Category: Safety

West Marine Expo, ACR LED Searchlight, Scanstrut USB, Navico Compass & Triton Gills

Mar 29, 2016

West Marine Expo Cover 2016West Marine's first ever Marine Electronics Expo will kick off in four states (NY, FL, CA, CT) on April 8th (thru 9th) and also online. Besides some deals on electronics gear, there will be live educational seminars from Icom, Shakespeare, Lowrance, Fusion, Uniden, Lowrance, Simrad, B&G, Spot, Delorme, and maybe more at the select stores...

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ACR GlobalFix V4, NavPod, Stealth PC, Raymarine r16, and MFD ActiveCaptain via C-Map & Furuno

Mar 21, 2016

ACR GlobalFix V4 EPIRBAt long last an ACR Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) with a 10 year user replaceable battery! Moreover, the new GlobalFIX V4 is exceptionally compact and handsomely designed -- which also may relate to its 2015 acquisition of Ocean Signal -- and of course it includes standard EPIRB features. The $150 batteries aren't cheap, but it may beat tossing a working GlobalFIX V4 that retails for $400 (manual activation, with automatic at $500).

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RCMSAR and facilitating marine rescue from the cloud

Mar 11, 2016

Royal Canadian Marine Search And Rescue Training Horseshoe BayFor the past 7 years I've been a SAR volunteer in Unit 1 (Horseshoe Bay, West Vancouver) of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR). My unit had 87 calls in 2015, making it the busiest volunteer marine SAR station in Canada. It's a situation that motivates a tech enthusiast and advanced crew member like myself to think about better tools and procedures...

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Solid state radar #2: the Doppler effect

Mar 1, 2016

Furuno_NXT_demo_w_Eric_Kunz_cPanbo.jpgWhy is this guy grinning? At the end of the solid state radar #1 entry, I suggested that the Doppler target speed discrimination feature just introduced by Furuno and Garmin is truly game changing. Now I'll try to break that down. While Doppler effect is a seasoned and fairly well known concept, I suspect that its sudden and intriguing arrival to marine electronics is going to effect change...

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Solid state radar #1: long ranges and deep thoughts

Feb 22, 2016

MIBS_2016_mostly_DeLorme_radar_demo_tracks_cPanbo.jpgWhile we've barely begun 2016, the state of recreational marine radar is entirely different than it was in 2015. The simultaneous introductions of Furuno and Garmin solid state Doppler radars in Miami was a stunning coincidence, but the bigger picture is that all four major brands have now embraced solid state technology and a major transition is underway. During the show I spoke with a lot of product managers as we checked out their particular new radar underway, and my (partial) track map above (in two scales) may help readers to better understand the screenshots I brought home...

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FLIR Ocean Scout TK, a $599 handheld true thermal marine camera!

Feb 10, 2016

FLIR_Ocean_Scout_TK_aPanbo.JPGNew this morning and shipping soon is the FLIR Ocean Scout TK thermal camera. It looks a lot like the existing and beautifully made Ocean Scout series, except that it is about two-thirds the size and half the weight. What's really small, though, is the $599 retail price, which is almost one quarter what even the bottom-of-the-series OS 240 model costs. Now it's true that the TK will become the lowest resolution Ocean Scout camera with the least range, but there's a lot more to true thermal vision than resolution and range...

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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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