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Category: Navigation

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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Gizmo 2014, glass bridge shakedown cruising #1

Jun 30, 2014

Gizmo_2014_fly_bridge_cPanbo.jpgRedoing almost all of Gizmo's electronics has taken longer than I would have guessed last fall, when it seemed like a good idea to rip everything off the boat. And sadly, I'm not done yet. But the hoped-for glass bridge theme is revealing itself and I like it a lot. But then again, new equipment and even just re-installed old gear also means fresh opportunities for things not to work together correctly. In this entry I'll go over much of Gizmo's test setup for the next year and a half -- though by design there's room for more -- and also note a couple of features that have worked well and not so well during recent shakedown cruises...

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Raymarine 2014: science, cadence & "IReverywhere!"

Jun 25, 2014

Raymarine_freeze_test_courtesy_Raymarine.jpgThis frozen aSeries MFD has almost finished a two-day low temperature test, but that's only the beginning of its suffering. Next it will run another two days in a high temperature cabinet with 85% relative humidity, and there's still 19 more days of torture to Raymarine's ERT (Early Reliability Test) Qualification Process. The quality of the testing tools and seriousness with which they're used was as impressive as the Raymariner on-the-water lab, and I'm publishing more photos below because it's reassuring to see what proper modern marine electronics have to go through before reaching our boats. But I'll also attempt to describe the product innovation processes in play at Raymarine's R&D center, which seemed equally impressive though much harder to photograph or quantify...

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Lenovo Windows tablet, new MFD accessory or primary plotter?

Jun 11, 2014

Digital_Yacht_SmarterTrack_on_Lenovo_MiiX_2_aPanbo.jpgI first heard of the Lenovo Miix 2 when Digital Yacht dubbed it a "best buy for boaters"; besides a low price of about $220, the 8-inch tablet is purportedly bright, fast, and able to run regular Windows navigation programs like DY's own SmarterTrack. While an internal GPS enables standalone navigation, the DY team mainly envisions the tablet as a second station using NMEA 0183 or 2000 boat data (like the AIS seen above), provided over WiFi by one of its many black box hardware options. But then a look at the Miix 2 on Amazon revealed a sailing reviewer who's very enthusiastic about this tablet as his primary nav device, running free OpenCPN software...

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New Raymarine a9, a12 & gS19 -- aboard the mighty Raymariner

Jun 9, 2014

Raymarine_a9_gS19_a12_aPanbo.jpgRaymarine recently announced three new multifunction displays, extending the multitouch aSeries to 9- and 12-inch screen sizes, and the glass bridge gS Series to 19 inches (the proportions of my collage are approximate). Given four additional a9 and a12 models with digital sounder or Chirp DownVision built in and the fact that all these new MFDs can network with all the aSeries, cSeries (non touch), eSeries (hybrid touch), and gS models already available, is any other manufacturer offering so much choice? They all run the same software -- now up to Lighthouse II, release 10 -- so you may already be familiar with most of the features, but the new MFDs do have a few new hardware highlights, some of which I got to see in action aboard Raymarine's remarkable testing vessel...

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