gen2 models. Added are multi-touch gestures, built-in WiFi and Bluetooth, dual SD card slots (though micro size), and a CHIRP option in addition to Broadband sonar. And it all fits into about the same dimensions as the original Gen2 Touch 7-, 9- and 12-models with about the same original retail prices. I don't yet buy the press release, "next revolutionary step forward," but "state of the art" sure seems appropriate...

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Nobeltec TimeZero app 2015, Furuno DRS4W WiFi radar overlay & more!

Dec 2, 2014

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Yes, iPad navigation fans, that is Furuno 1st Watch WiFi Radar overlaid on the Nobeltec TimeZero charting app. I wasn't even sure that an iPad could overlay radar over a simple vector chart, but here it is over a finely rendered raster chart blended with hi-res satellite photos. This is virtually the same mix of navigation data that I've found so useful on a Furuno TZT and the short demo file I saw running in Fort Lauderdale suggested that it may pan and zoom (and even go 3D) almost as smoothly on an iPad. It's a major advance in tablet navigation, I think, but the TimeZero app update coming next spring has more to brag about...

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Seapilot Vector Compact GPS Compass & True Heading comes to the USA

Nov 23, 2014

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When I mentioned strong contenders for the 2014 DAME electronics award, one I had in mind was the SeaPilot Vector Compact GPS Compass. Yes, in many ways it's just another GPS compass, but it's substantially smaller, substantially less expensive, and the design seems suited to good performance on many types of boats. Before getting into the details, though, let's deal with possible brand confusion. While True Heading, parent of the recreational SeaPilot brand, has been selling Vector GPS Compasses in Europe for some time, the core technology comes from Hemisphere and similar compasses are sold by ComNav, Si-Tex and others. The Vector Compact is not only a new model but is also much more exclusive to True Heading, which has recently expanded to North America.

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Garmin 2015: glass bridge 7600 series, Reactor autopilot, xHD2 radar & more

Oct 31, 2014

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Garmin introduced lots of new products in Fort Lauderdale yesterday along with the promise that all of them will be shipping by mid-February. There's even a special Marine 2015 website, while this Garmin blog entry offers a succinct overview of the whole lineup. At the press conference the line that seemed to neatly frame Garmin Marine 2015 was "not necessarily ground breaking, but easier to select, easier to install, and easier to use." I noticed evidence of all that along with a few features that do indeed seem unique and valuable...

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Furuno DRS4W 1st Watch WiFi Radar: Niche or breakthrough product?

Oct 15, 2014

Furuno_DRS4W_WiFi_Radar_cPanbo.jpgOne of many technologies I was glad to learn more about at the NMEA Conference was Furuno's unique DRS4W 1st Watch Wireless Radar. While it was introduced in Europe last March, FurunoUSA still hasn't listed it online and for a while I thought they might not carry it at all. Furuno's regional distributors seem to have some leeway in this regard, which apparently is why the Furuno MaxSea PC Radar system that Kees Verruijt covered for Panbo is not available in North America. In recent comments to that same 2013 entry you'll find some strong reservations about the DRS4W concept and even myself writing, "I don't see the problem the Furuno WiFi Radar is solving." My skepticism wanes as I learn more, but still 1st Watch seems like a confusing bundle of limitations and possibilities. Let's discuss...

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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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Garmin SmartMode, and here comes Simrad Bridge

Aug 22, 2014

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Garmin's SmartMode station control seemed like an obviously great idea when introduced with the 8000 Glass Helm series in early 2013. The basic feature simply lets you group 8000 displays at a helm (station) and control what the various screens are showing all at once. But the interface designers went a smart step further by naming the default SmartModes after the overall tasks at hand, instead of the conventional specifics about the tools needed, like "chart/radar/cam". Thus the 8212 now being tested on Gizmo came with CRUISING, DOCKING, ANCHORING, and FISHING modes already suggested, and I've been adding my own in the same task-not-tool spirit...

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Gizmo glass bridge MFD testing 2014, specs & prices

Aug 19, 2014

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Now we're talking. Gizmo's flybridge feels like the starship Enterprise now that the Simrad NSS16 evo2 is installed in its Seaview Power Pod and the Garmin 8212 has been moved closer to the helm since I first discussed the 2014 glass bridge install. Recent visitors tended to break into giddy laughter, but the marine electronics horsepower at my fingertips is truly phenomenal. In this scene, for instance, I'm exploring a dicey area of Camden outer harbor -- hence the lack of moorings -- using StructureScan and medium CHIRP sonar on the NSS16, CHIRP DownView and sonar on the gS125, and EchoPilot FLS via the Garmin's video port. Today's subject, though, is about how and why I selected the particular gear I hope to test and compare for quite a while...

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Furuno 711C Navpilot head & MCU002 remote keypad, TZT style

Jul 29, 2014

Furuno_711c_autopilot_head_SETCSE_aPanbo.jpgThe press release (PDF here) for Furuno's new color 711C autopilot control describe it as "completely redesigned to provide an excellent match with Furuno's flagship line of NavNet TZtouch MFD's... right down to the control knob!" There's no denying the similar handsome styling, and doesn't it make you wonder if Furuno will eventually offer a color NMEA 2000 instrument display with the same standard DIN size and 4.1-inch color screen? That's 100% speculation on my part, but doesn't it make sense as Furuno finds itself competing with Raymarine, Garmin, and Simrad over the glass style helm that the TZT Series arguably spearheaded? The MCU002 remote TZT keypad, also now official and shipping, seems like another step in keeping TZT competitive.

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"21st Century Waterways" -- have your say about the Future of Navigation in the USA

Jul 4, 2014

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Hurricane Arthur is putting a damper on Fourth of July celebrations even up here in Maine. The fireworks were canceled yesterday, our family lobster dinner is postponed, and the gale watch that went up this morning may mean I'll be minding Gizmo tonight. But once again knee-jerk criticism of weather forecasting is not standing up to reality, specifically the work of NOAA's National Hurricane Center. Arthur made a slight left turn last night, hence the gale watch, but remains darn close to the track forecast days ago. What's more, the NHC not only distributes voluminous detail about the science behind their forecasts, but also a running graphic tally of how their forecast and the underlying computer models compare to the storm's actual track. No doubt some boaters will still get in Arthur trouble, but I'm also confident that the U.S. Coast Guard is wonderfully able and willing to render assistance. So what a perfect time for those of us in a dry spot with an Internet connection to spend a few minutes helping NOAA, the USCG and also the Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) to maximize their resources in the future.

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