Category: The future

Cartography lessons learned searching for the best charts of Cuba

Dec 30, 2016

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Pardon my photography, but the point is that many detailed, up-to-date, and well-crafted official paper charts of Cuba do exist. Unfortunately, they're not easy to own and the good work of the Cuban hydrographic service is also not yet fully available in any electronic form. In fact, many "current" electronic Cuba charts are based on shockingly old data with substantial chunks of critical cruising detail missing. But visiting boaters do have at least one good current chart choice, GeoCuba is moving into the modern world, and the back story reveals chart issues every navigator should understand, with a Cuban twist...

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McMurdo SmartFind G8 AIS EPIRB, first of many, PLBs too?

Dec 9, 2016

McMurdo_SmartFind_E8_G8_and_G8_AIS_EPIRBs_aPanbo.jpgLet's first note that McMurdo's trailblazing SmartFind G8 AIS EPIRB still awaits FCC approval and probably won't be for sale in the U.S. until spring (along with its more conventional E8 and G8 siblings). But McMurdo has definitely developed this useful combination of local and global rescue beacon, other manufacturers may have AIS EPIRBs in the works, and I've got some details about how they'll work. I also have some safety tips from an acquaintance who just dramatically experienced the effectiveness of a current ACR EPIRB...

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Testing the Garmin Fantom 24 in a new world of solid-state radar

Dec 1, 2016

Gizmo_testing_four_solid-state_radars_11-2016_cPanbo.jpgIt went unmentioned at our large family Thanksgiving feast last week, but I am thankful that solid-state radar became omnipresent in our marine electronics world this year. In fact Gizmo's four test radomes now all share the solid-state virtues of near instant power up, low power draw, low emission levels, and long life (at least theoretical). They are all decent performing radars, too, and several offer very special features that only seem possible with solid-state technology. In this entry I'll try to sort out the field, while also sharing first impressions of that spanking new Garmin Fantom 24 radome.

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Remote Boat Monitoring: here comes Navico GoFree Vessel/Track and Siren Marine MTC

Oct 19, 2016

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While off-boat monitoring was already getting better and more competitive, finally one of the big four marine electronics brands is about to join the fray. Navico's GoFree Connected Vessel concept is not just important because it will be marketed and serviced worldwide, but also because the development team took the time to think out a truly comprehensive system that can potentially serve a wide variety of boaters in multiple ways. Meanwhile team Siren Marine has been building on their years of remote monitoring, tracking and control experience and will soon announce a series of second-generation MTC products that sound exciting. This entry will take a preliminary look at both these systems and I'll soon share testing results on two more...

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Testing Raymarine Quantum Q24 radar, solid on many levels

Sep 22, 2016

Raymarine_Quantum_Q24_displayed_on_eS128_cPanbo.jpgThat's very good radar imagery in my experience, especially given that it's the fully automated output of a relatively small and affordable radome which can be super easy to install. Note, for instance, how well it's separating the moored boats in Camden's recently discussed Outer Harbor and thus usefully revealing the channel into the Inner Harbor (that many visiting boats have trouble finding even in clear daylight). I also got to see how well Raymarine navigation networks can handle dual radar scanners and how sophisticated their WiFi has become. And finally I hope to spank Ray about its annoyingly overprotective MARPA alarms (though that situation could be easily fixed in software ;-)...

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Testing Furuno DRS4D-NXT solid-state Doppler radome, "Radar Redefined" most definitely

Aug 2, 2016

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After many hours testing a NXT radome on Gizmo in often busy Maine waters, I believe that Furuno's bold "Radar Redefined" claim is completely justified. This radar is so smart that it makes sense to run it in broad daylight. Brightly highlighting the one vessel (above) moving toward me in Camden Harbor's forest of moored and moving boats is just one example of its highly automated and intelligent features. I fear that many readers will suffer radar jealousy as I detail what I've seen so far, but let's look at the bright side and honor Furuno for setting a significantly new performance bar that other major manufacturers will hopefully try hard to attain...

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NOAA introduces Zones of Confidence; mind your ZOC

Jul 18, 2016

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Yikes! Did you know that some areas of the U.S. coastal chart you're using may only show land and bottom features accurate in position to +/- 1,600 feet, and you shouldn't be confident about the depth soundings either? NOAA has a new way to show boaters how old and inaccurate much of its survey data is, and it will surely give pause to those who pay attention. The concept is called Zones of Confidence and it's slowly rolling out as diagrams on paper-style raster charts like the one above, but the ZOC accuracy info is coming much faster to NOAA's ENC vector charts, and apparently it could be made easily accessible on the commercial vector charts you're probably using.

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Evinrude E-Link, one leg of a generous open architecture attitude

Jul 4, 2016

Evinrude_E-Link_WiFi_gateway_n_app_aPanbo.jpgI suspect that a lot of now and future Evinrude E-Tec G2 outboard owners are going to appreciate the new E-Link hardware and app system almost as much as the Fourth of July. The easy-to-install NMEA 2000 WiFi gateway will cost about $360 and will neatly put all G2 gauges, calibrations, and fault codes into otherwise free E-Link Android and iOS (Apple) apps. One E-Link gateway will handle multiple outboards and the system doesn't require or preclude any other monitoring and control options. In fact, you may soon see a full G2 interface on your favorite multifunction display...

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Land Rover BAR, can this AC35 tech partnership "bring the Cup home"?

May 31, 2016

Land_Rover_BAR_tech_press_conference_NYC_cPanbo.jpgAt this press conference in New York City on Saturday, May 7th, the UK's largest automobile manufacturer, Jaguar Land Rover, made the case that their support of Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) in America's Cup 35 is not just about marketing. It's also a technology partnership that may be critical to finally bringing the Cup back to England, which both parties would really, really like to do. I completely bought the story and I was especially feeling my inner Brit after taking in the rest of the weekend's AC World Series pageantry off lower Manhattan...

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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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