Category: NMEA 2000

Kees' cool sloop Merrimac, home of CANboat and more

Jan 19, 2016

Kees_Stadtship_Merrimac_cPanbo.jpgA memorable moment of 2015 was waking up in Kees Verruijt's attic guestroom in Harlingen, Netherlands. If my lens were wider, you'd see the thick thatch capping his sturdy brick home. And if I'd waited a bit, the photo might include one of the family-owned-and-operated cargo vessels that often motor by enroute to or from the Wadden Sea. What you can see clearly, though, is Kees's own dream boat Merrimac, which I would soon tour. I'd been following this boat project for years, knew that it motivated Kees's valuable CANboat work, and given that CANboat helped birth Signal K, I figure that Merrimac may earn a special spot in marine electronics history...

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Digital Switching: Raymarine, Empirbus, Simrad, Naviops, Offshore, Octoplex, Garmin and CZone

Nov 30, 2015

Raymarine_digital_switching_FLIBS2015_cPanbo.jpg

Digital switching is one of the most intriguing aspects of modern marine electronics, but also one of the most mysterious. At FLIBS, for instance, I wasn't the only boater jealously admiring sexy screens like the one above running on a Raymarine gS15 multifunction display. But when you try figuring out how you can get this elegant level of system control and monitoring onto your boat, you'll eventually realize that there is a complex conglomeration of hardware and software behind it, and it's usually under marketed and lightly documented. In fact, the whole concept still mainly makes sense for new and higher end boats, because it's an expensive and entirely different way of doing things, and those builders remain understandably cautious about adopting it. Nonetheless -- and another sign of a re-invigorated recreational marine industry -- I detected lots of digital switching progress at the fall shows...

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Seapilot Vector Compact GNSS Compass, sweet deal that usually works well

Nov 10, 2015

Seapilot_Compact_GNSS_Compass_cPanbo.jpgThere's lot to report from the Fort Lauderdale Show, but the calendar dictates that I first write about this Seapilot satellite compass. That's because a startling 50% show discount is still available this week, so you can buy the Vector Compact-N NMEA 2000 model seen above for $500 simply by applying the code "FLIBS2015" in the shopping cart. The Compact seemed like a relatively good value at twice the price when I first discussed its features last November, and since then I've seen it perform pretty well on Gizmo...

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iKommunicate from Digital Yacht, Signal K gets kickstarted

Oct 26, 2015

iKommunicate Signal K proof of concept aPanbo.jpgSorry for the fuzzy photo, but it makes sense as the iKommunicate Signal K Gateway isn't a real product yet, and the real product may look quite different from the "Proof of Concept" prototype above if it actually materializes early next year. Why so vague? What's happening here is a techy chicken and egg thing. Digital Yacht was understandably hesitant about developing a gateway for Signal K apps and services that hardly exist yet, but the Signal K universal boat data concept -- open source, entirely free, and created by unfunded volunteers -- needs a commercial level NMEA gateway so that third party developers can easily show us what the potential apps and services can do. That's my understanding of why DY launched the iKommunicate Kickstarter campaign and also why I'm hoping that fellow boat geeks and related companies will join me in backing the project and thus helping Signal K become real...

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Veethree Engine Gateway/Monitor is powerful, coming EGM 800 is wow

Oct 12, 2015

VeeThree_EGM_kit_cPanbo.jpgVeethree is a serious instrumentation company with significant engineering and manufacturing facilities in Florida and India (impressive corporate video here). The vast majority of their business is OEM, so while the ruggedly-built Engine Gateway Monitor (EGM) above is packaged as a retail product, you're not apt to see one at a marine store and it's even hard to find at Veethree (go to the bottom of this marine page). But my testing suggests that it could be useful on many boats, especially with a few of the firmware features coming to its big brother, the 800 EGM...

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Raymarine LightHouse 14 sailing features, as good as they look?

Sep 24, 2015

Raymarine_LH14_sailing_features_cPanbo_.jpgWhen pretending to sail, I go for high performance. That's why the screen above seems to show Gizmo exceeding true wind speed while extremely close hauled. But pretending is also why I can't truly review the new sailing features that came to all current Raymarine multifunction displays last May, thanks to a free LightHouse 14 operating system update. Additionally, most of the features described in the press release are about racing, which I did little of even when I was sailing a lot. But let's walk through the new Raymarine MFD capabilities anyway, and hopefully we'll hear from sailors who've actually used these tools or the similar ones offered by B&G and Garmin...

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MFD engine alarming improves, but still needs more Maretron-ization

Sep 17, 2015

Garmin_741_engine_alarm.jpgOn Oct. 4th I'll present a seminar titled "Electronic Engine Monitoring Comes of Age" at TrawlerFest Bay Bridge in Stevensville, Maryland. This Garmin 741 photo will be useful as it shows three new and different ways Gizmo's old diesel engine can now indicate a low oil pressure problem. Thanks to the Actisense EMU-1 I installed in 2013, the simple low pressure alarm switch on the Volvo Penta can trigger an informative pop-up (and audio alarm) on all the networked Garmin screens regardless of what function(s) they're showing. And if the engine gauge page is up, the familiar low oil pressure icon lights up and, better yet, the customizable digital psi dial can go red based not on the alarm switch, but rather on a minimum pressure I've set. That's all good, but modern marine electronics can do even better...

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Yacht Devices NMEA 2000 temp & barometer sensors, some good ideas but...

Jul 22, 2015

Yacht_Designs_NMEA_2000_thermometer_aPanbo.jpgOne of the most valuable improvements I've made on Gizmo is a Maretron TMP100 able to put six different temperature sensors on the boat's NMEA 2000 network, particularly the one I've set to alarm me if the engine block gets even slightly hotter than normal. I wrote about the plan in 2013 and will detail how well it worked out soon. Closely monitoring certain temperatures can save a lot of hassle and money though one impediment is the need for either a Maretron DSM display or a USB Gateway to configure the setup. It's intriguing then to learn of Yacht Devices' $99 N2K temp sensor with its clever cost-free configuration. But there are some potential issues...

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NMEA okays Signal K, a milestone in marine electronics?

May 11, 2015

NMEA_recognizes_Signal_K_aPanbo.jpgWow! Today the National Marine Electronics Association -- also known as NMEA, or IMEA for its International reincarnation -- announced recognition of the Signal K open source marine data project. It's clearly not an endorsement, but it does provide clear methods to gateway NMEA 2000 boat data to the Internet-friendly universal marine data model that Signal K is about. And that's plenty good enough, I think. In fact, as the title above wonders, this may turn out to be a very big deal. I also think it marks a nice evolution for NMEA. Though criticism of this trade and standards organization from outside the small world of hardcore marine electronics has largely been unfair, NMEA could do better fitting into the much bigger and faster-moving data/app universe, and now they're trying harder...

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Navico WR10 Wireless Pilot Controller & BT-1 Bluetooth-to-N2K gateway

Apr 15, 2015

Navico_WR10_autopilot_remote_cPanbo.jpg

Last week Navico introduced a Wireless Pilot Controller that can be added to B&G, Simrad, and Lowrance autopilots that connect to their control heads (and/or MFD controls) via NMEA 2000. It can do more than the keys indicate -- like tack a sailboat that's being steered in wind mode -- and it will retail at $349 with a BT-1 Bluetooth Base Station. The WR10 remote will also be available by itself for $150 as four can work with one BT-1 at once, and eventually the remote may be able to work directly with the Bluetooth built into displays like the recently introduced Lowrance HDS Gen3 or the new Simrad Go7 / B&G Vulcan V7 twins...

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