Category: Safety

TBF: Spinlock, Humphree, Actisense, Victron, GC Rigging, and Minn Kota's must see

Dec 11, 2015

Spinlock_Lume-on_DAME_winner_cPanbo.jpgIt's easy to understand and appreciate Spinlock's new Lume-On lifejacket illumination lights. The $20 pair should stick easily to the underside of any inflatable bladder (as long as you can get access) and then use the bladder's translucence to nicely diffuse their flashing LEDs if and when they are water activated. It seems a small cost in money, weight, and hassle for an added aid to person overboard recovery, and thus Lume-On won a 2015 DAME Award in the safety category. It also shared the overall DAME award (the Grand DAME?)...

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MARPA on small radars, is Navico 4G especially bad?

Dec 3, 2015

Simrad_4G_radar_MARPA_in_2011_cPanbo.jpgDoes Navico 4G radar (branded as Simrad, Lowrance, or B&G) have a "ridiculously broken MARPA" function? I've heard similar words from three different 4G owners in the last few weeks, and that's enough to interrupt the boat show and summer testing entries I'm way behind on. I don't have a definitive answer, however, plus I'm skeptical that Navico's MARPA is especially bad because in my experience all small radar Mini Automatic Radar Plotting Aids are somewhat flaky for what seem like fairly obvious reasons...

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NMEA 2015: FLIR, Shakespeare, Humminbird, Lumishore, Intellian, Nobeltec & more

Oct 20, 2015

NMEA_2015_Signal_K_cPanbo.jpgWhile the big manufacturers showed off some great stuff at the NMEA 2015 Conference, there was also a lot to get excited about in the seminars and expo hall. Discussion of the open source Signal K marine data protocol, for instance, was not just a NMEA first but drew a standing-room-only crowd, twice. Soon I hope to list some of the interesting small and medium-size developers who are adopting SK and also share some good news about how interested boaters can get involved in the first public gateway project. In the meantime, here are some of my Conference highlights...

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One LED flare replaces U.S. required pyros, Sirius Signal but not Ocean Signal

Sep 14, 2015

Sirius Signal LED flare aPanbo.jpg

The pitch is compelling. The $100 Sirius Signal SOS C-1001 LED "flare" isn't just a floating SOS flasher visible at night "up to 10+ nautical miles...for at least 6 hours." It is also the only such device that meets the U.S. Coast Guard requirements for an electric distress light and can thus permanently replace the three pyrotechnic flares otherwise required on all U.S. recreational vessels over 16 feet operating in coastal waters, the Great Lakes, and many major rivers (and on even smaller boats at night). Given that the cheapest flare set costs about $33 and expires 42 months after manufacturing (and you might not want the cheapest because pyros are inherently dangerous to you and the environment), the Sirius substitute may be a "no brainer"...

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U.S. Coast Guard mobile, a good app with a compelling back story

Aug 13, 2015

USCG_app_home_screens_cPanbo.jpgThe free USCG Boating Safety App has a lot to offer, as indicated by the home screens seen above on my Android phone and iPad Mini. Version 1.0 also seems almost surprisingly fast and polished, which may make more sense when you learn that it was developed by a small, highly-motivated team instead of a large government bureaucracy. In fact, the app is a gift to us from a grieving father trying to honor a son who was an enthusiatic CG Auxilary volunteer on the path to becoming an active duty Guardsman...

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YB3i tracker/messenger, a highly evolved system

Jul 10, 2015

YB3i_on_Gizmo_rail_collage_cPanbo.jpg

The hardware portion of the YB3i tracker/messenger couldn't be much simpler or tougher. It's just a little bigger than the GPS mushrooms also installed on Gizmo's flybridge and it feels solid, while the ScanStrut Rokk rail mount that it fits is truly rock-like. The black cable only leads to a power source (9-30v DC) and the YB3i can get along without that for quite a while, thanks to an internal backup battery. And finally, the single LED "interface" is really only needed for extreme trouble shooting. But such hardware simplicity is only possible because of the impressive array of satellite services, cloud server wizardry, and mobile apps that comprise the rest of the ecosystem...

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SOTDMA Class B AIS, the "new" middle way?

Jun 25, 2015

SRT_5W_SOTDMA_AIS_Class_B_on_way_aPanbo.jpgIt may be a while before we see the first 5 Watt SOTDMA Class B AIS transceiver actually available for sale, but it certainly is interesting to see a prototype trumpeted in SRT's Summer 2015 Pulse Newsletter (available here). Given SRT's main role as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), we may first see this "new" AIS technology -- perhaps with even more features -- branded as Simrad, Raymarine, True Heading, Digital Yacht, Comar, etc. (and/or marketed under SRT's own Em-Trak label). Or maybe Furuno, AMEC, Vesper or another of the independent AIS manufacturers will be first out with SOTDMA Class B? I don't know. More important is SOTDMA Class B as a new middle ground between the Class A AIS used on large vessels (which also works on the SOTDMA protocol) and the CSTDMA Class B technology that we're used to...

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Simrad Halo solid-state open-array radar, what you get

May 1, 2015

Simrad_Halo_radar_demo_Hawks_Cay_Jan_2015_cPanbo.jpg

This is big. Today Simrad announced the first recreational solid-state open-array radar and it seems to be a humdinger. In January I got to see Halo in action aboard the same Yellowfin 36 seen above in a screen grab of Simrad's informative Halo video, and I've also met twice with members of the engineering team. In fact, there are so many features with so much complex technology behind them that this entry will only attempt to cover what Halo hopes to do for you; next week we'll get into how it works. And yes, this radar does include blue LED accent lighting, if you want it, but that's just the bling...

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MIBS 2015: Ocean Signal, ACR, C-Map, Garmin GNX, Lumitec and Veethree

Feb 17, 2015

MIBS2015_Ocean_Signal_James_Flynn_cPanbo.jpgIt's often hard to organize the news from a busy event like the Miami International Boat Show (MIBS), but this year a few of my photos stood out because they also portray the people behind the electronics. So say hello to Ocean Signal co-founder James Flynn, seen here showing off their latest ultra compact rescueME safety devices. The MOB1 personal AIS beacon with its added DSC alarm seems impressively simple to fit and use, and thanks to recent FCC approval, it's now available here in the USA.

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Digigone DigiMed telemedicine kits & more Pittman Innovation Award winners

Jan 26, 2015

digigone_DigiMed_Mini_aPanbo.jpgSail's 2015 Pittman Innovation Awards were just announced and one of several interesting winners is a series of DigiMed wireless kits that work with Digigone's existing telemedicine service. Even the smallest DigiMed Mini above can teleconnect you to a 24/7 emergency medical center via Android tablet and Bluetooth headset, and I've seen how the included wireless macro camera allows the experts to examine the victim down to skin pore level...

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